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Sunday 10:00 PM on FX (Returning Returning Summer 2015)
“A unique biological approach to vampirism…”
-Guillermo Del Toro, Inside the Strain

That Guillermo’s sentence was enough. No sci-fi + vampire lover could resist to what the master of horror had said. Me, Guillermo and the guy(s) behind the Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency, we all are sci-fi vamp geeks who thought of sci-fi versions of the nasty folklore creature which (pretty much) has been sexualized the last decade. Don’t get me wrong, I loved True Blood (for the first 3 seasons) and The Vampire Diaries (for its second season) but having orgasms when a pair of two fangs are eviscerating your neck, drinking your insides is not the appropriate reaction to a painful procedure now, isn’t it? Unless, of course, the canines/fangs administrate drugs in your blood circulation to make you feel … oops! I have done it again…. Don’t mind me!

Anyway, the moment I heard the master (of horror) telling what I quoted, I knew that there was no escape from this. Del Toro’s parasitic proboscis was already on my neck, filling my body with the Strain’s capillary worms. It was too late to save myself. And so I gave up and let the Strain mutate me. Was it a wise move?

From the pilot, I can say… I don’t know! The Strain seem to have:

1.“Scientists” instead of scientists

2.Creates minimum atmosphere every now and then

3. Gives sci-fi glimpses but goofiness makes it more like a horror comedy

4. Seems to give realistic personalities to the vampires but their motives are still blurry

5. It likes jump scares and “grossiness” without atmosphere like a B class horror

I have to admit. I’ve read the book and it was atmospheric, creepy, frightening, A+ horror. With Guillermo involved, I was sure that the show will be the same. I was wrong, apparently. It’s not the fact that The Strain won’t take itself seriously. It’s not only the B gore, the cliché and pretty dumb “scientists”. It’s the drama element that is so distracting, perhaps not because it’s bad but because horror stories should steer clear from extensive drama situations. And that’s what strikes me. I’ve heard that Del Toro himself wanted the extended drama element. Why, Guillermo? The book (with its minimum drama) needed 8-10 episodes. But they, instead, chose 13 episodes to offer some drama extensions. Perhaps because they thought they should make something more like… Walking Dead –especially since Hogan was with them. However, Lost’s quality drama is difficult to be reached and impossible when you want it as guest star to a horror story. After all, the Walking Dead is drama with horror elements. The Strain is horror with drama elements. Walking Dead’s formula was known to be successful. The Strain introduced a brand new formula and undertook the baring risk. Should they wanted something to fill in 13 episodes, they could fill them with vampiric biology. No, wait! You will have to admit (even if you are not a geek like me) that it’s more interesting to see what’s the chemical composition of that white blood or the anatomy of the dancing heart than Eph’s divorce and custody situation… Right? Yes. You agree. I see it (with a smarter morgue guy anyway).

OK, let’s start reviewing. Remember to apply safety procedures. Airsickness bags and hands near your eyes are necessary to survive this horrifying and disgusting pilot of the Strain.

The episode begins with Lance Henriksen as a narrator, talking heavy about love and hunger. We see the plane landing. Interesting start, that wasn’t from the book. A stewardess is notified by a steward that there is something extremely large and powerful trying to escape from the cargo hold. The guy seems very frightened, but hey, do you have any reason to believe your colleague who is freaked out? Let’s OPEN the hatch (LOST) without knowing what’s inside!

The tricky writers and directors had us waiting for the Master to pop up and deliver us a heart attack, but no. The Master loves the challenges. He won’t come inside your house if you open the door for him. He will wait for you to close it and then he will bring your house down to the ground to show you his strength, his superiority…! Naughty and sexy Master (see, there is sexiness to these vampires too)!

What we can only assume is that the Master became Goku from Dragonball Z and blasted a Kamehameha icky vampire saliva bomb with ammonia that made the passengers pass out. Then, he used the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen to impregnate them with the vampire capillary worms. How he got in the cockpit without bringing the door down is still a mystery.

Anyway, the Kennedy Airport staff is quickly notified that the plane is dead (yes, they said that). The dialogue is worse than the one you witness every day.

Police comes and opening credits. Opening credits are pretty bad with that Bollywood latin - like music… Who chose that, anyway?

From the suspenseful monster walking inside the plane with his Kamehameha saliva bomb (presumably) we have to see Eph having a session with the family consultant.

He is so happy and funny and unprepared that almost scares you. Zero charisma, ex-drinker, workaholic epidemiologist, unsatisfied woman, cute boyfriend, un-present man, gamer boy... The family consultant was eye rolling and so did I.

