October 16, 2016 The Strain – Collaborators (Season 3, Episode 7 Review)
Season three of The Strain is building towards what promises to be an epic finale scheduled to air on All Hallow’s Eve with episode 10, The Fall. All attempts by the humans fighting the plague have been met with success, only to have an even larger threat appear to make their plight seem worse. Premiering Sunday, October 9, 2016 at 10 PM EST on FX, Collaborators adds more obstacles in the path of salvation.
Near the end of The Battle of Central Park, Eichorst had his hand cut off by viewers second favorite sword-wielding heroine, Dutch Elders. That in mind, Collaborators opens with Eichorst cauterizing his forearm in a fireplace. The sound effects of his arm crackling and searing in the flames, then sizzling when he immerses the smoldering stub in a bucket of water, take the place of the usual visual gruesomeness in an auditory symphony of gore. A flashback to World War Two places the viewer in a trench with a pair of soldiers during a bombardment. One of the men is called “Fet,” leading us to assume it is Vasily Fet’s father. The men swear they will watch out for each other in order to survive the war. When morning breaks, they are captured and taken prisoner by German soldiers.
Fet and Professor Setrakian are in their Hummer discussing the events of the failed battle for Central Park. Fet is losing faith that they will ever defeat the army of Strigoi. They are on their way to see another pawnbroker Setrakian used to work with in order to gather silver to use in the construction of the box to contain the Crimson Worm. Fet tells Setrakian that he needs to make a stop first, he wants to see if his estranged parents have survived. Arriving at the building, they find that it had been overrun. He enters their apartment and searches the ransacked rooms. He finds his parents dead, lying together in their bed. They had been infected and committed suicide before they could change.
Arriving at the pawnbroker’s shop, the pair began looking for silver. In the basement, they find a wall-size safe which shows signs of an attempted break-in. Since they do not have the combination, and no other simpler method of getting in, Fet blows the door open using dynamite. Inside, they find a large cache of silver. In the Redhook hideout, Eph is showing Quinlan what he has learned by dissecting the infected Strigoi. Dutch meets Quinlan for the first time and is curious as to why they are cutting up the Strigoi. They show him their research and tell him they believe that a spike in signal activity they had recorded is a call to arms. Quinlan quotes the Lumen saying, “A passage refers to the silent voice of The Master.” They decide that the black box from the airplane that first started this nightmare might lead them to a breakthrough.
At a checkpoint, the trio are warned that they are leaving the city’s safe zone, Eph bribes a guard to let them through without being asked any more questions. In the no-man’s-land outside the safe zone, they encounter a family being robbed by a group of armed men. Despite Quinlan’s objections, Dutch, with Eph following, jumps out of the cab and rushes to help them. The standoff between them ends when Quinlan appears from nowhere and kills the robbers. The family flees when they see Quinlan. In the visual effect of the episode, Quinlan’s sucker emerges from his mouth and licks the human blood from his blade. The close-up view as it slides along the bloody blade is a seamless bit of CGI.
While walking through a deserted terminal at Kennedy airport, Eph tells Dutch about the early days of the infection, he laments the fact that he had a chance to stop it if he just listened to Setrakian. Eldritch Palmer is seated in a hospital chair in his office, a nurse is checking his weakening vitals. His head of security enters and informs him that the cargo ship from Egypt has docked. Checking the ship’s manifest, Palmer sees that his signature has been forged alongside a shipment of ‘tractors.’ He orders his man to take him to the shipyard. Palmer gets to the ship and is barred from boarding. Before leaving in disgust, he orders the men guarding the ship to prevent anyone on or off.
Back in his office, Palmer is visited by the now one-handed Eichorst. He scolds Palmer for visiting the ship. Palmer does not back down. Even with all that’s happened to him, he continues to push Eichorst into a confrontation. He has done all The Master has asked – with the exception of his betrayal in the bidding for the Lumen – and wants what he was promised, eternal life. He presumes that the fact he is still alive is proof that The Master still needs him. Eichorst, his patience obviously wearing thin, leaves when Palmer asks if there is something wrong with his hand. Palmer calls his head of security and orders him to gather a force in order to take the ship.
Returning to the dock with a squad of heavily armed men, they find that everyone on the ship is already dead. Searching the hold, they find that it is empty. Back in World War two, Fet’s father and his friend are working in a concentration camp. Eichorst approaches them and asks for volunteers to help with a new project. They are promised better food and warmer clothing. After being given new clothes, they learn that there job is to kill Jewish prisoners who are too weak to work. At first they refuse, but faced with his friend being shot, or them both being killed with the Jews, Fet’s father agrees to do it and kills a prisoner.
While smelting the silver, Fet tells Setrakian about what his father had done in the war. It is why his father did not like Vasily’s choice to be an exterminator, did not want him to kill for a living. Setrakian tells him that he needs to forgive his father, and by doing so, he would in turn set himself free. Searching for the black box, Eph, Dutch and Quinlan find it in a locked cabinet. Quinlan calmly kills several Strigoi that attack them while they are leaving. Palmer and Setrakian meet to discuss their deal. Palmer has not found out who The Master is, when Setrakian turns to leave, Palmer tells him about the ship but does not know what the cargo had been. Palmer begs Setrakian for his help. Reluctantly the Professor agrees and gives Palmer a single dose of the White.
While walking away, Setrakian surmises that since there are three Ancients in the US aligned against The Master, the cargo may be the remaining Ancients from the old world brought over to work with him. Palmer returns to his office and tells his nurse that he has a new, experimental, medication. He tells her that she must administer it. After receiving the drops in his eyes, the reaction is delayed, but traumatic. Palmer collapses and his eyes being to bleed. His nurse rushes out in fear as Palmer stands and his strength having been renewed.
One of The Strain’s strongest draws is that along with eye-popping effects and remarkable acting, each episode includes some bit of human interaction; as though the writers want the viewer to realize this is why the fight for humanity is worth the sacrifice. For example, in past episodes, fans have seen infected Kelly showing feelings for her son, Dutch being distraught that her girlfriend chose to leave her, Eldritch Palmer and his fleeting love Coco, even Quinlan in the flashbacks to a thousand years earlier all are written for this purpose. Unfortunately, the connection to Fet’s parents does not trigger that emotion. Nonetheless, it will be very interesting to see what happens next when White Light airs on Sunday, October 16th. Until then, CrypticRock gives Collaborators 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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