“The Strain” is out – and very dangerous. Co-created by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan with Carlton Cuse on board as showrunner; FX’s new vampire drama premiered on July 13 and introduced a whole new species of the supernatural creature. The twist? No fangs involved.
The premiere episode, titled “Night Zero,” started with a flight from Berlin to New York City’s JFK airport on February 8. While it seemed like a normal plane ride, something horrifying was lurking in the cargo hold. As the plane began to land with 210 souls on board, the flight crew discovered that something powerful had somehow made its way into the cargo … and wanted to enter the cabin with the passengers.
The plane landed safely, but the passengers did not. With no lights or power working on the plane, the man in charge of running JFK’s air traffic control, Bishop, went to investigate … and came to the conclusion that “we’ve got ourselves a dead airplane.”
The FBI, SWAT teams, homeland security and more were all called in to investigate the dead airplane. However, only one team gets to make the first move – the New York base of the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
The head of New York’s CDC is ran by Dr. Eph Goodweather (Corey Stoll), a talented and dedicated man who is in the midst of having some serious marriage problems due to his high demand job. While it may not always be good to place work before your family, it works out in this case.
With his team – biochemist Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro) and logistics guy Jim Kent (Sean Astin) –the trio enters and examines the dead airplane … and makes a frightening discovery. All 210 people on board the flight are dead.
No struggle, bruising, blisters or markings can be found on the bodies on the airplane. Instead, it appears as if everyone died suddenly and without any pain. The only odd thing? Their machines are picking up high levels of ammonia – and a black light reveals some interesting and mysterious markings.
As they further explore the plane they discover that all the victims have really dry skin and that the cargo door on the plane was left open. But things get really spooky when one passenger’s hand moves and Nora discovers the door to the cockpit open. Since the cockpit door is supposed to be locked, Jim warns Nora to leave immediately. However Nora doesn’t listen and makes a shocking find – they have survivors.
Pilot Doyle Redfern, rock star Gabriel Bolivar, attorney Joan Luss and another man become the four survivors of the flight. But the survivors can’t exit the plane and see their families – they are admitted into quarantine so that Eph and his team can try to uncover what happened to the remaining 206 passengers.
As Eph, Nora and Jim try to figure out what happened, a man that owns a Harlem pawnshop already seems to know. Abraham Setrakian is in his 80s, but he can definitely take care of himself. When two thugs try to rob him he quickly pulls a knife on one – putting the blade directly on an artery and threatening to have him bleed out right then and there. When the thugs leave his shop, Setrakian enters a secret doorway in his shop and watches the news at JFK unfold.
Although no one seems to know what happened, Setrakian quickly jumps to the conclusion that he’s seen in happen before. But Setrakian has secrets of his own – and has a reason for owning a fox/ snake cane … that holds a sword.
“He’s back,” the pawnshop owner says to a glass jar holding a heart. “I don’t know if I have the strength to do it all over again. This time I cannot fail.”
It’s unclear who Setrakian is referring to, but it’s obvious that the “He” in question is dangerous and a creature never seen before. How do we know this? Because the heart in the jar moves while Setrakian is talking to it. The man asks if it’s hungry and uses a blade to cut himself and drop some blood inside. “Enjoy dear,” Setrakian says to it when little snake like worms whip out of the heart and hungrily eat up the blood.
As if things weren’t weird and mysterious enough on “The Strain,” viewers meet another group of people – one potentially a vampire.
Elderitch Palmer is a wealthy businessman who is very ill and on dialysis. A man named Thomas Eichhorst visits him, and the pair seems to have a plan in place that could be related to the “dead airplane.” But Eichhorst isn’t your average man – his eyes change and he doesn’t breathe.
Palmer isn’t innocent either. Although their exact plans aren’t clear, Eichhorst informs him that the “cargo” has arrived safely and that the flight had four survivors on board. Palmer acknowledged that he crossed a line … and cannot undo it.
While the four survivors are in quarantine and confused as to what happened, Eph discovers a crate that was not included on he plane’s manifest. The crate is 9 ft. tall, weighs about 500 lbs., is very old and appears to be hand carved. With his team and one of JFK’s head people by his side, Eph opens up the crate and discovers that it’s full of soil … and has a latch on the inside.
