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Tube Talk: The Strain: S2/E2; Masters of Sex: S3/E2

The-Strain-2.02

Time to keep going on.

SPOILERS!


THE STRAIN -- "By Any Means" -- Episode 202 (Airs July 19, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r) David Bradley as Abraham Setrakian, Kevin Durand as Vasiliy Fet. CR: Michael Gibson/FX

The Strain: Season 2: Episode 2: By Any Means: GRADE: B+

This week on The Strain we further see development as to where our main characters have gone with Eph and Nora in the lab, Setrakian in search of the Occido Lumen, and Fet and Dutch taking back the city and clearing nests one building at a time. I see not better way to look at the episode than in that particular way.

Eph and Nora carry on what they set out to do last week and find a way to infect the vampires and now with two test subjects. The testing and searching I thing honestly is the highlight of the episode to show how the strain (couldn’t think of a better word I swear, of the situation is putting on people, a theme that extends throughout the episode with our protagonists, but right now its science time. Nora’s overwhelming stress and Eph’s sliding back into drinking is possibly gonna cause a meltdown of huge proportions down the road and it almost looked like it might, but luckily we swerved into realization time!

For the majority of the episode Eph appears cold and a bit single minded in his ways and honestly I liked that for Corey Stoll to play as he’s now got the best chance he’s had in a while to get rid of the vampires. Keeping the couple in cold was a smart move since in almost any situation its a good idea. People are unpredictable and you can’t imagine how one might react to such news as, “Hey, you’re gonna slowly turn into one of those creatures that’s slowly destroying the world.” Eph gets through with mentioning it could save their son and save the world, a bit much to lay on them, but hey the guilt tripping got to them. This section made for incredible tension and emotion throughout the episode. The couple themselves for whenever they appear on screen makes it gut-wrenching, particularly when Eph straps the husband down and we zoom out as distance is made clear between us and them, the extremes that must be met to insure the safety of humankind. Eph is going to go down any road possible to get shit done. It adds further weight to the story.

Thankfully they come across some pure DNA strains in the lab and working something out with amino acids, I’ll admit I got a bit lost there, synthesize a formula that appears to work. Also Zach is still a little shit and throwing hissy fits such as messing with the board at the end of the episode. Whatever.

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Fet and Dutch actually seems to connect on a really human level. They go about afternoon nest clearings and this time we settle upon a gym where an expertly done and filmed sequence goes down that includes sun grenades and decapitations. When the grenades go off they execute such a cool visual that shows the contrasts of light and dark as they kick some ass, and even some nicely creepy shots from the POV of the vampires themselves. This plot is honestly a great way of getting them to kick ass together and plus the chemistry of both performers add for some levity among the show, even when their lines aren’t exactly the best. Their scene in the pool where Dutch shows Fet how to swim felt nicely genuine for the two to further connect. Now this is a romance I’d love to follow.

Setrakian gets a mixed reaction from me. The stuff in the present far more excels than the flashbacks, but we get a connection. I expect flashbacks to be heavier used on this season given we’re now about finding what further makes The Master tick and the workings of the vampire. Still after answers about The Master, Setrakian looks over the texts he retrieved and we see he was first introduced to Palmer long ago when as a professor. Palmer put him in search of the cane and finds the cane off of someone from his concentration camp, but Palmer is the one who put Setrakian on the search for the Occido Lumen long ago that seems to have put him on his downward spiral, but I will say the flashbacks do make for a very tense confrontation between Setrakian and Palmer at the end of the episode. But really the problem with the flashbacks is how bogged down it got by the exposition of it all and while it can help to provide backstory information, it can also kinda hinder the proceedings. Seeing each of their backstories interconnect, even more hints as to them both given in said episode ending confrontation, is ripe for excellent storytelling in of itself, should it really connect to the current day proceedings at all.

Palmer’s Freedom Center opens, there’s a councilwoman showing up who may or may not interconnect with Fet and Dutch given their shared views, and Stoneheart is really back in charge of the city. Those further build the world and mythology, but also kinda slow the show down this week. Though next weeks seems to be promising as Kelly has now put her feelers to hunt for Zach. This should be engaging.


Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson and Michael Sheen as Dr. William Masters in Masters of Sex (season 3, episode 2) - Photo: Warren Feldman/SHOWTIME Photo ID: MastersofSex_302_0028

Masters of Sex: Season 3: Episode 2: Three’s a Crowd: GRADE: B

Well we get an answer right away into the episode, George is who got Virginia pregnant. They shared a moment after talking about Henry at the lake and thus, baby. But that is the keyword, pregnant. Virginia says that she’s pregnant, not that she’s having a baby with George.

And thus we come to the prospect of abortion in this episode and before we continue, if there is going to be any discussion on this very sensitive topic in the comments, try to keep it civil, and no I will not be making my own thoughts on the situation known. I’m here to review the piece of television I have just viewed.

Now this week was a clear focus on Virginia herself as her pregnancy is going to make a pure impact of the proceedings, most notably the Masters as they each seem to have different reactions as to how it will affect them in terms of the book’s release. Bill with them seeing how they will be perceived, more over her and Libby with what people might think of her with how close her husband works with the good doctor. Both come after Virginia decides to keep the baby in an effort to make up for what happened with her own two children before. What I will praise the show for is how it lets Virginia come to her decision, but also I kinda don’t like how it came at the moment she was on the table and was asked if she felt anything after being given anesthesia. That to me smacked of hackneyed writing and terrible circumstances. Comparisons have been made to the time this happened with Joan on Mad Men. Both shows didn’t dance around the issue at hand and hand reasons for each character to not go through, though both also had them take place so conveniently at the time it was to do so. I just don’t like that sort of writing since it can send off the wrong sort of thing to particular viewers as to what the writer of the episode says about abortion. However it retroactively comes back to being respectable since it didn’t pull any bullshit to have the baby miscarriage the day of the appointment. That would have automatically given this episode to a D+ at best. Though the one other thing that bothered me was how Tessa called Virginia the worst mother before it happened. Sure just an argument over a car dispute, but that didn’t stop my eyes from rolling deep into the back of my head from that being said. UGH!

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Now for the rest of the episode, its kinda weak sauce. First Bill seems to want George to fake remarry Virginia in an attempt to make things better and while he’s willing, Virginia still hates him, but the weak sauce is served up when Bill’s client this week is the Shah of Iran who can’t seem to conceive and she’s upset since he will go after a new wife and can’t bear to see the person she loves be with another since she can’t provide life. It feels a bit too on the nose and clear its resembling the situation Bill is having with Virginia and George despite he thought of the idea in order to have any negative press on the book die down. They all seem really comfortable to go with the lie for the sake of the book. The book is the other thing central in this episode. Its central to the show, but really comes to the forefront this week.

The writing this weeks seemed to be weak outside of Virginia’s story in all honestly. Even to George asking what happened to the Virginia he used to know and she replies that she grew up. Yeah it was another eye rolling moment. Even the metaphor of the book that Bill uses to help calm Virginia as she goes into labor. It was true to Bill’s character, but it felt odd and really seemed more fitting for Bill to sing Danny Boy to distract her in a moment of genuine laughter. The scene between Bill and Virginia in her hospital room is nicely done as its one the few highlights that show something the show can do well and that’s their chemistry. Sheen and Caplan confront their character’s true problems, how it shaped them to be completely opposites but great equals to each other as well. Its scenes like this that really show what I love about the show. Their plans to further educate the world clear as crystal, they plan to march forward with their fucked up lives staying out of the public eye.

Not much is even done around the office aside from the Shah. Betty is only there for one scene and Maggie Grace shows up to make things different as Virginia’s replacement whom I can’t seem to recall at the time of this writing.

What the episode was about was lies and the lies built to help insure the success of Masters and Johnson in their book release and the lies they tell themselves. No telling what could happen once they crack. The ending shot saying so much.


Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson and Isabelle Fuhrman as Tessa in Masters of Sex (season 3, episode 2) - Photo: Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: MastersofSex_302_0343

The Strain and Masters of Sex progress things further this week and while each had a couple of missteps in their progression, its good to see them moving ahead on the firm ground to deepening the stories they’re telling.

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