The Strain “Madness” Review (Season 3 Episode 5)

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On the latest episode of “The Strain,” a mysterious shipment from Egypt was set to arrive in New York, while Fet made a horrifying discovery in an underground facility, Justine struggled with the battle to save New York, Eph made a potentially game-changing discovery about the Strigoi and the virus started to spread worldwide, in “Madness.”

The latest episode took place seven days after the last one, as the virus spread into some 50 cities across the United States, as well as into foreign countries like Germany, China, India and Africa for the first time. (The show doesn’t really elaborate as to how, per se, but I’m assuming the book probably does.) At this point, it’s beginning to look like humans are about to be on the losing end of this battle, in short order.

Already starting to be written off entirely is New York, where it began. Despite her best efforts, Justine is fighting a losing battle against the Strigoi, not in the least because they seem to be moving freely into places that were once deemed free and clear of the nasty creatures. Given that the Strigoi didn’t seem to be moving around by conventional means, how were they infiltrating areas that were thought to be safe?

Fet took it upon himself to find out, tagging a few Strigoi with trackers and following their comings and goings with a GPS scanner. He tracks one to a record store, leading to the priceless observation: “Great- a hipster Strigoi.” This turns out to be a lucky break, though, as in the basement there’s a small tunnel, which Fet dubiously decides to follow.

Lucky for him, he makes it all the way through without issue, finding himself within a factory-like building complete with machinery used for tunneling. Spotting what he thinks to be construction workers, he confronts them, only to discover that they’re Strigoi themselves, clearly tasked with digging tunnels in strategic areas of NY in order to allow their kind to move freely throughout the city without detection.

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Fet dispatches the two workers and continues to explore, finding a cavernous structure that he rappels down into, eventually finding a massive nest of sleeping Strigoi- literally thousands of them. Fet heads for the nearest exit, only to find himself smack dab in the middle of Central Park, showing that the Strigoi have optimum placement to move all through the city undetected.

Fet naturally reports all of this back to Justine, who determines that they need to assemble all the troops they can and hit the Strigoi hard and fast while they can. She does check in with Eph, who is still holed up in the team’s former headquarters with Dutch (who is still apparently on the outs with Fet), but the two have yet to make any headway on making the bioweapon viable again- at this point all it’s capable of is something akin to vampire herpes. (Dutch’s point of comparison, not mine, lol.)

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However, Eph has managed to dissect and pinpoint the nervous system of the Strigoi, which consists of the brain, spinal column and a stinger, which all of them have and which are used to spread the infection. The worms are centralized in the brain in a big ball, which serves as both a communication system to the rest of the body and a sort of two-way radio between them and the Master and all of their other kind, which is how they are not only able to take commands from the Master, but act as one.

When Dutch goes to heat up some coffee, Eph notices that it has an effect on the worms somehow. He realizes that, if they can somehow block the transmission of the communication system, then the Strigoi will go back to be autonomous creatures instead of sharing a “hive mind,” which means that they will go back to being sort of aimless and stupid, and thus, easily dispensed of.

To that end, Dutch builds a white noise machine, which works on the first test, giving them good reason to be excited, as it does exactly what it’s supposed to do. However, a secondary test has lesser results, when Eph locks a Strigoi in a cage and puts blood in front of it, then has Dutch turn on the machine again.

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While it works at first, the Strigoi somehow “overrides” the signal and is able to unlock the cage and get out and get to the blood. So, while they’re clearly onto something, the machine and approach clearly need to be refined in order to be truly useful. Until then, it’s back to the drawing board, but I think what we’ll see is the team coming back together to defeat the massive nest of vampires by combining forces and the knowledge they’ve amassed since going their own separate ways.

Finally, there’s Abe and Quinlan, who are still going meticulously through the Lumen. Apparently, Abe finally discovered a copy machine, as he has made copies of the book’s pages and is sharing them with Quinlan in hopes of his finding something that Abe couldn’t, but still stopping short of putting the book itself into Quinlan’s hands after that last debacle.

When Quinlan makes mention of an event involving a group of Egyptians in the book, Abe remembers an incident from 1972, in which he tracked down a Nazi doctor while attempting to find Eichorst and draw him out by claiming to have the Lumen for sale. Abe subsequently captured the doctor, tied him down, cut off his limbs and put him into a trunk and dumped him into the ocean. (Remind me to stay on Abe’s good side!)

This is basically what the Egyptians do with this particular Ancient, albeit taking an entire army of them to capture and subdue him. They captured the Ancient and buried it in a coffin lined with silver and lead underground, which lines up with what Quinlan knows, as there are indeed some Ancients missing that are not among the ones known to them.

Abe confirms this when he has the bright idea to take the actual book outside and look at the pages in question in sunlight, discovering detailed information about the event and how it took place. The two realize that if they can track down the Master in his latest form and capture him, they can do the same thing as the Egyptians. The only problem? They don’t know where he is, much less WHO he is.

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Abe realizes that, in order to find out, he’ll have to take his old adversary Palmer up on his deal after all. However, he refuses to hand over the formula for the White altogether, but agrees to give some to Palmer, who is obviously bad off, having not taken any of the Master’s blood for some time, in exchange for the information they seek. Palmer agrees to the terms and so it begins.

Perhaps not uncoincidentally, a new face appears on the scene, working with Eichorst to some unknown end involving a shipment from…you guessed it: Egypt. Could the Strigoi have finally tracked down the missing Ancient alluded to in the Lumen? Possibly. Either way, we’ll have to wait until next week to find out what all that was about.

But, as Palmer has been tasked with making sure the shipment arrives in New York safely, I’m sure that the team will find out through him as well. That’s what the Strigoi get for mistreating Palmer, I guess. Though, to be fair, he did get awfully high and mighty himself after the Master healed him, so he really only has himself to blame, if you think about it.

This was a solid enough episode, with some crucial details and some interesting back-story, with the incident with Abe in the 70’s being especially illuminating, in terms of how sadistic Abe can be when left to his own devices. (Did they cast that part perfectly in Jim Watson or what?) That Nazi doctor certainly suffered a grisly fate, and then some.

I can definitely see where all this is headed, and I like it, even though part of me wanted Fet to simply toss a silver grenade into that nest and be done with it. I think he knew that would have been a suicide mission, though- and that he’d need a hell of a lot more silver grenades, so good on him for seeing the wisdom of not going it alone. Ditto the others, as both Abe and Eph learned that sometimes a little help isn’t such a bad thing.

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What did you think of the latest episode of “The Strain”? Do you also like where this seems to be headed? Will the team be able to stop the Strigoi menace, at least in New York? Or will whatever Eichorst has coming in from Egypt throw a wrench into those plans? (I maintain it’s another Ancient.) Who is that new guy he has helping him? Will Palmer’s interference with Eichorst’s plans get him killed? Make your predictions down below, and see you next week!