TV Show Review

TV Review: THE STRAIN: Season 4, Episode 5: Belly of the Beast [FX]

David Bradley Richard Sammel The Strain Belly of the Beast

The Strain: Belly of the Beast Review

The Strain, season 4, episode 5, ‘Belly of the Beast,’ left me with some pause, over its pacing. After what had seemed like a tilt towards a pacing uptick, last episode (for better, or worse), this one seemed bent on speeding through one heavy thread, adding a potential drag-chute to another, and literally running out of gas – and taking a somber walk – on the way to a third.

For anyone who thought that things might’ve been going too fast, for Ephraim (Corey Stoll) & Alex (Angel Parker), a pause was taken to review The Diary of Emily. Echoes of Occupied Europe aside, the whole affair just reminded me that personal smart devices still run, post-Illumination (long battery life, weather-proof – heck, make it black, and I want whatever model Emily had). On the other hand, Emily’s fondness for girly colors allowed the Anne Frank allusion some Spielberg influence (think the Red Dress, from Schindler’s List).

Beyond adding a few more drops, to the Ephex chemistry beaker, the pit-stop saved them the trouble of figuring out New Horizons, by bringing New Horizons to them. Sort of.

New Horizons drop-out, Francis (Tonya Pinkins), had nothing about the place to share, but was able to lead them to it. She was also a lesson about carelessly applied compassion, that Eph really should have learnt, by now. Thanks to Ephex’s humanity slip, we did get confirmation that the Master (Robert Maillet) link is still a thing, however.

Of course, that confirmed previous plot holes, regarding Eph (and various others) going unnoticed by the Master, while in plain sight; but I guess we were supposed to focus on Eph possibly tripping the Master switch on purpose, to get word on his snot-err, son.

After the clumsy end reveal – that we weren’t meant to guess, even after Eph’s remark about farming – I’m not sure that level of credit was earned, though.

Beyond smart phones, unions are apparently still a thing, as well. Not to play the old Reagan-era card; but it seems that Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones) & Fet’s (Kevin Durand) ‘team’ serves only to gripe about/ sit-out tough jobs, until bribed into it. I guess we can add team wrangling, to the Charlotte (Rhona Mitra) résumé; but it didn’t take a flashback to let on that she’d caught Quinlan’s eye.

Well, we got a flashback, anyway. Not quite done with high-seas hooligans, apparently, Hannah New‘s 1888 Louisa character was introduced as a would-be victim on a mission. The plot convenient rape attempt was Quinlan’s excuse to face her – as the thing she quested after – but the motive to that quest turned out to be more plot convenience.

The convenience, in this case, was the motivator being done away with, so Quinlan could have touch-feely moments, with Louisa – complete with a suitable public face, for this diversion. Not quite suitable for kissing, though – he has kind of a wicked tongue. There were other, less subtle innuendos, to the whole affair; but I’m not in a corrupting-the-youth kind of mood, just now (but just so we’re clear: it was her leg. Her leg).

Never mind Louisa’s cosmetology chops, the whole flashback just seemed like an odd thing to tack-on to the series countdown. Add the fact that it led nowhere, this episode, but concluded with a major conflict introduction, and it looks to be a thread within a thread, going forward.

Of course it won’t end well – it’s how it bears on Charlotte, and the Quinfet thread, that concerns me.

As for said thread’s highway robbery, I suppose it’s possible that no one in the forward escort vehicle saw/ remembered The Matrix: Reloaded (some of us are still trying to imagine a World without the Real Load Of & Revulsions sequels); but the capabilities of the Master’s Mongrel class of Strigoi couldn’t outweigh a loosely run convoy op.

Quinlan daydreaming & shaky teammates aside, it still warrants saying that Kevin Durand’s Fet still seems to be having a morbidly good time, through it all. It’s one of the reasons I tend to like whatever thread he’s in, and why the Quinfet is still the one to beat, so far, this final season.

All the more reason this new flashback sub-thread could turn out to be a liability. The Rise & Fall of Gentleman Q could cut into any remaining Quinfet fun.

On something of a “Speak of the Devil” note, it seems I wasn’t alone, noting the holes to Eichorst’s (Richard Sammel) plot history, after all. At a stroke, ‘Belly of the Beast’ addressed both his history with Dutch (Ruta Gedmintas), and his ‘keeping up appearances’ (okay, that last one was kind of dodged; but at least it came up). Unfortunately, it also pointed out the continued inconsistencies to the Master’s post-Illumination order. Either the Master has been keeping intel compartmentalized (like any good Dictator would) & Eichorst was out of the loop, or a prize like Setrakian just fell through the system’s cracks. In the latter case, that would be no crack – that would be a major plot hole.

Whichever the case, getting back in touch with Dutch got Eichorst back to jonesing to poke at the old man, again; so never mind the Dutch history, ’cause even sadists have priorities. Say what you will, about this eleventh-hour reassessment of priorities – Eichorst’s sadistic savoring was palpable.

For Setrakian, however, it must’ve seemed like waking from a dream about Arya Stark. It was a predicament that would’ve given a lesser nonagenarian a heart attack, all things considered; but for someone like Setrakian, defiance appreciates with age. Eichorst’s signature Mr. Anderson/ 24601 taunt likely helps, with that.

Alas, a series finale looms large, and everything must go – including savory gloat moments, and torture porn.

Since no one bothered to hang a ‘warning: violent instigator/ jail-breaker’ sign around her neck, Dutch got a second, clearer shot at being the monkey-wrench; since the Masters new order didn’t come with things like pre-Illumination levels of closed circuit surveillance, she got pretty far, pretty fast; and since Eichorst didn’t learn not to play with his food (after the last time he went Dutch), his staff giving his well-being precedence, over foiling his foes, worked out for everybody.

That countdown clock’s starting to tick noticeably louder, through all this; but at least it was still too soon for any lasting Eichorst comeuppance. He’s previously lost more weight, in one exercise, than this particular calorie burn.

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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