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‘It’s Not For Everyone’

There really couldn’t be a more perfect episode title for The Strain than ‘It’s Not For Everyone’, four words that sum up how I’ve been feeling about the series since it started. From one man’s junk falling off, to another man’s insatiable desire for bloody meat juice, it would be tame to describe last week’s episode as grisly. This week, however, the horror was matched with some well-needed humour that increased my enjoyment of the campy and gruesome series…even if I still felt the urge to vom during a particularly graphic forensic pathology scene.

Following the unfortunate incident at the end of last week’s Gone Smooth, Eph, Nora and Jim are in a state of sheer panic. I guess bludgeoning a vampiric creature to death will do that to a person. Jim – played by Sean Astin – has been the weakest character up until this point, but he was finally given something to do, and that was to have a giant toddler-like meltdown and in the process royally tick off his colleagues.
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During a clandestine autopsy on Captain Redfern’s body, Eph and Nora make a horrifying discovery. The Captain’s human organs had been replaced by a new set of not-so-human organs, with the vampire parasite basically rewriting human biology to reproduce and consume it’s host. Eph pulls out the throat appendage, which seems to be never ending before it eventually spurts onto the floor with a squelch. At this point, wet Jim has had enough as he exclaims, “this is disgusting”. I hear you Jim, loud and clear.

But Jim’s not finished there. “This thing just shot a six foot python out of its mouth, its dick is gone and it just squirted a shit load of shit all over the table, and you’ve got your hands everywhere,” he cries. Eph and Nora take a very scientific approach to the body, but Jim’s freak-out provides some light relief that just about makes the grossness manageable.

The unearthing of the organ-rewriting parasite is made worse when Jim’s secret about transporting the coffin onto the plane and being indebted to Thomas Eichorst is revealed in a spate of desperate honesty. Eph lashes out when Jim makes a dig about his wife and Jim finds himself alone, without a friend or a job. Where his story will take him now is hazy, seeing as he seems to have lost the one thing that kept him in the series – his position in Eph’s team.
the-strain-its-not-for-everyone-03Meanwhile, we see a lot more of Gus with his mum and his waste-of-space brother in this episode, but it all feels like filler. Presumably, like Jim, he’s got something to do with the bigger picture but what exactly that has to do with the growing strain is anyone’s guess.

Jim has a rough deal of it in this episode but it’s nothing compared to what Ansel is going through. As one of the four survivors (make that three now that Redfern’s bitten the dust), Ansel has been transitioning and fearing for his family’s safety. He asks his wife to take his kids away and when Ann-Marie returns on her own, she finds her husband chained up in the shed. Ansel begs Ann-Marie to run and get as far away from him as possible and it’s quite a pertinent scene in the series, showing Ansel’s inner fight with his transition. What’s shocking is Ansel’s religious wife, who after an altercation sends her snide neighbour into the shed to be gobbled up by Ansel. It’s a nice contrast between the evil of the virus and the evil of humanity that rears its ugly head when people are pushed too hard.
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Elsewhere, Eichorst and Eldritch Palmer recruit a hacker to bring down the Internet – and thus stop word about the outbreak spreading – in the latest stage of their diabolical plan. Dutch Velders (Ruta Gedmintas) is an instant pleasure to watch as she pisses off Eichorst with her boastful attitude. Who’d have thought a female hacker would get the better of the former Nazi-commander, but she manages to have the last word when he tries to undermine her confidence. It’s possible that Eldritch won’t even see the end result of his plan, as his health wanes and, to his discontent, it seems he isn’t quite as valuable to Eichorst and The Master as he thought he was.

In an attempt to find one of the plane corpses, Eph and Nora go to the little French girl’s house, where she attacks them. Thankfully Setrakian is there to save the day, beheading the girl and her infected father in swift Van Helsing-esque style. While Eph immediately accepts what needs to be done, Nora has an emotional response, thinking that there must be a way to cure people rather than simply exterminate them. Time isn’t on their side though and kindness won’t cure the strain, only a clean beheading, gasoline and a naked flame. Looks like Eph and Setrakian are on their own with this one.

Next week…we get to see how Setrakian and Eichorst met, and rodent exterminator Vasiliy Fet makes a grim discovery.

★★★

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