“Fort Defiance” may be the best episode of The Strain since the first episodes of season one. However, for everything it did right there was much that was wrong.
The opening scene of vampires feasting a couple of police officers was quite cool. It wasn’t a cool scene because they’re feasting on cops, but because there seemed to be a sense that the story was moving somewhere. Bolivar was moving the Master’s dirt someplace. Who knows to where. We may find out in an episode or three.
However, this cool scene of police fighting for their lives brings up a problem.
The last police officer on the menu calls for help saying he and his partner were being attacked by “those creatures.” So, we know someone in the city knows the vampire plague exists. We can assume after the police officer has broadcast the fact over the radio a lot more people will know too. Unless Palmer, Eichorst, and the Master have jammed all radio waves too.
However, wasn’t the original goal to keep the vampire strain secret until it was too late to do anything and The Master controlled the city? Wasn’t that the point of shutting down the internet (Again, ONE PERSON shut down the World Wide Web!) and wasn’t that the point of keeping the city open? You know, so the strain could be spread across America. So, someone somewhere knows the plague exists yet nothing is being done.
The Strain finally had a scene that took place in the great outdoors. Not in a sewer or a storage facility, but in the actual outdoors where the sun is shining and the birds are singing. Reggie Fitzwilliam (who we haven’t seen since last season) is boarding the Staten Island Ferry to visit his brother. In an attempt at social consciousness, a police officer asks if the brother Fitzwilliam is going to visit his “brother” or his “brother.” Oh, police harassment of an African-American. How edgy and current.
We even see checkpoints set up to test if passengers have the disease or not. So, people know about the plague or they don’t? And if they do where is the Federal Government? Hey, del Toro, you can’t have it both ways.
We’re told Staten Island is plague free. Councilwoman Justine Feraldo (played oh so unconvincingly by Samantha Mathis) even displays decapitated vampires as proof of Staten Island’s resistance against the vampires.
Ok, hold on. Don’t these vampires burn up in the sunlight? We’ve seen vampires, including the Master, burn in the sunlight. There’s even a scene in the same episode of vampires burning under UV lights (Don’t get your brain cells in a twist they’re the same thing).
In the span of a few episodes, the vampire “disease” has gone from a virus to a plague and now we have armed resistance against the vampires. I’m starting to think the writers on the show don’t take very good notes.
Speaking of vampires burning in sunlight- the Cryptic Souls Crew of Vampires were totally caught off guard when they invaded Palmer’s business towers. What can you expect when the person you think is the badass warrior of humanity only has a minute of training. Yes, the scene where we see Gus “train” is pretty weak, but it was very cool seeing him rip the tongue biter thingy out of a vampire’s mouth.
The best thing about “Fort Defiance” was the lack of Ephraim Goodweather and Zach. The few minutes of screentime, however, was regrettable.
Zach’s tantrum, which does nothing to forward the story, served no purpose other than to show Zach is a brat. It’s a fact already established so it was a waste of screentime. The character of Zach is only going to serve to get Goodweather and crew in trouble.
At some point in time, Goodweather will turn back to save Zach from something at the cost of another character’s life. Zach’s attempted run away in “Fort Defiance” foreshadows these future events. It’s a typical storytelling device you can see coming a mile away.
Zach’s tantrums are also an excuse (like this series needs one) to showcase Stoll’s mad face and how Goodweather needs the bottle he fought so hard to defeat at some point in the past somewhere someplace. At least that’s what we were told in season one.
There’s still no sense of dread or fear the city is under any kind of plague. Sure, a member of the CDC is in the Master’s inner circle, but that exscuse only holds so much water before it becomes ludicrus.
A security guard working in Palmer’s building tells Gus the vampires will be beaten and things will go back to normal. So now it’s common knowledge vampires are running around NYC? If it is common knowledge why isn’t there panic in the streets, vehicles jamming up the freeways, and garlic sales skyrocketing? Because The Strain still does not know what it wants to do and because it doesn’t know what it wants to do the viewer gets a lukewarm episode like “Fort Definace.” However, it’s still one of the best episodes.