Last week provided some much needed victories for our team of heroes and villains (looking at you Palmer), but in “White Light,” everyone seemed to come up just short, unless you’re Eph and Dutch shippers (Etch doesn’t quite have a ring to it). Still, the combination of character development and action, has the show riding a hot streak.
After three seasons, The Strain has finally found a winning formula. Two weeks in a row, the show has spent quality time providing backstories and flashbacks to fan favorite characters, last week with Fet and this week spotlighting Gus. Of the show’s main characters, Gus has probably been the one most left on his own, even though we know he has a surrogate dad in Angel. In “White Light,” Miguel Gomez gives his best performance to date as he got to shed the tough guy exterior and show real vulnerability.
Speaking of vulnerability, the previous episode was a rare speed bump for Eichhorst, who was down a hand, but he’s back up to no good as “White Light” begins. His new buddy, Sanjay (Cas Anvar) is giving him a demonstration with a dummy, which isn’t acceptable for Eichhorst, he prefers a living subject, prompting him to grab an anonymous assistant (never good to be anonymous on this show) and throwing him up on the assembly line. The young man struggles and tries to get free before having his blood harvested, the only good news for him being that the incinerator isn’t working yet. Sanjay learned his lesson though, considering that the real time that it took on the human subject was longer than the projections.
While one brainchild of Eichhorst is working out the kinks, another seems to be thriving as Gus and Angel make their way to an overcrowded Palmer Foundation’s Freedom Center to have Angel’s gunshot wound treated. Gus is rightly immediately skeptical of some of the clerk’s demands, including filling out forms, giving blood, and providing fingerprints. Everything isn’t all bad there though, we get a tender moment where Gus says of Angel, “This isn’t my father, my father was a coward. This is my guardian angel.” They decide that Gus should head out and Angel will reluctantly meet him at his mother’s house. “It’s my home,” says Guys. “That’s my mom.”
Last week sent us to 1941 Ukraine, while this week it’s 1993 New York City, where we find a beaten and bruised Gus and his mother, Guadalupe. It seems that Gus’ father often takes out his anger on his wife and son, something that Gus’ uncles aren’t willing to accept anymore. “He has a sickness and it’s not going away,” his uncle tells Gus (sounds kind of familiar). His father won’t be a problem anymore as his uncles later return with bloody fists and a message to Gus, “You’re the man in this house now.”
It’s now back to present day Manhattan and it’s time for our weekly meeting between Fet, Setrakian, and Palmer. The old man skips over to his two frenemies, looking more invigorated than ever, clearly last week’s dose of White is doing the trick. Since the last meeting Palmer hasn’t just been sitting around, he has some fresh intel. He passes along information on where to find Cyrus Minow (Jonathan Higgins), the man who wouldn’t let Palmer on his ship. Fet and Setrakian head back to the home base to share the information with Quinlan, who is rightfully skeptical. “I don’t trust the man, but I trust his self-preservation,” says Setrakian. They agree to go after Minow while Quinlan will go give the Ancients an update.
While Fet is busy hunting strigoi accomplices, Eph and his ex-girl Dutch are working closely at his place. The new dynamic duo are listening to Flight 753’s black box. For awhile, it’s just pilots talking about their love woes, before suddenly going quiet, then a loud noise starts blasting through the speakers, shaking the whole room, and strongly affecting Dutch, who passes out before Eph can pull the plug. Looks like it could be three seasons and three basically dead love interests for Eph, but luckily Dutch comes to. There is good news though, Dutch thinks they may have the full recording of The Master and could use it to disrupt his communications. That plan is on hold as she throws up and decides it’s best to rest. Eph soon comes to her aid with soup and a thermometer that he found (don’t worry he washed it!). Some classic flirting ensues, including Eph putting his hand on Dutch’s knee and saying, “I can’t do any of this without you.” TEAM ETCH!
NEXT: Gus must make a difficult choice[pagebreak]
Meanwhile, a much less flirty situation is going down as Quinlan arrives to see the Ancients and gets a cold reception. He tells them about the theory that the recently arrived ship may have been delivering the Old World Ancients to New York. The bad news is that it probably means The Master wants to kill them, but the good news is that Setrakian has a plan. Quinlan doesn’t care that the Ancients aren’t fans of the pawnbroker. “Then I wish you a speedy death,” he quips. They eventually accept, and he’ll return tonight with further details.
Fet and Setrakian head for their own meeting with Mr. Minow. He’s staying at one of Mr. Palmer’s housing buildings, which looks untouched by the downfall of the world around it. Upon arrival at his room, the two men put the screws to Minow, who promises to show them where he left the ship’s cargo. They return to the docks and Minow sneaks them in the back, where they discover Eichhorst’s assembly line, leaving Setrakian none too pleased as he slaps Minow. “What do you want me to do? Do you want me to die? Do you want me to get turned? They’ve won. I was just doing my job,” exclaims Minow. Just a guess, but that argument isn’t going to get any sympathy from a man who went through the Holocaust. As they head outside, a gunfight ensues as they spot Sanjay and Eichhorst. Minow quickly dies (Karma 1, Minow 0), while the bad guys make it out with the “precious cargo.” A close up of the mysterious crate can only prompt the question, “What’s in the box?” (Brad Pitt voice).
Angel makes it back to Gus’ apartment and does something that can never be smart on The Strain — takes a nap. Unsurprisingly, the nap was a risky move as Angel awakes to find Gus’ strigoi mom standing over him. Just in time, Gus arrives and pulls the trigger on mom. This prompts a flashback to shortly before the events of the series’ very first episode. Gus is somewhat fresh out of jail and despite having a job at the airport, he asks his friend Cheevo if he knows of any side work. Not so lucky for Gus, someone came in recently needing some work down at the airport. Cheevo hands him the business card, which belongs to the one and only, Thomas Eichhorst.
Despite saving his “guardian angel,” Gus is devastated about killing his mother. “Every decision I made killed her. I did this s—,” he says. The former temporary Sun Hunter then makes the smartest decision of his life — he and Angel decide to leave the city.
Things are also emotional back with Eph and Dutch, but for wildly different reasons. The two pick up their flirting right where they left off, although this time Dutch adds in a little fantasy role-play. She conjures up a scenario of a nurse joining them for some romance and starts unbuttoning his shirt. “What is this torture porn?” asks Eph, who prefers something a little more vanilla. You ask for vanilla and you will receive it as the two start passionately kissing. TEAM ETCH! TEAM ETCH!!
Turns out that we get two meetings for the price of one in this episode. Fet and Setrakian confront Palmer about the “slaughterhouse” that they found at the docks. Palmer says he knew about it, but through his facial expression and previous frustration over not being involved with The Master’s plan, it’s clear that he wasn’t on that email chain. If Palmer wants more White, then he needs to find out where that cargo is. “Whatever it is it can’t be much worse than the monster standing before me,” says a disgusted Setrakian.
Quinlan is back and unfortunately his plan isn’t the only thing that’s with him. Eichhorst and his strigoi arrive after being able track the Sun Hunters. “This is not my doing nor is this my fight, you’ve invited your own demise,” says Quinlan. The Master speaks through Eichhorst, sharing his dismay of the untapped potential of the Ancients. The strigoi attack while Eichhorst makes a quick exit, but not before leaving behind a suitcase bomb. While this prompts the Ancients to finally get down and fight, the real person doing damage is Quinlan. As he takes down countless strigoi, he looks like a mix of Neo in The Matrix and The Bride in Kill Bill. Hopefully he also has the speed of The Flash, because having made it to safety, Eichhorst sets off the bomb and cracks an evil smile as he watches the area crumble to the ground.