It has finally come. “The Strain” has been unleashed on the world. The adaptation of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s trilogy of novels has certainly done something to vampires the world hasn’t seen on TV or in film for quite some time. They’re terrifying again, which is exactly what del Toro was aiming for.
Ephraim Goodweather works for the CDC and is called in to investigate and airplane filled with dead people, while also dealing with the end of his marriage and attempting to get partial custody of his son. He’s torn between work and family and, for him, work normally tends to win in the end.
In this case it’s a good thing, because the plane full of dead people actually has four survivors. He investigates, along with colleagues Nora and Jim, only to find everyone else dead of what he believes to be a type of contagion.
Abraham Setrakian, an old man who owns a pawn shop, knows better. He knows The Master, a vampire, has returned to unleash hell on the city and world. When he tries to explain this to explain this to Ephraim, it goes over about as well as you’d expect. Goodweather writes him off as crazy and has him arrested.
Viewers quickly learn how right Setrakian when The Master is introduced. Somewhere in the bowels of the airport, a federal official follows a piercing sound in his ear, only to stumble upon The Master. The giant being shoots a tentacle out of his mouth, which latches onto the official and drains him of all of his blood. Then, just to add insult to injury, The Master snaps the man’s neck and bashes his head in. That definitely wasn’t pretty.
Meanwhile, you begin to see the inner workings about what brought this sinister force back. The very rich and powerful Eldritch Palmer is old and dying, constantly getting new organs implanted. He’s made a deal with Eichorst to bring The Master to new York as a way to achieve what he truly wants: Immortality.
For that to happen though, Eichorst enlists the help of Gus, a parolee who is trying to stay on the right side of the law for his mother’s sake. With the promise of making his mom a legal citizen and erasing his brother’s criminal record, Eichort tasks Gus with collecting the coffin from the locked down airport and transporting it into the city.
While that may seem easier said than done, Eichorst also has someone on the inside of the CDC to help keep things moving. Sadly, that person is one of Ephraim’s most trusted allies, Jim. It’s not clear exactly why Jim is helping Eichorst yet, but it’s clear that he certainly wishes he weren’t.
Ephraim sends several of the deceased for autopsy by a coroner friend and a lot of learned about what the infection foes to the human body. Each of them has an incision in their neck that has pierces the aorta. They also don’t bleed when cut, but rather dispense a foamy white liquid. The most shocking of changes is to the internal organs. After removing the heart to be weighed, it begins to beat. The organ is covered in those worms from the billboards that have been terrifying people. They seem to be one of the possible ways of infection. One tries to latch itself onto the coroner, but he’s able to remove it. That proves to be enough of a distraction for him to not realize all of the dead have some back to life and are surrounding him. Like The Master, tentacles shoot out of them, latching onto the coroner as they feed.
In the closing moments of the episode, the father of a little girl who died on the airplane finally returns home, completely broken. At the same time, his dead daughter shows up too. “Daddy, I’m cold,” she says before he hugs her. What the man doesn’t realize, or refuses to believe, is that’s not his little girl anymore. The pale child with dead eyes is infected. That hammers home the very scary reality that the contagion is no longer confined to the airport. It’s in the city.
What did you think of the first episode of “The Strain”? Sound off in the comments below.