As the second season of The Strain started, the show seemed to have learned from its mistakes, moving past the monotony and into something a bit more focused than it had been prior. Characters had motivations and goals, and the battle between humans and the strigoi actually looked as it it was about to get interesting. But as we hit this second half, it’s becoming very clear that The Strain has once again lost its way, instead finding more ways for its characters to waste time rather than pushing forward in what is essentially a battle for the fate of mankind.
This laziness is most obvious in Eph’s storyline throughout this season, where he will occasionally get a great idea, work through it, only to make either the mission or the goal unnecessary. For example, we recently spent a two-episode arc with him going to D.C. with the intention of getting his cure released to the public. However, the only thing that really happened was he got a bunch of people killed and decided his goal needed to be to kill Palmer, something he could’ve known without wasting our time for two episodes.
“Intruders” also has a fairly similar waste of time, as Eph and Zach try to find a rifle. EPA’s search for a rifle leads him to one of Fet’s friends, who just happens to have been shot by a thief. Thankfully, Eph is a surgeon and Fet’s friend has a surgical kit at the ready. Eph patches up the man and in return gets the rifle for free. Now this diversion could’ve worked if its end point was to show Zach that his father is a greater man than he thought, but instead it leads to Zach believing that Eph could also potentially fix his mother. Even though Zach has seen and almost been attacked by plenty of strigoi—including almost getting killed by his own mother in a church recently—and he’s been told by everyone trying to fight the strigoi that there is no way to fully cure it, Zach still won’t give up his futile whining.
By the end of the episode, Kelly does show up at the safe house, where of course Zach lets her in, thinking that she’s clearly getting better, leading to a big fight between Kelly and her strigoi babies versus Eph and Nora. If Zach doesn’t get the point by now, I say just have Kelly have him.
But what might be most frustrating about Eph’s story is The Strain’s ability to navigate him away from the interesting idea. For example, Nora finally confronts Eph about what happened in D.C., with his response being to run away. Later on they have the conversation, but once again, it feels like just an attempt to waste time. It also demonstrates just how The Strain has absolutely no idea what to do with Nora, who is basically just hanging out at the safe house as a surrogate mother to Zach. She could be working on something important, but nope, she has to babysit.
I’m also not entirely sure why Eph hasn’t been actively searching out his undead wife, since Zach is making her an even bigger problem then she already is. Why doesn’t Fet just go get the gun from his own friend and allow Eph to go on the hunt for his ex to stop the problem before it starts?
Similarly The Strain gives us the same runaround it gives Fet, Setrakian and Palmer this episode, with both sides in a bidding war over the lumen book. Both sides spend the entire episode wagering for the book with a corrupt cardinal, only to have Setrakian learn that the cardinal doesn’t even have the book. Here again, “Intruders” takes us on a wild goose chase only to discover that there’s really nothing at the end.
At this point, The Strain is just wasting time and seems to have no interest in pushing forward the potentially interesting storylines it has started. Between the new characters and goals each of these characters have been given this season, this shouldn’t be a problem, but
“Intruders” is emblematic of how The Strain can waste away all the interesting aspects it has to just burn through episodes and have everyone in the show constantly going in repetitive circles.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.