Ever since its beginning, The Strain has had a serious problem with tone. Instead of taking itself seriously, The Strain needs to indulge in the B-movie nature that this type of vampire infestation deserves. For the first time in a while with “The Silver Angel, the series allows itself to have some fun and levity by experimenting with its tone, and in doing so, we get the best episode so far this season.
“The Silver Angel” starts off with a sequence that seems so lighthearted, it feels like a completely different show. We get a glimpse at a film called Angel vs. The Vampires, about a Mexican wrestler (Angel) that, as the title implies, fights vampires. It’s obviously a silly film, but it feels more in line with where this show should be, rather than the dark, brooding feel that usually overtakes this show.
This lightness continues with Eph and Nora actually getting a victory in the search for a way to infect the infected. Teaming them up with Fet at the beginning always helps a story gain a humorous edge, but it’s also just great to see Eph happy and having a purpose for once. He even gets some time off from vampire killing to take Zach out for some fun. The two hit up some abandoned batting cages, before Zach is quickly reminded of his vampire mother and gives up. It would have been great to see Eph get a victory with Zach, if for no other reason than to give the audience a moment where we don’t absolutely hate him.
Since The Strain rarely gives us these moments of fun, its strength usually comes from flashbacks that offer a deeper understanding of the battle raging. We get that in this episode as well, as we see an important turning point between Eldrich and Setrakian. The two travel to Austria to find the Lumen, and while Setrakian gets a boost in the acknowledgement that he’s on the right path towards defeating evil, Eldrich meets Eichorst and learns of the power that he could gain and immediately abandons helping Setrakian.
“The Silver Angel” also finally makes Fitzwilliam an interesting part of this battle. We learn that Reggie Fitzwilliam’s father worked with Eldrich, and Reggie followed in his father’s footsteps, but would eventually quit. Setrakian and Dutch go to visit him to create what will hopefully become a very valuable partner, and while Reggie turns them down, it’s pretty clear that he’s going to help out eventually.
Speaking of potential partners, Gus meets Angel after visiting a restaurant that Angel works at—a restaurant that is somehow STILL FREAKING OPEN! I’m not entirely sure how much research Angel did in vampires while making his films, but it’s looking like The Strain is setting him up to also be important in some way.
But The Strain still has this huge problem with the world it’s supposed to represent and the world it actually shows us. Restaurants and some schools are still open, some people don’t seem all that worried and when other people start jumping from buildings and eating the important people that work in the financial market, reporters automatically assume that they’re protestors. Hey, everyone in New York, vampires are everywhere and they want to suck the blood out of you and turn you into one of their own. Why the hell are you still there? For some reason, even Gus acts stupidly by returning to his mother’s apartment—which he knows holds his vampiric mother—then whines about not wanting to kill her. What important things do you need to get at your mom’s place that you couldn’t just loot from the abandoned stores?
Even so, The Strain look like it’s starting to fix its tone problem. “The Silver Angel” is The Strain at its most light-hearted so far, while also fitting in the darkness that it clearly wants to be a part of the show as well. “The Silver Angel” shows that this series can balance these two conflicting tones; it just needs to do so more often.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.