Martin Carr reviews the third episode of The Strain season 3…
For fans of the book trilogy this is their episode. I say it because Quinlan remains a firm favourite of those who discovered The Strain, before television got their mucky little paws on the written word. What happens in and around those events this week unfortunately feel like window dressing, designed to pad out the main draw. Penry-Jones gets his moment in the sun and there are elements of Elephant Man and Rocky III as well as good solid writing. Such is the dramatic content of these moments that taking things elsewhere feels like a distraction.
In all fairness there is a culmination of events carried over from episode two, but ultimately you feel robbed of a truly Quinlancentric episode. Gus and Angel seem dropped in just to remind us they are still alive and well, while Setrakian and Fet merely continue their pursuit. Goodweather and the present day Quinlan acknowledge their uneasy partnership, while Penry-Jones steals most of the scenes on points.
There are hints at character involvement through dialogue but those government officials seem conspicuous by their absence. Other imagery is dropped in around scenes between Zak and Kelly to deepen the apparent bond between them. But it only serves to illustrate how some actors can carry off facial hair while others should steer clear. Therefore in all honestly ‘First Born’ suffers from a lack of substance, making it seem less than the sum of its parts.
I have already said in numerous different ways that something was lacking. Bearing mind Quinlan is a fan favourite and I imagine runs throughout these books, it seems odd that he failed to get an episode to himself. It’s unlikely anyone paying attention would lose interest if they were given one character on one occasion at the expense of everyone else. A decision which is symptomatic of writing via committee, which is something networks tend to favour so I understand. My feeling was that Quinlan’s backstory represented a deeper vein to mine in terms of narrative content than people were prepared to pursue. For television I appreciate things must be cut, truncated or otherwise whittled down but surely there have to be exceptions. For my money if for no one else’s this is the first wasted opportunity of a new season which still promises great things.