Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fringe recap: S1E13 "The Transformation"

We open on a plane.  Some guy who looks like an accountant is writing in a notebook.  When his nose starts bleeding, he goes to the lavatory.  Once inside, he peers closely at his face, then tugs on his teeth.  Then he takes a kit out and swaps the inside of his mouth.  It turns red when he tests it and he freaks out.  He finds a flight attendant and tells her that something very terrible is happening to him that he can't control.  He's going to lock himself in the lav and she needs to collect all the sedatives she can from the other passengers, then pass them in to him.  If he's not himself when she opens the door, they must keep him in the lav at all costs.  Another flight attendant, nervous, warns the guy that they have a taser and they will use it on him.  "It won't be enough," he moans.

Back locked in the lav, the guy's teeth are falling out.  He retches into the sink and starts to scream horribly.  Then spines split the back of his shirt ... is he turning into the Splinter monster?  From the main part of the plane we see the lavatory door burst open and it's even better: a man-sized, pissed-off porcupine thing charges into the plane.  Right friggin' on.  The plane goes down, as it would with an enormous porcupine monster rampaging inside, in Scarsdale, New York.

Bored now: at Olivia's apartment, Rachel interrogates her older sister about the engagement ring John gave her.  Luckily, Olivia gets a call about the downed plane and has to get back to work.

The Fringe team, plus Broyles, pokes through the wreckage until Broyles shows them the manupine/porcuman.  Walter is, of course, fascinated.  As Olivia flips through photographs of the dead passengers' passport photos, she gets a flash of John-memory when she sees the accountant-looking guy.  "This is our guy," she tells Charlie.  Charlie is bemused by this hunch.

At the lab, Walter, Peter and Astrid autopsy the porcuman.  They dig a glass chip out of its palm.  Didn't Massive Dynamic pull one out of John Scott's palm some episodes ago?

FBI HQ is hopping, working to identify the dead passengers and they've put a name to the porcuman: Marshall Bowman.  During her research, Olivia recognizes one of Bowman's clients as another person in John's memories and tells Charlie that they need to question this client, Hicks.  Charlie is beginning to get suspicious about all these hunches so she 'fesses up about the experiment that fused John's memories into her head.  To his credit, Charlie decides to go with it.

Peter calls Olivia to tell her that Bowman was dosed with some designer virus, which would have killed him anyway even if the plane crash hadn't.  He emails a photo of the glass disk to her and she recalls seeing one of those from the DEA agent a few episodes ago.  I don't remember that at all, but whatever.

Olivia and Charlie interview Hicks.  He's not particularly cooperative at first, so Oliva shows him a photo of Bowman's current spiny state.  She says she thinks Bowman and Hicks conspired to release the deadly virus.  Just then, Hicks's nose starts bleeding.  Walter, observing through the two-way mirror, calls for a strong sedative.  Hicks starts flailing and screaming but Olivia won't let Walter sedate him until he tells her who else is involved.  He screams out "Conrad!" and Walter doses him.

They bring the sedated Hicks, still transforming, to the Cambridge lab and Walter puts him in a medically-induced coma.  Olivia and Astrid aren't having any luck finding a connection to any "Conrad" so Olivia tells Walter to slice into Hicks's palm to see if there's a glass disk in there.  "I like cutting," says Walter.

Olivia brings the now two glass disks to Broyles.  He already knows that they are devices for transporting information.  She wants to exhume John's body to see if he's got one too and Broyles is forced to tell her that John's body wasn't actually buried.  He takes her to Massive Dynamic where Olivia is shocked to see John being kept in stasis.  Broyles confirms that yes, there was a glass disk in his hand and the small amount of intel they were able to retrieve implicates John as a member of a bio-terrorist group.  It also mentioned "Conrad."  Broyles also says that French intelligence says that a major bio-weapons deal is going down in Chicago soon - via a guy named Conrad.  Olivia heads back to the lab, calling ahead for Walter to get the tank ready: she needs to go back into John's memories.

Walter hooks her up and sends her into Memory Land.  She finds herself in the motel room where she and John used to hook up, and then she watches as Memory-Olivia and John come into the room and start hooking up.  Then, weirdly, John looks directly at our Olivia when Memory-Olivia goes into the bathroom.  He tells our Olivia that he misses her.  Freaked, she grabs his gun and asks him about Conrad.  He comes towards her and she shoots him.

