The Strain - Season 2 Episode 3: "Fort Defiance" TV Episode Review
Written by Giuseppe Infante
Directed by Guy Ferland
Written by Regina Corrado
2015, 44 minutes, Rated TV-MA
Episode premiered on July 26th, 2015
Corey Stoll as Dr. Ephraim Goodweather
David Bradley as Abraham Setrakian
Mía Maestro as Dr. Nora Martinez
Kevin Durand as Vasiliy Fet
Jonathan Hyde as Eldritch Palmer
Warning! There are spoilers in this recap.
After two amazing episodes in vampire-infested New York City, the latest from The Strain takes a step back and slows the pace for us all to breathe and digest. "Fort Defiance" continues the saga with minimal action and plot advancements, though feels lackluster, especially during scenes with Fet, Dutch and her ex-girlfriend's mother, and Nora discovering Setrakian dying from vampire maggot-juice. The direction has also changed, cutting from story to story without letting the characters do their job on screen, distracting from their development and letting the subplot accounts unfold.
From the opening scene, I foresaw a doomed outing this week. Bolivar carrying the Master's wormed-up dirt and getting rolled up on by police is too predictable and has no significance to the rest of the episode. We do see Bolivar chow down, but it's nothing new. There should not be kills just for the sake of it at this point in the show. What was the overarching significance of the opening scene? We come across Bolivar later in the episode, where he is left to babysit Eldritch Palmer, though there is no mention of the Master's dirt. If it has nothing to do with this week's narrative, remove it. Another issue is Coco Marchand's character squabble. She was portrayed as a spunky, independent type, only to now be Palmer's yes-girl. She is curious and knows something's up (it is acknowledged there is a vampire epidemic), but does nothing about it… yet? Didn't she notice the sinister dudes talking to her boss? I thought she was smarter than that. If I was her, I'd get the hell out before becoming a lean cuisine or a walking infection.
Also lacking in this episode is Kelly and the Feelers, which happens to be one of the most intriguing parts of the show. The idea of a kid knowing his mother is a vampire running wild among New York City after his alcoholic father tried to kill her is unique and bone-chilling. Excluding this storyline really pissed me off, along with having no flashbacks of young Setrakian. The subtraction of flashbacks is a real downer. These sequences work in symbiosis with the narrative of elder Setrakian and his present crusade for the Master. The history and mythology of the show is captivating, adding depth and rooting in the viewer's continual desire to watch.
Fet and Dutch share another moment together, this time after Dutch is berated by her ex-girlfriend's mother. She discovers a missing flyer with Nikki on it, and tells Fet only she or her mother would put this up. Honestly, this whole thing could be thrown out the window. I really was taken out of the episode, especially during the terrible dialogue exchange between the mother and her. It tries to make her look "damaged" by going down on Fet out of spite, but it really is a terrible cliché.
Something that did work this week is Eph and Zach, who everyone I talk to about the show hates. There's plenty of father/son quarreling in this episode, which is one of the better parts in "Fort Defiance." Zach is one annoying little bastard, and I cannot wait to see him meet his vamp-mama and new siblings. Max Charles is not a terrible actor, as he is admirable in the upcoming film The Last Survivors. If anything, he is a good actor. Think about it for a second… From my experience discussing season one, he did not bother most people. Season two comes along and all I hear is people yearning for him to be eaten by his mother. He is playing the role well, the writing is on point, or he really just sucks- which is it? Something is making everyone hate him, but will he be hated if he gets killed? Will sympathy overcome our extreme dislike for the brat? This is one of the more interesting dynamics of season two and I look forward to it to continue.
One of the best scenes this week is when Eph gets so fed up with Zach after he throws a hissy-fit and starts to smash the lab. Eph grabs him by the collar and drags him to the caged vampire specimen, shoving his face up-close to the glass. He goes on to enlighten him, saying the creature would drain him of every ounce of blood if it wasn't tied down, and this is what his mother is now. Insane! Another badass scene is Gus ripping the retractable stinger right out of the vampire's orifice. The extensive boa constrictor-like parasite flops onto the floor and we learn of a new way to kill the strigoi. We get another taste of a new character, Councilwoman Feraldo, who declares Staten Island a vampire-free zone. She holds a press conference and unveils hanging decapitated bodies, emphasizing she is not playing games.
By the end of "Fort Defiance," I was satisfied. I understand not every episode can be a whirlwind of chaos, prodding my senses and making me tingle. The brain needs a break, or the novelty wears thin. Eph and Nora will unleash the vampire specimen infected with a counter virus into population. The episode did successfully build anticipation for next week, which has to dive into the Kelly/Zach/Eph confrontation, but maybe it doesn't. Hopefully we get more backstory and flashbacks too. The weekend will be here before we know it, folks, and the sci-horror vampire chronicle continues Sunday. Let's hope The Strain kicks back into high gear and cuts some of fat off the saga's edges.