Unexpected returns and children are on the docket this week.
The Strain: Season 2: episode 3: Fort Defiance: GRADE: C
Man The Strain this week had a weak ass bite to it. After two episodes of great story building and character work, we sort of get that. We get no flashbacks this week or mythology building but just purely set in the current day and man focus was all over the place so where to begin.
Zach is still a little shit. While he wasn’t the most particularly interesting thing in season one, I had hopes they could bring him something in season two and all we get is such a hackneyed cliché story about how he can’t understand mom is a vampire and still wants her around and I guess he still sees the vampires as people that’s not quite fully explained. Even after being shown one up-close as Eph shows him what they are doing he feels the need to wreck up Eph’s shit in the lab after a small moment where Eph recalled his own dad, which was a nice brief moment of character building before Zach ruined everything. Eph shows Zach their subject close up, telling how that cage is only holding him back and that his mother won’t care since she’s one of them. Upside, Eph and Nora’s cure is perfected and soon infection will spread. Hooray and fuck Zach.
Zach isn’t alone in characters getting bad writing, although the difference here is that I like Dutch. Missing posters for Nikki are being put up and its stirring up some things for Dutch given the last time we saw her to the point she can’t keep her head clear when she and Fet go over their plan blowing up the subway to make sure no more vampires can’t get into the city. That’s a great idea so how about so melodrama between Dutch and Nikki’s mom? This was poorly written, just terribly written and Dutch doesn’t exactly get the closure she wants for her time.
Dutch gets berated for ruining Nikki’s life when brought her into a disgusting lifestyle and Nikki’s mom then swears it not the gay stuff. Apparently Dutch was a vampire and rather than rather than leaving after sucking the happiness out of her life she stayed around. Not sure if you were able to tell, but my eyes rolled so goddamn hard over, it was painful. Dutch then finds solace in banging Fet in the van. This is an awful way to help further their romance, which is a highlight of the show now and something I want to see get extremely better as it goes along, but this is not how you should do it.
Even Setrakian gets nothing, kinda. He has more setup for something that will obviously be a bigger plot down the road in how he boils down vampire worms and drops the liquid in his eyes to maintain health. He drops this on Nora after she finds him passed out and to an actual doctor tries to play it off as that his eyes just bleed sometimes.
Oh yeah and Councilwoman Feraldo shows up again when its reveal Staten Island is virus free and erects a fence of decapitated vampires along there to get her message across and Fet thinks that’s cool.
This episode thankfully has one highlight and that’s the vampire army commandos. I will seriously never stop loving those words together as long as I live goddamn it. Now we do have Gus who isn’t so much a focus here, thankfully, since he’s their ace in the hole of their place of kidnapping Palmer. I will admit that the training sequence for Gus earlier in the episode was rather good and pretty cool seeing him pulling the vampire tongue out. The attempted kidnapping itself is a rather cool sequence that is excellently staged and exciting to watch. Palmer is of course notified and scurries off to a secure room where he turns on a system of UV lights, which moves them to the center of the room where they are then promptly dropped into a UV light pit. It’s so goddamn cool in how inventive it is. Its ridiculous, but it works so well for the show. Also it seems with this and Bolivar being put on Palmer watching duty, it seems that Ms. Marchand might be aware of this whole vampire thing and what she’s getting into. Let us hope.
The Strain takes a heavy backseat to some season one melodrama with a healthy does of some amazing silliness with Palmer’s office. The episode was all over the place this week with some focus being put too much on the least interesting characters of the show. Now that we seem to have our infection virus of the vampires in play, things can pick up next week.
Masters of Sex: Season 3: Episode 3: The Excitement of Release: GRADE: A-
Man was there a lot to talk about with this week’s episode. Where to start? Well how about Tessa since I’m a firm believer in ripping the damn band-aid off right away.
I know that dear Tessa here isn’t an actual person, one of the fictional children created for this show and while I’m not against the idea as long as there something well that can be done with the character, give it some good writing and story development behind it and it can work. Tess is good example of this so far this season. Where The Strain falters in its handling of Zach, Masters of Sex excels with a great idea for Tessa being a major part of the season by seeing what the success of her mother’s book does to her in school. Teasing, whispers, rumors and whatnot. She’s clear with her mother about what it does for her. Teenagers always look for different identities to look for and Tess is putting on the well-experienced girl to impress a young lad she takes a fancy to and shares a drink with at the homecoming dance.
This goes wrong when he forcibly makes her perform oral sex on him. A comment made by Tessa’s nun earlier about children learning from experience seems to be the center of this with Tessa being like her mother at this age in finding herself way over her head and what’s horrible is how she’s not turning to her mother given that teenagers are some stubborn fuckers. Tessa is very much a petulant teenager and the writing on that is too well good and performed perfectly by Isabelle Fuhrman. Little creepy too how her rapist kisses her on the cheek the next day, but hey its 1960s high school so he could have spread rumors around about her, much like today. Tessa’s arc seems to be moving swiftly now and here’s hoping things are handled well with this subject being brought in.
Well this week Bill and Virginia are dealing with shit together and alone, which comes back around to the book.
Bill spends the majority of the episode trying to ship around to various universities, but he is set on Washington University where the study started, despite all the shit that had happened. He even enlists help of old friend Barton Scully, which means we have Beau Bridges back! He’s the first of unexpected returns this week, but more on that later. Scully is here and divorced, yet seeing a new woman. Bill’s defense of Barton kinda blows up in his face when he does let his emotions and costs him any chance at Washington. His pleas to Barton in joining them at the study is welcomed, but desperate for Bill who seems to possibly not be too comfortable with his own skin. Barton is lying to himself and the woman he seems to care for, but he feels more comfortable and in place than Bill is. Barton is a great reason as to why the book’s existence is necessary in understanding different forms of sexuality.
Speaking of the importance of the book for someone Lester seems to represent what the book can do for domestic couples and thus our second return Jane. Yes, Heléne York is back and married to Lester which man upsets me greatly because of how much I loved seeing him with Betsy Brandt last season. UGH! Well she seems bored and a talk over hate mail for the good doctors got their engines going. This wasn’t too interesting.
Back to Virginia, she and Betty, more than one scene, seem to want to take the investment route and go through several people, including Hugh Hefner, a hand massager, and Josh Charles. Bill being Bill, no way Playboy, the most logical choice, is going to get it so they go with “fragrances and flavorings” magnate Josh Charles who is an actor I love more than not and am glad to see him on TV since his exit on The Good Wife. He’s interested in how to use sex as a perfume, and it seems the sweets for Virginia.
Virginia deals with all that and her and Bill’s intimacy getting back on track since she had the baby from last week which bookends the show and feels nicely explored for the brief moments they bring it up on screen. Her balance of family and work is clearly going to be her arc for this season.
Now we go to Libby who’s only interesting facet this week is finally coming to terms with her marriage to Bill and possibly even contemplating divorce. For the rest of the episode she seems to be heavily involved in her friend Joy’s (Sarah May Pratt) marriage which she seems too interested in trying to get her to try and stay with Paul. Even trying to get Bill to try and talk to Paul which Bill recognizes as not his goddamn problem, but she tricks them into watching a game together which leads to Bill nerding out over his football card collection, still feeling uncomfortable in his own skin still. Joy ends up in the hospital at episode’s end with a brain aneurysm. What timing, there wasn’t much to go with off of that for the episode.
Masters of Sex this week takes a slow down, but keeps several things exciting for most of its characters and keeps being Showtime’s shining example of its own programming block and where the effects of the book release take us this season can only reach the sky as its giving the show some great life right now.