After weeks of dawdling and last week's incredibly bizarre shocker, The Strain decides to return to well-trod territory for "Creatures of the Night." Actually, it told the most straightforward, archetypal monster story there is, but since that means Team Vampire Hunter was more or less fighting vampires, it continues The Strain's hot streak.
The episode begins with Team Vampire Hunter — Eph, Nora, Setrakian and Samwise Gamgee — quickly figuring out the reason the vampires/infected don't like the sun is because of its UV rays, which means they should get some UV lamps. At a nearby medical supply store, they meet Pest Control Guy Vasiliy Fett, who is also taking the UV lights, since he's seen first-hand what sunlight does to them.
Eph and the CDC guys haggle with Vasiliy over the lights, but Setrakian is immediately impressed with Vasiliy's calm demeanor and obvious vampire ass-kicking skills. Not only is it satisfying to see some of The Strain's disparate parties finally come together, Setrakian and Vasility make such a great team almost instantly that you kind of wish they would ditch Eph and the others. Instead, Team Vampire Hunter runs into a nearby gas station for snacks and supplies, and that's when the vampires start attacking in earnest.
And thus begins The Strain's first bottle episode. What it loses in adhering almost laughably to the "group-stuck-in-small-location-surrounded-by-monsters" trope it gains in focus, and it's quite nice to stick with Eph, Setrakian and Vasiliy for the entire episode and not have bother watching the other characters try and pass the time. Once in the gas station it's standard operating procedure: An influx of vampires attack, because in their less-than-meticulous Eichorst plan they alerted "The Master " to their presence, and now he wants them dead. Of course, this means the vampires hang out outside the gas station, ostensibly to wait for reinforcements, but mostly to make sure the episode lasts the full 44 minutes.
Samwise gets scratched in the initial battle that forces them into the gas station; it takes a while for Eph and Nora to notice, but when they do, they hold up a UV light to his face, and sure enough, there's a worm in there. So it's time for a big of make-shift surgery, complete with whiskey as anesthetic, as Eph slices Samwise's check with a box-cutter and pulls the worm out with tweezers. Obviously, this works perfectly and there are no consequences. He's cured!
The standard random bystanders/redshirts of the gas station do their thing; despite a crazy old man with a sword ordering everybody to work together, one young lady decides to freak out and take her chances outside… and weirdly, she actually gets away. The fact that the vampires don't run after her clues Setrakian that they're all hunting Team Vampire Hunter. Shortly, a middle-aged bread truck driver trapped inside with them tries his luck with the same plan, and fails miserably, getting eaten in seconds.
While we wait, we learn a bit more about the vampires (or "strigoi" if you're feeling nasty), as well: "The Master" can see through the eyes of any of his minions, which causes Eph to have another "BUT SCIENCE!" hissy fit. More importantly, the vampires are getting their wits about them and not only using tools (to bust out some of the station's windows), but eventually some of them even get onto the roof and start looking for a way in through the ducts. Setrakian confirms that the vampires get smarter as they mature — although "The Master" only grants a special few the ability to retain some of their personality, like Eichorst. So that mystery is solved. Eventually, one of the vampires even manages to cut the gas station's power.
So the group rigs up the UV lamps with batteries, which is how they happen to discover Samwise is somehow still Chock Full o' Worms. There's some freaking out by Sam, Eph and Nora; Eph and Nora vow to figure out a cure, Samwise starts yelling about wanting to die, and everybody is basically screaming until Vasiliy takes matters into his own hands and shoots Samwise in the face. "What did you do that for?!" screeches Eh. "Because you couldn't," Vasiliy calmly replies, and at this point I'm pretty sure Setrakian is making googly eyes at him. All that's left is for the group to make some Molotov cocktails, take the UV lights, form a circle of protection, and mosey over to the bread deliveryman's delivery drunk. And they drive off. Roll credits.
There's really not a lot to this episode. In a better series, it may have been lackluster, but The Strain's slow build means that this is pretty action-packed in comparison. It's no Awesome Vampire Spec-Ops Squad, but it'll do. For now.
• Hassan the gas station clerk decides to stay in the gas station and wait for the police rather than try and escape. It's dumb. He probably died. Oh well.
• I should probably mention that Blonde Internet-Destroying Lady was very coincidentally in the gas station when it got attacked, and she managed to escape with the group, too. I assume she has a larger role to play in all this — perhaps like fixing the internet — but I think we all know that it's going to make us roll our eyes, whatever it is.
• You know, at the beginning, I kept talking about how I thought The Strain was a more, grounded, scientific look at a vampire plaque story, and a lot of you told me you had no idea where I got that idea.Well, I got that idea from the beginning of the series, which seemed to focus on looking at vampirism as a disease, not just a curse, although by this point it's clear that the show never really had any interest in this, and it was just a beginning for a pretty standard vampire story. So my apologies for my confusion, although I contend a truly scientific look at vampirism would have made for a more interesting series.
• Holy shit did you see how much bread that gas station had? It was like a full aisle, both side, and the dread deliveryman just kept stacking it up. Creeped me out.
• Also… do bread deliverymen deliver to gas stations? And then put the bread right on the store shelves as opposed to leaving crates for store employees to deal with? This… this just seems unlikely to me, although I've never worked in a gas station, so I could well be wrong. Please, let me know in the comments.