With strict orders to hold onto the crate and not inform anyone of it, Eph heads off to speak to the family members of the victims. However the JFK employee stays behind when he hears a weird noise – something that one of the four survivors complained about while in quarantine. Following the sound to a dark corridor, the man makes a frightening discovery. A large dark creature that is hooded and almost looks like the grim reaper. And perhaps it is the grim reaper; because a giant tongue shoots out of the monster and begins to suck the JFK employee dry of all his blood. But the monster doesn’t stop there. When he’s finished draining the man, he snaps his neck and smashes his head to a bloody and unrecognizable pulp.
The creature runs off, but Eichhorst has a plan in action to get it out of JFK. He hires a criminal to get the crate out of the airport but he has a couple rules – the most important being that the vehicle the crate is in has to cross the bridge into Manhattan before daybreak.
Eph gives an update to family members of the victims and to the press. However his answers are not good enough for some. A man whose young daughter, Emma, was on board the flight, slaps Eph across the face when he’s learns of the lack of information. Eph can’t provide them with anything else, and leaves after saying that they’ll have answers in the next few days.
As the body count grows, Abraham Setrakian tries to speak with Eph at JFK about what is truly happening. However Eph doesn’t have time for the crazy ramblings of an old man. He attempts to leave Setrakian in the hands of Jim after Setrakian says that they have to destroy all the passengers –dead or alive – by severing the heads and burning the bodies. But Setrakian made one last attempt to get through before getting hauled away by the police.
“If you have the coffin then you still have him,” Setrakian warns them. “Destroy the coffin. Do not allow it to cross the river.”
Unfortunately Eph ignores the man … but Nora seems to catch on that Setrakian may know something important. That information would be crucial to the chief medical examiner, who has a dozen of the bodies from the flight to poke and prod. He tells Eph and his team that each body has the same exact wound in the same place – a puncture or incision that is deep and clean. But that’s not his only shocking discovery. Instead of blood, he finds a foamy white liquid inside the bodies. And when he looks at one victim under a UV light he discovers that there are things moving under the skin.
As the chief medical examiner tries to figure out what’s going on, Eph and Nora return to the plane to do some more investigating. In the cargo section of the flight, the two find some weird worms/ snakes – the same that seemed to shoot out of the heart that Setrakian keeps in a jar. Unsure of what they are or what they are capable of doing, they place some in a container to examine in a lab.
The worms/ snakes are one step in the direction of figuring out what killed the passengers on the flight. However the take a giant step back when the crate/ coffin found on board the flight mysteriously disappears. Looking back at the video footage from the security camera, they come to the conclusion that the 500 lb. crate didn’t just disappear … it was lifted by a dark creature that flew off with it.
The crate somehow ended up in the van that Eichhorst’s criminal was hired to drive out of JFK. But the police are alerted of the crate’s disappearance before the criminal could safely drive off. With checkpoints in place to search suspicious large vehicles, the criminal begins to panic. However Jim lets him through when he discovers the criminal holding Eichhorst’s business card.
Eichhorst’s criminal gets the vehicle and the crate safely out of JFK and begins his trek over the bridge before sunrise. Meanwhile, the chief medical examiner makes a horrifying discovery – one of the passengers has growths on his heart that are similar to new fully functioning organs.
Putting the heart on a scale to weigh it, the examiner becomes distracted by a sound in his lab. However he turns back when the scale begins to move. Picking up the now thumping heart, the examiner is horrified to discover the worms/ snakes crawling on his hands.
Frightened by the creatures, the examiner quickly pulls off his gloves to rid himself of them. However a worm/snake managed to get onto the palm of his hand and began to burrow itself into his skin. He managed to pull the creature out with tweezers, but the worm/snake turned out to be the least of his problems.
The 12 bodies – some cut open – woke up with black eyes and attacked the chief medical examiner. With wild tongues, they all began to drain him dry.
But that wasn’t the most shocking moment of the episode. Eichhorst informed Palmer that the deed is done, however Setrakian – who has numbers tattooed on his arm -- is on their tale.
Eichhorst promises to take care of Setrakian, and Palmer tells him that, “Love is going to guide them all back.” And while it wasn’t clear what he meant, it became obvious in the final moments of the premiere. Emma, the youngest victim on the flight, showed up at her father’s door … despite being declared dead.
“Daddy, I’m cold. I’m cold,” she said to him as he looked on in shock. “I’m very cold.”
What did you think of the premiere of “The Strain”? Let us know in the comments section.