Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Strain Season 1 Episode # 3 "Gone Smooth" - Recap and Review


Mia Maestro as Dr. Nora Martinez in The Strain Season 1 Episode 3 Gone Smooth

This post discusses the episode in detail. Readers yet to watch the episode are recommended to skip it, if they wish to avoid spoilers.

In the opening scene, classical music plays in the background, a man with a disfigured face puts on his make up of passing off as a normal human being. The man is revealed to be Thomas Eichorst (Richard Sammel), who declares that soon there will be no need for charade.

Dr Everett Barnes (Daniel Kash) is questioned by Dr Eph Goodweather (Corey Stoll), Dr Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro) and Jim Kent (Sean Astin) about the missing corpses. Everett reminds Eph that officially he is no longer assigned to the case.


Corey Stoll as Dr. Ephraim Eph Goodweather in The Strain Season 1 Episode 3 Gone Smooth

Ansel Barbour (Nikolai Witschl) discovers that something is wrong with this teeth. His high strung wife, Ann-Marie (Alex Paxton-Beesley) is concerned about his health and advises him to take rest.

Jim has his own doubts about the missing box and goes to visit Eldritch Palmer. Eichorst bribes Jim by proposing a very highly selective and rare medical treatment for Jim's wife, Slyvia (Melanie Merkosky).

Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley) faces the legal ramifications as a result of his outburst at the JFK airport. The judge pointedly asks about his silver sword and Abraham responds that it is an object of sentimental value to him. He promises to destroy it and is let go.

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Nora attends the court proceedings and tries to get more information about the corpses from Abraham. Abraham again asks her to destroy the corpses and anyone who might have come in contact with them.

In the court mandated session, Zachary Goodweather (Ben Hyland) suggests that he would prefer a weekly visit or two from Eph. Zack is convinced that Eph's job is more important to him.


Rats are moving en masse in NYC in FX The Strain Season 1 Episode 3 Gone Smooth

Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand) notices a steep hike in reports about incidents involving rats. Fet's latest assignment involves the daughter of a person of influence. After taking care of the

Ansel's pet German Shepherd notices the change in it's master. Ansel drinks the blood from a refrigerated piece of meat, even as his horrified wife watches.

Eph visits Gary Arnot's house to check on him and his daughter. He notices the blood-red water in the bathtub. He gets a phone call and leaves in a hurry. Emma Arnot (Isabelle Nélisse) is seen hiding behind a door.

Jack Kesy as transformed Gabriel Gabe Bolivar in The Strain Season 1 Episode 3 Gone Smooth

Goth celebrity Gabe Bolivar (Jack Kesy) notices something wrong with his private parts. His personal doctor advises him to see an urologist right away. Gabe's frontal genitalia parts are missing.

Abraham Setrakian secures the passenger manifest of Regis Air 573 and is determined to complete his mission of destroying the corpses.

Thomas Eichorst visits a man in his office and murders him with his own handgun, making it look like suicide.

Captain Redfern (Jonathan Potts) escapes just before his operation is about to begin. He has been transformed and attacks Jim and then Nora with his newly developed stinger. Eph subdues him with a fire extinguisher.

Finally, we are getting to see some action. David Bradley continues to give the best performance among the ensemble cast. Richard Sammel also makes an impact as the villanous Eichorst.

Corey Stoll and Mía Maestro as Dr. Ephraim Eph Goodweather and Dr. Nora Martinez in The Strain Season 1 Episode 3 Gone Smooth

The rest of the cast are just about adequate. Gus Elizalde (Miguel Gomez) was absent in this episode. Looking forward to his return.

The scenes involving Emma Arnot reminded me of the movie, Mama. Isabelle stole the limelight in that movie, produced by Guillermo del Toro had produced that movie.

The plot development feels a tad slow. Redfern's transformation was long overdue.

The editing seems to be abrupt. The transition between scenes is quite abrupt and felt very sudden. For example, a scene involving Gabe was just too brief and did not contribute to his storyline.

The novel too had a similar flow - alternating between different characters, as they changed/reacted to the virus outbreak. But something seems to be lost in the translation to small screen. Hope the creative powers behind the show work out this drawback before the show loses the interest of the audience. 

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Monday, July 21, 2014

The Strain Season 1 Episode # 2 "The Box" - Recap and Review


FX The Strain Logo Season 1 Episode 2 The Box Recap and Review

This post discusses the episode in detail. Readers yet to read the episode are recommended to skip the rest of the post, if they wish to avoid spoilers.

