October 23, 2016 The Strain – White Light (Season 3/ Episode 8 Review)
The Strain creator, led admirably by the world-renowned Writer/Director Guillermo del Toro, racked up the tension and gore yet again in the October 16, 2016 episode, White Light. Since end of season 2, viewers have been given hints and glimpses of the factories which are being built under the watchful eye of the evil Eichorst. That in mind, White Light’s opening scene provides the first practical test of the horror that is yet to come.
Eichorst, Sanjay Desai, and an unnamed young man are in one of the factories discussing its efficiency. Eichorst questions the two men of the wisdom of using a sand-filled mannequin in place of a live human. Dissatisfied with their response, he picks the unnamed man up by the throat and impales him on one of the oversized meat hooks circulating on the overhead conveyer belt. As the man squirms to free himself, Eichorst orders Desai to turn on the machine in order to get a true test. The result is gory, but not in a blood-splattering way. The machine methodically – and as advertised – efficiently drains the living test-dummy’s blood in just over two minutes. Too long for Eichorst’s liking, he orders the visibly shaken Desai to do better.
Although it is not yet clear whether or not Desai is a Strigoi like Eichorst, or a human collaborator like Palmer, it is certain that he is very afraid of his Nazi boss. Unaware of the Freedom Center’s true purpose, Gus, drags his injured friend, Angel, in for treatment for a large gash on his arm since Angel is in dire need of medical care. Gus then tells Angel to meet him at his home. Angel tries to talk him out of returning since that’s where Gus had been keeping his infected mother tied up, feeding her his own blood.
In White Light’s touch of humanity, the audience see a flash back to the kitchen in Gus’ childhood home in 1993. He on his mother’s lap, they both have black eyes. There are two other men sitting with them, one is Gus’ uncle. They are talking to her about Gus’ father, telling her that he will not stop beating them and that Gus had done the right thing by telling them what happened. His uncle says that the father has run out of chances and they will handle it.
Gus arrives back at his apartment, knowing the infected return to the people they love. After searching for her, he begins to clean the room where he had held her captive. His memory returns to his younger days, his uncle and the other man tell him that he is the man of the house now that his father is gone. They promise to help, but it is now the young boy’s responsibility to watch out for his mother. These scenes show the viewer why Gus had to continue to care for her, even after she had become one of the Strigoi.
Arm bandaged, Angel arrives at Gus’s apartment and finds it empty, but clean. Angel falls asleep on the couch, but is awakened by shuffling footsteps and low growling; Gus’s mother has returned and stands above him. Gus enters, she turns to face him and, after a moment that appears that she might recognize him, her stinger flies out, this leaves Gus with no choice but to shoot her.
Flashback to a grown-up, pre-plague Gus entering a bar. The bartender greets him and asks how his job is driving for the airport. Gus complains that it is boring and he does not make enough money. The bartender gives him a card from someone who had stopped in looking specifically for someone to do some side work at the airport; the card is from Eichhorst. Returning back to the present, Gus realizes that all of his decisions have led to his mother’s death. In contrast to last episode’s flat backstory involving Fet and his father, this little arc is perfect.
Setrakian and Fet meet with Eldritch Palmer in the underpass where they had met previously. Holding up his end of the deal for a dose of the White, Palmer hands over a clue regarding the mysterious shipment from Egypt. Palmer is rejuvenated in more ways than just his ability to walk without a nurse, his new-found energy has him fired up to go after more information on the cargo ship. With Setrakian now supplying his needs, he may feel that he no longer needs to support Eichorst and The Master. Time will tell if he is a truly a changed man. Fet and Setrakian discuss with Quinlan if it is possible that an old-world Ancient would come to fight alongside The Master. Quinlan is reluctant to return to The Ancients after telling them that he would never go back. Setrakian convinces him that they must know about the mystery Ancient, Quinlan acquiesces and leaves.
Dutch Elders and Doctor Eph Goodweather have rigged up the black box from the doomed airliner that had brought the plague to New York. The pilots’ meaningless small-talk is interrupted by screams, then apparent silence. Seeing activity on the oscilloscope, which they are using to monitor the sound waves, Eph turns the volume up on the playback, causing the room around them to vibrate. Dutch grabs her ears, screams, and passes out before Eph can pull the plug to shut off the sound.
