A flashback to younger days inspires Setrakian to form an unlikely alliance to defeat the Master
Madness makes men do strange things — it’s an obvious truism, and it was the overriding theme of tonight’s episode of The Strain. Dutch and Eph undertook some unusual experiments in the continued hunt for a means to disable the strigoi’s telepathic network, while Fet, seemingly for fun, tagged a couple of vampires in the street in attempt to root out their nest. What he discovered, a massive swarm of sleeping strigoi huddled beneath Central Park, would be enough to loosen anyone’s grip on sanity.
But as the Born points out, good things can sometimes spring from madness — and Setrakian’s ruminations on a past confrontation did help him arrive at a possible means to stop the Master. Not war, not destruction, but imprisonment might ultimately be the route to victory. But if they have any hope at capturing him, they’ll first need to determine whose body is hosting the chief vampire.
The hour began with a callback to the season premiere, with Setrakian in voice-over offering an update on the worsening world situation — and things are looking bleak. In the course of a week, the strigoi infection has spread to dozens of cities including Washington, Atlanta, and Dallas, then to Germany, India, Africa, and elsewhere around the globe. The weary professor notes that New York City has managed to hold ground, but are those small victories merely forestalling defeat? Lest the metaphor be lost, the next image is a chess piece moving across a board, with Dutch telling her opponent Eph that since he’s already lost the game, he shouldn’t even bother with any next moves (again, no metaphors here…).
The pair has set up the game in a Brooklyn park to pass the time while they wait for strigoi to appear, and Dutch is simply bluffing because she’s bored. Entertainment arrives, finally, and the duo takes down the attacking vamps, keeping only a “small one” as a test subject. Back in Red Hook, Eph straps the creature to a table and works through the night, removing the vampire’s stinger, spinal column, and brain. Once a sleepy Dutch ambles to his makeshift lab, he’s excited to share his primary discovery — namely that a compact knot of the blood worms seem to comprise the core of the strigoi’s nervous system.
It’s all a bit stomach-churning first thing in the morning (or really, at any point, if we’re being honest), and Dutch begins to microwave a cup of coffee for herself. As soon as the appliance turns on, Eph notices that the worms begin to behave differently. The discovery prompts them to further research, so Dutch disassembles the microwave to access to the magnetron inside, theorizing that she can use it to essentially create “white noise” that will block the strigoi communications.
In Manhattan, Quinlan looks through photocopied pages from the Lumen, and he dryly notes to Setrakian that the chapter on strigoi hunters notes that they all share a need to act alone and that they often seem to be gripped by madness. “Good thing none of this applied to you,” Quinlan quips to the Professor. “Or you,” Setrakian replies. And… we’re in 1972 Amsterdam, where a much younger Abraham (Jim Watson) enters the backroom of a brothel in the Red Light district. Using a pseudonym, he plots with the madame to sell a mysterious artifact — the Occido Lumen, of course — to a third-party, a man named Kruger whom Setrakian suspects is, in fact, Eichorst. He asks whether the buyer is a German who was loyal to the fatherland during the war — possibly he was employed at one of the concentration camps in Poland?
NEXT: Unlocking the book’s mysteries
Soon, Setrakian has come by the man’s address, but it’s not Eichorst who answers the door. The strigoi hunter enters the compact apartment, where Herr Kruger (Nigel Bennett) offers him a drink, but Setrakian is keen to get down to business. The German retrieves a briefcase full of cash, and Setrakian in exchange offers him the Lumen, inviting him to feel the weight of the silver book. The man scoffs, however — he’s aware the book is a fake and Setrakian is not who he claims to be. He shoots out his stinger, but young Abraham easily blocks it with the faux-Lumen (good thing the silver was real). Setrakian detonates a light grenade, which he says was meant for Eichorst, but in his absence, Dr. Dreverhaven will do just fine. He then muzzles the strigoi and settles in to gruesome work inside a hidden chamber in the apartment where the German had been storing various implements of torture… and various body parts. Setrakian severs the vampire’s arms and legs, then stows the strigoi’s body in a padlocked trunk, which he ultimately drops into the icy water of the North Sea.
By contract, Eichorst is, of course, alive (is that the right word?) and well — his usual sinister self when he turns up to see an ailing Palmer, a new associate, Sanjay Desai (Cas Anvar), in tow. Palmer takes great offense to the stranger asking detailed questions about the important shipment Palmer is overseeing for their enterprise, but at Eichorst’s bidding, he reports that the ship they’re so interested in left Egypt 31 days ago. Eichorst and Sanjay tell Palmer he needs to make sure the vessel is allowed to dock in New York, curtly refusing to share with him any additional information. The contents of that vessel, though, surely can’t spell good news for anyone in the city…
And just about everyone is in need of good news at the moment. Back in Red Hook, Eph and Dutch’s experiments take a turn after a brief glimmer of success — a strigoi that the pair has locked in a cage finds a key to its cell and attempts to unlock the padlock holding the door closed. Dutch turns on her new invention, and it suddenly becomes confused and distracted — until the device stops working and the vampire goes back to the lock, eventually freeing itself and rushing at Eph. Eph shoots it. Time to drink.
Meanwhile, Justine Feraldo is left to puzzle over a strigoi attack inside one of the city’s safe zones that has left dozens dead, and naturally, it’s Fet who discovers the root of the problem: After tagging and following two strigoi, he uncovers an elaborate tunnel system that leads to an enormous nest of sleeping vampires in a chamber beneath Central Park. He tells Justine about what he saw, and she vows to hit the site with “everything they’ve got.”
Still puzzling over their copied pages from the Lumen, Quinlan and Setrakian grow increasingly frustrated, and Quinlan suggests they might make more progress by reading from the actual book. Suspicious, the Professor retrieves the artifact, but even paging through the Lumen, he can’t quite manage to decipher its secrets. He observes that it’s as though the authors wanted to hide the answers contained inside to ensure the information would never be known to the strigoi. The Born rightly notes that vampires would be unable to read a book bound in silver, and that’s when Setrakian gets an idea. He carries the Lumen out onto the roof to look at its pages in the sunlight.
As if by magic, the text appears, and the old man begins to translate a passage: “After being surrounded by an army of thousands, the living plague was contained within a stone sarcophagus lined with an alloy of silver and lead, a tomb for the creature and the crimson worm within it, trapped for all eternity.” In order to imprison the Master, though, first the Born and the Professor must determine whose body he’s inhabiting. And Setrakian believes he knows the man who would be able to help them.
Setrakian meets with a wheelchair-bound Palmer, offering to give the billionaire a dose of the White in exchange for the information. But the fact that the Master has chosen a new host is a surprise to Palmer, who nevertheless insists that he can discover the truth — he insists he’s still of value to the Master, otherwise he would be dead. And with that, the men shake hands on an alliance.