In the lab, alarms are blaring: Olivia is getting lost in the memories.  She wanders down an alley, calling for Walter, her link to the real world.  Suddenly John is there, addressing her directly.  Olivia: "I want answers, John."  But he turns and walks away from her.  She follows and John shows her a memory of his, where he was supposed to take out Conrad but didn't.  "Who were you working for?" she asks.  John tells her that he was working for Bowman and Hicks, NSA agents.  She doesn't believe him and wants proof, but he repleis that they were black ops and he couldn't tell her.  Olivia wants to know about the upcoming weapons deal but John starts to flicker in and out.  "Trust Hicks," he tells her and then is gone.  The Bishops yank her out of the tank and back into consciousness as her vital signs start going wonky.

She asks how Hicks is diong and Peter says they don't know if what they're doing is working.  Olivia wants to wake Hicks up to ask him about Conrad.  Peter's like, he could still transform into a porcupine - plus, can she really trust a dead guy who only exists in her memories?  Astrid speaks up, saying that Olivia is the best judge of character she's ever met.  Olivia makes the call: wake up Hicks.  They hit him with a blast of adrenalin, which brings him out of the coma, then give him with what they hope is an antidote.  Astrid tells him that they need to know about Conrad.

The FBI sets up a sting to take down the weapons deal; Hicks will be relaying information to Olivia via super high-tech implanted ear piece.  She waits in a hotel lobby, synced to Hicks, with Peter there as her back-up.  As they wait, Hicks gives her some key names and phrases to gain the weapon seller's confidence.

It seems to work.  Olivia, Peter, the seller and his thugs go to a hotel room where Olivia gets swept for radios.  The seller checks the cash, shows her the bio-weapon and antidote, then gets a phone call from Conrad, who says he wants to meet her.  Then the seller starts asking tougher questions about who she is, but Hicks can't help Olivia because he's starting to transform.  The seller gets edgy and guns are drawn.  Peter bluffs, which seems to work until Conrad walks in and calls the bluff, ordering the thugs to shoot Olivia and Peter.  Olivia gives the signal and the FBI rushes in.  As Conrad is cuffed, Olivia tells him, "John Scott says hi."

Afterwards, Broyles congratulates Olivia on taking down such a major bio-weapons dealer.  She says she didn't do it alone, meaning John helped her.  Broyles says that as far as the FBI goes, John is still a traitor.  Olivia says that's okay since she now knows the truth.  She goes back to the lab, finding only Walter still there.  She wants a favor: she wants to go back into the tank.  Walter says that the problem is that her brain is finally readjusting back to normal and there's no guarantee that she would see John for more than minutes or even seconds.  "So we need to do this now," says Olivia.

She fins herself on a dock on some remote pond, John there with her.  She tells him that they caught Conrad and she apologizes for doubting him.  John says that he always meant to tell her the truth, but he ran out of time.  He gives her the engagement ring:  "I know we can't ever be together, not really, but maybe I won't know the difference."  They smooch.  He says, "I love you, Liv."  And then he's gone.

Previously on Fringe / next time on Fringe

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fringe recap: S1E12 "The No-Brainer"

The Mystery of the Week starts off in Springfield, Massachusetts, where Greg, a high school aged geek, is on the phone with his buddy, Luke, and poking around online at the same time.  He hangs up the phone and is surprised to get a strange video file pop up on his computer.  He stares at the flickering images, leaning in towards the monitor.  The images are blurred and slightly disturbing without actually being of anything, and Greg seems to slip into a trance, not responding to his parents when they say they're heading out for dinner.  Tears rolls down his face and he starts to drool as a hand starts to come at him from the screen, Videodrome*-style.  The hand darts forward and grabs onto Greg's head.  That can't be good.

At the lab, Walter makes Darwin jokes while Peter goes through the mail, getting distracted by a handwritten letter.  Olivia calls to tell them to go outside to meet the coroner, who is bringing them Greg's body; Peter crumples the letter and drops it in the trash on his way out; nosy Astrid scurries over and fishes the letter out.  Walter removes Greg's skull and discovers that his brains have been liquefied (eeuuw).  Olivia pops in to deliver Greg's hard drive to Astrid (who apparently was a computer science major/linguistics minor or some such convenient thing), letting the Bishops know that Greg's parents say he was a good kid: no drug use, no pre-existing medical conditions. 

