Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain is now in its second season. To keep up with what’s happening with the show each week, Drew Dietsch and Andrew Hawkins will be putting their words together to cover only the most important of events from each episode. Strap in and enjoy as we recap, analyze and occasionally riff The Strain.
Warning: Major Spoilers Ahead
Here we are. This season of The Strain comes to a close, and a lot what we’ve been wanting all season takes place in one heck of a tight hour. The Lumen now has an owner, Eldritch and Coco’s relationship is dissolved in the Train-iest of ways, Zach and Kelly are together, and The Master’s plan seems to finally come into focus. A lot to unpack this episode. Anywhere in particular you’d like to start?
Let’s start with something you mentioned in our last recap that wound up being the biggest loss of the series so far. Nora is now dead and Eph is walking the streets of New York in shock, traumatized by the events in the subway. The attack that Kelly led on the train to DC has completely changed things for our heroes. Nora has been a very important member of the group, especially in season two, and now that she is gone Eph will be weaker on many levels and the team will invariably be without one of their top vampire hunters. I can only imagine how many fans and followers of the show hate Zach even more because of this.
Drew: I was certainly disappointed to see that Zach hasn’t been turned, but now I wonder if he’s going to be groomed as another vessel for The Master. Well, I can at least hope for another round of recasting come next season.
Nora’s loss isn’t unexpected, and while she was never my favorite character, I’ll be bummed to see her go. But, in the grand scheme of things, I appreciate that the cast is somewhat slimming down and consolidating. Season two’s cast was a little too unwieldy, and pairing things down will probably help going forward.
Hawkins: The core trio of The Strain is basically Eph, Fet and Setrakian and while many of the supporting characters are important in the fight against the growing number of strigoi under The Master’s control, it all really comes down to what happens to these three. What happened to Abraham Setrakian in this episode was pretty shocking and I have to give it up to David Bradley for really conveying anger and inner rage when Eichorst tells of the plan to turn him. I’m surprised Eichorst is still around and I hope Fet gets to take him out, but the biggest shock involving him came with killing off Coco to put Eldritch Palmer back in his place.
Drew: I hate to cheer at a non-villainous character’s death, but I was so relieved when Coco died (I’m sure someone is going to be upset that it was prominently women that died in this finale). I thought she was going to be much more morally conflicted with Eldritch’s plans, but she went straight into Lady MacBeth mode when she was revived by The Master. Taking her out will make Eldritch a much more interesting character if he remains totally alone. I was a little perplexed at him pulling an Abraham when it came to removing Coco’s heart, but it’s gorey goodness so I won’t complain.
Hey, how badass was Quinlan?
Hawkins: You know, I didn’t really care for Quinlan overall this season, let alone this episode in particular. From what I’ve seen it’s just been a lot of showboating and talk. The powers that he displays when he kills the convict during the motivational speech scene didn’t really grab me, but it was pretty great to see the classic neck break, head twisted completely around death used to emphasize how physically powerful he is. It was a nice touch but in the end I didn’t particularly care for Quinlan as a character and his motivations only seem to drive Gus’ storyline forward at this point. That said, what was your take on Bolivar in this episode and have you even had any interest in him as the new Master this season Drew?
Drew: The Master has yet to have a really big moment since he body-swapped into Bolivar. I have to believe that part of that reasoning was to scale back the effects budget a bit, but it also seemed to diminish The Master’s physical presence as well. The Master really needs to step out of the shadows and be much more centralized next season. With Eldritch now somewhat demoted when it comes to his villainous standing, I pray that The Master will become much more of a visible figurehead as the story continues on.
Hawkins: That’s what I was hoping for this season but for some reason The Master seemed like a sidelined character for most of the run. That fact doesn’t take away from the amazing opener we had directed by Guillermo del Toro, but it did refocus the story away from the real threat of the show. The details and events that affect our main character’s lives are important, but The Master is the architect of a vampire apocalypse for god’s sake. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy keeping up with everything that happens to Setrakian, Fet, Eph, Gus and the whole gang, but this was mostly just a lot of setup and exposition that really wound up with a limp climax. Nora’s death was harsh but it only really affected Eph and maybe Fet and Setrakian, and Coco being gone doesn’t change anything. At least Zach is in Kelly’s arms again and we’ll see how that goes, but really this season didn’t do much more than push the story further into its second act.
Drew: There was some great character stuff in season two, but I’d agree that the overall evil plot had almost no real gain this season (with the exception that the gameplan involves farming people like meat to feed on, but we could have garnered that through simple logical deduction). That was all focused through the story with the Lumen, and that ended up being a little more drawn out than it should have been. Still, it offered great little character moments (any excuse to use Eichorst is fine by me), and this show definitely flourishes when it allows those kinds of moments to breathe.
Overall, season two was fine. Nothing egregious that would make me want to tune out, but there was a lack of genuine momentum this season as far as the big moves were concerned. I’m hoping that with the Lumen in his hands, we’re going to really open up the strigoi world in ways we haven’t seen yet. I want mythology out the wazoo in season three, especially since those were the standout moments of season two (the opening tale about Sardu, the gladiator fight with Quinlan, and I’ll even count Angel’s old film as some character mythology building). Your final thoughts on The Strain’s season finale and season two in general, Hawkins?
Hawkins: I admit that for me the show left me underwhelmed this season. Having read the books, I really want to see Fet and Bolivar shine out more. At least we now know Epf is at the end of his rope and is basically broken after the events in the subway, so we’ll see where that leads us on screen. There were many great moments from this season to savour, especially many of the opening sequences, but too much focus on character drama with Dutch, the search for the Lumen and all of the uncomfortable romance between Eldritch and Coco wound up hurting the show.
More than anything this season proved that The Strain is finding its stride and has the potential to come back with a very entertaining part three of the series. I like how the action has become more kinetic and the blood and gore effects have been vastly improved. We got to enjoy a good handful of great episodes that drove the story along and kept it entertaining, even though it seems like we are still closer to the end of the first season than we are to any kind of ressolve. I expect to see quite a bit of character development soon when The Strain returns; bonds will be broken, relationships will deteriorate and more characters are sure to die. Let’s just hope we get a solid next chapter so we can move one step closer towards a satisfying end.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Out of a Possible 5 Stars
The Strain Season 2
Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Out of a Possible 5 Stars