Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Strain Season 2 – review

Director: Various

Release date: 2015

Contains spoilers

The First Season of the Strain was, in my opinion, a strong season let down only by a singular poor sfx – that of the Master (physically Robert Maillet, Mortal Instruments, City of Bones and vocally Robin Atkin Downes, at least at the beginning of the series). At the end of Season 1 the vampire hunter’s led an attack on the Master but he escaped – into sunlight, much to their shock.

ancients feed
The series had changed much, adding characters and delivering different fates. For instance there was Mr Fitzwilliam (Roger R. Cross), aid to primary villain Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde, Supernatural: Dorabella) who abandons Palmer at the end of season 1 rather than remaining with him. Unfortunately I don’t think the writers knew what to do with him once his story changes and so he joins the good guys in this season to be killed on the first outing. I suppose it helped to highlight that it was dangerous doing what the heroes are doing – given most of them are dodging vampiric stingers left and right – but it was an unsatisfying use of what could have been an interesting character.

Likewise his replacement and new character, the oddly named Coco Marchand (Lizzie Brocheré) was little more than a cipher intended to pad out the character of Eldritch Palmer, rather than a character in her own right. Season 1 also saw the death of Nora’s (Mía Maestro, The Twiligh Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 and Part 2) mother – an event not in the book that should have reaching impacts going forward and events in this season change the direction even further (though the destination is still the same). The actor playing Zach, Eph’s (Corey Stoll) son, was changed from Ben Hyland to Max Charles (True Blood) apparently as the new actor had more emotional range but, honestly, the character was more annoying for the personnel change.

David Bradley as Setrakian
If I was to complain about this season it would be less because of the Master’s physical look – the damage caused at the end of Season 1 causes him to change host and take over the body of one of the early strigoï, Boliver (Jack Kesy), leaving him looking actually rather cool. Instead it was becoming increasingly difficult to accept how stretched out things felt. The (partially) locked down New York would surely have had more attention from the outside world, for instance the National Guard were there but doing apparently sweet FA. It stretched credulity a little and never felt like that in the books. Likewise, the Master discovers where the hunters are hiding out (again) and yet, despite getting strigoï into the area, there is never an all-out attack,  just incursions by key character strigoï.

crap bat
On the other hand I was still locked in. The search for the ancient book the Lumin, which details the history of the strigoï, was handled in a much more believable way than in the books, which seemed somewhat too genteel. The introduction of the dhampir Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones) was good even if, more so than when I read the books, the overlap with the character Blade was very apparent. When the character Angel (Joaquín Cosio) was introduced we see his last film, in black and white, "Angel contra el Vampiro Maldito" – a Mexican wrestling movie complete with very crap bat. I actually exclaimed how much I would watch a full version of the movie as I saw it… Del Toro later suggested he would indeed film the full thing!

chopped in half
I did like the fall of Eph, from recovering alcoholic to full alcoholic, emotionally distant from those who love him but with glimpses of the perfectionist coming through the drunken arrogance. The blind/seer vampire children were brilliantly realised drawing them as scuttling, rapid creatures. That said the series sometimes lost sight of the virulence of the plague. New Yorkers fighting hand to hand against hordes of strigoï would have ended with half the human combatants accidentally infected due to contact with the worm infected blood – it did make for good TV though.

Rupert Penry-Jones as Quinlan
As I sit at the end of Season 2 I wonder just how they will take the story forward now. There has been a vast, direction changing event. If season 3 reverses said event I am worried that its credibility will plummet. If the event is left as it is then the impact on characters and storyline will be immense. I am enjoying the Strain, I am liking how they are deliberately changing the books partly, I think, to make aspects more credible and partly to allow some mystery for those of us who had read them.

7 out of 10

The imdb page is here.


Unknown said...

---Likewise his replacement and new character, the oddly named Coco Marchand (Lizzie Brocheré) was little more than a cipher intended to pad out the character of Eldritch Palmer, rather than a character in her own right.

Oh my God, I totally agree! I believe that the character of Coco is one of the great pit of scenario of the second season.
I mean, I do not have anything against her romance with Eldritch (as opposed to 99% of fans who hate it very much).
But the actions of her character ... they have no sense! At one time she falls in love with Palmer because she thinks that he is the savior of the city. Then she calmly and without problems takes his side when finds out that he is a bad guy. At first she was afraid of Thomas and Bolivar, then she finds out that they are both vampires and ... no longer feel the fear of them? 0_o She looks nice, kind and philanthropic most of the season, but in the last two episodes, she turns into something like Lady Macbeth. WITHOUT A REASON!
I dont know. I have two versions:
1) The writers do not really know what to do with her character, and therefore did not try to create an interesting and realistic image.
2) Scenario hastily rewritten during filming.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Elliot Girl - thanks for the comment and stopping by.

I have to say both your versions sound like they have merit, I wonder which is the most accurate?

Unknown said...

This is a very good question. But I am afraid that only the writers and Lizzie Brocheré know the answer :(

LoBo said...

Hi, been a long time. I will buy season 2 on Blu-ray next month. It's only out in Japan at the moment. Good that you still think it's good.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

It has been a while, but always great to hear from you. Yeah, I'm liking this and liking the changes from the book :D

LoBo said...


You was correct. I also didn't think it was as good as the first season. Hopefully season 3 will be better.

olbas006 said...

the show is over on season 4 this year