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The Born

The Born

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If a vampire feeds on a pregnant woman, the baby will be turned into a creature similar to a vampire, but with a collection of very different traits. These so-called “dhampirs” are intelligent and have many of the traits of their mother’s infector, although they lack the worms in their blood. They also need to drink human blood. As a dhampir, this child shared many attributes of the vampire race, but not their vulnerability to sunlight or the blood worms.

By the time of the Outbreak, the only Born accounted for in the trilogy was Quinlan, who operated with a group of turned vampires in service of the other Ancients against the Master. The others accompanying him are described as having worms, hence full vampires:

“. no blood worms coursed beneath the surface of Quinlan’s translucent skin. All the old ones, including the other hunters, crawled with worms . ” (from ‘The Fall’)

This setup appears consistent in the TV series, where the other vampires Quinlan scouted with remained shielded, except the leader of their group known as the Sun Hunters was named Vaun. It is indicated that the Master was concerned or even intimidated by existence of the Born, namely Quinlan, and took stringent precautions to prevent further Borns from being created by forbidding vampires into the birthing barracks of concentration camps like Camp Liberty, reserved for pregnant women following the takeover of Night Zero.

Quinlan happened to be the fifth Born birthed in history, for which he was designated Quintus when named in Ancient Roman times (by the Master in the books; by Ancharia in the televised series.) It is unclear whether the other Born were not involved in the happenings of the Strain events or were annihilated, leaving Quinlan as the last of them, since no mention in the trilogy has been made of the others outside of the Lumen. Whatever their fates, the possibility of Born perishing with the deaths of their respective Ancient makers has not been made explicit in the books, so it remains open to speculation whether any could survive the aftermath of the Strain events. However, Quinlan asserts in the Season 3 television episode ‘First Born’ that he is on a suicide mission because when the master dies, he dies, which was revealed to be an assumption in the following episode, “Gone But Not Forgotten” when he confesses upon revival after seemingly dispatching the Master “one only has one chance to prove such a theory”.

The Born seem protected from corruption by birth yet capable of becoming corrupted as Quinlan did at the end of the trilogy, no longer free agents. In the comic version of ‘The Night Eternal’, Quinlan was decapitated by the Master instead of being corrupted, reminiscing the fate met by the Silver Angel. In contrast to the trilogy, the Born is shown to be impervious to the worms in the ‘First Born’ flashback scene where Quinlan’s hands become worm-covered to no effect while fighting strigoi.

It is unknown, whether “The Born” have normal human genitalia but due to the fact that Quinlan was identified as male at birth it seems very likely. In the earlier part of Quinlan’s life, the reason why he could not claim a woman as his own, was his inability to sire children, which in no way was an indication that he could not partake in sex. However, there is indication that like strigoi, he cannot procreate. Another fact that seems to support this theory is that Quinlan was given a wife and they enjoyed ‘”intimacy” together. With all these facts, it is believed that “The Born” have a mix of Human and Vampire sexual characteristics, but like other hybrids such as mules are sterile. However, in ‘The Traitor’ Gus claims Quinlan to have a ‘big pair’ in reference to his bravery, yet Dutch quickly shoots back ‘actually, he doesn’t’, this suggests that Quinlan – and by extension the other Born – have no testicles at all.

The Born is a group of vampires given mention in the Occido Lumen who are birthed rather than turned, making them dhampirs, hybrids or half-breeds. These dhampirs share some characteristics of humans, such as resistance to sunlight but in limited amounts and possessing no worms, hence not as…

The Strain: “The Born”

“The Born”

Episode

Now over halfway through its second season, The Strain is falling into a pattern that’s typical of a lot of shows. New characters and a shifting set of priorities strengthened the first half of this season. For a while, The Strain was transforming into a different show, one that embraced its camp and gothic influences while moving its dreadfully boring and contrived emotional storylines to the sidelines. This week’s episode, “The Born,” when coupled with last week’s installment, sees The Strain in a holding pattern. The storylines, specifically the one involving Eph travelling to Washington, are purely expository. It’s as if the show has hit pause in an attempt to regroup, getting everything in place for the season’s final arc.

