Season 1 | Episode 1 | “Night Zero” | Aired July 13, 2014
The series premiere of The Strain solidified itself as a must-watch summer show—and also as a show you should probably watch with the lights on. From a colorful cast of characters to some seriously creepy special effects, we’re predicting The Strain to be a smash hit for FX. With a team consisting of Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan and Carlton Cuse, how could it not be?
The first episode introduces us to main character, Eph (Corey Stoll), head of the CDC Canary Project in New York City. He might be a total badass when it comes to his job, but he’s struggling in the family department. Eph is surrounded by colleagues Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro) and Jim Kent (Sean Astin) as he dives into the mystery of Regis Flight 753, on which every single person aboard suddenly dies. Let’s get down to the dirty deets.
Flight 753: The episode kicks off with a midair flight being attacked by an unknown creature that busts out of the cargo hold. On the ground, air traffic control loses contact with the plane, but it’s later found safely landed on the tarmac. Eph is called in the middle of his family therapy session to respond to the emergency, and the plane is immediately quarantined. Joined by his partner Nora (who’s obviously madly in love with him), the two suit up in hazmat gear and board the plane. They find that every single person aboard is dead, but they don’t have a clue how it happened. Hmm …
Of course they’re thinking that it’s some weird new disease and not an ancient bloodsucking monster. Come on, think outside the box! While investigating the dead passengers, Eph and Nora discover that four passengers are still alive. When we say discover, we mean the four passengers suddenly woke up gasping for air and scared the crap out of us.
Abraham Setrakian: One of the most interesting things The Strain brings to the table is Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley), a kickass 80-something-year-old who knows exactly what’s going on with the “mystery disease.” Abraham owns a pawnshop and talks to (and feeds!) a worm-infected heart he keeps in a jar in the back room.
It’s weird as hell, but it’s probably the heart of a loved one and that makes it a little bit better … a little bit. He busts into the airport like he owns the place to try to warn the CDC, and tells them they need to destroy every body, both dead and living. Of course, they think he’s just a crazy old geezer and arrest him. I’m not sure what else Abraham expected to happen, but now the only person who knows what the heck is happening is helpless to stop the spread of “the strain.”
Making a deal: Gus (Miguel Gomez) is a handsome ex-con who seems to have made a deal with the devil. We’d like to note that he’s our second-favorite character because he’s a bad boy with a heart of gold who just wants a better life for his mother and brother. He’s doing side jobs for The Master’s creepy sidekick, Thomas Eichhorst (Richard Sammel), who is undoubtedly a vampire. The Master is some ancient vampire leader and probably the creature that infected/killed all of the passengers on the plane. Thomas tells Gus that he must pick up a package at the airport and deliver it to an underground location. Gus responds with snarky comments, but he commits to doing it nonetheless, for the sake of his mother. Before he leaves, Thomas gives him a business card, and he tells him to “use it if necessary.” We really don’t have a good feeling about this.
Quarantine: The four survivors who mysteriously woke up on the plane while Eph and Nora were investigating have been placed into quarantine to see if they have an infectious disease. There’s a Marilyn Manson–esque rock star survivor who thinks he’s God’s gift to man; Gabriel Bolivar (Jack Kesy), a fierce lawyer; Joan Luss (Leslie Hope), one of the pilots; Captain Doyle Redfern (Jonathan Potts); and one other man. Gabriel and Joan in particular are not happy that they are stuck in quarantine, but Eph is convinced they must be kept away from the public until he can uncover what exactly is going on. One would think this is common sense, seeing as they just got off a plane where everyone mysteriously died and they don’t remember a thing about it, but the survivors want out.
Sick old guy problems: Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde) is a very sick, very old and very wealthy man, who is working with Thomas for reasons we have yet to discover. Eldritch also appears to have liver failure, and his assistant is extremely loyal to him. Any guesses that he probably has something to do with the monster that killed everyone on the plane? We raise our hands!
What’s in the box?: A box is uncovered from the cargo space in the plane and brought inside of the airport for investigating. It looks old as hell and like something you probably shouldn’t open without Dean and Sam Winchester standing by. I mean, there are skeletons holding scythes all over it. If that doesn’t scream, “Beware. Don’t open me,” we don’t know what does. Eph likes to live on the edge, though, so he opens it. So, what’s in it? It’s my dirt in a box!
Sorry, we couldn’t help it. But seriously, it’s just dirt encased in a box. One of the head investigators of the FBI is wrapping up the coffin with the CDC team when he hears mysterious whispers calling to him. He heads to one of the back rooms of the cargo area, and he finds The Master there waiting for him. Again, not a good idea, dude! He, of course, walks closer to it. Why anyone would walk right up to that heaping pile of creepiness in a back hallway alone is beyond us. The Master rises up, grabs his face, and his long, worm-like tongue explodes from his mouth and sucks the life out of him. For a cherry on top, The Master snaps the investigator’s neck and decides to crush his skull with his bare hands. Can you say “overkill”?
We told you this show would be awesome.
Shady CDC: After the mystery box goes missing, Jim Kent, the (supposed) lovable sidekick of Eph, receives instructions directly from Eph that he must not let anyone leave the airport. So what does he do? He lets someone leave the airport! Gus is exiting with the van containing the “coffin” of The Master, and when he’s stopped by a police oficer, Jim approaches to see what the fuss is about. When Gus, in a panic, hands him the card Thomas gave him, Jim urgently replies that he can leave, but that he’s done doing business with “them.” Son of a biscuit, Jim! What does Jim have to do with creepy Thomas?
Needless to say, Gus gets away with the coffin, which means all hell is about to break loose in NYC.
Sweet Caroline: While all this shadiness is going on at the airport, back at the morgue, things are getting bad. The coroner is listening to “Sweet Caroline” as he inspects the dead bodies from the plane (as you do), when worms start crawling out of one of the hearts and literally into his hands. He starts to panic and pulls the blood-sucking worms out of him. As this happens, the dead people rise from their examination tables and slowly walk over to him … and eat him! Long, worm-like tongues emerge from their mouths and suck the life out of him. What is happening?
To add more mystery, a little French girl who died on the plane shows up at her father’s house looking quite dead and says she’s “très froid.” Translation: “freezing cold because I’m dead as a doornail and have worms crawling through my body at the moment.” The father, like an idiot, welcome her with open arms. This should go swimmingly.
There are many unknowns right now, like old man Eldritch Palmer’s motives and Eph’s relationship status with Nora (Team Norph!). Here’s what we do know: The Master has an agenda, and we’re pretty sure every passenger on the plan is a part of it. Thomas specifically talked about love bringing “them” home, which can only mean all of the infected passengers carrying “the strain” to their families. Also, every person on the plane has some mysterious ammonia-like chemical surrounding them. Is it Master-goo? He does seem like a messy eater.
A few lingering questions:
- Why were there only four survivors on the plane, and are they infected?
- What business did Jim Kent have with Thomas Eichhorst?
- At what level is Eldritch Palmer involved with The Master, and for what reason?
- Will the little French girl eat her dad? (We’re guessing yes.)
Sound off with your thoughts on the series premiere of The Strain. Was it everything your gore-loving, suspense-craving hearts desired? Until next time … #FangsOut