The episode begins with a quick recap of the previous episode, “Night Zero”.

Gus Elizalde (Miguel Gomez) delivers the box to its destination and tries to figure out its contents. The grumbling noises and the roars coming from inside the box scare away Gus who flees the garage running at full speed.


Kevin Durand as Vasiliy Fet the big Russian rat exterminator in The Strain Season 1 Episode 2 The Box

We are introduced to the Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand), Inspector at City Pest Control. The big muscular chap works on eliminating the rat problem in the city and not surpisingly has a pet cat. This reminded me of  Hellboy (another del Toro favorite) also having a lot of pet cats.

At the cargo area in JFK airport, Dr Eph Goodweather (Corey Stoll), Dr Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro) and Jim Kent (Sean Astin) examine Peter Bishop's corpse. As readers might remember, Bishop was attacked and murdered by the Master in the previous episode.

Nora notices ammonia discharge, similar to the one inside the doomed flight Regis Air 753.

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Dr Everett Barnes (Daniel Kash) releases the four survivors. Eph tries to keep them under quarantine on his authority.

Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde) plans to release disinformation campaign to counter CDC's stranglehold on the passengers. The blame is placed on the airline company's negligence to safety standards. This is supposed to be the cause of the casualties.


David Bradley as Jewish Holocaust survivor and pawn shop owner Abraham Setrakian in jail in The Strain Season 1 Episode 2 The Box

Thomas Eichorst (Richard Sammel) goes to meet Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley) in jail and refers to him by his Jewish concentration camp number A230385”. Thomas was in charge of Abraham's concentration camp during World War II.

Thomas also asks if his antique sword belongs to Sardu. Eichhorst further taunts Abraham by asking if he still keeps her heart.

Abraham retorts by informing Eichhorst that he had slain Eichhorst's friend Dreverhaven and that he will be joining his dead friend soon.


Miguel Gomez as Augustin Gus Elizalde the Mexican gangster in The Strain Season 1 Episode 2 The Box

Crispin (Francis Capra) gifts the clock, he stole from Abraham's pawnshop, to his mother. Gus chastises him for presenting their mother with a stolen item and decides to return the clock to its rightful owner.

Margaret Pierson, Secretary of Human and Health Services informs Eph that the flight incident is now under the control of National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Barnes tries to calm down Eph by advising him about his personal life. Eph loses his cool and grabs his superior by his collar. Barnes promptly removes Eph from the case and orders him to go on leave for a few days.

Eph tries unsuccessfully to reach Dr Bennett at the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Captain Redfern (Jonathan Potts) meets Eph and Nora at a bar. He lets them know that some government agents has brought the box to the flight cargo.


Corey Stoll as Dr. Ephraim Eph Goodweather performing tests in The Strain Season 1 Episode 2 The Box

Eph and Nora run some chemical tests to determine the nature of the agent that caused the death of the flight passengers.

The duty conscious Vasiliy is making an inspection in a restaurant on a Sunday. Meanwhile, Gabriel Gabe Bolivar (Jack Kesy), his manager Ruby Wain (Regina King) and Joan Luss (Leslie Hope) discuss about their strategy to make money from the Regis incident.

Gabe discusses with Joan about hearing the humming noise inside his head. Joan agrees that she too hears the same. Joan notices blood in her drink and realizes that she has blood in her mouth.

Vasiliy uses his authority to close down the restaurant and orders the patrons to leave.


Jonathan Hyde as wealthy old billionaire Eldritch Palmer in The Strain Season 1 Episode 2 The Box

Eldritch and his assistant/bodyguard Mr Fitzwilliams (Roger R. Cross) get ready to meet the Master. Mr Fitzwilliams is not comfortable with his employer's deal with Thomas Eichhorst and suggests having a backup plan. Eldritch disregards his bodyguard's advice and declares that he is more excited for the upcoming meeting that anything else in his life.

Eph meets Zach (Ben Hyland) before their court custody appearance. Eph has a very uncomfortable man-to-man talk with Kelly's new boyfriend Matt Sayles (Drew Nelson).

Eph attends an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Eph confirms his committment to remain sober solely for the sake of Zack.

Jack Kesy as Gabriel Gabe Bolivar in The Strain Season 1 Episode 2 The Box

During one of his orgies at his townhouse, Gabe can hear the blood pumping inside one of the girls and bites her real hard. After the girls leave, Gabe continues to licks the blood on the floor.

Redfern's pathological report reveals that his body is undergoing metamorphosis. Under the UV light, they notice some movements inside his skin.

