The Strain, that TV show with the freaky worm crawling into a wide open human eye on the posters that you have probably been disgusted by, premiered last night on FX. If, like me, you aren’t familiar with the source material, the series is based on a trilogy of novels by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. (Hogan wrote the book that was turned into The Town.) The premiere episode was kind of awesome in a bad-awesome movie kind of way.
I hadn’t originally planned to watch The Strain on Sunday night, but 30 minutes into the third episode of The Leftovers, I gave up. I couldn’t take it anymore. After an interesting first episode, The Leftovers went into a tailspin of boring. I’ve already sat through one Damon Lindelof show that never gave any answers, so the fact that we already know you’ll never get any answers in The Leftovers means I’m probably not going to be super upset by abandoning it. So long.
With the disappointment of The Leftovers, Halt and Catch Fire and Tyrant, we need another hour-long drama to fill the summer hours. There are a lot of problems with The Strain (which I will exhaustively point out below), but being boring is not one of them. The Strain is the summer’s answer to The Blacklist. A lot of caricatures saying obvious and ridiculous things while entertaining shit happens around them.
You want to know why The Strain is worth your time?
YOU HAVE MY FULL AND UNDIVIDED ATTENTION.
And then it ran away backwards like Patrick from Spongebob had been scared by a spider! It was terrifying, disgusting, gratuitously violent and absolutely hilarious in a 7-second span.
I have no idea what that thing is. It’s the cot damn Grim Reaper combined with The Mountain combined with an evil vampire that probably won’t be having any love triangles with Sookie or a werewolf or anything else. This thing is here to do one thing and that is fuck shit up. Hooray for taking 2-minutes instead of 2-seasons to show the audience what we should be afraid of. Is this what happened to the missing people in The Leftovers? Because I would watch that.
Dr. Ephraim Goodweather – So this is our hero. He’s kind of a douche who is going through a divorce. He gets to a counseling session in Astoria (Note: That is not Astoria), Queens and parks in front of a fire hydrant. His wife’s new boyfriend tells him he can’t park there. That dude is also parked illegally next to the hydrant. What a dick. The counseling session is extremely pointless. It is an attempt to build character. It is summer. There is no time or reason for such frivolous things. Let me explain what you need to know about Dr. Eff… wait. No. Mr. Eff.
1. That is Peter Russo from House of Cards. WITH HAIR. Realizing that was Pete Russo with hair was one of the highlights of my weekend.
2. His defining character trait is that he drinks milk. Seriously. He gets to the site of the virus outbreak and his assistant hands him a freaking single-serving milk carton like he just strolled into a damn elementary school cafeteria. Acting.
3. He gets from Astoria to JFK in 20 minutes. That’s how you drive when you’re a cocksure CDC employee.
4. His complete dismissal of Walder Frey – yes, Walder Frey. Like, 4 times in one conversation.
5. He gives a big speech on contagions and touching faces which gets an “oops, you just got pwn’d” look from his assistants. Speaking of…
Sexy Doctor Scientist Lady – She is a science doctor. And wants you to be nicer to Mr. Eff. She also takes part in the most gratuitous suiting-up scene like that since Star Trek Into Darkness. Then she and Mr. Eff change like 20 times. None of those are shown, but they do full outfit changes from their HazMat suits to their regular clothes at least 5 times.
Sean Astin – Yeah, Rudy is in this. He’s like the third banana at the CDC team. So when Mr. Eff and Sex Doctor Scientist Lady are going through the plane and the cockpit is unlocked and Sean Astin doesn’t think SDSL should be going into the cockpit alone and then he tries to send in the SWAT team. It makes no sense. He obviously has his job because he keeps Mr. Eff’s milk cold.
Walder Frey – The Late Walder Frey is some kind of old badass vampire hunter who runs a pawn shop in Harlem. I would watch that show.
Evil Illuminati Vampire Warm-Blooded Reptilian Things – I guess this is a show about vampires. With worms. Who love the cold. Who were brought to Manhattan by a billionaire cancer patient at the head of a secret organization of vampires. These vampires are not as powerful on Long Island.
Gus – Why does the Evil Corporate Vampire Syndicate hire a gangbanger to drive the box? He seems like kind of a loose cannon. He brought a gun to an airport.
JFK Security – There are hundreds of people and media members out on the tarmac. An old man walks past security with a giant sword. Gus has a gun and gets out the one thing that shouldn’t have been able to leave. And why did the giant coffin need to be picked up anyway? The giant Grim VampiReaper flew away with the box and put it in a van. This is one of those ancient things that can only get to Manhattan by van?
4:55am – Back to Gus for a moment. Gus calls his mother. At 4:55am. And asks if his brother is home. His mother is making breakfast for his brother. Who is drinking the last beer in the fridge. At 4:55am. While watching loud Spanish television. While his mother is making him breakfast. At 4:55am. No scene in television history has ever left more questions unanswered.
Creepy Little Girl – That last scene was creepy as Eff. Well, not Eff the character. Eff as in short for the F-World. Super creepy. I guess my only question is why is this girl flying alone and why did her father have a framed 8×10 with him at the airport?
Manifest – Let’s see… What’s on the manifest? We’ve got one giant vampire coffin soil box, 40 generators, 10 televisions and 10,000 condoms. Wait, did he just say 10,000 condoms? WHY WERE THERE TEN THOUSAND CONDOMS ON THIS PASSENGER FLIGHT!? Please don’t let this be a throwaway line.
Other notable things: Family Watching Live News on Laptop, Father and Son Signing Text Messages to Each Other, Sweet Caroline in Morgue, Technology (Autopsy by FaceTime. Speaking of the autopsies, they have one guy doing 206 autopsies?), The Clock (What’s up with The Clock? The only time that seemed to matter was sunrise.), New York City – If you want to read the names of different parts of New York, this show is for you.)
In conclusion: I don’t know if I will write about this show every week, but I will be watching this show forever. It’s dumb. It’s creepy. It’s awesome and violent. It is The Blacklist with Walder Frey, Pete Russo and The Grim Reader Vampire Illuminati. It is the only new thing this summer that has been remotely worth watching.