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FX (ended 2017)
The strain. The strain!

Oh, Strain, we've missed you. It's been nine or so months without your wacky end-of-the-world vampire apocalypse antics, and it's good to have you back. Let's face it, The Strain is probably the best TV show today with a title relating to constipated bowel movements. Although Salvation probably comes close.

And so we come to "The Worm Turns". To refresh the memories of everyone playing along at home, the Master arranged the detonation of a nuclear warhead near NYC. This caused a nuclear winter that has cast an orange glow over the daylight hours. This has filtered out the UV rays of the sunlight and lets the strigoi come out to play during the daytime.

As we're informed during one of those obnoxiously cheerful "Here's what's going on" fake commercials, strigoi and humans (i.e., collaborators) have now formed The Partnership. Humans get free medical care (i.e., the white), and all humans have to do to collect it is make regular blood donations. Not everyone wants to play by these rules, and they live on the outskirts of humanity using the black market to get by.

Eph is one of those people. Living in Philadelphia, he trades his medical skills for black market goods like liquor, and works for a black marketer named Karl. Eph is our viewpoint into their brave new world, as strigoi and their feelers patrol the streets and keep order while humans cheerfully line up to donate blood. There's a fake scare at the beginning as strigoi close in on a guy standing near Eph, but he gets away clean. There's also a bit of a minor subplot introduced when Eph notices that strigoi are pumping blood into a strigoi-only apartment block.

Meanwhile, Vasiliy and Quinlan are roaming North Dakota looking for a nuclear warhead. This seems to involve going up to prepper camps and asking them if they've seen missile silos. And then killing them when a) the preppers have no idea where the silos are, and b) decide to grab Vasiliy's new girlfriend, Charlotte. Where's Dutch? Who knows based on this week's episode.

Vasiliy has a hallucination of Abraham telling him to get off his ass and start doing something serious to find the warhead. And then turning into a strigoi. Because... David Bradley is off in England filming Doctor Who? I don't know.

Anyhoo, Vasiliy and Charlotte get captured by frontier women. Who lock Vasiliy up in a barn with Roman (K.C. Collins), a former missile silo soldier who knows where his silo is. Thanks to Quinlan, Vasiliy manages to escape by playing dead and luring the frontier women into the barn so he can grab one hostage. As the writers lampshade, Quinlan says that Vasiliy fell into manure and came out smelling like roses. And yes, it's just that easy to find a missile silo: get captured by bad guys and hope your cellmate knows where the warhead is.

On Subplot 3, the Master (now Palmer, i.e., actor Jonathan Hyde) is now training Zach to be a young sociopath by giving him a rifle and letting him hunt tigers in Central Park Zoo. And causing Zach to hallucinate that the Master is actually his now-dead mother Kelly (a guest starring Natalie Brown). Eichhorst is still playing mostly obedient manservant and complaining that Zach isn't worthy to be much of anything. He's right, but the Master wants Zach as a host body and as a hostage so that Eph will keep Abraham and Quinlan from acting against him. Little does he know that Eph isn't involved with them. Yet.

The Master also gives Zach an attractive female teenage maid as a "reward" for killing a tiger.

Oh, and Eph gets captured but freed when some homegrown saboteurs, led by Alex Green (Angel Parker), blow up the bus that he's on. Alex points out that humanity has lost because of selfish jerks like Eph, so this tweaks Eph's conscience enough that he sticks around.

Where's Gus? Who knows? Who cares?

And so The Strain heads down the home stretch as humanity faces a vampire apocalypse. Vasiliy and Quinlan have a good back-and-forth banter, and Kevin Durand clearly remains the show's MVP. He's roaming the wastelands, riding a motorcycle, making wisecracks, and having sex with beautiful women. Rupert Penry-Jones is still cool is a half-strigoi sort of way. Max Charles as Zach is still an annoying teenage sociopath. Jonathan Hyde is suitably evil looking and acting.

We don't get much of Richard Sammel and David Bradley this episode. Judging by the previews, it looks like Abraham will end up in a hospital bed with Eichhorst as his keeper. Sammel is good as always, having to obey the Master while conveying his disgust with having to deal with his boss wearing the face of the man who was his nemesis.

Corey Stoll is still basically a big lug. At least they don't have him getting drunk and having sex again, even if he's "I'm down, and then I'm up as I regain my interest in humanity" story arc seems way too predictable. Durand's seemingly eternal and fruitless quest, and Vasiliy's reaction to it, is a lot more subtle.

The rest of the supporting cast, like Angel Parker and Rhona Mitra as Charlotte... eh. It's hard to get attached to anyone on The Strain, since the odds are they'll be dead in five episodes. Heck, not even the main cast is safe, so why should we get too worked up about the guest stars.

As for the story itself, it's all pretty vague. Abraham is lord knows where, and Vasiliy and Quinlan are trying to get a nuclear warhead to do... what? Blow up the Master, I guess, but why not just use that scrambler from last season and go with a better version of "Put the Master in a silver-lead box and sink him at seas"? Instead I guess they want to nuke a city to get him.

The scenes of the strigoi patrolling the streets in the orangey daylight are effective. It's the kind of thing that's hard for anyone to mess up, and brings the show's background modern-day-Nazis vibe to the foreground. We don't learn anything about the human collaborators who are going along with this whole thing. Or how the Partnership runs. Wouldn't the Master have to be involved somehow? He is most of the strigoi, and the strigoi are him. Seems like a day-to-day bureaucratic headache. But all we get is the Big M hanging out at the Empire State Building indulging his Zach-interest with Zach and Eichhorst.

So overall, "The Worm Turns" is a decent introduction to the new world order of strigoi and humans, living together, fire and brimstone coming down from the sky, nine years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from their graves. I'd rather see more of the new world than the main cast, but oh well.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
Comments (3)
Jul 18, 2017
Is this piece of crap still on? Turned it off at the end of season 2 when they trotted out the "Brain Dead Idiot Kid!" One of my least favorite tropes.
Jul 18, 2017
The BDIK is still there, and more brain dead than ever.
Jul 18, 2017
Yeah a friend of mine who lasted one season longer than I did, said the same thing. He said, "I have never wanted a kid character to die so bad as I do this one!" ;-)

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