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THE STRAIN “For Services Rendered” Episode Recap

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As with anytime The Strain gathers momentum the next episode does its best to quash it. “For Services Rendered” isn’t as egregious about it as some of the previous episodes. But it is still disappointingly devoted to subplots and wheel spinning.

“For Services Rendered” finds our now assembled crew of Fearless Vampire Killers attempting to set up an ambush on the Master’s familiar, played by Richard Sammel. It also spends about equal time on a Nanny who we’ve known for an episode who brings two children back to their infected mother and then manages to get trapped by a pack of vampires in broad daylight. The investment we have in one of these stories is significantly higher than the other.

“For Services Rendered also revisits the holocaust; while the last episode to do so missed the mark, making the episode feel weird and exploitative, this episode manages the material much better by focusing on it more as a matter of interpersonal drama than historical fiction. This means a lot of Richard Sammel, which explains a great deal of the reason why I’m so relatively sanguine about this episode when I’ve taken others to task for similar construction. Sammel remains the most compelling performer on the show, he’s just plain fun to watch, and it’s tough to complain about an episode devoted to doing just that.

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More problematic are a few cases of strange sloppiness. The inconsistency in how far along the plague is is starting to get distracting. Last episode featured vampires pulling civilians out of cars in the middle of the day, swarming up from subway tunnels, infesting office buildings and generally being sort of conspicuous. “For Services Rendered” also features a couple of extremely public attacks, but for the most part showcases the fully populated streets of New York going about its business as usual. The sub plot about the slowed down internet can only get you so much leeway here fellas, unless they start catching on tout suite the citizens of New York run the risk of looking rather dim.

There are other examples of storytelling laziness in “For Services Rendered” most egregiously when a subway station that is bustling with civilians and cops one moment completely empties out so our fearless heroes can stage a gun battle in the middle of a decidedly non post apocalyptic New York. Come on guys, about ten seconds ago you had Sean Astin make a big point of showing how many cops were around. Did you think we’d forget?

“For Services Rendered” is another episode of The Strain that costs by on the strength of its actors and make up effects. By the end of the episode we’re exactly where we started save for one pretty bonkers plot development at the end that I won’t spoil but have too much of a kid in me not to like. I’d probably be less annoyed if it hadn’t proved that it could be better.

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The Author

Bryce Wilson

Bryce Wilson

Confirmed film geek and literary nerd. Writer for Paracinema and Art Decades Magazine, columnist for the San Luis Obispo New Times and author of Son Of Danse Macabre. Resides in Austin, TX.