This week’s deliciously tense and scary episode of The Strain leaves off on such a spectacular cliffhanger that it would feel disingenuous to kick off this review by talking about anything else. I’m talking about a strigoi SWAT team (?!?!?!?). Up until “For Services Rendered,” The Strain has been relatively straightforward in its depiction of the series’ bloodsuckers. Outside of Eichorst and the Master, who exhibit enhanced intelligence for reasons that the show has yet to explain, the strigoi are rabid animals, predators driven solely by their compulsion to feed. They can’t speak and never betray an ounce of emotion – one reason Eph and Nora have come around to the idea of decapitating them is that they feel infected individuals lost anything that made them human the moment that the stinger went into their neck.
So for this episode to introduce (out of nowhere) a unit of soldiers, clad in black and red, toting guns that fire metal stakes, is certainly unexpected. When they appear in the Luss household just in time to rescue nanny Neeva, her daughter and the Luss kids from a now fully-turned Joan (whose reflection vibrates by the way) and other vamps, it’s a jaw-dropping, totally badass moment. Who are these guys? NYPD: SVU (Special Vampires Unit)?
I didn’t recognize the red symbol on their uniforms or the leader. Unfortunately for Neeva’s daughter, who sustained a small cut and was therefore put at risk of infection while slapping Joan’s stinger away from the kids, this squad clearly buys into Setrakian’s take-no-prisoners approach to slaying. “Don’t touch her,” warns the unit’s leader. “She’s corrupted.”
Now that’s an interesting thought. As I mentioned above, we’ve seen two types of vamps on this show before – the gleefully dastardly evildoers like Eichorst, and the foaming-at-the-mouth carnivores like Joan. There’s evidently a process that needs to be undertaken for someone to become a through-and-through vampire – simply being infected by a bite or a worm just results in one becoming a mindless strigoi. Within vampiredom (which we’ll pretend is a word), perhaps there are those who wish to protect the purity of the species – much like the Nazis seen via flashback in this episode. To the SVU, the infected strigoi are dirty, corrupted, unworthy of possessing the abilities of a vampire because of the quick and dirty way in which they were turned. And they must die.