We already know how "The Strain" fares with two hours' running time and a Guillermo del Toro manning the cameras. But how does it fair with just one hour and a distinct lack of del Toro?
The answer? Still pretty outstanding.
Because of the time crunch, we don't get nearly the same amount of "getting to know you" time that we did last week. Plus, we've got a new character to introduce- Vasiliy Fet, rodent hunter extraordinaire- meaning "The Box" has an even larger piece of bread on which to spread its perilously thin amount of butter.
But all in all, things work out. And if we've learned anything from last week, it's that "The Strain's" strong suits hinge around the words "gross" and "scary," especially in how it draws us in, waiting for the precise moment to spring another "blecch" on an unsuspecting (ok, partially suspecting) audience. In that regard, "The Box" is just about perfect.
We're building off last week's momentum here- Abraham Setrakian, our resident wise old man who conveniently knows everything there is to know about the vampire scourge, is still in jail. Gus, our street tough who still loves his mama, is still driving around town with a hungry horror in his backseat. So little time has passed, in fact, that at the start of the hour no one is even aware that the coroner is in pieces and his autopsy subjects are taking a quiet stroll through NYC.
No one's noticed this? Neither a Tweet nor a Vine about that walking cadaver with intestines trailing by its feet and a six-foot spike where its tongue should be? That's a bit of a stretch, "The Strain." But we'll give you a pass, if only because you're so charming in your cadaver disembowelment.
And also because "The Box" manages to push things even further that "Night Zero" did, despite given only half the time to do so.
Early on, we meet Vasiliy Fet, a man with a wavering Russian accent but an unwavering devotion to New York City health codes. And unlike most of "The Strain's" characters, who started on "meh" and had to build from there, Fet starts on a far more endearing note. Mostly because he swings a dead rat at into a trendy diner's face, but hey- that's all you really need for a quality character.