The Strain: White Light Review
The Strain, season 3, episode 8, ‘White Light,’ was a big deal, wrapped in small potatoes. I guess I’ve gotten used to the idea of filler episodes, between eventful ones, to the point where tying major events to filler just seems like an outright cheat. Eichorst (Richard Sammel) was the event bookend, in this case, to another loose end clean-up flashback story. By the end, you probably felt like you’ve been deliberately filled up on bread, before the main course – something the episode appetizer probably made clear, in hindsight.
Never mind the über vamp thing – between his Fascist background, die-hard wartime experience, and his ‘origin’ story, pointing out that Eichorst is just plain inhuman would be beyond redundant. So I won’t. What’s left, I guess, is fun with watching how otherwise VIP Humans react to him treating them like cattle – albeit some closer to the sausage factory than others.
Clearly, then, Sanjay Desai (Cas Anvar) is a quick study – his character not missing a beat, as Eichorst made a ‘working’ example of his cohort. Job security gets sticky, when you collaborate in the extinction business, and cows that do tricks are still walking meat.
For the Cows with Guns, however, it was back to chasing leads, and spinning heels. The chase came courtesy of Setrakian (David Bradley) & Fet (Kevin Durand) taking a high-on-white Palmer (Jonathan Hyde) lead to the Minow (Jonathan Higgins) taking up one of Palmer’s big ponds. The heel-spinning, however, meant more family flashback drama – this time for Gus (Miguel Gomez).
If Set-Fet dealing with Palmer was a bitter pill, I imagine Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones) taking what they learned back to the Ancients (post free-agent proclamation, and all) was worse. You gotta give the Daywalker credit, though, he still managed to walk out of there with the high hand & last word.
The rest of the Cattle Crew didn’t impress as much. As a matter of fact, somewhere between Set-Fet’s strong-arming, Dutch (Ruta Gedmintas) & Eph’s (Corey Stoll) code breaker work, and Gus leaving a wounded Angel (Joaquín Cosio) at the mercy of Palmer’s Freedom Center bureaucracy (unwittingly, for the most part), we got several lessons in getting plot points across, without waking the Watchdog of Logic.
For instance: when the sound coming through your speakers starts to mess with both your lab, and your partner, it’s best to turn it off before both crash (especially when the partner is the only one who knows how to turn it off).
Here’s another: how do you get a hostage out of a highly secured public building, not drawing attention to yourself, while keeping him in line? Cut to the next scene, and skip that detail entirely. don’t bother to ask why the Minow didn’t slip his hook, when Set-Fet became preoccupied with all of Eichorst’s. Stockholm syndrome works – sure, let’s run with that. If I have to point out everything wrong with the ensuing shoot-out/ escape sequence, then you might’ve been laughing/ eye-rolling too hard to have noticed, yourself. I can’t just pick on Set-Fet, after all.
There was also the matter of Gus’ plan to get his mother back under control – and how he got her, in the first place – but Gus had other things on his mind. No, not the wounded ‘Guardian Angel’ he had bailed on – he was sharing (with us) all the valid reasons his devotion to Stragoi-mom hasn’t been certifiably stupid. No, not through song/ interpretive dance (though that might’ve been more entertaining), but flashback. Those flashbacks showed us where Gus got his unhealthy Messiah complex & devotion from; but the full circle resolution, involving Angel, sort of made the whole exercise moot.
At this point, I was left wondering how many flashback fillers are we going to be subject to, as padding to what now feels like a slow squeeze, to the main plot. Eichort, Setrakian, Palmer, and (certainly) Quinlan, fine – lots of history to cover, there. We even got a snippet from Zach & Kelly’s relative nanosecond of relations. Justine Feraldo? Nah – too auxiliary a character. Dutch, then? Considering what came after Eph reminded her that she was his means of getting Zach back (the answer, to what Dutch was thinking, BTW: someone getting peanut butter into someone else’s chocolate), the Deph Jam may be turning into a whole new act. Not that I care (even though I could stand to see more of Dutch’s pornographic mind acted out) – I’m just trying to figure out how many of these short-lived character flashbacks we’ll be having to get through, before the main plot gets to stand on its own feet, again.
The really frustrating bit, oddly enough, was just how great the episode ended. Eichorst’s plan for the Ancients felt tacked on, from left field; but such an ending deservedly leaves viewers wanting more. In this case, however, it left me wondering why couldn’t there have been more to it, this episode, instead of the all the padding we did get, leading up to it.
It’s one thing to save the best for last; but it’s something else when you make your audience feel like you’ve been holding out on them.
Well, at least I have some idea what I can look forward to, once all the distractions are out of the cast’s way, and mine.
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