Episode #4: "It's Not For Everyone”
by Dan Tomasik
Eph and Nora cut open a vampire to see what makes them tick, another locks himself away from his family to protect them, while a third has spread the infection. The rich benefactor of the Stoneheart group commissions a hacker to slow communication to a crawl as his condition grows increasingly sickly. Elsewhere, a former convict steals and sells a car.
It’s surgery time for Eph & co. After quickly establishing that Eph bashed a former pilot’s face in with a fire extinguisher in a clear case of self-defense, the time has come to put a vampire on the operating table and see what they’re dealing with. The answer is they’re dealing with a monster. A monster with new organs, new skin, new waste management system, and a 6-foot stinger that extends from its mouth. Charming stuff. The time has also come for Eph’s pal Jim to admit he was the one who let the box through on orders from Stoneheart. In his defense, it was a box scientifically proven to be filled with completely normal dirt; how was he to know there was a 9-foot-tall ancient Master Vampire inside as well? Regardless, Eph and Nora leave him behind. Still, with motives as pure as trying to pay for his wife’s cancer treatments, there may yet be hope for Jim to redeem himself!
In another part of town, Ansel, one of the survivors has locked himself away in his room and told his wife Ann-Marie to take the kids to his mother’s home. Our first case of open resistance against the transformation. In a touching act, he has chained himself up inside his own shed. Ann-Marie, however, proves that for all her prayers and Virgin Mary qualities, she has more difficulty controlling her urges than he rapidly transforming husband. An interesting twist on the introduction of devote religion to vampires. Whether or not a cross will restrain them is not proven (nor likely), instead we are given a brief betrayal of faith by one who seemed so innocent. Interesting times are ahead if this is what the pure resort to.
Back at the Stoneheart group, the sickly Mr. Palmer calls in a remarkable young hacker to drag the internet down and arrest communications, putting the people of New York back in the Stone Ages of dial-up. Miss Hacker is also the first person we’ve seen who has successfully gotten under Blink’s skin. Here’s hoping there’s more of her to come. Mr. Palmer’s condition worsens and they can’t seem to get in contact with Blink, prompting his doctors to perform surgery on him.
On the other end of the relevancy scale is Gus Elizalde, the former convict commissioned by Blink to drive the box over the bridge. He has been featured in every episode since the beginning, but has had no relevance to the outbreak since he left the box in a parking garage. No relevance besides giving Setrakian back his clock. His arc has followed his attempts to care for his Mama using the money he made while trying to keep an eye on his drug-addict brother. with his old buddy’s help, they nab a car and sell it for cash. Vampires are running loose in the city, but for them life goes on as normal. Sorta.
Last but not least comes Eph and Nora’s hunt for the other survivors, starting with little Emma, who was apparently released to her father’s open embrace despite being dead. Lacking his trademark fire extinguisher with which to combat the undead, the day is saved by Setrakian, who appears (almost literally) out of nowhere and goes to town on Emma and her infected father. A few quick slashes with a silver sword, two more vampires down for the count. The time has also come for Nora to leave Eph and Setrakian behind, unable to believe killing people is the way to handle an outbreak. Dear Nora, you mustn’t think of them as people; a blood-soaked 8-year-old just tried to bite you with a stinger longer than she was. With luck, she’ll come around eventually.
Open surgery on a vampire, dog corpses, blood-soaked clothes & people, battles with the undead, and the decapitation of a monster child. Tell the kids to go to bed. We have not yet reached blood gushing and spraying all over, but it’s only a matter of time. Unless your child wishes to become a surgeon, they do not need to be seeing the inside of human/vampire bodies.
A take on the old “checking on my sickly husband who told me to take the kids and go” trope, with a twist. Most of the horror comes from the shock of seeing the human shells the virus has invaded, plus the threat of a python-esque stinger suddenly jumping out at you.
Ann-Marie pushing her neighbor into the shed with Ansel for hitting her dog. Quite a shock for a woman who has no less than 3 crosses with her at all times.
WIBTOVE (Why It’s Better Than Other Vampire Entertainment):
It’s been four episodes. By now, most shows would have New York in full outbreak mode. The Strain, however, is quietly building up to it. Over the course of these episodes, there have been subtle hints to what the show is waiting for. An impending eclipse which will send the world into darkness. The perfect time for the outbreak to explode. Points for subtlety and taking your time.