Channel Surfing: The Strain – The Third Rail

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This episode was aptly named The Third Rail because in a world where cars travel faster than the average train and planes can get you most places in a flash – they ambled along at a nice chug-a-lug here.  It’s almost like they’re in their own version of “I think I can.  I think I can.  I think I can…”, and it’s painfully slow to the rest of us out here in the viewing world.

In what was, in essence, a bridge episode to the wrapping up of this season most of the story focused on the efforts of our Scooby Gang to hunt down ‘The Master’ and kill him.  Vasiliy puts his exterminator experience and theory of rat migration or whatever to good use and they pinpoint where they believe the Master is holed up – underneath the World Trade Center.  Vasiliy also puts some apparent electrician-like ability to work and creates a one-time-use weapon: a UV strobe-light bomb.  Once that’s completed, Vasiliy, Eph, Nora and old man Abraham take off in the bread truck leaving Zach and Nora’s mother behind at the pawn shop: this is where I note I have no idea what happened to Dutch, she’s just gone.

In their trek through the subway system we’re subjected to more contrived male splaying between Vasiliy and Eph as they try to establish themselves as the alpha dog in this vampiric age, they’re almost run down by a train they don’t hear until it’s right on them, they uncover a nest(?) of vamps sleeping, and they discover electricity can kill strigoi… shocker, I know.  They eventually discern that the Master is aware of their presence and pursue him through a literal hole in the ground – this serves a dual purpose as it helps them escape an oncoming strigoi horde.

While all this is going on there are two side-stories taking place, neither are very important and they both converge at the end: Zach hanging out with Nora’s mom and eventually disobeying his dad to go get a pack of smokes, and Gus discovering his entire family has been turned (he kills his brother, but can’t bring himself to do the same to his mother – I think we can all relate to that).  Like I said, they converge in the store where Zach is for cigarettes and Gus stops for supplies.  Their rather anti-climactic stories that just underline how stupid kids can be when it comes to their phones, and set up Gus for a bigger role later on maybe.

The_Strain_BTS_The_Master_1280x720_331419203861Then…  finally!  The action picks up!  In one of the better series, Eph is the first through the hole they’re climbing, and he’s tricked into going straight to the Master’s lair.  He ends up in a choke-hold by the one and only Master himself, who goes on to wax poetic about how he’s going to destroy everything Eph loves – y’know, typical bad-guy monologue stuff.  He’s interrupted when Abraham enters the room and ineffectively threatens the him, and he ultimately flees when Vasiliy sets off his UV bomb.  This of course sets off Abraham who wanted nothing more than to kill the Master where he stood (he was doing a terrible job of it prior, but that’s apparently beside the point), and he flies off in a fit of rage and destroys the box he so painstakingly created during the Great War.  After that brief episode, they pursue the Master further into the subway system only to have to turn back when they come across what looks like hundreds of strigoi resting.

It was a great place to leave off as it sets up the show for a lot more action in the closing episodes of the season, and Eph is finally at a place where he may just sell out to fight the strigoi scourge.  We can hope.

Overall, the episode was decent – but only because of the way it ended.  This series has spent way too much time on superfluous filler and unneeded secondary (if even that important) character development, and it needs to move past that if it wants to achieve its full potential.  This is still a good show, but it could be great – hopefully it ramps up in the coming weeks.

Till next time.

The Strain is aired on FX, Sundays at 10pm

~ J.T. Riles ~

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Categories: Channel Surfing

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