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​Things Are Picking Up — And Falling Off — On The Strain

Illustration for article titled ​Things Are Picking Up — And Falling Off — On emThe Strain/em

It's not quite a vampire apocalypse, but things are definitely happening on The Strain. The bitten plane survivors are mutating, Eph and his gang are slowly (slloooooowwwwlllllyyy) learning about what's actually happening but the real news is HOLY SHIT [spoilers ahead] —




But I'm getting ahead of myself. "Gone Smooth" — and yes, I have totally just spoiled what the episode title refers to — begins with Eichorst, who, as it turns out, is not a good-looking middle-aged Nazi. He looks like a D&D vampire — no nose, hairless, bone-white skin, pointy ears, the works — and he happily goes to his vanity table and puts on the prosthetics and make-up that allow him to look like a human being.


It's an introduction to an episode that gives us a lot more information about these vampires, and a lot less random crap (there's still a bit of it, but significantly less than in the last episode). In fact, there's no Gus, no Eldritch Palmer, no horrible lawyer lady, and a bare minimum of Eph's family. So things get moving pretty quickly, and it's a major improvement.

Eph and his team are looking for the corpses missing from the mortuary, as they have no idea where they might have gone. Samwise Gamgee, who has suddenly realized that allowing a giant, mysterious coffin covered in skulls that may be an infectious agent of apocalyptic destruction to leave the airport in the first episode may have been a bad decision, heads to the Stoneheart group to bitch and moan until Eichorst gets his wife, suffering from cancer, into some special experimental test group.

Setrakian gets his court hearing, and pretends to be a doddering old man in order to be released from jail. The judge pulls out Setrakian's silver cane-sword in concern, but the old man passes it off as an heirloom, one that he'll melt and sell immediately. Afterwards, Eph's scientist lady friend — Nora (I just realized I'd never needed to use her name before) — tracks down Setrakian because he knows something about what's happening. She accosts him as he walks out of the courthouse, but the bitter Setrakian refuses to tell her anything unless she's willing to do what needs to be done — namely, kill and burn every body that was on the plane as well as everyone they've been in contact with them. When Nora hesitates before agreeing to murder hundreds of people for no apparent reasons, Setrakian storms off, apparently never considering that Nora might be more willing to murder a bunch of people if he explains why the need to de.

But the real story of the episode is the development of the new vampires. Even though we don't see evil lawyer lady, we do check in with the rest:

• Nerdy Plane Survivor is feeling sick, and while his wife is mildly concerned that he's displaying symptoms of illness after sharing a flight with 200+ people who died of a mysterious disease, no one is quite so worried that they suggest he go to a hospital. Even after he drinks the blood juice from a raw steak in the fridge, via a new tentacle appendage from his mouth, in full view of his wife.


• The Pilot, who is actually in a hospital, continues to get worse. And when I say "worse" I mean "he escapes his bed and then attacks Eph, Nora and Samwise displaying vampiric strength and a giant mouth tentacle." Eph crushes his head in with a fire extinguisher.

• Last and certainly not least, the Goth continues to lose his hair, get pale, develop sharper teeth, and, uh… when he pisses HIS DICK FALLS OFF.


This is exactly the kind of bewilderingly insane moment The Strain has been missing so far, so I hate to criticize it, but… should Goth really be able to be peeing out of his penis at the same time his genitalia are so lose that they can, in fact, fall off under the weight of gravity itself? I should clarify, once his dick is gone, Goth is completely Ken-doll smooth down there, and we get visual proof — it's the crazy final shot of the episode. So shouldn't the urethra have closed off well before this point? And if his whole groin was smooth, what was keeping his junk attached to his groin for those brief seconds he was pissing? So many questions.!



Because that's what he does. He doesn't look upset or concerned in the slightest. I'm going to assume part of transforming into a vampire is "an incredibly apathy to the well-being of your own genitalia," but still, dude was trying to get laid just last episode. You'd think he'd fish it out of the toilet at the very least, you know? Just in case. Also: HE DOES NOT CALL A DOCTOR.

I'm actually teasing The Strain; I very much appreciate this weirdness over crap like the lawyer lady being needlessly awful, interminable scenes of Eph with his family (although we do finally get to the custody hearing, where again Eph's commitment to his work is presented as a moral failing, and not a necessary part of his being an emergency responder for the fucking CDC). Unfortunately, Eph and his team are still only learning things the audience was shown in the very first episode, so that's annoying, but they end "Gone Smooth" a hell of a lot more informed than they were last episode, thank god. I definitely look forward to episode 5, when they finally discover vampirism makes people's dicks fall off.

Illustration for article titled ​Things Are Picking Up — And Falling Off — On emThe Strain/em

Assorted Musings:

• Eph and his crew think the military took the corpses from the morgue. The poor dopes.


• Eph visits the French dude who slugged him in the first episode, but finds neither him, his body, nor the undead vampiric little French girl, although she's watching him. Can't give our protagonists too much information at once, natch.

• In "characters the series keeps showing us but refuses to explain how they're important or connected to the main narrative" news: The noble pest control guy catches a rat for an evil hedge fund manager, when he'd rather be eradicating the pests who torment the poor. I'm serious. But he does see a shit-ton of seemingly rats fleeing Manhattan, so that can't be good.


• Mrs. Ex-Eph takes a moment to look through her photo album, remembering all the good times she spent with the abusive, selfish, job-obsessed husband she's been separated with for a year and moved on from into another relationship. Sigh.

• I should clarify that the Goth — prior to losing his dick — shows a doctor his junk, and the doctor is so horrified he advises him to go to a hospital immediately. The Goth refuses, because someone will take pictures of his deformed genitalia and they'd end up on Gawker. I, personally, am surprised that the Goth values his privacy over the health of his dick, especially given his love of "laying pipe." But I can't deny that if a rock star's dick fell off, our big sister site would be interested, to say the least.


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For those who are curious. The PLOP sound it made was wonderful. Hearing that in 7.1 surround sound was so majestic.