Some weeks won’t always be stellar.
The Strain: Season 2: Episode 7: The Born: GRADE: B-
Everyone say hello to Quinlan, my new favorite character on the show next to Fet and also the most interesting part of this whole episode. Now Quinlan’s fleshing out and even Corey Stoll’s performance help elevate the show above the last episode, but its bogged down with a couple problems and they are romantic problems, but first I think we need to focus on the badass vampire that brightens things up.
Quinlan is the mysterious vampire that suddenly came into the picture last week and he is played by Rupert Penry-Jones who turns out was a Roman gladiator. Yes let me just type that again, Quinlan was at one point in the history of the world, a Roman gladiator fighter. I didn’t think we could top a luchador wrestler taking on vampires, only thing missing from SummerSlam on Sunday night, but it seems I was wrong and I tip many of my St. Louis Cardinals hats to you showrunners.
He has been a life long warrior, even being shown to have taken on vampires throughout centuries beyond the Roman era and is also half human. He’s here to recruit Setrakian into being his warrior in an alliance considering he’s the one person in the whole world that seemed to weaken The Master enough to force him into changing vessels. This comes about after saving Setrakian and Fet from some of Kelly’s feelers and then they both face off with The Master and Eichhorst. It’s a nicely small tense sequence that even gives some backstory that The Master has history with Quinlan and especially his mother. Too bad that the confrontation is abruptly broken up by Fet blowing up The Master’s little hideaway. Live to fight another day.
Quinlan comes in at just the right time here to add some extra excitement to the show in this second half and opens up for the mythology to be explored much deeper than it has for the past couple of weeks.
The only other exciting bit is Eph’s low key and alcoholic hazed return into the fold where it’s a bit uneasy at first, but Corey Stoll plays it so right. His determination to keep going even in failure seems relatable to damn near anyone that might be watching the show and gives his character some intriguing ways to go since now his focus is straight up killing Palmer. Now we all know, not gonna happen instantly but how it will play out soon will be fascinating to look at.
With those out of the way, holy hell, do I not care for a love triangle right now. Nikki turns back up after Fet and Dutch hit up her place to get some of her things and Fet immediately starts to feel as if he’s old hat to her and thus a love triangle is going to be put into place. Really the one thing to come from this was Fet being further fleshed out, giving some more sides to him as a character beyond what we know and love about the character so far. He’s showing how vulnerable he can be and is considering what a connection he was making, even willing to have Dutch move into his room. That’s a commitment! Really it kinda just makes things a wee bit melodramatic and I just wasn’t feeling this. It dragged the story down whenever the episode would put its focus on it and that goes the same for Palmer and CoCo.
Yes they further their own bond and go to bone each other. I honestly have nothing more to say about that other than its just a momentum killer.
The Strain gets one foot off the ground this week while the other foot is stuck where it was from last week. With an intriguing new character, it suffers from a returning character mucking up from of its works. Where it goes from here is anyone’s guess.
Masters of Sex: Season 3: Episode 7: Monkey Business: GRADE: C-
I feel like this episode was Masters of Sex at a standstill, that’s what it felt like at least to me. I found nothing too different from last week aside from the intriguing storyline of the guest stars, which does push forward a plot point, and the return of Sarah Silverman and Teddy Sears to the show. Honestly this episode also suffers from just now in the second half of the season throwing stories upon stories upon stories.
Really I think that’s what my problem was with the latest episode is that despite the many balls it’s juggling in the air, its familiar elements from past episodes don’t feel too inspired here. It’s a boring episode.
As you can guess from the episode title above, we pick up with Bill and Virginia debating about wither or not to take on the case and of course that also means Virginia is a bit more curious and insistent than Bill is which feels a bit more than old hat with some of the more unique cases and the push for the Newsweek interview after Isabella and Al are seen leaving the clinic from last week. Mostly it fuels a log of the conflict from the show and depending on sometimes the story and its direction its captivating and there are numerous examples of that over the course of the show but here just feels it’s a needed plot conflict to drive and make things complicated between them and make Virginia think Dan as more of a suitable suitor for herself. This time it’s not to compelling despite the persistent charms of Josh Charles who even shows up to charm Virginia in an ape costume. Yes that really happened.
Dan even gets to know Tessa who is still in pissy vengeful teenager mode this week and doesn’t seem to go above that so there’s not too much I really can say beyond that. Can we go back to the interesting and complex Tessa from before?
But back to Gil the Gorilla it does touch upon and feel similar to the plotline of Keith, Jane’s friend from acting class. They are both single males and really don’t fit the client criteria for the practice, but as noted, Bill has a soft point for sympathetic males in trouble. The Gil story is probably the most exciting thing in just how weird it gets when they visit Gil’s old handler played by Alex Borstein that felt truly emotional give how she would stroke his ego and had a much deeper connection between human and ape than one would expect. Virginia’s reaction to how she did it makes her wanna forget it and make it a fluke and doesn’t feel comfortable discussing it in the Newsweek interview. Bill of course feels pissed since he was against the same thing with Isabella and Al, yet knew they could keep it confident because doctor-patient privileges This is Bill’s dickhead moment of the week people.
Honestly with the Gil story being captivating I just didn’t feel so emotionally connected or invested and the same goes for Jane who agrees to be a surrogate partner for Keith so he can participate after she does some convincing to Lester by reminding how they met through the study and that it helped her, she just wants to do the same thing. Noble, but I just again don’t feel too interested in it. Jane’s return has been a problem for the show in where I would like closure for her and Lester, I’m not sure I wanted them back together and this is beyond wanting Lester and Barb, who gets a mention this week, to be together. Because Lester moved on, he was able to rebuild himself after how Jane broke him down and made him less a man when she ran off in a great moment from Lester this week. I loved that.
Now for Betty and Helen wanting a baby. They want a baby and of course it being the 60s, single moms and lesbians need not apply. I will say was the best storyline this week given the performances because Sarah Silverman is back and it gets us more Annaleigh Ashford as well. They try to used some of the sperm collected at the office afterhours since well Bill doesn’t help single people and they are uncertain about who to use since they can’t get to know the donors so enter penis ex machina, Austin Langham, Teddy Sears back, surely misplaced by the Speed Force. His brief return will surely be expanded upon, but I’m not sure how much, but it again also served to kinda overstuff the story.
Back home Johnny burns one of Bill’s football cards. REBEL!
Libby’s story just doesn’t live up to how good it was last week given it would be ripe for high drama but it just slowly drags out how inevitable her affair with Paul or anyone else might be since she seems to be here to be the under-appreciated wife who has her own affairs. That seems to be the only mode for her on the show anymore. While its not hard to feel sorry for Paul, Libby just kinda brings the proceedings down.
Masters of Sex just doesn’t feel like itself this week and that’s a real letdown given last week’s installment. I can’t help but figure that this is just wheel spinning until a bigger event towards the finale and even the finale itself. I guess much like Gil, this episode couldn’t rise to the occasion.