Not that much happens in “The Box,” but that doesn’t mean it isn’t another great episode of The Strain. After the show’s fantastic premiere last week, I had wondered how Carlton Cuse, Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan planned to space out their story, and this second episode establishes a quick pace and deliciously eerie style that should serve The Strain very well throughout the rest of its first season. And gore-hounds will surely be satisfied with “The Box,” given the gross-out scene it concludes with.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. At the end of “Night Zero,” Eph and Nora were scratching their heads over the disappearance of the titular box, a massive coffin covered in mysterious, satanic scrawlings, and by the end of this episode, it has changed hands from gang-banger Gus Elizalde to the wax-skinned vampire Eichhorst and mysterious businessman Eldritch Palmer. We also see what we really knew all along – that the box was a container for the Master, who appears before a terrified Palmer at the end of episode to hiss, “You brought me all the way here. Aren’t you going to look at me?” The intimidating Robert Maillet is playing the Master, and we get a glimpse at his Nosferatu-like features and absolutely massive hands (remember last week’s clobbering time on that poor airport traffic controller?). Though Cuse, del Toro and Hogan wisely just tease the Master’s full appearance in “The Box,” what a tease. I think all of us can sympathize with Palmer’s terrified sniveling.
“The Box” also introduces a new character in Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand), a Russian exterminator who delights in humiliating the owners of a swanky New York restaurant. Durand is quite affably hammy in the role, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he’ll come into contact with the rest of the characters in later episodes – perhaps Abraham Setrakian can take on an apprentice? Vasiliy’s skills with dispatching rodents may well come in handy when the inevitable staking gets underway.