What started off with a great opening came to a halt this week with The Strain: By Any Means. Like rubberneckers holding up traffic as they admire a fender-bender incident on the side of the road, the progression of story this week was a slow, forward movement until it finally reached its less-than-climatic ending. Although this week’s episode of The Strain moved at a pace familiar with that of last season, By Any Means still managed to fit in some vampire action, character development, a back story, and a random sex scene in a deserted fitness pool.
The Strain: By Any Means’ opening followed the same trend as the previous episode. Picking up right where it left viewers, free-thinking Strigori, Kelly, continued her search for her son, Zach, in the world’s worst supernatural custody battle. Before venturing off, she took the small group of newly-risen, blind Strigori children as her personal bloodhounds. Those who could actually telepathically connect with the crazed mother and through whose eyes she could see were fortunate enough to last past Episode 2. The others were given a quick snap of their necks.
The episode also gave viewers another flashback story of the vampire-hunting professor, Setrkakian, and how he came across both his signature staff and the information about the tome that foretells how to kill all Strigori. The interesting part of this back story is that Setrakian did not come across the sword/cane in an epic battle, but more inadvertently, on a run-in with one of the former Nazi scientists from the concentration camps. The scientist was working as an artifacts peddler in a conveniently-placed small shop not too far from the college where Setrakian taught. After a brief interaction, the former Nazi scientist made a run for it in what was an underwhelming chase. Along his path, the crazed doctor dropped the cane. but narrowly made his escape on the back of a slow-moving getaway truck. Yes, he actually got away on the back of a truck with a top speed of ten miles per hour.
Returning to the present day in The Strain, a drunken Eph and Dr. Nora Martinez go back to figuring out a way to destroy the Strigori strain. Considering that they now have two new lab rats in the unknowingly-infected old couple from the previous episode, the two carried on with experimentation. Since there was little build-up or back story regarding the elderly couple, their passing and transformation into the vamps held little weight on the viewers, or anybody, except for Nora. The doctor struggled with the moral duality of sacrificing and experimenting on the old couple in exchange for an advancement in their research that could, literally, save the world from the rapidly spreading infection. It was refreshing to see the series focus on a little more science than myth and, also, interesting to see Nora retain her humanity while Eph continued to spiral.
The Strain: By Any Means was not without its golden moments. One of the better scenes was the meeting of the councilmen and mayor of the city to discuss the growing epidemic. Considering that a majority of The Strain focuses on a vampire apocalypse, it was about time that the writers started showing viewers that the leaders of NYC were also noticing and taking action. There is a massive overrun of creatures throughout the Big Apple and it was odd to see that there was no further action being taken. Unfortunately, it seems that the only one visibly angry and demanding action was the councilwoman of Staten Island.
Another better moment of the episode was the meeting of Setrakian and Eldritch Palmer. The newly-healed, cocky philanthropist was opening a food donation warehouse; no doubt to keep track of those who are still healthy in the city, and Setrakian made sure to pay him a visit. The meeting of the two minds was coupled with some witty banter, as Setrakian’s character is becoming quite the funny/blunt old man, as evidenced by his taunting of the corrupt billionaire.
Although with some good, story-progressing moments, The Strain still has its random and unnecessary ones. The little hunt Visiliy and Dutch took in the Strigori fitness room really served no purpose, other than injecting some action into a dialogue-heavy episode. The scene later ended with the two having a naked rendezvous in the pool. Considering that Dutch ended up in the group because her lesbian lover abandoned her in a gas station and took all her money, this hookup seemed kind of forced upon viewers for the sheer purpose of keeping up with the show’s expected adult content, with bonus nudity.
The Strain: By Any Means was not as interesting of a watch as the previous episode, and the plot returned to its regularly steady pace of storytelling. What this week’s episode of The Strain may have missed in entertainment, it made up for in set-up for what is to come. A still angry, and increasingly annoying Zach, still wants his mother back, but may not like what he runs into. It is clear that this episode served as more of a build-up for both what is next in the story, and for more action to come.
Opinion by Tyler Cole
Edited by Jennifer Pfalz
ComicBook.com: The Strain Season 2 Episode 2 Recap With Spoilers: By Any Means