The Strain 1.08: “Creatures of the Night”

“Creatures of the Night” picks up where last week left off, with Eph and Co. recovering from their confrontation with Eichhorst. When Abraham confirms that the strigoi cannot stand sunlight, Nora and Eph’s medical expertise comes into play: as this vampiric plague is viral in nature, and viruses die when exposed to UVC waves, they reason that ultraviolet light may be one of their best defenses.

Our heroes arrive at a local medical supply warehouse only to find the place closed. Well, desperate times certainly call for desperate measures. “(We’re) burglars, vigilantes, vampire hunters—add it to the list,” Eph deadpans before breaking a window. And once inside they learn they’re not alone…

Turns out Vasiliy Fet has beaten them to the valuable UVC lamps, having correctly deduced that they’ll prove useful weapons against the “big munchers” he’s already encountered. So not only did the exterminator know enough to raid the medical supply warehouse, he also cunningly cut off the alarm for the place from down the street, and  even goes so far as to haggle with Nora over who gets how many lamps. And then calmly announces that he’s already “exterminated” a couple of the creatures on his own. Like it’s no big thang.

Note to self: when the undead start to attack, add a Ukrainian exterminator to my roster of must-have allies. I know I was already predisposed to love Vasiliy because he’s Kevin Durand-shaped, but with each episode he just continues to prove his resourceful, competent badassness at every turn.

Vasiliy knows what has to be done.

As the group leaves the warehouse, they turn their attention to the gas station just across the street. Mindful that things will only get worse with each passing night, Eph decides they should stop and pick up supplies.

It just so happens that computer hacker Dutch is there, too, rather pleased with herself that the wireless system is still kaput. Of course, she isn’t quite so pleased when a horde of vamps descends upon the gas station.

The first couple are deftly dispatched by Abraham—with help from a game Vasiliy, who promptly swings into action; oh boy, do I love a man who can swing a bit of rebar with a purpose—but it quickly becomes apparent that the humans do not have the advantage in numbers.

While Eph and Nora rush to provide some cover fire, Jim uses his head, snags an extension cord, and plugs in one of the UVC lamps. He manages to fricassee one of the creatures before a second springs forward, sucker-tongue lashing out, and poor Samwise hits the ground like a sack of—dare I say it? Yes.—potatoes.

Seeing that there’s just too many to repel, the group falls back to the convenience store. The nervy and clueless attendant in the booth demands that they leave before he calls the cops; guess it’s difficult to make out just how obviously messed up the attacking creatures are from his chair. Jim rushes to the bathroom to apply some antiseptic to his cheek cut—“Scraped when the muncher knocked me down.”—but we know by now that peroxide just ain’t gonna cut it.

Abraham and Vasiliy take stock of the situation in the garage attached to the store. When Vasiliy demands “the rules” from the old Jewish fighter, you can practically see Abraham grin. Here’s an ally who won’t quibble, won’t argue, won’t hem or haw or waste time needlessly. Vasiliy accepts his information at face value and when the two formally introduce themselves with a handshake, we know we’ve definitely seen the start of a beautiful friendship.

A friendship that will involve copious beheadings and gunfire, of course, but perhaps all the more beautiful for that.

When Dutch’s girlfriend makes a run for it and—shockingly!—actually gets away unscathed, they realize that these vampires aren’t just opportunistic hunters. They’re acting with a purpose, guided by their Master, and they have one goal: kill Abraham and his allies.

Of course, when the bread delivery guy and Dutch try their own escape, it’s clear the creatures won’t pass up an easy meal when one presents itself. Only Eph and Nora’s efforts save Dutch from her would-be getaway driver’s fate.

A fate Jim’s about to suffer, which Nora and Eph realize when a UVC lamp reveals one of the worms crawling across his cheek. Yeah, that “scrape” was definitely a bite, as we already suspected. Eph and Nora spring into action and start gathering make-shift medical supplies. Box-cutter in hand, Eph performs a squick-inducing emergency extraction on Samwise’s cheek.

