Zach and Bill learn hard lessons.
The Strain: Season 2: Episode 8: Intruders: GRADE: B-
I feel like I should really address my problem with the Zach storyline in that I just don’t find it terribly well written. In a narrative such as this its not unlikely for a storyline such as Zach’s to exist, but as all things its about execution, but its also about the character that you put into that narrative. Zach’s a child and so rarely are children well written in a whole lot of narratives, but the writing on Zach hasn’t risen above mildly tolerable. More often than not the character will have a confrontation where they wake the hell up and face reality about seeing someone they love as one of the monsters they are trying to not become.
That moment finally comes for Zach once he lets Kelly into their hideout near the end of the episode. Zach has been his usual grating self in this episode, especially saying how Setrakain was wrong about The Master and sunlight so he might be wrong about mom. The scene that follows from letting Nora is as fairly entertaining from its pacing and tension, but has some bad direction and editing on it in how fast things were cut. I barely saw anything, but the sudden appearance of Kelly’s feelers coming from under the grates added a nice little touch of suspense, also one of the few things you’re able to see. Really that’s the best part of the episode itself aside from Eph and Zach going to get a rifle and them performing emergency surgery on the man they get it from. They had some well done small scale suspense and Eph’s confessing to Nora about what went down in DC was also pretty good to give an interesting dynamic between them going forward that could make some good tension after having to protect their presumedly now former home front..
The episode features a hunt for the Occido Lumen that is sorta interesting for the fact that it centers around a greedy as shit cardinal who will extort both Setrakian and Palmer with constantly upping the price. I respect this guy a lot. That’s the interesting part since it lets us see the hunt for the book is now back in the forefront again after feeling left to the wayside for a while with Eph’s trip to Washington and Palmer’s blossoming romance. This story is highlighted further by Eichhorst’s killing of the cardinal which has some really damn good villainous dialogue on the part of Eichhorst. Answers are given as the the Lumen in that its in the hands of the little boy Setrakian met at the Rudyard Fonescu. Now that I wasn’t expecting and again helps to make this plot line important again.
As to Palmer’s romance, I still can’t find any emotional interest what so ever in that. Palmer does have a great moment when having fun at Eichhorst’s expense that Bolivar was chosen as the new vessel for The Master. Such a bitch, I loved it, but him and Coco I never really find myself too invested in to care enough about the secret keeping between them.
Quinlan meanwhile tries to recruit Gus who seems to wanna keep his new family safe. Gus’ romance isn’t interesting as well, Angel is though. I want more Angel rather than I do Gus at this moment. Honestly the scenes with Quinlan sadly go nowhere beyond trying to get Gus to join the fight, aside from how The Master isn’t forgetting Gus’ part in all the proceedings.
Special mention to the effects and makeup team for that effective opening of Eichhorst helping Kelly become human again. Top notch work that shouldn’t go unnoticed at all. Though the question does come to mind of how she was able to be out in the day. I mean it was pretty cloudy so it could have been covered up, but what about Eichhorst being near Palmer’s window in the day? Quinlan is a daywalker, but how? MAKE SENSE, SHOW!
Well The Strain keeps some momentum going and has a feeling or urgency now when it comes to one of its main stories, but certain focuses and how they are handled do hinder what could have been an exciting episode.
Masters of Sex: Season 3: Episode 8: Surrogates: GRADE: B+
Masters of Sex thankfully took an upswing right when it needed. Still featured plenty of the things that hindered last week a bit, but its a significantly improved chapter.
Hypocrisy seems to be a big theme for this particular episode and is perfectly highlight in the best scene between Bill and Betty once he discovered the sham going on between her, Helen, and Austin. He brings up how medical records now seem, that she’s done something wrong and after proclaiming that she is a lesbian, not a moron, mentions how he’s doing the same by upstarting the surrogates program without Virginia and that in seven years of working there, she’s become an expert at looking the other way. Betty done went and picked up the mic Hannibal dropped the night before and dropped it back down, told Bill to suck it, then walked off stage to the sound of airhorns.
