In the first season of The Strain, it took awhile to get all members of the vampire hunting team together, and for the most part the general public remained unaware of the viral apocalypse overtaking New York City. All that is about to change as The Strain premieres on FX on July 12.
We spoke with executive producer Carlton Cuse, creator Guillermo del Toro, and a majority of the cast about what viewers can expect in this new season, and suffice it to say, the battle is set to shift on more than one front. Here’s what we found out.
The vampire killing crew is living in new, more roomy digs.
Although the team of heroes led by erstwhile CDC investigator Ephraim “Eff” Goodweather (Corey Stoll) will continue to battle borough-to-borough in New York, they no longer have the option of returning to Setrakian’s hidden quarters behind his pawn shop. Fortunately, Vasiliy Fet, rat exterminator extraordinaire, has a place big enough for the whole team!
“It’s sort of like that first season on The Real World,” says Stoll. “The really awesome loft that would be, you know, five million dollars in Red Hook… It’s just a brilliant set in terms of all the great potential for great interactions, you know, seeing across the house from one person’s bedroom to the other, you know… but yeah, everybody’s on top of each other and there isn’t much privacy.”
Kevin Durand, who plays Fet in the show, agrees the new situation can be challenging. “It’s nice to have the home base be at Fet’s this year,” he admits. “I mean, he’s kind of a lone wolf, you know? So he loves his peace. He loves being on his own… All of a sudden now he’s got all these damn people in there.” The new residence has space for just about anything a vamp-killer could want, including room for scientific study, weaponry, and sleeping quarters.
“It’s been great,” says Mia Maestro, who plays Dr. Nora Martinez on the show. “It’s a great space for all of us to live there as characters. Everyone has their own room, so you do have those communal spaces and then you have your own private spaces.”
The general public is becoming aware of what’s going on in New York.
Last season, the internet and cell phone outages orchestrated by Dutch and her hack kept the larger populace from finding out what really was going on in the city. “I think what’s interesting about the show is that we’re actually showing the demise of the city as a result of this apocalyptic event,” says showrunner Carlton Cuse. “If you think of World War Z or The Walking Dead or 28 Days Later, you kind of skip the process of demise, and that’s what we’re actually illustrating in the show.”
This year, the public is well aware of the danger, and those in power will be taking steps to prevent the spread of the disease. “You definitely get the sense that this is affecting the rest of the country,” Stoll says, “but everybody else has the lead time to sort of protect themselves… There are huge political ramifications. They’re trying to reach the president, and the government is definitely reeling from it.”
“What’s interesting about this season,” adds Maestro, “is we are going to start seeing how this society organizes with this threat and what happens from a political point of view, as well. How our politicians react to this new threat and this new paradigm that the world has been subjected to.”
Eff and Nora begin fighting the virus by returning to their scientific origins.
As the latest promotional trailers show, the CDC doctors take to the lab to combat the outbreak. Whether they are seeking a cure or a countermeasure is anyone’s guess, however. Maestro is happy for the scientific approach. “It’s what they know,” she says. “As doctors, biochemists and workers for the CDC, that’s what they know best. It’s just going to be nice to see the characters putting all their energy into what they are supposed to be doing.”
Stoll thinks there might be some residual guilt for his character as well. “Obviously he has very personal feeling towards The Master and the ‘strigoi’ conspiracy and Palmer,” he admits, “but in the end he does feel that it’s his responsibility that he didn’t stop the plague before it happened. And that is his driving [force].”
The previews seem to show Nora and Eff conducting experiments of a kind on a captured vampire. Are they trying to torture or kill the strigoi, or are they attempting to cure an infected human? It may be that the two scientists have had to take extreme measures to fight in this new reality.
The vampires continue to evolve and adapt to bring down humanity.
The Master may have escaped at the end of season one, but he was obviously harmed in some way by his time in the sunlight. How will he and his minions fight back? One person who will be part of the battle is the newly turned vampire, Kelly, played by Natalie Brown.
“I don’t want to say she’s a bit more regal,” Brown says of her character in season two, “but she’s more highly functioning. And The Master has plans for her, so there are certain skills that are bestowed upon her in the second season. I’ve got some special assistance from people skilled in different ways, so it’s been an interesting evolution for Kelly.”
Kelly will also be receiving some assistance from a new batch of vampires, the nature of which we’re not allowed to reveal, but it’s clear that Kelly is involved and that, like many vampires, she is focused on returning to her loved ones. “Kelly is very singular in her focus,” Brown says. “Although she has certain abilities bestowed upon her, her mission is simple: To find her son, and connect with him.” Connect in this case may also mean turning him!
A transformation is in store for the Master.
Some viewers did not care for the freakish but slightly goofy look of the Master in season one. If the previews are any indication, “The Master is about to undergo a wondrous transformation” in the words of Eichorst in the promos. Clearly, the Master was damaged by his encounter in the finale, but what does this mean for the head vampire in future episodes?
The Strain creator, Guillermo del Toro gave us a bit of a teaser in that regard. “This season we explain that the Master can give you or take your will,” he says. “We call it ‘the leash.’ The way that we describe it, we came up with the idea of the Master ‘bluetoothing’ with the bodies. The eyes go red and then the guy that he’s controlling goes red, and that’s the release of the leash. We saw it at the end of the first season.”
So will the Master repair his body, change his appearance, or borrow the bodies of others? Whatever the case may be, the transformation of the Master may be for the better if it increases his overall menace.
There are plenty of other questions for which we’re still looking for answers, including who the more eloquent, independent vampires are and what their goals may be. Gus continues to operate separately from the main group of humans fighting for survival, and we’re anxious to see what he will do in season two.
Will you be watching The Strain on FX this summer? It starts this Sunday at 10 p.m. EST, so get ready for some great horror television as the series continues its run.