Episode #3: "Gone Smooth"
by Dan Tomasik
Setrakian is released and goes hunting, Eph’s custody hearing takes an emotional toll on him, Vasiliy sees a sign of the apocalypse, and the survivors transform. Outbreak is imminent.
Summary (Warning: Spoilers Ahead):
“Gone Smooth”; what a perfect title for the episode that seems to have finally found a rhythm for this series. Whatever was excess or bland has been smoothed out, keeping things tighter and more entertaining. Even the politics are incorporated in such a way as to prevent them from dragging the episode down. Eph’s personality has become more familiar and flesh-out, allowing a lot more connection. We’re really starting to root for this guy. The scenes move with more fluidity and connection, while at the same time the disturbing material is much more prevalent. It’s only a matter of time before things explode, figuratively speaking.
This week’s episode is filled with transformations, starting with Blink’s morning makeup routine. For any optimists/doubters out there, let there be no more question that he is indeed a monster. Pale green skin, bald head, no ears or nose, visible blue veins, sharp teeth, forked tongue, bloody eyes; the gentleman is a vampire. It’s pretty unnerving seeing his true form, as is seeing the latex noses and ears he has on his nightstand. Perhaps they aren’t latex at all...
Next come our survivors, who are experiencing more & more of the high-pitched sounds, voices in their heads, soreness, sensitivity to light, red eyes, bloodlust, as well as a few new traits. Forked tongues, sensitive (and sharpened) teeth, and in the case of our Maggot Death musician, issues down under. The transformation is reaching the point where the vampirism is overpowering the human personality.
The quickest but possibly scariest transformation only appears for a few seconds, but serves to remind us of a nightmare that will have to be faced sooner or later. The little girl who killed her father is still in the house, but is transforming like the others. There’s something deeply unsettling about seeing wispy hair and bald spots silhouetted on a little girl. It’s upsetting on a paternal level to see a child become a monster, knowing one will have to deal with it eventually but trying to put it off for as long as possible. Our best hope is that it will be quick. Sadly, there is little evidence to suggest the showrunners will comply with such optimistic demands.
There is also the brief but fun transformation of Abraham Setrakian from Van Helsing-esque librarian type to helpless, senile, possibly southern old man for his court appearance. “I’m old, your honor, I do things and forget why I do them. I get lost easily, forget where I put things. Sometimes I walk into a quarantined area with a sword concealed inside my cane”. Here’s to getting away with things because you’re old!
There’s also an ominous scene following Vasiliy on a run for a rich government-type. Vasiliy shows himself to be a sweet guy with a soft spot for kids, but no interest in cuddling or coddling people who think they’re better than anyone else. He’s also a lot smarter than one would expect from a Ukrainian ex-cop-turned-exterminator who lives in a loft filled with weapons. He understands swarm mentality, as well as what attracts vermin to a location; doubtlessly helpful tools in the coming outbreak. However, one doesn’t need to be a master in animal behavior to understand the apocalyptic signals associated with rats fleeing sewers en masse.
Lastly, we have our first human-versus-vampire fight between Eph & co and the captain of the plane, fully turned and bloodthirsty. It’s clearly more of a struggle than a choreographed fight scene. None of these people are martial arts masters, as a result there’s a lot of pushing, grabbing, throwing around, falling, and poking at the monster with things. The final blows reveal that Eph’s personal struggles and repressed aggression will come in much handy whilst battling the undead in the foreseeable future.
Eph & co have a fight with a newly-turned vampire. People are thrown about, but it doesn’t get extreme until the end, when Eph bashes the vampires head in with a fire extinguisher like that rabbit hunter scene in Pan’s Labyrinth.
Lots of disturbing stuff this time around, mostly body horror and transformations. Latex(?) necks, ears, and noses being applied to Blink. Forked tongues, bloody eyes, cravings to drink the blood runoff from grocery meat, etc.
Bolivar’s balls dropping. It’s like Marilyn Manson meets Buffalo Bill. That “plopping” sound is sure to send shudders.
WIBTOVE (Why It’s Better Than Other Vampire Entertainment:
There is nothing handsome, sparkly, or attractive about these vampires. Their noses are empty holes, their skin is sickly, their creepy tongues are like a separate organism with a mind of their own, they have nasty worms wriggling around under the surface of their skin. No one wants to be this kind of vampire. Score one for making vampires scary again, as opposed to desirable.
Episode Score: 8.5