Still reeling from last week’s mind-bending episode of The Strain? Yeah, I think most of the fandom is because a full week later, people are still buzzing just as loudly about that shocker of an ending, who will be the next Master, and what it all means for the rest of the season. The book-readers are shell-shocked. And, even if you’re not familiar with the source material, I’m sure you could never have anticipated Bolivar meeting his end so quickly and the Master being reduced to a mere red worm. I have covered the series since day one, and honestly, I have never seen such chatter surrounding the show. But, it’s all good, folks, and so, keep it coming!
So, diving into tonight’s episode — which is literally the “morning after” — what do we know? Unfortunately, not much, but trust me, by the end of the hour, all of our characters will have gotten a rude awakening on the reality of the situation, and as would be expected, it’s not good news.
IS QUINLAN ALIVE? — OF COURSE!
For those who know me well and follow the shows I cover, you know that I love The Walking Dead. But, I swear last season when some foolish writer thought it was a cool idea to fake-out Glenn Rhee’s death and leave the fans hanging for multiple episodes, I wanted to cut the entire creative team of the show a new one for allowing it to happen. So, when Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones) fell to the ground after beheading the Master in last week’s cliffhanger, a part of me began to worry that this was going to be the equivalent of the Glenn dumpster-gate. However, it seems that the writers of The Strain aren’t that stupid because within the first 5 minutes, we know that Quinlan is alive. Yay. So, a big kudos to Carlton Cuse, Chuck Hogan, and the rest of the writing team for not resorting to such cheap tactics just to artificially boost the show’s ratings.
So, Quinlan is very much alive, and right after the opening credits, we get the scene from the promo of Dr. Goodweather (Corey Stoll) patching Q up. As I have said in my past reviews, I love the banter between Eph and Quinlan, and those two characters had some of the best lines in the past 2 episodes. The funny thing is even with Quinlan still being unconscious and unable to respond, Eph still had some of the most memorable, hilarious lines of the entire episode in his 1-way conversation with Q.
That whole myth of he dies, you die never made sense to me. But neither does how fast you appear to be healing….But, congrats on chopping your Dad’s head off and sorry your little suicide mission didn’t work out — Eph to Quinlan
Obviously, Eph thinks they have been successful in slaying the Master, as does the rest of our heros. Fet (Kevin Durand), in particular, wants to celebrate and is ready to bring out the fine scotch. While our favorite exterminator may be cracking jokes and feeling certain they killed the King Rat, both he and Setrakian (David Bradley) are still pretty damn pissed when they find out that Eph joined forces with Quinlan without consulting them. It also doesn’t take much for Vasily to connect the dots and realize that Eph came to them with the news about Nora just as a ruse to steal the Lumen. I get Dr. Goodweather — he was just trying to save his son — but neither Fet nor Setrakian seems to give a shit. Of course, neither of them being a parent may have a lot to do with it. Regardless, is anybody but me really starting to hate on Fet for the crappy way he’s been treating Eph and Quinlan? Dumb effin’ rat-catcher. A big fight breaks out, and Setrakian ultimately orders Eph to leave (ummm… even though it’s not even his place, BTW). But, Eph leaving may actually turn out to be a good thing — stay tuned for more on that.
In the meantime, Setrakian continues keeping watch on Mr. Quinlan until he finally wakes up.
Am I alive? Or, are you in hell with me? — Quinlan to Setrakian
Purgatory at best — Setrakian to Quinlan
Quinlan immediately inquires about the state of the city, and Setrakian informs him that the strigoi are still alive and feeding, but their communication network with the Master seems to have been disrupted. While Quinlan admits that is promising, you can tell he has reservations, as does Setrakian. It’s imperative that they find out for sure if the Master is truly slain, and there’s only 1 place they can go to get that answer.
Next we have what is, in my opinion, one of the key scenes of the episode where Lar (Ryan Hollyman) and the Ancients finally turn the tables on Quinlan and give him the full 411 on the Master and that stray red worm. Quinlan tells the Ancients the Master is slain, proclaims victory but is quickly shut down by Lar.
The Ancients still want the Lumen, and so, at first they are unwilling to offer any useful information. And, had it not been for Setrakian being there, I have a feeling Quinlan would have left empty-handed.