She finds Greg's friend Luke working at a body shop.  He is shocked to hear about his buddy: they'd talked on the phone for a couple of hours last night, and then when Greg stopped answering the phone, Luke figured he'd fallen asleep.  Not getting much of use there, Olivia heads out just as Peter calls to tell her that there's been another body found with runny brains: a car salesman.  She meets the Bishops at the dealership and interviews another salesman - confirming that yes, this guy had been on his computer just before he died - while Walter uses a swab to punch through the dead guy's sinus cavity to collect gooey brain samples.

Astrid determines that both Greg's and the car salesman's computers' hard drives fried after downloading enormous files, but it's beyond her technical capabilities to figure it out any further than that.  Peter says he knows a guy - but just then the lab's wall phone starts ringing, to everyone's consternation ("I didn't think it even worked," says Astrid.)  Peter answers the phone and immediately says it's a wrong number.  He takes the fried hard drives and goes out to meet his guy.  Astrid turns to Olivia and says that she thinks she knows who just called, and hands her the letter she took out of the trash.

When Olivia stops in at FBI HQ, that ass Harris accosts her, wanting to know why she hasn't handed the liquefied brains case off to the CDC instead of wasting valuable FBI resources.  She tells him that she has consulted with the CDC and they've ruled out contagion of any sort.  Harris gives her twelve hours to crack this case or he's going to dismantle this "rogue" division and put her on a desk.

Peter's guy, Hakim, has a serious computer set up in the back room of his pawn shop.  Peter tells him that he wants to know what the big file is and where it came from.  It's too well-protected for Hakim to determine this but he can, somehow, determine that the same file is being downloaded right now.  In Brighton.  At Olivia's apartment!

Peter and Olivia, on the phone with each other, race through various streets of greater Boston towards Olivia's apartment.  Her sister Rachel doesn't hear her cell ringing and in the other room, little Ella has downloaded the file and is watching the flickering images, entranced.  As the hand starts to reach out to her through the screen, Olivia and Peter burst into the apartment.  At first they're looking for an intruder, then Olivia notices Ella staring at the laptop.  She pulls the computer away and it takes a few moments for the little girl to snap out of it.  Unconcerned at first, Rachel flirts with Peter as Olivia consults with Charlie, who promises to have forensics look at the computer.  Then Ella tells them about the weird, glowy, scary hand that came out of the computer at her.  Rachel thinks she's lying but Olivia goes over and stares at the laptop.

On the other end of the web cam, a rough-looking fellow (Andy Bellefleur from True Blood!) stares back: "That's right, sweetheart, it's me you're looking for."  This guy is Luke's dad, Paul Dempsey, and he looks like he's in a bad place right now emotionally.  Luke stops by to bring his dad some food and wonders what he's been doing.  Paul tells him that he's been working on a new program - there's a massive bank of computers behind him - he thinks it's going to impress a lot of people.

Olivia, Peter and Broyles confer at FBI HQ.  Olivia, for some reason, thinks she was being spied on through the web cam; forensics is working on figuring out who it might have been.  Peter's question is: Why?  What's the connection between the victims, and why were they killed?  Meanwhile, there's another body with blended brains: a daytrader who lives outside Chicago.

As he and Olivia return to the lab, Peter notices an older woman standing near the entrance.  Her name is Jessica Warren, the mother of Walter's lab assistant who was killed in the lab fire twenty or so years ago.  It was she who sent the letter and called the lab.  Peter gets protective and says it's not a good time for her to see his father, plus doing so won't bring her daughter back.  Inside, Olivia has quickly figured out who Mrs. Warren is and tells Peter that she thinks this may be an unresolved issue for Walter - he shouldn't underestimate his father.  Maybe something good could come out of the two of them talking.

Walter has figured out the weird science that does the brain-blending.  Astrid has figured out a connection among the victims: the daytrader is Luke's stepfather, who married Luke's mother after she divorced Paul; Paul used to work for Greg's dad until he was fired a few years ago.  They're still looking into the car salesman but Paul's MO seems to be to get back at people who hurt him by going after their loved ones.

