When telling a story, there is always that build up until the gut-wrenching, release of suspense in the final climax. Over the course of any series or journey, viewers’ anticipation is supposed to overshadow the long and drawn-out moments that finally make up the series’ end. With The Strain, it seems that the writers are making sure to have the audience relate, or even care, about the a growing cast as they face a fictional vampire apocalypse in a modern-day New York City. Already six episodes into the second season, The Silver Angel was a step above previous episodes and gave a good mix of character development with some minor action sequences.
This week’s episode of The Strain did more than just give some vampire action and slow-paced storytelling, but actually attempted to connect with the emotional aspect of what was going on in each character’s lives. Opening with an extended clip of a classic, black-and-white B-movie, The Strain: The Silver Angel‘s better moments came in the homages to character’s backstories.
Considering Gus was the lone survivor of a poorly planned kidnap mission, the majority of the episode was centered on where he would end up next. Staying true to The Strain‘s way of storytelling, not much was further answered. Gus wandered around a Brooklyn decorated with missing person signs. He eventually ended up in a small Tandoori Restaurant looking for anything close to spaghetti. Keeping it classy and, hey, it is New York. Not that there was not a vampire apocalypse taking place all over the burrow, it seemed Tandoori cooking was the only way to repel the Stigori. The mom-and-pop shop, which stayed opened all day and night, was still standing and only had a former wrestler from the B-movie intro as its watchdog, Angel.
A nice moment was a possible love interest between the waitress Aanya and Gus as the two casually flirted. As Gus returned to the Tandoori restaurant, his was not as welcomed as before. A small confrontation took place between Angel and The Strain’s resident thug with a heart of gold. Shortly after the exchange of words, it did not take long for Gus to realize who Angel really was and reveal his inner fanboy when he confronted him in the back of the restaurant. It was a bit of a sad moment because Angel completely denied his fan and former identity. Either out of shame that he was reduced from a well-known athlete to a dishwasher because of a leg injury or just that he did not like Gus is yet to be seen. Regardless of the interactions, it is obvious the writers introduced these minor characters for a later event to further Gus’ plot.
There was also an emotional scene between Gus and his Strigori mother/master. As Gus returned home, he encountered what was now his mother and could not bring himself to kill her. Since the master is connected to all his “disciples,” he quickly took over the mother and taunted Gus. The scene attempted to play at the heart-strings and show the vulnerability in Gus’ character. However, for those who watched the first season of The Strain, this scene was already reiterating that Gus had a heart and was a complete momma’s boy.
After the moments of catching up with lonely Gus, the show focused on its other more relevant characters. Viewers got another glimpse into Setrakian’s past and when Eldritch Palmer turned over to the “dark side.” The episode of The Strain also confirmed that the virus Eph and Nora were cooking up actually did work, causing the master to make any infected Strigori commit suicide before the virus could spread any further.
Of course with each up in an episode, there were some downs and plot holes. A sad moment arrived when Eph decided to stop neglecting his son and try to take his mind of his Strigori mother and take him to the batting cages. A plan that would have worked if Eph did not take Zach to the same batting cages that he, his mother, and Eph visited sometime in the past. Father of the year award goes to…It is becoming clearer why Zach misses his mother so.
Since Eph’s father and son playdate was turning out so well, other moments of the episode seemed to progress to a better note. Eldritch continued to solidify his goal to make the city the master’s and further grow viewers’ disdain. Setrakian and Dutch took a little day trip to the newly reformed, marshaled Staten Island. What did not make any sense is how they were able to travel with their weapons onto the highly secured island. The two confronted Palmer’s former assistance, Reggie Fitzwilliam, in an attempt to get them on their side.
Vasiliy was not having as great of a day as the others, though. Feeling inspired by the new martial law that was slowly taking place all over the city, Fet decided to continue his plan of closing off the bridge to Manhattan. Not the best laid plans, considering that he blew up the entrance to the tunnel in front of council woman Feraldo’s enforcement regime. Given that Fet is an East European foreigner traveling around with explosives, the regime did not take so kindly to his noble actions.
The Strain: The Silver Angel had its good and bad moments. This week’s episode caught viewers up to the motivations of Eldritch Palmer and where Gus is going from here. Silver Angel also did a good job in paying some homage to B-movies of the past, while relating to character’s plot lines. The better moments definitely come when the writers focus less on the middle-life crisis romance between Palmer and his assistant, give less lines to Bolivar, and more emotional scenes for the blossoming hero Gus. The slower moments come with the blatant plot holes, minimal action scenes, and minimal threats of the vampires. Over the course of the season of The Strain, the Strigori are becoming easier and easier to take out and less of the threat that they are supposed to portray. For The Strain’s main antagonists, these creatures are portrayed more like weeds of New York City; randomly popping up, but easy to take out.
Opinion By Tyler Cole
A.V. Club: The Strain: ‘The Silver Angel’