Betty got to have her moment which I had been waiting for so long this season as she’s been a bit underutilized. That confrontation was just waiting and waiting to happen and its handled so perfectly. Betty might not be the best voice of morals here, but Bill never has been and he’s getting it put right into his face this week. Its somewhat satisfying to see Bill’s face get shoved in the deuce he dropped on the floor himself. This scene could be played in melodramatic ways that would have made it bad, but there’s enough brains behind the show to make this exceptionally well done.
Bill really can’t seem to wait. He begins the program as Virginia jet sets to Vegas with Dan Logan and find an old family friend in the daughter of former neighbors played by The Walking Dead’s Emily Kinney who seems to more or less have the same bit of acting method as she did on that show, yet feel a bit different in character and slight more dimensional as Nora. She’s taken to the science of human sexuality as Bill has and he seems to be pretty smitten about that. Nora appears to be be some extension of Bill and he wants the best for her since well she’s essentially gonna be a bit of a teacher’s pet character, which seems it’ll become more than that. Hypocrisy continues there when Bill refuses to send Nora away at Libby’s request, legitimizing her role there as helping with touch and the human need to be touched, which is coming from a man that most likely hasn’t touched his wife in a long time.
Now to go back to Betty, I’m still much interested in her story with Helen as I love these two together. They are so wonderfully charming and this week it helped to shine a lot on Austin whose life has gone to shit in majors ways and is getting the chance to get his children back with Betty and Helen’s help and I instantly miss Austin being a regular around here. I found the character a good edition to the cast in a lively way and he brings that back again in his interactions with Bill and just his character as a whole. He brings fun to the show and can get serious when needed, especially when drinking with Betty and Helen at the end of the episode. It was a nice moment at the end for Austin to take Helen’s virginity with Betty there to help her thought the act so she can become pregnant.
Hypocrisy further comes from Lester signing up for the program to spite Jane for last week and well their bickering and resentment to each other was a low point for this episode. It just wasn’t funny at all. Their back and forth in the prep course personally grated on my nerves.
Libby and Paul have found surrogates in each other for their sexual desires, but Paul seems to wonder what Libby’s deal is when they do have sex with the curtain drawn, lights off, and her eyes closed. She opens up in honesty the best scene Libby has had all season when she opens up about her friend, and former lover, Robert who we learn has died after being ran over by someone who fell asleep at the wheel. She isn’t giving everything to Paul as she already gave it her all with Robert. Its a moment that does reek of “For Your Consideration” in terms of Emmys, but hey I gotta call a spade a spade and damn this was some good work for Caitlin Fitzgerald to play with. She’s not mourning her dead marriage, she’s mourning the one man she truly ever did and most likely will ever love.
Now the season theme has seemed to be about change and Virginia is slowly realizing the change she needs to make from Bill to Dan which is well played in their Vegas trip where he shows true commitment to her. They pitch to a casino and well their chemistry stays really strong there and in the scene back at the hotel when they talk down a kid that tried to rob them once they realize, more so Virginia does, that he’s a 19 year old kids out of the Vietnam War. He’s been on drugs and robs for money to get said drugs and well the scene kinda did drag the episode’s pacing down a bit for how drawn it it becomes. Virginia sees a true caring side of Dan when he agrees to pay for the kid’s treatment and rejects the casino’s offer of pumping the scent of their perfume in their casino since it would have him relocate to Las Vegas. Virginia is so lovingly moved by this and I was to as a viewer. Dan is proving to be all the things Bill really isn’t and that is adding to the show in a good way. Sure its a love triangle, but its one that truly feels emotionally investing for its characters while giving the show drama that it needs. Virginia’s sending Bill home is maybe the turning point of this storyline and I’m anxious to see how that affects things going forward.
Oh and Barton might be getting love too from a new doctor that’s started around the office working with him. Good on him.
Masters of Sex gets back to its usual best self this week at just the right time and it felt very refreshing to see it be entertaining again in a way that was lacking from last week’s proceedings, furthering characters and stories as we get closer to the end of the season.