Unable to find Paul, the FBI picks up Luke instead.  He's defensive and after a few minutes of questioning, lawyers up.  Olivia tells Charlie to wait five minutes, then release him.  When Luke calls for a cab on an office phone, Olivia listens in and gets the address.  Peter scoffs that Luke cannot be that stupid to be going directly to see his dad; Olivia reminds him that Luke is only 19.  "Good point," admits Peter.  As they drive to the address, they argue about Walter and Mrs. Warren.  When they get to their destination, Olivia goes inside, gun drawn.  Luke is already inside, yelling at his dad about how many people have to die.  Meanwhile, back at HQ, Harris sends a bunch of agents after them, honing in on the GPS in Olivia's car.

Luke and Paul hear the perimeter alarm that Olivia has tripped.  Paul sends Luke away and then manages to get the drop on Olivia.  He tells her that she's ruined everything and that his son now hates him because of her.  He has one gun up under his own chin and another one pointed at her.  He gets distracted by the flicerking images on his own computer screens and when Olivia begs him to look away, he tells her that he finally wants to see his creation.  Out in the car, Peter hears the approaching sirens and decides to see if Olivia needs any back-up.  He runs into Luke but their conversation is cut short by a gunshot.  They run in to find Olivia standing there, Paul dead on the floor.  She tells them Paul went into a trance and shot himself.  Luke turns and runs but is scooped up by the arriving FBI agents.

Later, Harris complains to Broyles about Olivia's methods and insubordinate conduct.  Broyles reminds him that she cracked this case in spite of his demands and tells Harris to leave her alone or answer to him.  Harris gets huffy: "Are you sure you're up for this?  Because I've got a lot of red tape."  Ooh - scary.

Peter has had a change of heart and brings Mrs. Warren in to speak with Walter, telling his father that if he needs the conversation to end at any time to just let him know - he'll be right over there.  Mrs. Warren tells Walter who she is, and who her daughter was.  She says she wanted to see him because he was the last person to see her daughter alive - can he tell her anything about her?  She had a wonderful smile, says Walter, and Mrs. Warren starts to cry.  Walter gives her a hug and says he'll tell her everything he can remember.  Peter just watches, relieved.

Later, Peter stops by Olivia's apartment - after a couple of drinks - and thanks her for bringing him and Walter together, apologizing since she was right about letting Walter talk to Mrs. Warren.  They seem like they are about to have a moment until Rachel interrupts, saying that Ella wants Olivia to tuck her in.  Peter smiles ruefully and leaves; Olivia watches him go.

* Is Videodrome the right reference? am I remembering that correctly?

Previously on Fringe / next time on Fringe

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

This is another filler post

I'm so sorry. I really will flood FMS with a bunch of Fringe recaps pretty soon.  But now we have company coming to stay and ski and I won't be anywhere near the computer and/or television while they're here (trying to be polite and entertaining, you see).

Ponder this in the meantime: has Glee jumped the shark?  I thought the most recent episode was slightly better than what we've been getting (too much Gwyneth Paltrow for my taste and why does Blaine get more songs than anyone and since when does Santana have actual feelings for Brittany?), but I think the show may have lost its heart.  Anyone else got an opinion?

What about House?  I think it jumped when House and Cuddy got together.  When you have a show that relies on a formula, you shouldn't screw with the formula.  There's a reason why those dang CSIs are so enduring: they don't tend to screw with the formula and if they do, they don't stray too far.  (Or at least they didn't used to - I haven't watched a CSI in years.)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Book review: The Passage by Justin Cronin

It happened fast.  Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.
In a not too distant, not inconceivable future, the U.S. government funded a university research trip to South America, essentially looking for the fountain of youth.  What they discovered there they brought back and entrenched in a highly classified laboratory, deep in the mountains of Colorado.  When they were ready, they sent an FBI agent out to recruit human test subjects from death rows across the country: damaged, violent men with no family, no connection to the world outside, men who wouldn't be missed.  When they had gone as far as they could go with these twelve men, they sent the FBI agent out for a little girl to see what they could do to her.

What they had found in South America produced long, seemingly unaging life.  But it also changed the convict test subjects, mutating their bodies, giving them inhuman strength and bloodthirst, granting them psychic powers.  It turned them into vampires.  And when an accident happened at the lab, when one of the twelve test subjects escaped, it only took thirty-two minutes for all hell to break loose, and the other eleven.  And once they reached the outside, they ushered in the apocalypse: killing and feeding and, more importantly, making more "virals" like themselves, passing blood to blood.  The human race - or at least the people of the United States - never had a chance.

