The Strain ‘The Box’ Recap: Episode 01.02

The StrainTHE STRAIN "The Box" -- Episode 2 (Airs Sunday, July 20, 10:00 pm e/p) -- Pictured: (L-R) Mia Maestro as Nora Martinez, Corey Stoll as Ephraim Goodweather, Sean Astin as Jim Kent -- CR: Michael Gibson/FX
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The second episode of The Strain sees the powers that be hold down the CDC, introduces a new exterminator, sees Gus start to step up, and has one of the best confrontations of the first two episodes so far. Here is a look at the good and bad about episode 01.02, The Box.

Vasily Fet

Out of all the main characters, the one who didn’t appear in the pilot is Vasily Fet, played by Kevin Durand. However, he finally makes his debut in this second episode, although it isn’t much more than a glorified cameo. He is a New York City health inspector, a former exterminator who will shut down any business, despite its prestigious reputation, if he finds rats. For those who have read the books, you know that Fet becomes the exterminator looking for the infected vampires and the muscle of the heroes. He gets a descent introduction here but it isn’t much yet.

Gus also got a little more time, as he stands up to his brother for still stealing and committing crimes. It is clear that Gus is going to play a role and he is actually one of the best developed characters on The Strain so far.

The Strain

THE STRAIN “The Box” — Episode 2 (Airs Sunday, July 20, 10:00 pm e/p) — Pictured: (L-R) Mia Maestro as Nora Martinez, Corey Stoll as Ephraim Goodweather — CR: Michael Gibson/FX

Eph is Still a Weak Character

When you create a character, the first thing you learn is to show and don’t tell. There was one nice moment in the episode where Eph heads to an AA meeting and talks about being sober for over a year. This comes after he visits his son and discusses the custody hearing that is coming up. However, at the end of the day, it is still telling us these things instead of having him show us anything. Outside of Eph grabbing his boss by the collar when he learns that the CDC has been pulled and the authority is lying about the epidemic, there isn’t much here to build Eph’s character.

The Authority and the Proposed Lawsuits

Outside of the lack of characterization of Eph, who is supposed to be our main protagonist, the stereotypes are disturbing this early in the series. When it comes to a TV show, even one where there are lots of expected deaths, there needs to be real characters that we can cheer for. The authority figures here are horrible, a man who is supposed to be about protecting society who only cares about trade routes and allows a possible epidemic to break out. I know it needs to happen in order to set up the big outbreak, but it was done a little too generically here.

The Strain

THE STRAIN “The Box” — Episode 2 (Airs Sunday, July 20, 10:00 pm e/p) — Pictured: Jack Kesy as Gabriel Bolivar — CR: Michael Gibson/FX

However, the worst came with the survivors. There is the attorney Joan Luss who wants to sue everyone because she was put in danger on the plane and threatens to sue if they don’t release her from quarantine. She knows she is sick, but she only cares about suing someone, which is just too stereotypical and is just eye rolling and groan worthy. There is the punk rock star Gabriel Bolivar that is a generic rock star in every way. There is also Captain Redfern, who feels horrible about what happened, and wants to help uncover the truth. They are three one-dimensional characters and that is hurting this show. There is also Ansel Barbour, who left but was never seen again this episode.

The Vampires are Rising

Of course, the survivors have the same thirst for blood as the deceased (which all rose last week). Joan Luss is bleeding from her mouth and Captain Redfern checks himself into a hospital, which helps Eph learn what is happening to the survivor’s bodies. The best of them was Boliver who actually attacks a groupie he is having sex with and takes a big bite out of her neck before crawling on the floor and eating up the blood that spilled. That was pretty awesome.

The Strain

THE STRAIN “The Box” — Episode 2 (Airs Sunday, July 20, 10:00 pm e/p) — Pictured: (L-R) Mia Maestro as Nora Martinez, Corey Stoll as Ephraim Goodweather — CR: Michael Gibson/FX

Also great was when Eldritch Palmer finally meets The Master as he seeks immortality. The fear in Palmer’s eyes is genuine and it is clear this is more demented than he ever dreamed.

The best scene in the episode was when Thomas Eichorst went to the jail to meet with Abraham Setrakian. We see here that Abraham, the old vampire hunter, goes back a long way with Eichorst and killed one of the vampire’s close companions in Europe. He also has a sword that he took from The Master and threatens to deliver it back to him. There were also some nice hints given here about a loved one that Eichorst killed and it is her heart that Abraham had in his pawn shop and was still feeding his blood to. Finally, there is the fact that Eichorst was a Nazi who numbered Abraham when he was in a Nazi concentration camp.

Finally, there was the same twisted ending as the first episode. The little vampire girl was soaking in a bathtub while her father was trying to help bring her back to health. Sadly for him, the terror that the first episode left the audience feeling turned into pure horror this week when the little girl launched a tongue out of her mouth and apparently killed her father.

The Strain

THE STRAIN “The Box” — Episode 2 (Airs Sunday, July 20, 10:00 pm e/p) — Pictured: Mia Maestro as Nora Martinez — CR: Michael Gibson/FX

Analysis

The Strain is a show with a lot of great ideas and a fantastic story at its core. However, it is really struggling when it comes to building its characters into fully rounded characters. Almost everyone on this show is one-dimensional or stereotypical. However, there is time for that to change when the epidemic starts to spread. For now, the set up is underway and I hope fans give it time to find its feet because the ideas are really good right now.

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About the Author

Shawn S. Lealos
Shawn is a film critic with over 25 years of experience in print and online media. He is a member of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle and loves everything from critically acclaimed movies to B-level action flicks.
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