The session is disrupted when Eph feels the predicament and decides to answer his phone. The disaster news are now broken and workaholic Eph has yet to cure his defect and makes sure he will be distracted by working on this weird plane situation.
Eph loves milk and I would feed him all the white blood I could find but he has his cute (or not) minion to do this, Jim. Jim is that guy who looks so cute and innocent but with a bad history haunting him… or worse.

After his milk, Eph is panicked for a sec (or mad)when he learns that no passenger has called to sue Kennedy Airport for leaving them to die without oxygen in there with a monster worse than Saint Bernard licking their faces and destroying metal doors as if they were plastic.

The police wants to step in but Eph tells them that this could be a bioterrorist attack and viruses are really bad, so he should be the first to enter the plane with quarantine measures.

This is where the highlight and most redeeming quality of the show steps in, Abraham Setrakian portrayed by the awesome David Bradley. He is pawn shop owner and some guys will try to steal him, but boy, he is one badass grandpa! He grabs whosever arm he could find and threatens them that he will cut their main vein (or artery) in a way they will bleed out in a minute! After the Master, Abraham comes second when you want someone to exsanguinate a man.

After that amazing takedown, my most favorite character (as of now), Abraham, will watch the news and just by hearing the city’s name “Berlin” he knows…

Pick pick pick… He is here…

Then he retires for the night leaving the door unlocked (I already told you, you can’t mess with him) and finds his buddy near the bed, no, near the unattended candle

A vampire heart in a jar which he spends his time with. They talk about him and how he can’t fail this time. Because this time it’s their move.

Then the heart starts dancing, obviously because it agreed with him and for reward, he… fed it! Really, I am telling you the truth, he opened the jar and sliced his finger and the heart started beating and worms came out biting the water! Holy sh*t! I want to know the biology behind this now!!!

The good incompetent guys were now ready to enter the plane –Eph was still more interested in his milk. They found everyone dead and icky stuff everywhere with their UV lights. Vampire saliva? I don’t know. It was made of ammonia and something else and pretty much made the passengers pass out – then the Master got them.

Eph found the cargo hold but the Master wasn’t there. Nora found the cockpit door open and entered to investigate. Then, the pilot and three other passengers woke up at the same time, freaking them out. An attorney, a rockstar, the pilot and some guy who was afraid of his wife were the only ones who survived. Or not.

Next shot, a Nazi vampire elder with cool CGI eye effects takes the lift to go meet a rich man who’s dying and gets blood dialysis every day or so. He has made the room a freezer for some reason without thinking he could catch a pneumonia or so and has a lighted fireplace. What a waste of energy and oxygen!

Then, the Nazi vampire tells him that everything went as planned, the rich guy starts talking about how he learned to recognize when he crossed the line and (of course) the Nazi is not really interested in that type of conversation. Then we learn they don’t breathe. There is a really disgusting reason for this.

Then 200+ dead bodies in triple sealed bags are occupying the cargo room D of Kennedy’s airport and political factors start to kick in. This is what I find amusing. Human politicians are extremely dumb. There can’t be worse than that. And that’s really realistic. They guy didn’t want the quarantine because it would be bad publicity and he didn’t want people panicking during his administration. Humanity is so helpless with powers-that-be like those, whereas vampires have really aggressive and capable politicians who are over-ambitious at the same time. As a Viking vampire would say:

Then, the survivors undergo biological stuff, decontaminations and so on. What really impresses me is that they are not panicked. I totally expected it from the rockstar but not from the rest of the survivor team. They were there acting like they are having a routine check at their nearest clinic.

How about the coffin? They found the Master’s coffin, opened it and examined it with just a pair of gloves. Just because they found the air was clear of gasses. Guess what? The soil (which was too much) could be contaminated! And Nora pretty much touched her suit on that coffin. Sorry, Nora. You are fired!

How about Zack? Eph’s boy? He is so cute, he texts his father and then he texts back and reassures him everything is OK and then Nora confronts him… I am not recapping this!

Okay, now it’s the time. Get the airsickness bags. The traffic control guy hears some voices in his head and decides to take a mysterious path to an abandoned cargo alley/corridor (every horror story has one) and guess what? He finds a huge rug on the floor, slightly moving.

A figure that looks like a Grim Reaper licking the floor or over-performing a Japanese salute.

What would you do?
A. Run like hell
B. Kill it with fire
C. Passed out already
D. Examine it

The correct answer is D. No, I know, you are a logical person and you would choose A or B or C but this guy who controls the air traffic is dumb. How many plane accidents could have been caused by him?

And the Master welcomes him.

What happens next is way too disgusting. The Master shoots out a muscly organic Mr.Octopus appendage, covers the guy’s mouth to make sure he won’t scream and from inside that a stinger like xenomorph tail punctures his carotid artery. That stinger sucks the blood so fast (15 seconds to bleed out) that destroys the circulatory system, gives the heart multiple attacks or even a displacement… Then, the Master, breaks his neck and crashes his skull on the floor to make sure he won’t turn into one of them. He could simply squeeze his head to decapitation. But no. Gore will be gore.