One hundred years later, there are only pockets of surviving humans, living in small colonies under strict rules and lights that never go out at night.  But after a century, the machines that power the lights are starting to fail.  When a strange young girl, alone and alive outside in the world, comes within the walls of one Colony in California, a small group of survivors decides to take a stand and try to change the world.

There have been a lot of vampire novels lately (many of which have been reviewed here): The Vampire Academy, Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, True Blood, The Mortal Instruments series, Life Sucks, et cetera, ad nauseam.  The Passage, by Justin Cronin, is not like these books.  These vampires are not sexy or brooding or sparkly or tormented (well, maybe a little tormented).  These vampires make the Salem's Lot bloodsuckers look like  pussycats.  The virals in The Passage are like the vampires in 30 Days of Night, but with less humanity.  They hunt and kill and shred their prey, but are canny enough to recruit and lay traps.  They are scary monsters and they have made their world a scary, scary place.

The coolest thing, however, about this pre- and post-apocalyptic sci-fi/horror novel is that it is so well-written.  Cronin is a literary guy who not only has thought through this lengthy, involved story about this detailed, complicated alterna-verse, but can pull it off with intelligent, touching prose.  I read a review that said The Passage won't have enough vampires to please the horror fans and will have too many vampires for the literature fans, but for folks who live in the middle ground will love it.  I'm one of those folks.

*Note:  I also read that this is supposed to be the start of a trilogy.  It was only published last year, so we may have a long time to wait for the next installment.  But another great thing about this book is that it doesn't read like the first volume of a possible trilogy - it is able to stand alone.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fringe recap: S1E11 "Bound"

Previously on Fringe ... click on the Fringe tag down there to the right and read all about it.  It's way too complicated to recap for this recap.

The Bishops fret in the lab, worried about the kidnapped Olivia.  Broyles, meanwhile, has initiated a massive search for his missing agent.

Olivia is strapped to a gurney and rolling through a dark hallway.  A man in a mask places electrodes on her head then flips the gurney top over in order to stick a huge needle into her spine.  Olivia cringes and grimaces.  After the procedure, the man pulls off his mask to go back to his day job: he's Mitchell Loeb, FBI agent and the man in charge of teleporting Mr. Jones out of his German prison.  Olivia pleads with the remaining lab techs to give her a drink of water.  They loosen her bonds, allowing her to sit up.  She sips the water gratefully, then smashes the beaker against a lab tech's head.  She beats the shit out of several bad guys, grabs some test tubes, a phone and a set of keys from a table and escapes.  She steals a car, calling Broyles for immediate back-up and to raid the building.  She parks a little ways away to wait for her back-up and for some reason buries the test tubes in a vacant lot.  A bunch of cars pull up, sirens blaring.  Men jump out and point guns at her.  Her expression is: WTF? I'm the good guy/escapee/victim here!  Olivia turns to run for it and gets tranqed for her trouble.

When she comes to, she is in the hospital, handcuffed to the bed.  Harris - the Internal Affairs guy - is at her bedside and he is not pleasant - apparently he's the guy she had court-martialed for sexual assault.  The conviction was set aside and he's got a new job now: investigating Broyles's group.  [During the course of their conversation, there's a recap of the series to date, complete with flashbacks, in case we've forgotten what happened in the last ten episodes.]  After they snipe at each other for a while, Harris leaves, tossing Olivia the key to her cuffs.

Back at the FBI, Charlie tells her that the building she was held in was empty when they raided it, and both the car and the phone she took were clean.  Rats.  Also, Olivia's sister Rachel and her young daughter will apparently be staying with Olivia for the next while.  Olivia calls Peter and tells him to grab Walter and meet her out front.  She tells the Bishops what happened to her as they dig up the buried test tubes.  Walter field-tests the stuff in the tubes and makes a thinky face.

