Episode 10: "Loved Ones"
by Dan Tomasik
Eph searches for Kelly, Vasiliy and Dutch search for Palmer, and the rest of the group plans out their next move.
A much more restrained episode from previous weeks, “Loved Ones” trades in carnage for emotion and trauma for drama. The feels are heavy and the kills shocking. This is one that hangs over you.
Oddly enough, it starts off fairly light. It’s morning for the first time in quite a few weeks, allowing a chance for the characters to gather themselves, see to the injured, seek out loved ones, and not worry about strigoi for a little while. For a brief time, it’s almost as if the world isn’t ending. This doesn’t last long, however.
Much of the episode is treading on familiar ground as Kelly’s transformation into one of the undead is presented. Whereas the initial transformations took place over several episodes with multiple individuals, this one is much more personal and leaves a much bigger impact. It’s great to see a series that knows horror isn’t all about things popping up behind you. A well-paced piece depicting a singular descent into monstrosity can inspire just as much terror as blood & guts
Kelly’s transformation is one of the best in memory, and certainly the best of the series thus far. It’s somewhat akin to the classic shapeshifting scene from An American Werewolf in London, taking its time and emphasizing the physicality of the morph. We get to see the physical symptoms take their toll on Kelly; the sensitivity, the discomfort, the wheezing, gagging, and shambling. It almost feels as if she isn’t a person anymore, just a collection of pains and aches. Kelly’s suffering has not ended with her final transformation, it’s clear there is a long road of agony still to come, both inflicted upon and by her.
On the other end of the spectrum is a visit to the Stoneheart Group by Vasiliy and Dutch. Praise must be showered upon Kevin Durand, who plays Vasiliy. The role was rumored to have been written with frequent Del Toro collaborator Ron Perlman in mind, but the more of this Vasiliy we see, the harder it is to see Perlman pulling it off quite so well. This is not to discredit Perlman, but to compliment Durand, who has made the character so definitively his own. Confident, charming, equally comfortable supporting friends and slaughtering strigoi; he has a natural gravity that pulls people towards him. It feels wrong that he’s meant to be a merciless sociopath with no desire to have friends or connections. This guy should have nieces or nephews to cherish him whenever he comes to visit.
Altogether, a strong episode that gets under your skin and pushes you to dark places. It focuses on the smaller picture, but it carries no less weight.
Little to none.
All manner throughout. A few shocks and bloody vampires, but the real chills are much slower and heavier. The sickening transformation is certain to unnerve many, but the real gut-wrenchers involve Kelly and her victims. The Strain proves to be taking FX’s “fearless” motto seriously, there is nothing they won’t do. They will infect mothers and children, and they will kill them, too.
Kelly kills Ann and turns her son.
WIBTOVE (Why It’s Better Than Other Vampire Entertainment):
Fearlessness. Anyone can become a vampire, and anyone can be put down. No one is excluded, no one is safe.
Vampire Kill of the Week:
Eph kills Kelly and Ann’s infected son, but it’s not a kill to be proud of.
Episode Score: 8.4/0