The Strain – First Born (Episode 3 / Season 3 Review)

The Strain – First Born (Episode 3 / Season 3 Review)

For two seasons, viewers of FX’s The Strain have wondered about the origins of The Born, Quinlan. They have pondered how he became a hybrid of Human/Vampire blood and how he fits into the history of The Ancients and The Master. Airing Sunday, September 11th, First Born answers a lot of those questions; one of which is a shocking bit of new backstory.

The third episode of season three, it begins with a flashback to before the infection had begun. Kelly and Eph are giving birth. After a few tense moments, their son, Zack, is born. Returning to the present, the memory had belonged to the infected Kelly. She sits stroking Zack’s hair as they discuss the horror he witnessed, and The Master’s blood that had cured him. Kelly attempts to convince Zack that The Master would be good for humanity, and he can help bring about a change for the betterment of mankind.

Still from FX's The Strain First Born
THE STRAIN — “First Born” — Episode 303 — (Airs Sunday, September 11, 10:00 pm e/p) CR: Michael Gibson/FX

Fet and Professor Setrakian are back in their hideout having discovered that the Lumen has been stolen, they immediately suspect Quinlan has betrayed them and taken it to The Ancients. Fet discloses that he has slipped a tracking device into the book’s cover. They leave to locate it. Eph and Quinlan, back in the Redhook hideout with the Lumen, discuss the wisdom of their plan to lure The Master to them. Quinlan talks about the complex human emotions at play, Eph’s love/hate relationship with his estranged and infected wife, and Quinlan discloses a bombshell. The Master is his father.

Transported back to the year 58 AD to a bazaar in the Roman countryside, Quinlan is chained in a cage with a metal mask covering his face. An old woman, Ancharia, tells his keeper that she wants to see him feed. She tells him that she has been searching for him for a long time. Quinlan cannot speak, he growls and stares at her as a goat is led into his cage and his mask is opened. His feeder shoots out and grabs his meal. As he is feeding, she tells him that he is not evil, he is a prince, son of a dark being. When asked why she needs to possess him, she says he is half human, and half ‘Strix.’ His keeper is appalled at the thought and sells him to her.

She begins teaching him to speak and tells him who he actually is, the fifth Invictus, the “unconquerable.” She removes his mask and teaches him about his past. His father is The Master, the seventh of the ancient Strix. He must fulfill the prophecy to rid the world of The Master’s curse, and that The Master would surely be hunting him to prevent him from succeeding. Gus is weakened by continuously draining his own veins to feed his mother. When she begins to drink his blood from a dog bowl, he grabs her and places a helmet with a grill in place of the facemask on her head. His friend, Angel, knocks on the apartment door. Weak from loss of blood, Gus passes out. Angel breaks in, picks up Gus and sees his mother in a straightjacket and mask, tied in the living room.

Eph and Quinlan ride in the taxi. Eph presses for the scientific reason that Quinlan is both Human and Vampire. Quinlan explains that when his mother was pregnant, The Master infected her, but she did not change completely into a Strigoi. He tells Eph that part of the lore that he is destined to die when The Master does. Roman countryside 60 AD, Quinlan is standing outside a tent and hurries inside when a horde of Strigoi approach. He kills them all, and in the special effect of the episode, Quinlan takes off one of their heads in a unique way. Think bowling ball and you will get the idea. He and Ancharia flee into snowcapped mountains and make camp in a cave. The Master finds them and, instead of attacking, challenges Quinlan to show his true self by deprivation. The Master collapses the entrance to the cave, trapping Quinlan inside with Ancharia.

THE STRAIN -- "First Born" -- Episode 303 -- (Airs Sunday, September 11, 10:00 pm e/p) CR: Michael Gibson/FX
THE STRAIN — “First Born” — Episode 303 — (Airs Sunday, September 11, 10:00 pm e/p) CR: Michael Gibson/FX

Angel berates Gus for keeping his mother alive by feeding her his own blood. Gus does not care what it takes, he refuses to kill his infected mother. Angel offers to do it, and Gus threatens him for even thinking it. While they argue, a patrol for The Safe Streets Initiative arrives and announces they will be searching the building. Gus, with a reluctant Angel, tape her into a wheelchair to get her out before the building is searched. They are cornered and are stopped just before escaping. Gus’s mother escapes and the pair are arrested. Eph, sword drawn, enters a looted bodega searching for a Strigoi to use to contact The Master. As soon as Eph is recognized, the monster’s eyes glow, signifying The Master has taken control. Quinlan restrains him from behind and Eph pulls out the Lumen and dictates his terms for the swap of the book for his son. Their trap is now set. This scene includes a nice touch of humor in an otherwise dark and horrific show. Unbeknownst to them, Fet and Setrakian are tracking the Lumen as Eph travels through the city.

Time has passed in the cave with Quinlan and Ancharia. She is dying from lack of food and water, she gives him permission to use her blood to gain the strength to escape and live to fight The Master another day. This finely acted emotional scene ends with Quinlan giving in to her. The Master, convinced that Quinlan is as heartless as he thought, offers Quinlan the chance to join him. Quinlan mocks The Master and attacks him. Unable to even come close to wounding The Master, Quinlan flees. Instead of being booked for trying to help Gus’s mother escape, Gus and Angel are brought to a high school where they are conscripted to be in a search team to search for Strigoi. Eph rides alone on an inflated motor boat out to pier to make the rendezvous. He waits until well past nightfall. From the land end of the pier, The Master approaches with Kelly, a child with a sack over his head, and two other Strigoi. Eph shows them the book and demands to see his son. Kelly approaches and removes the bag, revealing The Master’s betrayal. Eph fights off the imposter and Kelly.

When the second Strigoi attacks Eph, Kelly grabs the book and brings it to The Master, dropping it into a bag held by the other Strigoi. She asks if she can now turn him, without emotion, The Master tells her no, “Leave him to suffer.” As she walks away, Quinlan appears behind them and shoots the Strigoi holding the bag. Fet and Setrakian have tracked the book and arrive. Hearing gunfire, they look towards the pier and Fet recognizes the Navy Seals he had been partnered with. He quickly realizes they have been turned. They begin shooting at Quinlan, riddling him with bullets. Setrakian throws a silver grenade, killing the SEALs. Fet throws another at The Master, severely injuring him. Quinlan stumbles over and chops off The Master’s head. Quinlan collapses as though he has fulfilled the prophecy.

A worm, much larger than any that have been seen infecting humans, emerges from The Master’s corpse and slithers off into a storm drain before Setrakian can get to it. As promised, First Born answers several key questions, but in the process, has created one much larger. The Master’s body is dead, but as viewers have learned, he can swap into another. Will the giant worm that escaped be his salvation? Fans are dying with anticipation to know, but will just have to wait. CrypticRock gives The Strain’s First Born 4 out of 5 stars.

THE STRAIN -- "First Born" -- Episode 303 -- (Airs Sunday, September 11, 10:00 pm e/p) CR: Michael Gibson/FX
THE STRAIN — “First Born” — Episode 303 — (Airs Sunday, September 11, 10:00 pm e/p) CR: Michael Gibson/FX

For more on The Strain visit FX

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Wayne Hills
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Born in Manhattan, NYC at the end of the 1950s, Miguel grew up during the turbulent decade to follow. The racial, political, and social upheavals of the next three decades shaped the way he views the world around us. Miguel has been published in numerous anthologies under Miguel A. Rueda, and his pen name, Wayne Hills. Although most of his stories are written in the Horror and Fantasy genres, he will adapt to whatever submission calls fit into his schedule.

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