Martin Carr reviews the fifth episode of The Strain season 3…
True moments of darkness pepper this episode revealing more back story, more obsessive behaviour and a scene or two of close and personal brain dissection. Distrust is still rife between Setrakian and Quinlan while their common bond remains ‘The Master’. What ‘Madness’ demonstrates is how each character is driven by compulsion, whether to take out every muncher living in Manhattan, destroy an ancient foe or retrieve a family member. Whether a man or woman it seems not to matter as this drive, delusion or focal goal is all-encompassing.
Elsewhere flashbacks act as an extension of a current predicament filling in grey area, adding sinister undertones and showing these people to be truly three dimensional. Certain clues are brought to light while other alliances are forged which promise conflict, disagreement and no small amount of tension. That being said ‘Madness’ fails to offer up anything progressive, or if you consider it progress we are talking baby steps here.
Goodweather and Dutch are now temporary partners in their quest for answers, while Fet has turned into a one man extermination party intent on the bigger picture. Elsewhere the power shift between Eichorst and Palmer fluctuates as one is visibly weakening. Jonathan Hyde and Richard Sammel clearly still relish their encounters, as the playing field noticeably changes season to season. What they bring to the table continues to be commitment and a certain reality. As this virus slowly enslaves the inhabitants driving lone survivors further underground ‘The Strain’ and its allegorical undercurrent grows more prevalent. There are any number of ways you could read this series but ultimately I look at it this way.
Information is more readily available than at any other time in recent memory. And because of this people have become more paranoid rather than more informed, meaning an inherent distrust of anything which fails to materialise over a fibre optic connection. Ascertainable knowledge gleaned from books, people and first-hand accounts will always be more trustworthy than a random search of Google. While the masses need to understand that history still remains historically significance outside of a broadband hotspot.
These vampires could represent anything from immigration concerns to pandemics of global proportions, yet The Strain means different things to different people. That if anything is the theme which runs throughout this programme and allows each of us to identify in real terms with these characters and their preoccupations. Whether your search is one for knowledge, reassurance over issues unknown or faith in a future your children can be secure in, The Strain offers up multiple options with no clear path to follow. Which is the stuff of interesting television.