That final arc will be Eph hunting down Palmer in the hopes of killing him, but for that to happen, a number of things need to take place. The Strain understands that Eph can’t just want to kill Palmer; that as a former employee of the CDC, his first instinct is, and should be, to fight the virus biologically, and therefore take down Stoneheart. What the show fails to execute though is proper character motivation. By the end of “The Born” it’s clear that Eph’s two-episode trip to Washington is nothing but a contrived way to create conflict between Eph and the Stoneheart Group.

Eph wanting to kill Palmer makes a lot of sense. He’s not only actively trying to stop Eph from getting his pathogen into the right hands, but he also has tremendous financial and social influence. The Stoneheart Group is a massive corporation that trumps any kind of publicly funded government project that might go against the Group (note how Palmer says Eph’s recently delivered biohazard is in “friendly hands”), including plans from the CDC or its former employees. Still, “The Born” does little to flesh out this conflict, instead boiling the entire storyline down to revenge. Eph wants to kill the man who had his friends killed. Considering that this storyline involves a potential global crisis, the bad blood between Eph and Palmer is severely undercooked.

“The Born” also struggles to land its emotional beats. When Fet and Dutch find Nikki holed up in Dutch’s old apartment, it’s a reveal that’s meant to introduce tension into their relationship. After all, Fet and Dutch were just getting close, and here comes Dutch’s ex-girlfriend to ruin everything. Introducing a past romance isn’t a bad way to create conflict between two characters, but The Strain has never been able to inject its romantic and familial drama with enough stakes to make it meaningful. The storyline hits all the predictable beats, to the point that any group of characters could be repeating the same lines and it would have the same effect. There’s no sense that this situation is unique to Fet and Dutch, no insight into how it’s impacting them on a deeper level. “The Born” is satisfied with just going through the motions, showing that Fet is hurt and jealous while Dutch is conflicted. It’s The Strain painting with the broadest strokes possible, reducing Fet and Dutch, who were finally being fleshed out this season, to mere caricatures.

“The Born” does find one source of inspiration though, and that’s the half-breed vampire hunter known as Quinlan. He’s the embodiment of the campy/gothic influences mentioned above, the flashbacks in this episode showing that he was known as The Barbarian Gladiator, viciously destroying any opponents who came before him. He’s been hunting the Master for some time now (as a flashback to Albania in 1873 confirms), and when he “felt” the Master after Eph and Setrakian forced him into the sunlight, he picked up his hunt again. Quinlan, and actor Rupert Penry-Jones, has a presence that’s unmatched on this show. Sure, he doesn’t have a lot of heavy lifting to do; he just gets to be a badass and walk around with a bone club, but for now, that’s enough. Considering that The Strain seems to be perfectly happy putting Gus and the Silver Angel on the backburner, once again refusing to give them any screen time or sense of momentum and character development, Quinlan is a breath of fresh air, a character with clear, understandable motivation, driving the actual vampire hunting narrative forward while the rest of the storylines stagnate.

With any luck though, “The Born” is the end of the holding pattern. With Quinlan chasing the Master and Eph telling Fet that he’s going to find and kill Eldritch Palmer, there’s potential for The Strain to find the kind of frantic pace that made the earliest episodes of season two so compelling and promising. However flimsy and contrived, Eph does have motivation now, and Quinlan is ready for a fight; it all depends on how the show uses that motivation to move the story forward.

Now over halfway through its second season, The Strain is falling into a pattern that’s typical of a lot of shows. New characters and a shifting set of priorities strengthened the first half of this season. For a while, The Strain was transforming into a different show, one that embraced its camp and gothic influences while moving its dreadfully boring and contrived emotional storylines to the sidelines. This week’s episode, “The Born,” when coupled with last week’s installment, sees The Strain in a holding pattern. The storylines, specifically the one involving Eph travelling to Washington, are purely expository. It’s as if the show has hit pause in an attempt to regroup, getting everything in place for the season’s final arc.