October 11, 2016 The Strain – Madness & The Battle of Central Park (Season 3/ Episode 5 & 6 Review)
Narrating overstock video of rioting and destruction, Professor Setrakian talks about what has transpired since the end of The Strain’s episode Gone But Not Forgotten. Weeks have passed, and most of the major cities in the United States have been overrun, and the infected have begun to appear throughout the world. That said, the group is no closer to discovering a way to end the plague. And so the story continued with September 25, 2016’s Madness going into October 2nd’s The Battle of Central Park.
Professor Satrakian and Quinlan continue attempting to interpret the Lumen’s message. They learn that the Crimson Worm that had escaped from the decapitated Bolivar iteration of The Master, is what must be destroyed or contained in a specially constructed silver and lead box. The Lumen hints that this has happened thousands of years ago to trap one of the Ancients. The revelation brings back a memory to Setrakian of when he was much younger hunting Eichorst.
Using a fake Lumen as bait, he sets up a meeting to try to trap Eichorst, but instead of his nemesis, he is met by one of the Nazi doctors from the concentration camp. Setrakian overpowers the doctor, ties him to a chair and covers his mouth to prevent the stinger from emerging. When he realizes that torture will not get him to give up the location of Eichorst, he decides that simply letting him die is too good for the evil Nazi. He drags the doctor into a hidden room that he had discovered while searching for clues to Eichorst’s whereabouts. The room is filled with buckets of bloody severed limbs and implements of death. Keeping the Doctor alive, Setrakian chops off his limbs, locks him in a trunk and dumps him off the back of a boat into the North Sea.
Setrakian and Quinlan discovered the containment method for defeating The Master when they figure out that there are secret messages within the pages of the Lumen visible only when sunlight is passed through the pages. In order to capture The Master, they must know who, and where he is. In order to do this, Satrakian decides to make a deal with Palmer. Although he still refuses to give up the formula for the White serum that will prolong Palmer’s life, he is willing to provide a single dose in exchange for information on the new Master. Palmer is surprised to learn that he is no longer in Bolivar’s body. The men form a new alliance.
Viewers have yet to learn if this agreement holds without some form of double cross. Earlier that day, Palmer, weakened from not having received a dose of the White since his betrayal during the bidding war for the Lumen, had been visited by Eichorst and a mysterious man. He introduces himself as Sanjay Desai. During the meeting Palmer collapses, Eichorst is unmoved by Palmer’s pain. A secret shipment is arriving from Egypt, Eichorst needs Palmer to make sure it arrives and is allowed to dock in quarantined New York harbor. Could this be the trapped Ancient hinted at in the Lumen?
Dutch and Eph capture a Strigoi to use in their experiments in order to find a new way to defeat them. With the bio-weapon he had developed no longer causing any real damage, he decides to start again from scratch. In a series of scenes showcasing the ever-awesome special effects, Eph dissects several Strigoi and lays them out onto tables. While Eph shows Dutch the mass of worms that live inside an infected brain, she uses the microwave oven to heat up some coffee and they discover that this affects the worms and disrupts their communication. Unfortunately, when they test their theory on an unrestrained Strigoi, they find that the effect is short-lived. The only progress they make is in figuring out how to detect activity between the infected.
In a separate attempt at fighting the plague, Fet has been tagging Strigoi with tracking devices. He follows several of them underground and discovers that they have been creating new tunnels using boring machinery underground. In a particularly gruesome fight scene, Fet tosses a Strigoi into the rotating bits of the auger resulting in a wonderful splatter effect of blood and white. Fet continues down the tunnels and finds a nest of thousands of sleeping Strigoi underneath Central Park. Reporting back to Feraldo what he has found, they plan a major attack that they hope will wipe them out and help them regain control of the city. Earlier, Feraldo had been concerned that areas they had previously been cleared were still being attacked, she now knows that the Strigoi are moving about the city through these secret tunnels.
Zach is visited in the secret room where he is being held captive. His mother Kelly and Eichorst bring him one of Kelly’s spider-children for protection. After some coaxing, they convince Zach that she is not dangerous. In an oddly touching moment, Zach and the blind monster bond when she lays her head on his shoulder and purrs as he strokes her hideously balding head. Although the ultimate reason for keeping Zach human has not yet been revealed, there is always the feeling that Eichorst has a master chess game playing out with all the characters he touches.
With the plan to attack the nest under Central Park set, Fet meets with the NYPD officer in charge of the team that will accompany him. He is surprised to learn that she is the woman he had met, and spent the night with, several weeks earlier, Captain Rogers. They visit the Redhook hideout where Eph and Dutch are conducting their Strigoi experiments. There are a few awkward moments when Dutch meets Fet’s new flame Rogers. Although she denies any jealously later to Eph, the pain is obvious. That said, this is some of the best acting from Ruta Gedmintas. Although she continues to help combat the invasion, her internal guilt from assisting in the initial invasion is still evident. As Fet gathers the bags of powdered silver he has stored there in order to make dispersal bombs, Eph and Dutch decide to come along to monitor the Strigoi to try to learn how to disrupt their communications.
As the humans begin advancing on the Strigoi nest, Kelly and Eichorst come to take Zach. He is told that he can bring with him anything from his room that he wants. Without Kelly or Eichorst seeing him, he scribbles a note to his father inside the cover of a book that he leaves out in the open. While in the tunnels under Central Park, Fet finds the book and radios Eph that he found a note from his son, and Eph needs to come down to see it. The morning of the battle for Central Park, the conscripted fighters and their NYPD handlers arrive at a tunnel they were assigned to enter. Gus and Angel are among them. For the first time, Officer Tardi enters the tunnel with them to make sure they carry out their orders. When Tardi forces a woefully unqualified woman down a dark passage, Gus and Angel overpower their guard. During the standoff, Tardi shoots the NYPD officer who Gus had taken hostage, and in turn is killed by Angel. This is an anticlimactic end to Tardi’s character. A veteran actor such as Lee Tergesen deserves a more epic ending to his arc.
While searching for a way out of the tunnels, the three conscripts encounter Fet and Rogers. Gus volunteers to go with them and he tells Angel to leave with the woman. Eph and Dutch have set up a listening station in a gazebo above the nest and listen in to the sounds the Strigoi are making. Although they have no idea what they mean, they can tell that something big is going on. Receiving the radio call from Fet, Eph and Dutch head into the tunnels and find the book Zach had left. When they split up to search the area, Eichorst appears and taunts Eph, telling him that Zach is, “A special young man with so much potential.” Eichorst attacks Eph, but Dutch saves him by chopping off Eichorst’s hand. Screaming in pain, he flees.
As dusk falls, Fet, Rogers, and Gus encounter heavy Strigoi resistance as they approach the nest. After a few tense moments, when we’re not sure they’ll succeed, Fet detonates the silver bombs resulting in the killing of thousands of Strigoi. Feraldo receives word of the success back in her command center and is elated. Her happiness is only temporary. Thousands of new Strigoi attack New York City, overwhelming the human’s defenses. Ending with Feraldo ordering all of her people to withdraw, she has resigned to the fact that the fight for the park is over. Now fans indulge in the next part of the saga with Collaborators, which aired October 9th leading into October 16th’s White Light. What will happen next? Only time will tell. CrypticRock gives Madness 3.5 out of 5 stars and The Battle of Central Park 4 out of 5 stars.