Gary Arnot (Steven McCarthy) contacts Eph to thank him for releasing his daughter, Emma (Isabelle Nélisse) to him.

Mr Fitzwilliams gives a friendly warning to Eldritch about his suspicions about Thomas. Eldritch sees the Master's face and is left whimpering in fear.


Corey Stoll and Mía Maestro as Dr. Ephraim Eph Goodweather and Dr. Nora Martinez in The Strain Season 1 Episode 2 The Box

Eph and Nora reach the CDC office to check on Dr Bennett and the corpses. They realize that all the corpses are gone.

Emma is lying in the bathtub. When Gary approaches her, she attacks him with her newly developed stinger.

The show is getting on nicely with the second episode building on the events that took place previously. 

Kevin Durand and Regina Hope are the new newcomers. They are welcome additions to the show and enliven the show with their screen presence.


Richard Sammel as Thomas Eichorst in The Strain Season 1 Episode 2 The Box

I liked the exchange between Abraham Setrakian and Thomas Eichorst in the jail. This conversation revealed Abraham's backstory and explained his rivalry with Eichorst.

Corey Stoll's discussion with Drew Nelson's character was funny. Credit to Corey for bringing in some much needed humor to the proceedings that can get quite grim.

Special mention must be made of Leslie Hope as ambitious attorney Joan Luss. She sells the concept of an infected victim undergoing change really well.

Guillermo del Toro has put in a lot of efforts to make the show an enjoyable treat for his fans and it shows. The makeup, the sets and the atmosphere - they are consistently excellent and bear the stamp of a master craftsman at work.

Recommended watch for fans of del Toro and/or Horror genre.

Trivia
  • The song “I Love You from Barney can be heard in the closing scene, when Gary Arnot is attacked by his changed daughter.

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You might also like:

The Strain - Night Zero
Autobiography of a Werewolf Hunter

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Happy Birthday, Vasily Livanov and Benedict Cumberbatch

Happy Birthday Vasily Livanov and Benedict Cumberbatch 19 July 2014 Best Sherlock Holmes Actors

Two of my favorite Sherlock Holmes actors, Vasily Livanov and Benedict Cumberbatch were both born on this day in 1935 and 1976 respectively.

Vasily makes a great Victorian Holmes and Benedict a superb modern version. In my humble opinion, these two actors present two of the best performances as Holmes among the 75+ actors to have portrayed Arthur Conan Doyle's iconic detective so far.


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Wishing both of them Many Happy Returns of the day!

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Sherlock

Vasily Livanov as Sherlock Holmes

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Strain Season 1 Episode # 1 "Night Zero" - Recap and Review

FX The Strain by Guillermo del Toro Season 1 Episode 1 Night Zero Recap Review Worm in the Eye Eclipse Retina

Guillermo del Toro is one of my favorite directors and I love most of his movies (Pan's Labyrinth, Mimic, Cronos, The Devil's Backbone, Hellboy, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Blade II). I have also enjoyed the movies he has produced like Mama, The Orphanage and Julia's Eyes.

Guillermo has also co-authored with Chuck Hogan, “The Strain”, a vampire horror trilogy. The books are being adapted as a FX TV Series, with the active participation of del Toro.

The first episode “Night Zero” aired today. This post discusses the episode in detail. Readers yet to read the episode are recommended to skip the rest of the post, if they wish to avoid spoilers.

In the opening scene, a male voiceover talks about the hunger known as love and how it defines us as humans. 


Corey Stoll, Sean Astin and Mía Maestro as Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, Jim Kent and Dr. Nora Martinez in The Strain Season 1 Episode 1 Night Zero

A flight Regis Air 753 from Berlin is approaching touchdown at the JFK airport. One of the flight attendants, Rose (Karen Glave) is contacted by her co-worker, Peter (Adriano Sobretodo Jr.) for immediate help.

Peter is convinced that there is something moving in the cargo. Shortly, a hooded black figure attacks both of them.

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The flight lands at the airport. The ground crew does not receive any response from the flight crew. Concerned with this situation, they decide to call in the official agencies including the CDC.

Dr Ephraim Eph Goodweather (Corey Stoll) is the Chief Medical Officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He is late again for the last of his court mandated family therapy sessions. His wife, Kelly Goodweather (Natalie Brown) is concerned about his inability to being a good husband and father to their son Zack (Ben Hyland).

Eph is informed about the Regis Air emergency. He reaches the airport and is met by Dr Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro) and Jim Kent (Sean Astin).