I saw something. A red worm. Crimson. Not like the others — Setrakian
If you did not kill the crimson worm, you did not slay the Master — Lar
What worm? Is this.. — Quinlan
The essence of his being. He has not yet taken another host, but when he does, he will be just as powerful as before — Lar
Oops. In the scenes before with the Ancients, Quinlan had always been confident — almost cocky — and each scene always involved Quinlan literally telling the Ancients off. Not this time — and in fact, it’s the reverse. Lar and the Ancients definitely have the last laugh here. Obviously, Quinlan is upset and pretty damn pissed for their hiding this critical piece of information. So, as a result, he decides to cut off all ties with the Ancients and vows to never see them again.
Of course, if you’ve seen that season 3 trailer, you know that Quinlan eventually returns to the Ancients’ Lair and so, something prompts him to break his word and come back. Whatever it is, you can bet it has to be something big.
THE STRIGOI STRIKE BACK, AND FERALDO MAKES A STAND
After letting the fandom know that Quinlan is still alive, we are then taken to the former Master’s lair, where we find Kelly (Natalie Brown), Zack (Max Charles), and Eichhorst (Richard Sammel). As would be expected, the strigoi in the vicinity are no longer under the Master’s control and are guided by the blind instinct to feed. So, when Zack makes noise and draws attention to himself, one of them doesn’t hesitate and tries to attack him (LOVE Zack throwing the baseball at the strigoi — the WTF look on the vamp’s face is priceless!). Fortunately, Kelly is nearby and steps in just in time to save Zack. Now, don’t get excited and think Kelly’s actions must mean she’s the new Master. Remember, Zack is Kelly’s “dear one,” and no matter what happens, she wants to be the one who eventually turns her son. No other random strigoi is going to take that from her.
Then, Eichhorst enters the room, and boy, is he pissed. Hot damn. He’s pissed because they had a plan. He’s pissed because Kelly was supposed to keep the Master safe and failed. But, Eichhorst is Eichhorst, and he’s not going to take this shit sitting down. So, his recommendation is to strike back — and hard — and to do so immediately. I personally thought Eichhorst would have hatched a plot to get revenge on Eph, Fet or anyone else involved in hurting his Master. But, he doesn’t, and instead, focuses on lashing out at the city in general.
Now, one of the things you might have forgotten is even though Eichhorst isn’t the Master, he’s the Master’s principal servant and can also control certain strigoi. Remember the attack on Red Hook that Eichhorst led last season? Or, that horde of strigoi he unleashed on Setrakian and Fet in the season 2 finale? That was all Eichhorst. So, he improvises and decides to do something similar this time, but with one major twist. He promises a small group of strigoi the “virgin” blood of 70 humans, and the only thing they have to do is follow some simple orders. Then, after he cuts open the gut of one of the strigoi and plants an explosive device, it becomes clear what that is.
When the blast of war blows in our ear, we take the action of the tiger — Eichhorst
And, it’s pretty simple. Two of the bomb-strapped strigoi are employees of Justine Feraldo (Samantha Mathis), and so, all they need to do is simply show up for work. Just walk through the door, go to the center of the room, and press the detonation button. Boom. The result is everyone at Feraldo’s headquarters covered with bloodworms, thus increasing the likelihood of infection by orders of magnitude. GENIUS plan. Very efficient way to infect in mass quantities, and I don’t know why it hadn’t been done before.
Anyways, everyone is freaking out, scrambling to remove articles of clothing in a desperate attempt to get the bloodworms off of them. This includes Feraldo, who is covered. With the help of Fet, she is almost successful in removing her worm-infested articles of clothing and dodging infection. I said **almost**. In the scene that was part of the season 3 trailer, one stray worm manages to penetrate Justine’s eye before Fet can get to it with his UV lamp. However, by some miracle or an incredible stroke of luck, the worm circles back around to the surface of her face, and Fet is able (or at least it seems) to kill it with UV light.
Okay, the worm in Feraldo’s face is now extra-crispy, but does that mean she’s not infected? If we look at history, the answer should be “No.” Just think back to Jim Kent in season 1. Remember that one worm Eph found in Jim’s face and then, cut out? Even with those extreme measures, Jim was still infected and within a matter of minutes, worms were crawling everywhere under his skin. Bottom line — the bloodworms begin to replicate almost immediately upon entering a host, and Justine not being infected seems damn-near impossible.
Anyways, infected or not, these are some of the best scenes of the entire episode, and Samantha Mathis hits it out of the park. She has to wait the full 2 hours before Dr. Goodweather can perform an accurate test to determine if she’s infected — time is the real test. Can you imagine having to wait those 2 hours? What would go through your mind? What would you do? What emotions would you feel? Fear? Anger? Sadness? Justine felt all of these, and Mathis personified it perfectly once Eph returned to test her. When she walks into the room, she has a gun in her hand, and we know immediately where her mind has been during those 2 hours — expecting the worse and planning for her own demise.
