The survivors from the flight start exhibiting some very strange symptoms and Abraham comes face to face with a tormentor that’s haunted him for the past 70 years…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Following last week’s debut of ‘The Strain’ some that watched the show but didn’t know the books it was based on or much of the mythology that led to this new series weren’t sure exactly what it was haunting the flight that took off in Germany and landed in New York as somewhere along the way 206 passengers died of an unknown pathogen. When tiny white worms started showing up and hearts were reanimated, the notion of zombies was floated around, which lead me to believe that this vampire story is starting out in just the right place. You see, creator Guillermo Del Toro didn’t want his vampires to be recognizable by a set of fangs and the inability to enjoy a nice sunlit stroll through the park.
He wanted his vampires to be monsters, and thus how these creatures are created is a delicate process of infection, breeding, infestation and finally rebirth into a new kind of killing machine more akin to a shark than an ageless bloodsucker with an unlimited supply of horny and randomly gifted abilities.
The remnants of the flight from last week manifested in a couple of ways on the latest episode titled ‘The Box’ as the four survivors who didn’t die were sent packing after a release came out from the FAA saying that it was a carbon monoxide leak that killed almost everyone on board and not some mystery virus running wild through JFK airport. The head of the CDC overrides Ephraim’s insistence that these people need to be quarantined, and he releases them back out into the world presumably to avoid an even bigger lawsuit that what’s sure to be levied against the airport and airline.
The problem is once these people find freedom, they also discover things aren’t back to normal just yet either. The lawyer bleeds into a glass of water when she takes a drink, and the rock star Gabe orders a few groupies to his room, only to see them pull what little hair he has left from his head not to mention this insatiable desire he has for blood coursing through his veins. He gets so thirsty at one point he bites a groupie and as she screams out in horror, Gabe can’t help but to follow closely behind and lick up every last drop of the crimson that just dribbled from her neck.
The only person willing to listen to Ephraim is the pilot, who already feels horrendous after he allowed the giant coffin to be loaded on board when officials posing as police officers in Germany said this was cargo that had to be added to the flight without being posted on the manifest. Once admitted, the pilot is dealing with all kinds of strange symptoms including a ringing in the ear and a fever. When Ephraim shows up and puts him under an ultraviolet light, a cut is shown on his throat similar to all those victims who died, and they soon discover some of those blood hungry worms rolling around in his neck and head. Now Ephraim is certain that these worms are not only thirsty for red blood cells, but they are popping up in the victims of this killer plane ride.
Things take an even stranger turn when Ephraim receives a call from one of the parents who had a child on board (the guy who slapped him last week). It seems he’s ecstatic because his little girl came home to him. The investigation concludes when Ephraim and Nora show up at the morgue and find no sign of their scientist and no bodies for that matter. All 206 people have just disappeared and that’s not going to be good for anybody.
The real highlight of this week’s episode of ‘The Strain’ came when Abraham was summoned from his holding cell to meet with his ‘lawyer’. The person who came to see him was actually Thomas Eichorst, the creepy flashing eye bad guy from the opening episode who set all of this into motion while working with the Stoneheart Corporation. Eichorst and Abraham have history together and none of it’s good.
It’s revealed through some searing dialogue that Eichorst has not only been alive as a vampire for decades, but he comes from a particularly nasty background where he was a Nazi soldier in Germany during World War II. He refers to Abraham as ‘Jew’ and only calls him by his number, which is the tattoo that’s been etched on his arm, a constant reminder of the horrific atrocities that took place in the concentration camps of that era. Eichorst does his best to get at Abraham through every method of psychological torture possible, including a reference to a young girl he helped torture and kill — the same girl whose heart Abraham still holds onto to this day (that explains the blood drinking heart from the debut episode).
Abraham has already walked through hell and lived to tell about it so there’s no chance coming face to face with his tormentor is going to rattle the cagy old man. He fires back at Eichorst and reminds him about a compatriot that he sliced in half with his ancient silver sword and how his reign of terror will be coming to an end once he’s back on the streets and out of jail. The tension and taut stares back and forth between these two was great television and definitely a highlight of the show thus far.
