Episode 11: “The Third Rail”
by Dan Tomasik
Gus returns home, Eph & co seek out the Master, and Zach holds down the fort.
Finally cleaning up some of the loose ends from past episodes. Most important is the first brush between Gus and the rest of the cast. Well, Zach anyway. It’s a great episode for Gus, showing sides of him that have been predominantly lacking thus far. Weakness, grief, even polite conversation; there is much more to Gus than an ex-con with a sweet mama and damning debt. His ultimate purpose in the series remains uncertain, but it’s certain his role will continue to become more and more involved with the main storyline.
Another undeveloped character given great development is Eph’s son, Zach. A day looking after Nora’s mother turns into the scariest sequence, thus far in The Strain. While Zach has remained one of those fantastic TV series kids who is neither stupid nor annoying, he has yet to play a big role in the vampire apocalypse before today. A simple interaction with Gus could yield a future team-up with him and the rest of the Strigoi Slayers.
Speaking of whom, this episode also addresses a staple of vampire lore; the maddening obsession with destroying the foul creatures. There are two types of monster slayers; wise ones and crazed ones. The difference is all a matter of how long they’ve been at it. Couple of weeks, they’re probably still able to think straight, worry about other matters, keep an eye on both the big picture and the small picture. As time goes on, the obsession starts taking hold. It becomes a part of everyday activity, a way of life, until pretty soon it’s the only thing that matters. For someone who’s been at it as long as Setrakian, it must be said he’s held on to his sanity and reason quite well. Quite well, that is, until he misses his opportunity to finish the Master once and for all, leading to a breakdown. Still, despite his losing it and smashing a wooden coffin to pieces with a sledgehammer while yelling and demanding they follow after the lightning-fast Master; one thing that has not been lost is our respect for Setrakian. Has this vampire fixation taken over his life, yes. Has it taken away his reason and ability to lead, protect, or reason, not at all.
Heads roll; literally. Decapitation after decapitation of bloodsucking strigoi with sharp objects. In the wise words of Max Brooks, “blades don’t need reloading”
A nightmarish retreat to a grocery store basement, leading Zach into an encounter with a dormant strigoi. One of those terrifying experiences where half of you wants to stand still and half wants to bolt away as fast as possible. The cherry on top is the exit device, one of those long ramps made up of dozens of rollers. No matter how fast you scurry, you don’t seem to move at all. Good luck sleeping afterwards.
Some seriously claustrophobic shots inside a vampire rat tunnel. Also, nasty bloodsuckers nesting under the sewers.
The strife, who stepped on the third rail and fried herself. (Had to.)
WIBTOVE (Why It’s Better Than Other Vampire Entertainment):
A Master vampire who does not screw around. While Eichhorst is there to smile and act gentlemanly like most vampire antagonists, the Master has one goal and one purpose; kill. The “Drinker of Men” does reveal himself to prey unless he intends to eat or maim it.
Vampire Kill of the Week:
Gus is delivering “rent” to his landlord.
Episode Score: 8.4