Guillermo del Toro’s “The Strain” is infecting FX once again, hoping to track down “The Master”.
Most of the first season was phenomenal – at least until the final few episodes fell flat on its face.
The show was trying extraordinarily hard to keep the realism intact, although the DP’s color palettes, bad wigs, and cheap stages were doing everything in their power to derail such a plan. In fact, “The Strain” became comic book-like by the finale, with convenient things happening constantly in order to progress the story. And let’s not forget the poorly written and choreographed finale that was so infuriating that I thought about giving up on the series.
As a rule, I always give a show two seasons to catch my full interest, especially when it’s one I’m excited about. And even though “The Strain” limped to its finale, I kept hope that the filmmakers would find a way to glue it back together by Season Two.
Unfortunately, nothing has changed. In fact, it’s as if the filmmakers behind the series never even cared to see what the public was saying as all of the bad things about the show remain so.
I caught the first three episode of “The Strain’s” second season and, while the premiere is actually quite riveting, what follows is more feet-dragging nonsense that bored me to tears.
The season premiere begins almost immediately after the finale, where time is spent juxtaposing Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley) and The Master (Robin Atkin Downes). There’s a huge struggle throughout as the theme seems to be is it right to kill one in order to save the many?
One of the things I loved about the first season was the backstory about Abraham and the Nazi. Season 2 opens strong with a phenomenal origin story of The Master that dates back to 1873. We learn that he was once a wonderful person who was afflicted with a disease. He travels with his brother in an attempt for a cure, only to become infected by an ancient vampire seeking a new host. When he returned to town, the children started to go missing. This is an important plotline that is revisited in the later episodes…
There are some impressive creature effects used to show a wounded Master, who is now seeing a new body to replace the one damaged by sunlight during the Season One finale.
Devices introduced are the Master’s original walking cane (to prove his existence), as well as a book – the “Oxinal Lumen” – that’s rumored to know how to kill the vampires. Some new story arcs include Corey Stoll’s Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (and his awful, awful wig) working on his own virus to infect the infected, and spread his own disease that would kill all of the vampires. He does this by experimenting on a newly infected couple, which pushes the boundaries of ethics – and even causes his son (Max Charles; one of the worst child actors to have ever lived) to turn on him.
We also watch as a group of blind children are transformed into creatures (they get really dark in this season) to help serve The Master’s super secret plan.
The season premiere came out swinging, setting up the stage for multiple storylines that could catapult us through Season Two. And while the second and third episodes became increasingly unwatchable, there’s enough going on to keep faith alive that it’s all building to something volcanic.