This review contains spoilers.
3.8 White Light
Lately, we haven’t had much by way of mythology on The Strain. A few seasons back, we saw the origin of the Master, and of course this season we learned the secret history of the Born known as Quinlan, but we really have only had hints and clues about the Strigoi’s power structure. Every once in a while, Quinlan will visit the Ancients and provide some delicious hints and clues about the order of the Strigoi.
Well this week, that order came crashing down as The Strain fully reveals exactly what the Master and Eichhorst are building. The episode opens with Eichhorst and a few of his cronies testing out their new human abattoir. Eichhorst gets pissed off (because that’s what Nazi vampires do), and hangs one of his minions on his hook and we get to see exactly how the automated slaughterhouse works. Because yeah, Eichhorst has built a functional human death factory, and we know there are hundreds more of these facilities all over the country, if not the world. So think about this, the Strigoi are modernising, they’re going through their own age of industrialisation to end their time as hunters and begin their time as a vampire society by using death factories built by a notorious Nazi. That’s some effed-up shit right there.
With the factory in place, we now have high stakes. We know what the Strigoi are up to other than urban mayhem, and really, it’s all a powerful parallel to the Nazi Empire. The Strigoi used lightning-like offensives to shock the people of the world into submission before building their death factories. With this discovery, the actions of Eldritch Palmer look even more horrible. Palmer sold out humanity for a taste of immortality and funded the building of the blood factories. Now, Palmer is getting his renewed vigour from Setrakian and the White and an opposing force to the Strigoi imperialistic conquest of humanity. That’s some pretty cool intrigue coming from The Strain, and seeing how these factories are going to work stays with you. The slaughterhouse, systemic demise of humanity is coming and only our motley band of heroes can prevent it.
Let’s take a look at what some of these heroes are up to. Eph and Dutch are still trying to find out exactly how the Master used his voice to shut down the brains of all those aboard the flight that brought the Master to NYC back in season one. Dutch plays the recording from the plane’s black box and almost shuts down her own brain. Good old Eph nurses Dutch back to health and the two share a romantic moment that is so awkward it bypasses cheesy and becomes earnest. The two hook up and it will be interesting to see how Fet reacts to Eph and Dutch’s new-found romantic bond. To me, it seems like Dutch and Eph are rebounding hard on each other. Dutch still isn’t over Fet and Eph still isn’t anywhere close to being over the death of Nora. And of course, Zach is still out there in the clutches of Eichhorst, so yeah, Eph and Dutch aren’t exactly in a stable place to be making relationship choices.
As for Fet, everyone’s favourite Ukrainian exterminator accompanies Setrakian to the aforementioned blood factories. Together, the two discover the truth about the gravity of the Master’s plan. Of course, Setrakian is horrified because these factories so resemble the concentration camps the Nazis used to exterminate his people. This is everything Setrakian is fighting against and seeing these factories profoundly strengthens Setrakian’s resolve.
This week also focuses on Gus’s past as we are privileged to witness the strength of his dear mama. Via flashback, it is revealed that when he was a young boy, Gus was a victim of an abusive father and his mama and her family made sure that father disappeared. Mama protected Gus in every way and as the boy got older, he just wanted to do right by her. This is why he took the job for Eichhorst back in the first season. It also explains why Gus is so desperate to protect his mama even though she is now a Strigoi. Protecting her is the sole focus of Gus’s existence and now that she is infected, Gus feels like he has failed. That’s why it is so huge this week that Gus actually finds the resolve to kills his mother.
When Angel returns to Gus’ home, the ex-masked luchador takes a bit of a snooze. Mama finds her way back and is about to kill Angel when Gus shows up. Without hesitation, he kills her and saves his friend. The episode sets this moment up for well when Gus refers to his older friend as his guardian angel. The fact that Gus chose life over death shows that he has become a warrior worthy of mention in the same breath as Setrakian and Quinlan. Even though he devoted his entire life to protecting his mama, he is still willing to do what he needs to be done to ensure the sanctity of the living.
Speaking of Quinlan, things get intensely cinematic during the episode’s conclusion. Quinlan returns to the Ancients to tell them that he believes an ancient has been brought to New York from overseas. While delivering this news, Eichhorst and a horde of Strigoi attack. Quinlan fends off countless vampires and we even get to see the Ancients in action. But it is all for naught as Eichhorst sets off a powerful explosive that destroys the Ancients and their underground lair along with a large section of Manhattan!
All of a sudden, there is a powerful shift in the power structure of the Strigoi and it seems like the Master’s plan is now unopposed. The episode leaves Quinlan’s fate open, but it looks like the Master’s brood is now in the most powerful position they have been in since the invasion of New York began.
Let me tell you, the last five minutes of this week’s episode is probably one of the boldest, most daring conclusions I’ve seen on TV this year. Quinlan got all Blade on those Strigoi asses, but it may not have mattered, because when that bomb goes off, the hopes of defeating the Master dwindle.
The next two episodes should be epic.
Read Marc’s review of the previous episode, Collaborators, here.