Custody Hearings and Game Rooms
If Abraham and Eichorst were the highlight of the show, the downtrodden part of ‘The Strain’ this week was the continued custody battle going on with Ephraim and his ex-wife over their son Zach. Now character development should be an important evolution with every television series, but this particular piece seems out of place given the context of the global pandemic that’s about the sweep across the world. Ephraim’s odd interactions with his wife and son are made even more awkward when he bro-hugs it out with her new boyfriend who is converting his old office into a man cave.
Needless to say there doesn’t need to be much detail because this entire section of the show could be cut out as it’s so completely unnecessary. If this continues, the humanization of Ephraim is going to back fire because it’s already clear he cares more about his work than he did his family and every time he sits and talks with his son, that’s abundantly evident. It’s better to keep their interactions to texts — the point still comes across that he’s barely present and continues that bit of the story without chewing through four or five minutes of each episode showing us that he’s a great doctor but a bad father.
Ephraim also attends an AA meeting in the middle of the episode proving once again he’s got a lot of personal issues. Point taken. He’s a great doctor who makes really bad decisions.
Another scene that just looked out of place but has to surely move into some kind of other story is van driver Gus interacting with his hoodlum brother after he delivered the casket from the JFK flight to an unmarked warehouse somewhere in New York. Gus has to have some other relevancy to this story other than being a paid goon because what other reason would he be sticking around? Thus far, he’s not been all that intriguing but we’ll see where he goes from here.
The Man Behind the Curtain
Eldritch Palmer, the head of Stoneheart Corporation, is one infection away from death, but he’s still begging for the chance to have a white worm crawl through his neck to give him life eternal. It appears his part in the plot to unleash the vampire virus onto the world comes with a price that will allow him to join the undead masses in a powerful role (at least that’s what we assume). Following his good deeds that allow The Master’s coffin to be relocated to a warehouse in New York and the 210 passengers from the flight in New York have been scattered to the wind, Palmer is ready to receive his gift.
At the warehouse, he bows before the coffin as The Master rises from the soily grave and stands before Palmer, who is now cowering and quaking at the sight of the ancient vampire. It seems this is his time to be turned and he has been chosen to bear witness to the rise of the vampires on Earth.
This episode also saw the first appearance of Kevin Durand as exterminator and health inspector Vasiliy Fet. I’m a big fan of Durand’s work over the years — he normally plays a brooding, muscular villain to perfection, but I’m curious how he pulls off being on the right side of the law for this role. Durand has a commanding presence on screen, and maybe his version of health inspector Fet will bring a little bit of his dark side out in a good way.
In this debut, he’s out at a New York restaurant as a health inspector determined to find wrong doing in the kitchen. A search (with an ultraviolet light mind you) finds rat urine on the floors and soon enough he discovers a dead rat lurking in the cabinets. He shuts down the restaurant with impunity while tossing the rat around to scare off the patrons. This was the same restaurant where Gabe was having his pre-groupie party as well.
The question now becomes if rat urine shows up under ultraviolet light, is there a connection between that piece of biology and whatever it is the vampires are using to spread their virus to anyone and everyone in New York? There are traces of ammonia in the vampire spew as well, and maybe this is a nod to the fact that rats carry disease and this is the way the virus can be traced and tracked? Maybe Fet is the perfect hunter of all kinds of vermin — the kind of four legs or the kind with a retractable tentacle that sucks blood from the human body.
One Last Bite
Emma, the little girl from the plane in the last episode, has gone home to her father who only wants to give her a bath and let her fall asleep to the sounds of The Lion King soundtrack, but she needs a bed time snack first. Unfortunately she’s not craving cookies or chocolate milk — she wants blood from whoever happens to be the closest person nearby. In this case it’s her father.
Emma’s jaw opens up and the tentacle goes flying across the bathtub directly into her father’s neck. He struggles and gurgles on the taste of his own blood for a moment before falling dead into the bath water, his eyes still fixed on Emma. As the tentacle retracts and zips back into her mouth, Emma quietly sits still while the blood soaked water starts seeping into her mouth.
It’s feeding time.
What did you think of the latest episode of ‘The Strain’? Leave your comments below and tell us if you’re biting into this vampire drama.