When she recovers, they discuss what they can do with the recording, Dutch becomes violently ill and leaves to get some rest. Eph brings Dutch soup and checks to see if she has gotten better. While talking, they share a moment which may foreshadow romance in their future. Eph is reading a book and drinking, his usual pastime, and Dutch walks over. After a bit of small-talk, Dutch presents Eph with a sexual fantasy, a very detailed scenario. Eph feigns disinterest, but she leans in and, in a whispery sensual voice, keeps describing the scene. She begins to touch his shirt as the details become more personal. When she begins to slowly lower her head, Eph stops her. Giving in, they kiss and begin disrobing. It is a touching scene which shows that even in this world of horror, a personal connection between humans is still possible.
Setrakian and Fet have gone to meet Cyrus Minow, the name Palmer had given them to investigate the shipment from Egypt. Using ID badges Palmer provided for them to gain entry into the protected building, they find Minow. Fet threatens him and he gives up that he delivered the crate to Eichorst’s new right-hand man, Desai. Minow brings them to the factory Fet had blown several episodes ago. Minow is extremely nervous to be there and wants to leave. Fet flashes his gun and orders him to lead the way to where the crate had been left. They walk into the factory that had been the site of Eichorst’s test at the top of the episode. Setrakian immediately recognizes it for what it is, a blood factory. Minow swears this is the first time he had seen it, claiming he had no idea what they were up to. He eventually admits that he was collaborating with Eichorst, that humanity is lost; “What else was he supposed to do?”
Recalling what happened to his people during the Holocaust, Setrakian is disgusted by him. Minow leads them to the loading dock where they spy Eichorst and Desai loading the crate into a truck. As they attempt to stop it, a gun battle ensues. In a display of marksmanship worthy of a Stormtrooper, only Minow and nameless henchman are hit by the dozens of flying bullets, and the truck escapes. Quinlan goes back to The Ancients and tells them the news about the shipment from Egypt and what it portends; The Master intends to do away with them. Their only hope is to allow the pawnbroker, Setrakian, to help them trap The Master. He tells them that they must climb down off their pedestals in order to fight. They agree to meet later that evening.
Eichorst is reapplying his makeup when Kelly, without her makeup or wig, and one of her spider children enter. Kelly informs him that their forces are set and asks if he believes The Ancients are nearby. He confirms that they are and tells her his plan. The Ancients have hunters who forage for humans to use for their food. Eichorst plans to find and track them back to their lair. While he is telling Kelly, we see the hunters attack a bus and take people off of it. Kelly and her spider are in hiding, watching them. Palmer meets with Setrakian and Fet where they confront him about his knowledge of the slaughterhouse to harvest humans. He confesses there are as many as 100 such factories being built in North America. Fet stops Setrakian from pulling his sword and killing Palmer. Palmer swears that he will find out where Eichorst has taken the crate.
Quinlan returns to The Ancients, they have agreed to fight to save themselves. From the shadows, hundreds of Strigoi, led by Eichorst, slowly approach from a tunnel. Eichorst, eyes glowing red; signifying that the Master has taken control of him, angry that Quinlan had come so close to killing him, he mocks “The Born.” Turning his disdain toward The Ancients, he tells them they could have been Gods over the humans. He says his killing them is more out of mercy than triumph. Flipping a switch on a silver briefcase, which begins beeping, Eichorst steps back as the Strigoi attack.
When he reaches the back of the horde, he places the briefcase on the ground and runs off. Quinlan and The Ancients’ handlers begin battling for their lives. Quinlan fights on as the handlers are easily overwhelmed. The Strigoi reach The Ancients, and the action and gore that had been missing from this episode up to this point, is more than made up for in the last three minutes. A montage of action shots intertwine slow motion bodies spewing white blood, flashes of Quinlan shooting and slicing through attackers, and the Ancients literally ripping the infected to shreds is a showcase of the special effects the show is known for. Eichorst emerges from a trap door, pulls a remote control from his pocket – and in a perfect cliffhanger ending to the fate of Quinlan and the Ancients – flips a switch detonating the bomb in the distance.
White Light contained the continuation of some long-running arcs, our first gory test of the mysterious factories, backstory for a favorite character, new love for two others, and possibly the end for one of the human’s strongest allies. One of the most robust and entertaining episodes of The Strain to date, CrypticRock gives it 4.5 out of 5 stars.