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[TV Review] “The Strain” Episode 1.10, ‘Loved Ones’

With the final few episodes of the season, you’d think The Strain wouldn’t waste precious time with plotlines that don’t move the story forward. Would you be surprised to know that “Loved Ones” actually contains no plot progression whatsoever?

That’s right, this episode begins and ends in the exact same place for all of the characters. It’s infuriating. The story feels so padded. It’s stalling against an inevitable conclusion for reasons unknown. It’s almost afraid that the main plot line could be resolved too quickly so it spreads itself too thin for too long.

Let’s get some obvious issues out of the way. The episode begins with Zack magically being able to access the Internet in a world that has had the Internet shut down. (A fact, which we’re constantly reminded of.) He turns on find my iPhone and tracks his mom’s phone with ease. Then Eph says the coming apocalypse can wait, and everyone else is like it’s cool, go find your ex-wife. So he leaves.

It’s amazing too, because he’s looking for this iPhone in a red case, and luckily he’s able to spot it from approximately 100 feet away in the possession of a homeless woman with a badly burnt leg. Hard cut to him wrapping gauze around her burn. Then I hope you like flashbacks! Because this week is like an episode of Pimp My Ride: flashbacks on flashbacks on flashbacks.

What is so important that it requires so many flashbacks to tell the story, why it’s the demise of Kelly Goodweather! As someone who’s familiar the source material, Kelly’s journey should prove interesting, but this week we’re treated to it all at once. We’re constantly reminded of what happened in the past, and this just feels like a last ditch effort to retread old ground in an attempt to stall the major story for one more week.

I enjoy her transformation. I even liked some of her scenes this week. But so much of this defies pacing logic. I feel shortchanged as a viewer. We gained no new information from Kelly’s journey and we didn’t even feel the emotional weight of her demise until the final minutes of the episode. Eph finding the necklace in the basement was enough to know that she was dead. Frankly it would have been more interesting to see Kelly’s story play out last week and have Eph retrace her journey this week. Instead we see it all play out twice, right here, right now.

I digress, but that’s what this episode felt like, a gigantic digression. While I didn’t enjoy most of what last week had to offer I still felt like it inched things along for some of the key players. This week we got no Eichorst, virtually no Abraham, and a couple wasted scenes with Vasily.

The result was a truly painful hour of television that finally got away with establishing the rules of it’s world in favor of focusing on character. But the characters are so scattered and one dimensional that it’s hard to feel anything for them or what they’re going through. The Strain is having a serious identity crisis. It can’t decide on the story it wants to tell, and it’s trying too hard to tell too many  stories. Instead the narrative should take a page from the Dark Horse Comic adaptation and really look at cutting the fat from the bloated narrative.

There needs to be a serious change of focus in these final three weeks for me to stick around into season two. Bring back the horror, and show me the world in chaos.

Stray Thoughts:

–       Matt going to the bathroom before killing Kelly, doesn’t make any sense at all.

–       The quick scene of Kelly seeing the internals of humans passing by was fantastic. Just a walking heart, gimme dat blood.

–       I loved the weird way the Vampires are just walking around in society. The ones that Kelly viewed were terrifying but too few and far between.

–       God damn The Stonehart scenes were useless.

–       Really? No Eichorst, or Gus?

–       Where’s Quinlan?


What did you think of “Loved Ones” ?




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