I would like to reiterate my position that The Strain, when viewed in one marathon or maybe a couple of chunks, will be perfectly serviceable vampire entertainment. It's just not paced for weekly episodes as "The Disappeared" so aptly, if less then thrillingly, demonstrates.
I've been recapping shows on io9 for nigh on two years now, and I don't think I've ever taken less notes when watching an episode. Let me break it down for you:
• Eph's kid comes home, gets attacked by Vampire Mom's Boyfriend, who you might or might not recall was presumably turned a couple of episodes ago. Team Vampire Hunter's bread van conveniently pulls up in the nick of time, and Eph saves his son.
• Eph's ex-wife is missing and no one can figure out if she escaped or was infected and escaped. Eph sends his kid back with Setrakian, Fett, and Inexplicably Powerful Hacker Lady to Setrakian's shop, so that he and Nora have a contrived reason to separate from the group. The reason is they want to burn Ex-Wife's Boyfriend's body without disturbing little Eph's Son, even though Eph cut off Ex-Wife's Boyfriend's head with a shovel in front of the kid like 10 minutes ago.
• Setrakian gives Eph's Son a weird sort of pep talk about love and vampires. It doesn't really matter.
• Fett leaves to go get something. If it matters it'll matter next week.
• Inexplicably Powerful Hacker Lady — whose name is Dutch, which I guess I have to use since she's clearly sticking around — confesses she broke the internet to Setrakain for Eldritch Palmer and Eichorst, which means Setrakian finally has an idea where Eichorst, if not The Master himself, is holed up.
• Gus's tubby friend turns into a vampire and Gus escapes in the confusion. I assume if Gus ever begins mattering to the overall story then this could matter, theoretically.
• Eph and Nora fuck, which is only notable because somehow one of the Ex-Wife's friends barges into the house and the bedroom and catches them, and Eph gives an impassioned plea of how much he loves his wife despite having his penis inside another woman mere hours ago in the same room.
• Eph and Nora return to Setrakian's store, having achieved nothing but coitus.
• In flashback, The Master crushes young Setrakian's hands. He's about to be executed when the Allies (presumably) pop by and attack, allowing the Jews to escape. More importantly, Eichorst escapes into a cave/shrone in the woods and asks The Master to turn him into a vampire. The Master opens one of Eichorst's veins and then one of his own, and lets a single worm crawl out of his arm into Eichorst's. This is interesting, but hardly revelatory.
The big moment is the reveal of the Master, who finally pulls of his hood for his worm transfer with Eichorst. He looks like a cross between Nosferatu and the X-Men villain Apocalypse, especially in that he has massive, comically wide lips, which coincide with his giant, giant hands. He's… pretty goofy looking.
Maybe if he was scarier or more unique it would have helped raise the episode like the Spec Ops Ninja Vampire Executioner Squad did two episodes ago (god I miss them so ), but it didn't, and now we're left hoping that next episode will be one of the ones with the good stuff in it. But I suppose as we get closer to the season finale things will only continue to pick up, so that's something to look forward to.
• So Inexplicably Powerful Hacker Lady — er, excuse me, Dutch's grand plan to destroy all communication didn't include landline phones? Because Nora calls her mom at Setrakian's shop from Eph's house with no problems. Obviously, shutting down the internet is useful ,but wouldn't phones also need to go to keep people around the nation from discussing this whole vampire plague thing?
• I assume The Strain wants to present Eph as a conflicted man torn between his love for his wife and a physical relationship with Nora, but the show isn't actually showing us any conflict. Eph seems perfectly fine boning Nora and then telling that lady how much he loves his wife minutes later as if the two acts had absolutely nothing to do with each other. At least Nora has the decency to look a little confused.
• I'm not sure I can adequately explain how dumb the neighbor scene was. Maybe this: The neighbor gives one of those "I swear, if you hurt my friend, I'll…" type speeches t Eph. To the dude who was fucking the women he cheated on his wife with in his wife's home and very possibly in her bed. So yeah, "if" you happen to do anything hurtful, Eph, you're gonna be in some trouble!
• Wasn't there a goth rock star on this show at some point? Something about his dick falling off? I can't remember any more.
• The DirecTV summary for this episode was something like "Eph learns Kelly is missing." The summary for next week is (approximately) "Eph looks for Kelly." That sure sums something up.