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Review – The Strain Season 1, Episode 03 – “Going Smooth”

The Strain LogoGone Smooth gives credence to the saying, “Third time’s a charm.” The episode was written by executive producer and series co-creator Chuck Hogan, and it’s a nice balance between character development and establishing the fundamental plot points in the other stories.

Thomas Eichorst’s (Richard Sammel) meticulous intro gives us a detailed look at the final transformation. So Instead of dragging out the survivors’ metamorphosis and showing them all losing their hair we bounce between the male survivors Ansel Barbour (Nikolai Witschl), Captain Redfern (Jonathan Potts), and Gabriel Bolivar (Jack Kesy), spending enough time to show the virus at different stages and how it affects the human body e.g. Bolivar’s junk literally falling off. This allows them to spend more time on Joan’s transformation since I imagine a woman’s transformation would be a bit more drastic.

Sean Astin’s Jim Kent was reduced to an extra in last week’s episode, “The Box”. This week he’s given more to do and we see him as a victim of circumstance. His wife’s health is on the decline, and Jim needs Stoneheart’s money and influence to get her the best treatment. Eichorst delivers an intimidating performance when tells Jim to continue working both sides. Nora (Mia Maestro) is always willing to help Eph, but it never seems conducive to the situation. Here she not only initiates contacting Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley) but tries to enlist his help. Personally I think the thinner characters get a lot more depth when they interact with heavy hitters Bradley and Sammel. Now that the Canary team knows this disease is worse than they imagined, we can expect them to be start listening to Abraham.

The way this series is shot hasn’t been a problem, but I love the use of less is more for building tension and generating interest. Like when Eph checks the bathroom at the Arnot residence. We think he’s looking at Gary Arnot’s body, but the slow reveal shows a bloody bathtub with a clumps of hair in it. Leaving us to wonder where Emma and Gary are, and when Eph leaves we see a silhouette of Emma peeking from around the corner. The same can be said for Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand). Although he didn’t get much air time last week, a scene at a hedge fund manager’s duplex shows him as an expert in his field and smarter than the average bear, so when he sees a pack of rats fleeing the sewers in large number we know something’s wrong but are left to wonder what exactly.

There’s a lot going on in this one, but the focus on characters and plot beats makes it an informative but fun time. If the rest of the episodes this season can follow this balancing act we might not have to kill characters off after all. At the very least I’m interested to see the next episode, which is a first for this series.


The writer of this piece was:
Lawr_av
Laurence Almalvez
Laurence has previously written over at Whatculture.com.
Laurence tweets from @IL1511

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