Over at Boston College, an immunologist/professor collapses during a lecture.  He dies, due to the huge spiny white slug that hauls itself up out of his throat.  The Fringe team is sent to investigate, Peter tracking the slug with a thermal camera so they can capture it.  Back at the lab, Walter notes that the slug was developed out of the same stuff that was in Olivia's test tubes.  When Olivia questions the dead professor's TA, she learns that the prof had just been recruited by the CDC to co-head a classified task force on epidemic preparedness.  The other co-leader works in Cambridge and Olivia decides to take him into protective custody.  When Olivia checks in with Peter and Walter, they tell her that the slug that killed the immunologist was actually a super-sized common cold viral organism - nice ironic touch, that.  Edit (because I forgot): And then, at the FBI offices, Mitch Loeb doses the second professor with that same organism, causing him to die in agony right in front of poor Charlie who at least shoots the slug-virus before it can escape.

Olivia goes back to the office to do some computer work, and Mitch Loeb stops by her desk, reassuring her that he's been put in charge of investigating her abduction.  When she catches sight of his shoes, she sees a stain on one of them and immediately recognizes him as one of her abductors.  She heads back into the field, but not before enlisting Charlie's help.  He goes to the lab and asks Peter to set up a wire tap on Loeb's home phone, figuring Peter would be okay with breaking the lab.  Meanwhile, Olivia has gone to Loeb's home and is nearly caught trying to break in by Loeb's wife, Samantha.  Samantha invites her in for tea: when Olivia asks to use the bathroom (i.e., snoop around in the den and find a file full of photos of giant viruses), Samantha calls Mitch, who tells her to kill Olivia ASAP.  Luckily, the wire tap has already been put into place and Peter hears this.  He calls Olivia and warns her.  Olivia and Samantha have a chick fight - and Olivia really should be doing better against one little woman, seeing how she just kicked ass all over three or four lab assistants not so long ago.  Finally, they draw on each other and Olivia shoots Samantha right through the forehead.

While all this is going on, Loeb has fled the FBI building, so the agents use his dead wife's phone to text him into a meeting/ambush.  They get him (Olivia pistol-whips him a little, earning herself an admiring grin from Peter).  When Loeb won't cooperate during the interrogation, Olivia shows him photos of his dead wife and tells him that she shot her.  Loeb breaks, claiming that Olivia has ruined everything.  She has no idea of the conflict that's about to happen, doesn't know what the plan is - he had saved her and now she's ruined it.  Olivia's like: Hm, this isn't really what I thought I'd be getting here.

This one was pretty action-y and not too weird-science-y, which is certainly easier to recap.  I'm sure we'll get back to the really weird stuff soon enough.

Previously on Fringe / next time on Fringe

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mini book review: The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

There has been an overabundance of vampires in popular culture (books, movies, television) lately, a wealth of romantic, beautiful, never-aging, sometimes sparkling, sexy creatures of the night, pining for, sipping from and sometimes - often reluctantly - killing their swooning victims.  The Strain, by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, is a vampire-horror novel that contains none of that.  No sparkling, no swooning, and no sex.  These are nasty, nasty vampires.

When an airplane from Germany lands at JFK, windowshades closed, lights out, no communications, there is cause for concern.  There is greater cause for concern when all passengers and crew - save four individuals - are dead, and a giant, dirt-filled coffin disappears from the cargo bay.  The four survivors soon begin exhibiting strange changes to their physionomy, but even stranger is that all the bodies of the dead passengers vanish from the morgues of NYC.  The CDC is befuddled and way out of their league.  It takes a Holocaust survivor and vampire hunter, Abraham Setrakian, to show them what they're really dealing with: a terrible, 100% contagious virus that turns regular humans into vampires.  Within days, NYC is all but lost - the concern is that the contagion be confined to the city and not allowed to spread where it could take over the world.

When I learned that del Toro had [co-]written a horror novel, I couldn't wait to pick it up - he's been responsible for some movies I adore (Pan's Labyrinth, the Hellboys) and I was interested to see what he could do in written format.  I'm sorry to say that the book is not quite the masterpiece his movies are.  The concept is definitely intriguing, and he's upended the traditional vampire mythology quite interestingly.  But the prose is thin somehow.  The writing is not eloquent, the characters have little depth, and there's a lot of telling rather than showing.  All the while I was reading The Strain, I could just picture the novel being used as a jumping off point for a movie - I felt as though the authors wrote just enough to sketch out a scene, figuring that the filmmakers' vision would fill in the rest.  Maybe that was the whole point and, if so, I'll probably see the movie because I like del Toro's visions.  But as far as the rest of this trilogy goes, (The Fall and The Night Eternal coming later this year), I've got other things to read.