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Character Analysis: The Strain’s Thomas Eichhorst, Evolution of a Monster 

Photo Credit: FX
Photo Credit: FX

For the past few years, the zombies on AMC’s The Walking Dead have been the boogeymen of primetime television, the things that nightmares are made of. Then The Strain premiered last month and now, this has become the show that I can’t watch without a good, stiff drink, because otherwise no sleep for me. But, for me, it’s really not the creatures that make the show so terrifying. If you think about it, newly-turned strigoi are not much scarier than walkers — really. These drones are dumber than tube socks just like their walker counterparts and except for the stinger, don’t look radically different. It’s the high-ranking strigoi, the Master’s lieutenants, who are allowed to retain most, if not all, of their former self and personality that really make my hair stand on end — these elite strigoi, these monsters, like Thomas Eichhorst.

Thomas Eichhorst 1944, The Beginnings of the Monster

In the last episode, “For Services Rendered,” Eichhorst said that his talent was in managing people, picking the best possible person for the job. Well, the Master must have been watching and taking notes because he certainly knows too how to pick the perfect person for the job at hand as well. After all, if you wanted to select someone to help lead a new monstrous, blood-sucking race of strigoi, what better person for the job than a megalomaniac commander of a Nazi concentration camp.

Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/FX
Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/FX

The Thomas Eichhorst back then certainly fit the job description to a tee. From everything that we have seen thus far, the only person that Thomas Eichhorst cares about is Thomas Eichhorst. I truly don’t think he sees other people as human beings and doesn’t hesitate to kill someone, if it suits his needs. In his eyes, people are just pawns, nothing more than a means to an end.

And where are the loved ones in Eichhorst’s life, people he may have actually cared about back when he was still human? We haven’t seen any of them yet, and if I had to bet, I’d say there are none. We know that the strigoi don’t understand human love and see it as a sign of weakness, but I actually think that’s a belief of Eichhorst, the man.  Would Eichhorst have let, say, a woman get close to him and thus, run the risk that she could manipulate him (we all know how manipulative and scheming women can be!)? I think not. Of course, this is only a theory and so, only time will tell.

Transition to the Monster

What we’ve seen thus far in flashbacks is Eichhorst just being a disciple of the Master, doing his bidding and trying to prove himself (in many ways, it’s much like the position that Eldritch Palmer is in now. Kissing the Master’s feet every step of the way and demonstrating his loyalty, with the promise of being given a top position in the New World order).

But, we know nothing of what happened after Eichhorst completed his tasks nor when the Master turned him into a strigoi. Let’s hope for more flashbacks because I’m sure there’s a great story behind all of that.

Thomas Eichhorst 2014, The Evolution is Complete

We all knew that Eichhorst was a horrible wretch, but that short opening scene in episode six said it all. The man comes in the room in a stylish robe and pulls the poor guy to him with some ancient pulley mechanism. It’s almost as if Eichhorst was saying the guy meant nothing to him, just a lowly food source, and he wasn’t even worthy of his walking to him in order to feed.

Photo Credit: FX
Photo Credit: FX

Whoever developed this character for television in my opinion is a genius and deserves a big, gold star. If you could take a Nazi commander and displace him to 2014 New York City, this is exactly what he would be and how he would behave. The Nazis viewed Jews in the camps as a bunch of nobodies, as lowly bugs who were barely worthy to be squashed. Eichhorst treated his prey in “the breakfast room” in exactly the same way. The only difference now is Eichhorst’s hideous face now matches the monster that has been brewing inside for close to a century now.

The irony of this is while Eichhorst is one of the most horrific villains on television, I can guarantee you that the majority of the fanbase is rooting for this man (myself included!). And that is in large part due to the actor Richard Sammel. Eichhorst does one God-awful thing right after another to our beloved characters on the show, but man, he does it so perfectly, and it is such a pleasure to watch. Does that make all of us sadists? No, absolutely not! It means that Sammel plays the role to perfection and makes Eichhorst feel so real that you want to see more, know more, regardless of the atrocity that he is. This is just great television.

That said, we are going to get a double-dose of how rotten to the core Eichhorst is in tonight’s episode, “Creatures of the Night.”  Eichhorst appears only briefly in the opening scenes, but in that short moment, we are reminded that he has been wounded and he (and the Master) feels that he’s been betrayed, and for that, there will be terrible consequences.

Photo Credit: FX
Photo Credit: FX

Hell hath no fury like a Thomas Eichhorst scorned and God help our characters in the battle that they are about to face.

The Strain airs Sundays at 10/9c on FX.

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1 Comment

  1. Lucia Reis

    This article is very well written, and although here in Brazil we don´t have access yet to The Strain, it gives you a good insight into the character of Thomas Eichhorst. From what I read, I had the impression there is a connection between him and Heinrich Mueller, the Gestapo chief officer in a small French village, admirably played by Richard Sammel in the series Un Village Français. Heinrich Mueller is the portrait of cruelty beyond limits, but he is a conflicted man, he can feel something close to love for a woman, but at the same time he tortures her emotionally. There is a scene in Un Village Français in which Herr Mueller, after torturing a prisoner to death, asks a german officer standing nearby, I would have liked to know his name, wouldn´t you? This scene is awesome. It tells a lot about the character. We can follow the twists of deranged minds thanks to the superb interpretation of Richard Sammel.

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