Are you vomiting right now? Good, because a hilarious scene is coming. The Master flew backwards with his Harry Potter cape dancing in the air and bumping on crates and other stuff placed in the alley/corridor!

And is there anything better to do than go back to the Nazi? He is closing a deal with a scum to transfer the coffin with the Master elsewhere. He is threatening him that his mother will be deported if he does anything stupid. He gets mad and some morality issues about stolen artifacts arise but the Nazi vampire knows how to talk you through. Notice how his neck pulses as he speaks. Notice how cold and emotionless he is. I have to admit that Richard Sammel is perfect for this role, he has given unbelievable creepiness to the character, bravo Richard.

The badass grandpa with his camouflaged sword enters the airport and finds the CDC team. He fakes a heart problem to pass through the guards and talks to the cute (or not) guy. Meanwhile, Eph gives a press conference (yawn). We said it. Zero charisma. And probably that’s why a guy from the crowd slaps him (LOL!) because he wants his daughter back! Geez, these writers make me want to side with the disgusting vampires here. Are they the same writers who write the Under the Dome characters? This stupidity shall not survive. For the shake of the evolutionary chain, they must be eradicated.

Eph and Nora will soon talk on the phone with the morgue guy (this guy is pure stupidity!). The morgue guy, who is protected by one of those infamous masks I first saw on HELIX (that means he was unaware of the contagion?), informs them that there is an incision on the bodies, a perfect incision that doesn’t destroy the artery or anything else on the body, a surgical masterpiece carefully crafted that can’t be reproduced with any surgical instrument. Oh my, the Master is an artist! And his clay is the human body. Another sexual trait of the Strain vampires… Oh, and their blood is white!

Finally, Abraham finds them and tells them that he knows what this is, the weird incision and the white blood and the coffin.

Well, he didn't mention vampires, but he seemed to know way too much things he wasn't supposed to know. Their reaction?

Hahaha, despite the poor guy told them everything as it is (and those are secrets no one would know), they still ignored him! How stupid can they be? Please, tell me! And because he carried the camouflaged sword, he was arrested! Only one person could be humanity’s salvation and he is now imprisoned!

Incompetent Nora and Eph searched the plane one more time and found the capillary worms. They know what they are but they don’t know their species. Eph found them beautiful! Nora was, at least, disgusted! And only now we can see the true reason of his divorce. If I was a woman, I wouldn’t want that guy as my husband too. Finding parasitic worms beautiful and I guess piranhas and crocodiles “fascinating”… Go away!

Nora finds soil. And soil=coffin. But the coffin is now gone. The CCTV system shows a Grim Reaper distortion grabbing the box at high speed. And you know what happens next? We get to know that these vampires can fly! Oh, no, that’s a big problem. Real trouble it is. You simply can’t overpower a vampire when he can fly. Ever. Humanity is screwed. I now administrate myself with NARVIK A. All hope is lost. I will at least die without becoming those things and my black blood will contradict their white! I am the opposite of a monster. I am an angel (keep this in mind – that I am an angel – you will need it if you continue watching this show).

The scum takes the van with the coffin and makes a run for it. Eph and Nora tell to the cute CDC guy to stop all vans because the coffin disappeared. The van is stopped. And then the cute guy becomes evil and tells to the scum driver “tell them I’m done with them after this”! And lets him through!

The most hilarious and insulting scene is now coming! The morgue guy slices the bodies, removes their hearts and he is fascinated by the biological changes on them. A guy alone with 200+ corpses in a horror story. What’s the worst that could happen? He hears a sound. Goes to investigate. Finds nothing. Then, the heart starts beating on the scale! What would you do?

A. Run like hell
B. Kill it with fire
C. Passed out already
D. Pick it up with your hands to examine it

The correct answer is, once again, D. Then the worms attack this guy and then all the corpses (one of them sliced and diced) eat him. Good riddance with “Sweet Caroline” playing in the background.

The rich guy is sentimental. Between the ultimate treason against his own kind and the questionable accounts in Switzerland, he takes a walk down the streets of New York for the last time. The scum crosses the bridge and has some family drama. Won’t care.

The last scene is the only scene I will ever believe that Guillermo was involved with. The guy who bitch slapped Eph is crying and… his daughter comes in from the backyard. In the dark, he tells him “Daddy, I’m cold”. He is stupefied but soon overcomes the shock and hugs his daughter. Daughter eyes apply CGI mirror effect.

And the end!

My opinion? Watch the next 3 episodes and if it doesn’t get better, better read the book. The book is everything a horror story should be.
Peace out.
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