Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Strain, Season 3, Episode 5: Madness

This episode begins with the opening spiel that really should have happened about a season ago – Abraham describing how the Strigoi were now taking over many cities across the world, countries after county desperately struggling (and also Africa. Which. Is. Not. A. Country.). Now we finally have a reason to see this as a global threat rather than a problem confined to just one city

It would also have helped to actually have seen some of the power apparently being thrown uselessly at the vampires.

Vasiliy is continuing the fight against the Strigoi – actually putting tracking devices on vampires to try and track their lairs and see they are continuing to invade the safe zone. Because the vampires are still attacking places Christine thought were safe and she’s getting increasingly frustrated and desperate.

The vampires are digging tunnels which shows a disturbing level of intelligence – and under Central Park there is a huge nest of literally thousands of vampires – Christine decides they have to target this nest. That will definitely go wrong. So very very wrong

What may help is Dutch and Ephraim who are now happily experimenting on strigoi, capturing them, taking them back to the lab and then dissecting them, torturing them and experimenting on them. The way this is depicted is interesting – because Dutch and Ephraim are clearly desensitised (and even damaged, and possibly drunk) to the brutality of what they’ve done. But the brutality is still clear – they even talk about their experiments as torture. The starkness does a lot to show these characters

They do discover ways to try and cut off the communication between the strigoi – which also reduces the vampires to mindless animals which would give them a huge advantage, especially now vampires are showing more and more intelligence. Including the aforementioned tunnelling – and a captured vampire able to pick locks

What the experiments do show is that vampires are very adaptive. Ephraim’s plague is now, in the words of Dutch “not as bad as herpes” and even their solution to vampire communication is quickly overcome.

I’m going to scrape up a positive here in a way that feels terrible but is an indictment of the media that it is noteworthy – both Ephraim and Dutch mention, in passing, that Dutch is attracted to women. It isn’t – or shouldn’t – be notable that a bisexual character exists but the media does have a long history of portraying LGBTQ characters in general and bisexuals in general with a brief, one line reference, which is never ever mentioned again.

Meanwhile Quinlan and Abraham have kind of made their peace and continue to read the Lumen – with Abraham hitting on the fact that the Lumen was designed to be safe from vampires (hence the silver cover) – which includes invisible writing that can only be read in sunlight. A nice touch.

The book reveals that the Ancient Egyptians once “destroyed” one of the Ancients by encasing him in a box of lead and silver, a sarcophagus he can’t possible communicate or use his power, locking him up forever. Abe also has a flashback where he sliced off the legs and arms of a strigoi and sealing him in a box which, apparently, kind of sort of is relevant.

Personally I want to know how, if you can get a vampire to stay put in a big box, why can you not also stab him with lots of silver? Or open said box at high noon in the middle of a featureless stone plain?

Anyway, Abe and Quinlan thinks this would be a great plan to bring down the Master since it kind of stops the crimson worm escaping. I would quite like to know why, given what has happened so far, they think they can ever imprison the Master. Though it does give Abe a reason to ally with Eldritch – for the sake of finding out where the Master is. In exchange for a dose of the White

Eldritch accepts- because he is that desperate, his health is failing and Eichorst is repeatedly sidelining him and has even taken another apparently human minion – Sanjay Desai. Now I do query why a Nazi, a literal Nazi, has chosen a Man of Colour as his respected minion.

A brief return to some flashbacks we have about Abe killing another nazi vampire. Part of me thinks this is a little unnecessary. Do we know Abe is ruthless, driven, obsessed and without limits? We know this – we saw this repeatedly last 2 seasons. Do we see that Quinlan’s assertion that hunters are nearly unhinged loners is true – well, yes but did we not already know this? I think the main element it brought was showing Abe not just killing vampires, but torturing them brutally, sadistically and without purpose. This showed Abe at his lowest, this sharply stands next to Dutch and Ephraim’s experimentation – it shows how much this fight can scar them. For that, it is powerful.