At first, I thought I’d go to some place in the city. My favorite spot. But, make a big public thing of it? Or my car even? I like my car. I like my house. I don’t want to leave that mess for someone else. Which is what it comes down to — Feraldo
But, after all of that, Feraldo tests clean. No worms. Holy shit. That was one hell of a close call, and when people have near-death experiences like that, they tend to have “moments of clarity” just like Justine said. It can really change you. For Justine, this equates to going over and having that bitch reporter documenting “the Fall of New York” arrested. Holy crap, love that scene! So, what’s next for this new hellraiser? Perhaps she will now grow a set and shut down those disgusting “sweep teams” too.
But, first, Justine, can you do one other thing — get someone to cut that dead worm out of your face! Ewwww. Dead or not, I wouldn’t want that thing inside of me!
THE NEW MASTER, OUR NEW “DESTRUCTOR” — HAS HE BEEN CHOSEN?
As I had mentioned earlier, Eph getting the boot from Setrakian and Fet just may be a good thing — at least for the time being. That’s because when Eph returns to Fet’s loft, Dutch (Ruta Gedmintas) shows up. She’s completely drunk and smells like she’s been sleeping in a dumpster. So, Eph offers her a place to stay, and to my astonishment, I actually kind of like this new partnership. Nothing romantic (yet) — it’s just these 2 seem to get each other. Both obviously have a drinking problem, but they acknowledge it and because of that, seem to communicate much better than some of the others in the group.
I see we’re on the same liquid diet — Eph
That obvious, huh? — Dutch
I’m known for my keen intuition — Eph
After Eph’s work at Feraldo’s headquarters is completed (and also after a very awkward run-in Dutch has with Fet), they decide to “celebrate,” still not knowing that the Master is still alive. That all changes in the final scene of the episode. They are attacked by a strigoi that had been nesting in the cab Eph stole, but thanks to Dutch’s quick thinking (and the taser that Eph bought in the premiere episode), the vamp is quickly neutralized. Then, it happens. The strigoi sits back up, and the Master proceeds to speak to Dr. Goodweather through the strigoi’s eyes.
Goodweather. You have failed. You want to ask me about your son, but you are afraid of the answer — The Master
Where is he? — Dr. Goodweather
He is with me. With me always — The Master
Is he turned? Answer! — Dr. Goodweather
The strigoi doesn’t answer, tries to attack and with that, Eph responds with a bullet in the brain. But, that’s not the important part, and even if you can conclude that Zack is likely turned (and, I think that’s a strong possibility), that still isn’t the big take-away here. The significance of the scene is that it means the Master has probably chosen another body, and with the looks on Eph and Dutch’s faces, I’m pretty sure they know that too. Up until now, the Master could not control and influence any of his minions, and that is because the crimson worm hadn’t found another host. Well, the Master just took control of a strigoi to speak to Dr. Goodweather, and that’s a pretty strong indicator that the Master has selected a new form.
Now, let the speculation begin on who the new Master is. I have a very strange sense of humor, and this entire situation reminds me of Ghostbusters and their having to pick the form of their “Destructor” in the 2nd movie. The first thing that pops into their heads is to take the form of their Destructor, and that ends up being the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Basically, you have a similar conundrum here with the form of the new Master now being chosen — the bitch is no one knows what that form is.
All in all, another fantastic episode. Not quite as mind-blowing as last week’s installment, but hey, something of that caliber is pretty hard to top. They quickly let us know Quinlan’s fate. Fan-favorite Richard Sammel is back as Eichhorst and in a very big way. And, I think we can assume a new Master has been chosen, and the only remaining question is **who**. That’s the big question fans will be buzzing about for the rest of the season — or at least the next few episodes and until the identity of the new Master is revealed. So, who will it be? Judging from last week’s shocking humdinger that no one saw coming, I think it’s safe to eliminate the “usual suspects.” That means we can probably cross off Eichhorst, Palmer, Kelly, Zack, Quinlan, and the rest of our heroes. Any of these would be too boring, too easy. The bar has officially been raised and so, whomever the Master turns out to be and whatever comes next, expect the unexpected. Something so big, so mind-warping that it will blow everything wide open and alter the landscape of the series forever.
The Strain airs on Sundays at 10/9c on FX.
Critic Grade — A
Geeky computer and math nerd by day and TV fanatic by night. My beats are The Walking Dead, The Strain, Person of Interest, Z Nation, and anything that most people would call freaky. Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer of TVGeekTalk.com
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