Last week’s extra long pilot episode of The Strain delivered our first taste of the vampire virus about to be unleashed on an unsuspecting New York City. This week the threat intensifies as the infected start to display a vicious blood lust, while Gus transports the coffin and its contents across the bridge.
As the newly reanimated plane passengers make their way back to their homes noticeably paler, the four original survivors are released from quarantine – despite Eph’s protestations. Someone very powerful is trying to cover up what really happened on the plane by making it seem like an error involving carbon monoxide poisoning. We later find out that Eldritch Palmer – the sickly looking millionaire – is the brain behind the cover-up, as he transports the coffin to New York.
Up until this point, Palmer has merely been the financial aid behind the coffin’s transportation but his patience finally pays off as he’s granted time with the contents of the box. When he sets eyes on the monster though, he looks as if he wished he’d stayed within the safe confines of his super flashy skyscraper. For now I feel placated that we’ve not been gifted a clear image of The Master. From the bloody chaos he’s caused in just two episodes, his is a face I’d rather put off seeing for as long as possible.
While trying to revoke the release of the ‘lucky’ four, Eph is also struggling to keep control of his personal life. It’s good to see that the writers are putting as much emphasis on their characters as they are on the horror of the tale. Eph, we discover, is a recovering alcoholic and suddenly his love of milk doesn’t seem quite so random. In this episode he finally accepts that his marriage is over when Kelly’s new boyfriend moves in and pals up to Eph’s son, Zach.
Things aren’t completely bleak on the romance front though, as Eph and Nora share an unexpected yet sweet kiss, confirming what we suspected in the pilot episode – that there’s more to the duo than a platonic work relationship. It would be nice to see some of Nora’s backstory, to balance out the male/female dynamic, but there’s still plenty of time for that to materialise.
Showing us that at least one of the survivors has an ounce of sense, the surviving pilot realises that there’s a conspiracy involving the plane, and he agrees to help Eph and his team. With a high temperature, the same incision on his throat that the dead passengers had, and parasites crawling under his skin, it’s not looking good for the poor pilot.
The other three survivors, who are all varying degrees of irritating, are also displaying worrying symptoms, which indicates that they too might have died; only they reanimated much quicker than the rest of the plane. When arrogant rock-star Gabriel bites a woman’s neck and proceeds to lick her blood off the floor, it’s not hard to guess where things are leading for the original four ‘survivors’.
Thomas Eichorst – played with intense creepiness by Richard Sammel – visits Abraham in prison after he was arrested trying to warn Eph and Nora about The Master. Eichorst is all-too familiar with Abraham, taunting him about failing to save a woman, who we can assume was a loved one. When Abraham threatens to halt The Master’s plan of creating a vampire army, Eichorst is quick to dispel his heroism. Prison might seem like a safe place when your enemy is on the outside, but when Eichorst pushes his finger against the glass and we hear it crack, it’s not The Master or his plan that we fear for.
Although Guillermo del Toro didn’t write or direct this episode, it still seems to have his unique stamp on it. Everything is darker than it should be and there’s an eerie yellow/green glow to many of the scenes, which contributes to that feeling of sickness spreading through the city, whether it be by crime or the virus.
If you thought that the rising of the dead and the head splattering in Night Zero was creepy, that was nothing compared to the little French girl murdering her papa with a frankly gross appendage that jumps out of her throat. We saw the same thing last week with The Master but this time around it’s more disturbing, destroying a child’s innocence by making her into a monster.
The Box ends with the little French girl sinking into her bath water, as her father’s blood swirls around her. It’s an image I’d rather forget, though I’m sure it’ll be burned onto my retinas until something equally, if not more, ghastly occurs in next week’s episode.