For the second season of The Strain, we’ve all been marveling at how unexciting the vampire apocalypse could be. It’s been genuinely impressive, but now the show has managed something I had thought totally impossible—it has managed to remain unexciting despite added a masked Mexican wrestler to the cast.
That’s insane. Masked Mexican wrestlers—best known as luchadores—are unequivocally awesome. Heck, even the fact that out new addition to the cast, the elderly Guzman, is a former luchador named Angel who used to be the star of a series of movies in the ‘60s (a la Santo, look it up) but is now a dishwasher in an Indian restaurant in NYC with a bad knee from an accident during one of his films, should be pretty interesting. And despite the fact that “The Silver Angel” begins with footage from a VHS copy of a faux “Angel Vs. the Vampire” flick for an insane five full minutes, I assumed that at some point in the episode a luchador, former or otherwise, would fight a tentacle-mouth vampire and something awesome would finally happen on this season of the show.
But nope! Here’s how The Strain introduces the character that should be filling the ridiculousness void left by the punk-ass deaths of the Spec Ops Vampire Ninja Squad: He’s watches the VHS tape of his old movie. Then he washes dishes at the aforementioned Indian restaurant, which is of course open despite the fact there’s a tentacle-mouth-vampire murder-spree going on every single night in NYC. Gus, having lost what little relevance to the plot he had when the SONVS died, wanders into the restaurant only to be glared at by Guzman. Are they related? Is Guzman Gus’ uncle who knows about his criminal past? Do they have any connection that would have led Gus to this random Indian restaurant in NYC?
No, because that’s what normal stories would do. Instead, Guzman merely thinks Gus looks like a criminal and thus glares at his restaurant’s sole customer until he leaves.
Now, at this point, I still thought Guz and Guzman were related, because I couldn’t comprehend the idea that The Strain would choose for these two characters to have such a bizarre, immediate antagonism without establishing that the characters had prior knowledge of each other. As I do so frequently, I overestimated The Strain. Because when Gus enters the restaurant for the second time and gets glared at, he overhears one of the restaurants proprietors call Guzman Angel, and later sneaks around back to where Guzman is taking out the trash and scares him, shocking the ex-luchador into a wrestling stance. Gus realizes Guzman’s true identity, but nothing more is achieved.
So here is our introduction to Angel the Luchador, who I do not fault at all for being an aged wrestler with a bad knee: He’s a luchador turned dishwasher who doesn’t like Gus. The end. And it takes a full hour-long episode and four actual scenes to impart this knowledge. In fact, this storyline—which is the actual main plot of this particular episode and takes up at least 20 minutes of screen time—can be summed up in three words: “Gus meets Angel.” That is, to say the least, inefficient storytelling.
Although it’s par for The Strain’s course. In “The Silver Angel,” Dutch and Setrakian pair off to visit Staten Island to visit Fitzwilliam, hoping they can give them info about Eldritch Palmer in general or the Occido Lumen maguffin in particular. While the duo find Fitzwilliam via his brother, Fitzwilliam neither joins their cause nor gives them any information, which is something the show has clearly saved for a later episode. So this storyline boils down to “The group asks Fitzwilliam for help” which is an impressive six words, until you realize the next episode will undoubtedly be able to be summarized as “Fitzwilliam agrees to help.”
At least Eph and Nora manage to release their infected vampire in the city to see if their vampi-virus works. Although they lose track of Patient Zero almost immediately, when they return the next night we’re treated to a genuinely cool scene—a group of vampires on top of a roof, tossing themselves to the pavement below. The Master is trying to kill off his infected minions, and Eph grins that his virus clearly worked. I’ll ignore the fact that the Master knowing about the virus seems like a very problematic thing, and just be happy that our heroes seems to have finally struck an effective blow against the Strigoi.
Which is good, because The Master isn’t lazing about. He has Eldritch Palmer have a meeting with All the Important Banking People in a bid to get The Market up and running again. Try not to ask yourself why all the CEOs and CFOs of all the major banking and trading businesses in the U.S. would willingly come to New York City when there is a vampire plague loose for a meeting that I swear to god takes place at night—no, wait, ask yourself that, because THAT IS MADNESS—especially when as the Important Banking People leave the PalmerCorp building they are all eaten by tentacles-mouth vampires which is all captured on live television, people are getting killed by other people with mouth tentacles on camera and assumably the entire world can see it happen and the councilwoman of Staten Island has literally strung up vampir corpses and displayed them around the borough as a message to vampires that have already been from Staten Island and somehow, somehow, somehow, even small Indian restaurants have not bothered to close up shop at night. When the mouth-tentacle vampires roam!
This is nonsense, but it entertaining nonsense in its complete and utter refusal to adhere to even a modicum of logic. The Strain is the equivalent of The Room or Birdemic in that it has a story that is so bad, and so badly told, it’s actually become sublime. It is a show that has introduced a patently ludicrous and inherently fascinating character and not only didn’t have him do anything slightly interesting, it hasn’t even bothered attaching him to the main plot yet.
And somehow, I can’t wait to see what he doesn’t do next.
• Gus also visits his old apartment, where his infected mom is hanging out. Shortly, The Master starts taunting Gus through his mom, and it’s probably Gus’ best scene in the series, even if the actor plays it like his mom is taking to him instead of the wacky deep-voiced Master, who does the actual dialogue.
• Meanwhile, Fet blows up the Redhook subway station which he claims is full of vampires, but is very clearly being used when he blows it up—there are lights, announcements are still being made, people are waiting for trains, etc. So either everyone in NYC is insane for trying to use the subway while they’re vampires infested, Fet is insane for destroying a perfectly functional subway station, or The Strain has never once thought about how dumb this is. You know my guess. Anyways, Fet is arrested, which I’m sure will somehow take up four scenes of next week’s episode while providing no new information or character development.
• Another lengthy flashback which boils down to Setrakian and Eldritch looks for the Lumen, Eichorst manages to talk Eldritch into join Team Vampire Apocalypse. Eldritch stops funding Setrakian, who is sad. The end.
• Dutch wonders why Eldritch Palmer, who has a lot of money in banks, would want to destroy the banking market. I too would like to know Eldritch Palmer’s end game here, although I am not particularly confident that The Strain has remembered to give him one.
• Zach continues to glare at Eph like the vampires are all cool friends that his dad won’t let him hang out with. Seriously, this little idiot is Carl from The Walking Dead’s best friend, because Carl looks like a paragon of maturity and competency in comparison.
• Also, Carl’s Jr. really sucks at baseball. I’m so bad at sports I managed to strike out at tee-ball once, and I’m pretty sure I could have at least managed to get my bat within a foot of one of the damn balls.
• I love this show.
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