The Strain s01e02: The Box

TS the box
A review by Nalini Haynes

Director:  Guillermo del Toro
Writers: Guillermo del Toro (creator, novels), Chuck Hogan (creator, novels), David Weddle (teleplay), Bradley Thompson (teleplay), Justin Britt-Gibson (story editor)
Stars: Corey Stoll, David Bradley, Mía Maestro, Sean Astin
Rating: ★★★★★ 5/5

This is the review for episode 2; if you don’t want episode 1 spoilt, don’t read it. You have been warned.

In my previous review I referred to ‘more horror elements’ that were introduced late in the episode. In the interests of avoiding late-episode spoilers I didn’t reveal that there’s a non-sparkly vampire with a ‘tongue’ like a gigantic worm with teeth flying around an ornate box whose exterior is carved with Dante-esque symbols and whose interior is filled with soil.

The four survivors Eph (Corey Stoll) put in quarantine under his CDC (Center for Disease Control) powers, are released as a result of a disinformation campaign propagated by a powerful wealthy man, Eldritch Palmer, whose assistant, Thomas Eichorst (Richard Sammel) has nictating secondary eyelids.

206 dead bodies vanish. One little girl, believed dead, returns home to her grief-stricken father who calls Eph to thank him.

Gabriel Bolivar, Kiss-style rocker-dude (Jack Kesy), is both comic relief and sinister changeling in the process of being metamorphosed by the vampire. Gabriel’s not feeling well so he pops some pills and has an orgy that goes haywire when he bites one of his playmates.

Jim Kent (Sean Astin) has an epiphany: maybe allowing a van out of a quarantine zone wasn’t such a good idea.

Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley) is in jail after being arrested at the airport for trying to help authorities. Thomas Eichorst, old friend that he is, visits Setrakian in jail.

The stakes are high and keep getting higher in The Strain. I’m not sure whether it’s an ‘end of the world’ scenario or merely the end of thousands — or millions — of human beings. After all, vampires need food, so why kill off the entire human race? Corruption, collusion, people covering their asses, people behaving like sheep, people not raising red flags when they should…  The bureaucracy behaves so believably that The Strain is a comedy of errors but it’s a very black comedy indeed.

I’m hooked. Next episode please.