Somewhere in the shadows, there lies a dark power. An elusive being of darkness and terror that lays hiding, biding its time, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. It is, of course, the main plot of Guillermo del Toro's The Strain. And in "It's Not For Everyone," it finally came out to play... a little.
The Strain is actually picking up, story-wise, albeit begrudgingly. For every scene of Eph and the CDC crew finally getting clued in to what's happening we get another scene that is more or less completely wasting our time. But at least in this episode, we end up seemingly poised to start the battle for humanity in earnest.
"It's Not For Everyone" picks up immediately after last episode, as Eph, Nora and Samwise Gamgee look at the body of the pilot-turned-vampire whose face has just been caved in by Eph. They freak out, but Eph freaks out in a constructive way, quickly performing an autopsy to figure out what has happened to the victim. Eph determines the parasites infecting the host have basically rebuilt it from the toes up — including a six-foot "stinger" to attack and suck the blood out of its victims, a cloaca to shit ammonia while it feeds, and an entirely new system of organs and circulation to accommodate all this, while all the other organs basically wither and die. The wonderfully disgusting scene where Eph pulls out the mouth tentacle and discovers how terrifyingly long it is is worth the price of admission by itself. After this, Samwise fesses up about letting the coffin through security at the airport, and Eph tells him to get lost.
Meanwhile, Ansel — the nerdy surviving passenger with the glasses — is undergoing his own vampiric metamorphosis. His God-fearing wife takes the kids away; while she's gone, Ansel eats the family dog and then chains himself up in his shed. When his wife investigates the trail of blood leading to the shed (and the dog's corpse by it), Ansel has enough presence of mind to tell his wife to get the hell out of there before he eats her. After awhile, a bitchy neighbor stops by to complain about their "dog" and its constant barking/growling — a bitchy neighbor who reveals with incredible callousness that he has hit their dog before in an attempt to make it quiet. This good, Christian woman woman does what anyone would do — trick the asshole into entering the shed under the pretext of giving him another chance to beat her dog, at which point he's immediately devoured by Ansel.
It's not the world's worst scene, but the show goes so far out of its way to show Ansel's wife as an extremely religious woman, that her suddenly tricking the neighbor into getting murdered is nonsensical. But the show also lets the character and the audience off the hook by making this random victim a dog-puncher who deserves his fate. There's no depth to these characters at all, and maybe this would be par for the course on another channel, but on FX — home of Justified and Fargo — their two-dimensionality is glaring.
Even more ridiculously, Eldritch hires some pretty blonde lady to "slow down the entire internet." This is absurd and I refuse to even dignify it by discussing it.
But at least the episode ends well. Eph and Nora go to visit the Arneau house (i.e., the French dude who inexplicably punched Eph at the airport and whose dead daughter returned home and ate him). The two CDC agents are almost immediately attacked by both the girl and the father, now vampires with face-tentacles, but Setrakian shows up out of nowhere with his awesome silver cane-sword and beheads both monsters. Finally, some damn vampire hunting!
Despite the fact that the two vampires were attacking her with face-tentacles, Nora continues to see the infected as "patients" — which means she's more than a little upset to have seen Setrakian behead what was to her a sick little girl. Eph is on board Team Vampire Hunter, citing how fast the parasite spreads, and is willing to stop the disease at any cost. Nora exclaims she'd rather die from the disease than become a killer, and she leaves, presumably in hopes of finding a cure. It's a genuinely interesting conflict — at what point is it okay to shift from curing to containment? — weakened somewhat by the fact that we know these things are vampires and they do actually all need to die, but I'll take it. It's a pretty valid reason to not want to hunt vampires, although I'm betting Nora either changes her mind or gets eaten herself in the near future.
But the real draw is that the episode ends with Setrakian and Eph, together — Eph knows the score, knows what Setrakian can do, and knows what needs to be done. Whether you call them victims or vampires, they're out there and they need to be destroyed, and our lead character finally has the knowledge and the means to do so. The hunt is on. Let's just hope the hunt continues next episode, as opposed to taking a break to watch The Strain's other characters studiously avoid the main plot.
• FYI, I am fucking done talking about Gus or the pest control guy unless they do something that is in any way involved in the main storyline. For instance, in this episode the pest control guy is gone, but Gus has the "B" storyline, which is this: A friend tells Gus about a job stealing cars. Gus steals the car. Gus tries to sell the car. Gus haggles about the price of the car. The end.
• In other shit that does not affect anything news, Eldritch — after hiring tat lady to "slow down the internet" — faints and needs a new liver. He gets a new liver. The end. If Setrakian and Eph didn't finally hook up at the end of the episode and look like they were going to start killing vampires, I would have given up on the series by now.
• So you can kill a vampire by bashing its face in with a fire extinguisher? Good to know. I guess the burning the bodies thing is needed to take care of the worms inside the infected. My point is that it seems these vampires can be killed without too much difficulty (comparatively), but that they can still infect people even if the hosts are dead. Am I correct?
• Complaints aside, Corey Stoll's expression when he discovers the pilot's junk is missing is pretty much perfect.