I fell in love with Guillermo del Toro’s work with his 2006 feature film Pan’s Labyrinth. It had all the layers that I, as a slightly dark and twisted individual, gravitate towards. It balanced my love of fairy tales, fantasy, magic and creepy shit into a film that made my heart flutter.
The first time I heard/noticed The Strain was in an ad. A mysterious voice layered over an overhead image of the Statue of Liberty as two opposing crowds rush each other.
“The Battle has begun. An Evil is spreading. Changing the human race – literally. Turning us into monsters. We must fight, all of us, fight to save our civilization. Fight or die.”
Daaaamn. Sign me up. I got you, mysterious voice man.
It took me a little awhile to get around to watching The Strain. Mainly because I have a lot of trust issue with getting emotionally invested in televisions shows: Walking Dead, Game of Thrones (i.e. The Red Wedding).
Once I did, I was hooked. I slurped up Season One on Hulu and waited patiently for Season Two to be released. I devoured Season Two this past weekend, just in time for Sunday night’s release of Season 3 Episode 1: New York Strong. Though, I watched the MTV’s VMAs before doing so… btw, Kanye’s vid is way scarier to me than any horror film. Anyway, getting back on topic.
Now, if you’ve heard of The Strain but don’t know a whole lot about it I’ll give you a brief synopsis without bogging you down in demon-y details. If you are watching it and don’t want spoilers please stop here.
There’s a really, really old demon called the Master. He, through his band of converted demons, are slowly trying to spread his power through New York by converting unknowing humans into the brainless demon, vampire-like creatures.
Our protagonist, Doctor Ephraim Goodweather (played by Corey Stoll) is a former scientist for the CDC that is working to defeat the Master by finding a medical way to bring an end to ‘the strain’ (nudge nudge).
In Season 2, a lot of things come to a head. Eph’s ex-wife, who is has been turned by the Master, has taken their son. Eph’s lover and colleague Dr.Nora Martinez who battles Eph’s ex-wife, in order to protect Eph’s son, is bitten and immediately infected. In order to prevent the Master from finding Eph, Nora touches her sword (yeah, I know, there’s a lot going on) on the third rail of the underground tracks to take her own life in a beautifully shot scene.
On top of that, the Lumen (a book that everyone is trying to get their hands on) is finally in the right hands of Professor Abraham Sekrakian. Professor Sekrakian has made it his life’s long mission to destroy the Master and his evil.
Season Three is a turning point not only for the characters but the world. The people of New York have risen up to take on the demon munchers. But the reality of the evil on their doorstep makes their attempts seem in vain. Eph has lost his lover and is in danger of losing his son. He is still working on building his weapon to defeat the Master but obviously, his soul is a little crushed right now.
When people who haven’t seen the show ask me what it is about I usually say: It is like the beginning of the Walking Dead, before the world is full of zombies. Before everything goes to hell and you get to see how we got to this point.
This is where shows like The Walking Dead, that I used to love, can take some notes.
In the Season One of The Walking Dead, it was literally all about the characters and building this world where humans seek out each other for survival. The idea is simple but astounding in my opinion. But as the show progressed, you see a breakdown in that setup. Humans cease to trust each other. Humans end up battling each other rather than dealing with the zombies. This bugs me as an audience member and a writer.
Naturally, things aren’t as tidy and neat as we may like them to be. But when we throw our building blocks to the wind and focus on the shock and awe of it all it starts to get a little repetitive.
That’s my issue with a lot of shows that I’ve loved and fallen out of love with in recent years. I get hooked on the addiction of TUNE IN NEXT WEEK rather than the complexity of the storyline.
The Strain is underrated in my opinion. Maybe it is because of the demons or the ever-present use of CGI. But for me, with each episode, the show manages to develop intricate pieces of storytelling within the characters and the overall arc of the plot. I also love that even the evil guys are intense backstories that create such depth to their present day actions you almost feel a little sorry for them. It gives you a lot to work with, sometimes a bit too much but that’s never a bad thing in intricate dramas.
After the ominous end of Season 2, the beginning of Season 3 has a lot of promise to potential punch me in the gut. But this dark and twisty gal it ready and waiting for Episode 2.