David Bradley as Jewish Holocaust survivor and pawn shop owner Abraham Setrakian in The Strain Season 1 Episode 1 Night Zero

We also meet Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley), an aging pawn shop owner who is more than what meets the eye. He deftly handles a couple of shoplifting street thugs.

Abraham learns about the airport incident on the news and realizes that He is back. He has a beating heart stored in a jar and feeds it his own blood to keep it alive.

Corey Stoll and Mía Maestro as Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and Dr. Nora Martinez in The Strain Season 1 Episode 1 Night Zero

Eph and Nora enter the plane wearing containment suits. They notice a lot of ammonia present and also that the passengers show no signs of any infection or struggle.

After switching to UV lights, they notice lot of biological stains inside the plane. There are four survivors so far: Captain Redfern (Jonathan Potts), vain celebrity Gabriel Bolivar (Jack Kesy), ambitious attorney Joan Luss (Leslie Hope) and timid Ansel Barbour (Nikolai Witschl).


Jonathan Hyde as wealthy old Eldritch Palmer in The Strain Season 1 Episode 1 Night Zero

At the Stoneheart group building, a mysterious Thomas Eichhorst (Richard Sammel) visits elderly billionaire Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde). Eldritch's right-hand man, Mr Fitzwilliams (Roger R. Cross) hesitates to interrupt his employer's ongoing dialysis.

Jim informs Eph about the discovery of a finely hand carved box about 9 feet tall containing soil. Nora notices that the coffin has an inside latch.

Eph asks Bishop, a ground crew worker to make inquires about the mysterious cabinet. Even as he makes the call, Bishop hears some voices inside his head and is led to a secluded place. He is brutally murdered by the same mysterious figure that attacked the flight attendants.


Richard Sammel as the mysterious Thomas Eichorst in The Strain Season 1 Episode 1 Night Zero

Eichhorst also visits Gus Elizalde (Miguel Gomez), a Mexican gangster and entrusts with the task of moving the coffin. He offers Gus the reward of having his beloved mother's immigration status cleared in return for his work.

Dr Bennett (Jeffrey R. Smith) performs autopsy of the dead passengers and discovers that their blood has turned white and opalescent. All of them also have a precise incision in their necks.

Abraham meets Eph and Nora and asks them to destroy the bodies of all passengers, whether alive or dead. He further asks them to destroy the coffin as the only way to destroy him. Eph has the seemingly raving Abraham arrested by the cops.

Eph and Nora realize the importance of the box and rush to investigate it. The box is missing and Eph orders Jim to ensure that it is not carried out of the airport. Gus, with Jim's help is able to get the coffin out of the airport.

The corpses come to life at the CDC and feed on Dr Bennett.


Miguel Gomez as Augustin Gus Elizalde the Mexican gangster in The Strain Season 1 Episode 1 Night Zero

Gus is happy with his latest assignment and calls to check on his mother. He does not seem to be as concerned with his brother, Crispin (Francis Capra).

One of the dead passengers, Emma Arnot (Isabelle Nélisse) returns to her father Gary (Steven McCarthy) and he happily embraces her.

The episode closes with Abraham Setrakian's voiceover quote: Love is our grace. Love is our downfall.

This episode was directed by Guillermo del Toro and his touches can be felt throughout the episode -  the way the episode has been shot and colored, the character development, the humor and the focus on the very human emotion of Love

Eph's description of the way a virus is transmitted was done well.

Acting is solid across the board. I liked Corey Stoll (Eph), David Bradley (Abraham Setrakian) and Miguel Gomez (Gus Elizalde).

Miguel has some of the best lines in the show and looks to be the standout performer.

Guillermo del Toro director with Sean Astin on the airport set of FX The Strain

This is Guillermo doing what he does best: a character driven piece with aspects of horror thrown in for good measure.

Hats off to him for successfully bringing the book to life. I look forward to Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand) making his appearance on the show.

This is one of the best 90 minutes of TV show I have seen. The recently concluded Fargo was another very well done show (also from FX Networks). If the show maintains the same level of quality, FX has another massive hit on their hands.

A must watch for fans of Guillermo del Toro/Horror genre. 

Click here to read the review of the next episode, The Box.

Trivia
  • The folk song Maggie can be heard playing on the radio in the first scene with Abraham Setrakian.
  • The song “Sweet Caroline can he heard playing on the radio, when Dr Bennett is attacked by the dead flight passengers at the CDC.

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Autobiography of a Werewolf Hunter
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