And for a moment, everyone breathes a sigh of relief. Perhaps if caught quickly enough a vampire “bite” isn’t an automatic death sentence…

But the moment of relief is quickly shattered when one of the vamps swings a trolley through the front door. Recognizing a distraction when he sees one, Abraham rushes outside to find another creature shimmying up the closest telephone pole like a squirrel on crack cocaine. Unfortunately, he can’t manage a headshot before it successfully cuts off the power.

The news goes from bad to worse: Vasiliy’s efforts in getting one of the cars in the garage drive-able is interrupted when the vamps start smashing through those doors. Everyone falls back to the main store to regroup, and Abraham decides their best bet now is to escape in the bread truck.

Of course, that’s all the way across the parking lot. And the keys are still on the delivery guy, currently lying on the pavement and surrounded by hungry vampires. Things aren’t looking too optimistic. So Abraham turns to his new best bud, Vasiliy, who knows a few things about vermin and getting out of tight situations…

And also has enough compassion to care about the nervy attendant Hassan, who refuses to leave the supposed safety of his bulletproof booth. Knowing the guy is making the wrong choice, but also knowing they don’t have the time to convince him otherwise, Vasiliy instead passes over a winning lottery ticket to cover the expenses Hassan is so worried about.

I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but really: what a guy.

Samwise can’t stop thanking Eph for pulling the worm out of his face. I mean, if I were in his position, I’d be singing the dude’s praises, too. But given how hardcore and brutal this show’s been so far, we know it can’t have really been that simple. Jim’s just too grateful, too relieved, too determined to do right by his old friends after his recent bad calls. So we know what that means: there was never just one worm.

Lo and behold, another squiggler is seen creeping across Jim’s face. And when Eph yanks up his shirt, he finds dozens more crisscrossing his back. Poor Jim starts to—understandably so—panic. He saw what happened with Redfern; he’s seen the resurrected victims in the parking lot. And he knows what has to be done. “You have to kill me,” he pleads. “You have to release me. That’s the expression, right?”

“That’s not a solution,” Eph argues.

“You killed the others,” Jim counters. “It was a solution for them!” He demands the truth from Abraham; once he turns, won’t he go after his friends? Sylvia? His parents? Abraham gives him just what he wants and tells him yes.

And then Vasiliy gives him the other thing he wants, what Eph and Nora couldn’t give him—and puts several bullets into his head. Eph is angry, upset, and too clouded by emotion to see that Vasiliy did the right thing. It was what Jim wanted; it was the only thing they could do to protect themselves and keep him from becoming a monster; and they have no time for such arguing when the vampires are inches away from overrunning them.

Proving that Vasiliy is most definitely ready to handle this apocalypse, while Eph and Nora still have a ways to go.

So we say goodbye to Jim Kent, who at least got to have a few shining moments of Samwise courage to make up for his traitorous choices in the pilot, and also got to have a few words prayed over him in lieu of a proper funeral. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest—and may you not come back as a sucker-tongued devil.

But there’s no time to grieve: the ceiling collapses under the weight of several vamps and the group has to double-time it into the parking lot. Vasiliy starts throwing Molotov cocktails like a proper rebel, everyone sets to work dousing the lot with gasoline, and Eph recovers the keys to the bread truck.

Everyone piles inside and Vasiliy floors it just as the pumps start to explode. The truck careens into the night, the distant city still moving and lit, and there’s the surreal sense of normalcy on the horizon.

Not for long, of course. We’re only days—and episodes—away from total anarchy and chaos. Pretty soon, those skyscrapers won’t be so bright and bustling. Pretty soon, everyone in New York will know the truth. Pretty soon, the creatures of the night will no longer be hiding.

So everybody better start stocking up on ultraviolet lamps, is what I’m saying.


Angie Barry wrote her thesis on the socio-political commentary in zombie films. Meeting George Romero is high on her bucket list, and she has spent hours putting together her zombie apocalypse survival plan. She also writes horror and fantasy in her spare time, and watches far too much Doctor Who. You can find her at Livejournal.com under the handle “zombres.”

Read all posts by Angie Barry at Criminal Element.

Comments

  1. Anna Lou Who

    YEAH TEAMWORK. Honestly, I really hadn’t been feeling the show before this episode, but I kept hoping that would change when the group finally came together as an ass-kicking team of vampire-killers, and hey I was right!

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