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As the season draws closer to an end, “The Strain” begins to set the stage for the final battle. Season 3 Episode 5, “Madness,” does its best to establish the spreading of the strigoi virus throughout the world by opening with a chilling narration from Setrakian. Skipping ahead 14 days, what started as a New York City epidemic has quickly become a global crisis. While the rest of the world seemed was falling victim to the takeover, NYC was still holding strong to what little territory they had left. Episode 5 brought the show back to a formula of steady progression, minimal action sequences, and a foreshadowing of what is yet to come in Season 3.
Starting with the title, “The Strain: Madness” was hardly that dramatic or crazy of an episode. In fact, it was considerably mild compared to the earlier episodes in this season. Following Setrakian’s opener, viewers are shown drinking buddies, Dutch and Eph, in the park after dark, playing chess. It was clear that the two were either hunting or just preparing to blow-off some steam, given that night-time activities are not the safest. The result was the first inclination, as the two ended up kidnapping a couple to take back and use for experiments.
Yes, Eph is back on the road to find a scientific solution to the supernatural problem. What Eph discovered was the complex communication system between the strigoi and the Master involves a nucleus-like ball of worms inside a dehydrated brain. The worms primarily react to radio waves, further revealing the Master’s telepathic abilities Eventually, Dutch, who has taken Nora’s role as an assistant scientist, puts himself to good use and devises a machine to block out the frequency.
Although this whole scientific breakdown was briefly interesting and further showed the anatomy of the monsters of “The Strain,” it was pointless. The rabid strigoi proved to be immune to the device after a few moments. Furthermore, they did not need the Master giving them orders to still be considered dangerous predators. The creatures were becoming smarter hunters and Eph was running out of ideas.
As Eph and Dutch bonded over the search for a scientific method to stop the infestation, Fet took matters into his own hands. Using his rat-trapping skills, the endowed European placed two trackers on a couple stray strigoi he came across. He hoped to find the creature’s nesting spot. Fet’s journey led him underground, into the neglected tunnels of the city. This scene brought in some small action as he fought off two strigoi he mistook for construction workers. Viewers can infer that the monsters have been busy building safe day-passage throughout the underground burrows of the city.
Fet progressed on. The rat/strigoi-hunting crusader came across the big nest he was looking for. Thousands of strigoi lay together cuddling and twitching to their heart’s content in a large dome beneath Central Park. Realizing this was more than he could handle alone, Fet found the closest exit. Making his way up some ladders and through a hatch, the resident exterminator, on “The Strain,” found himself in the heart of Central Park. That moment alone, seeing Fret standing there looking at the decimated city and the chaos that this outbreak has wrought, was one of the finer moments of “The Strain.”
Taking a step back in time, the highlight of “Madness” came in the form of another one of Setrakian’s flashback moments. In his pursuit of revenge against Eichorst, the Van Helsing-like character, came across another one of his old tormentors, Dr. Dremerhaven. Luring the monster with the promise of the Lumen, Setrakian was able to exact his revenge in one of the cruelest manners possible. Setrakian separated each limb from the former Nazi doctor’s body. Then, he locked the remains in a case to rot at the bottom of the ocean. An arguably fitting punishment for such a cruel monster. However, the scene showed that a hero may sometimes cross the line when pushed to their breaking point.
The flashback sequences in “The Strain” are always a welcome during any season. Setrakian and Quinlan have proven to be the most interesting, among the protagonists. Each character has a deep-rooted past with the Master, and their own personal journey to stop him is usually filled with some type of revelation that adds further depth to the characters. The flashback sequences help shed light on present-day happenings.
As Quinlan and Setrakian were digging deeper into the mysteries of the Lumen, the heroes made an interesting discovery. It seems that one of the Ancients had a plan for mass domination that was thwarted by ancient Egyptians. Hidden in the pages of the book and only visible in the sunlight, the Egyptians were able to imprison an Ancient within a lead tomb encased with silver. This successfully cut off its ability to network with followers.
This discovery could not have come at a better time. It seemed that New York was expecting another package from North African shores. Palmer was becoming more aware of his stance on the wrong side of the war and Eichorst’s colder-than-usual demeanor was not a clearer indication. It seemed the Master’s lap-dog had found a new, younger financial benefactor but still had one more task for Palmer. Eichorst needed the mogul to ensure that a shipment from Egypt would make it into the ports of New York City, without interruption. Clearly, viewers can infer what will be in the case from the Middle East.
“The Strain: Madness” was a highlight of Season 3, thus far. The story progression is usually up-and-down with the show, but the most recent episode proved to be a move in the right direction. Fans of “The Strain” were given glimpses into the past and present-day effects of the Master’s movements against humanity. The show focused less on filler subplots and paid more attention to the bigger picture. Considering that the following season of “The Strain” will be its last, viewers should expect, or at least hope for, this type of steady pace from now on.
Opinion by Tyler Cole
Edited by Jeanette Smith
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Images Courtesy of FX Networks, Inc. – Used With Permission