This review contains spoilers.
3.1 New York Strong
To heck with The Vampire Diaries. So far, The Strain has been a gorehound’s dream, even if the overarching plot spins its wheels too much at times. As we pick things up, the Master’s full plan is yet to be revealed and the human vampire hunters have almost, kind of successfully taken the fight to the Master.
Well, the season three premiere holds true to form as the plot barely ticks forward while we get to revisit most of our major players from the sides of darkness and light. While the episode was loaded with action, it was a pretty generic way to kick off the season.
Appropriately, we start things with Doctor Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll), who is still mourning the abduction of his son Zach by his vampire ex-wife Kelly (Natalie Brown). Kelly is completely in thrall to the Master and Zach is in deep shit. Now, I don’t like Zach. Like, at all. So if the Master does turn Zach full vampire, at least then he’d be true evil instead of just a listless little douche.
That transformation has not taken place as yet. But Eph lives in fear of it so he drinks, and drinks, and drinks a bit more and it’s all a little annoying. He is somewhat proactive as he is still producing the chemical agent that Councilwoman Justine Feraldo (Samantha Mathis) is using to take the fight to the Strigoi. Sadly, this all just makes Eph look rather impotent as he drinks his way through life mourning the loss of his kid.
Meanwhile, our favorite Strigoi hunter and New Yorker to the core Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand) is way more proactive than Eph. Fet is helping teams of SEALs track down and eradicate Strigoi nests in search of the Master. Now, you have to love these Aliens-like descents into the New York sewers for some vampire-versus-heavily-armed-SEAL action, and in truth, most of the action is pretty cool. But at times, the action pieces get filmed in a first person shooter video game pastiche that’s a bit too self-aware for my tastes. It’s like the showrunners don’t have faith in the human drama of the moment and want to make the action extra hip. Not a fan.
So while Fett is hunting the Master, Eph is drinking and Abraham Setrakian (the great David Bradley) is obsessively pouring over the ancient Lumen, a book that holds the secrets to destroying the Strigoi. We didn’t get a great deal of Setrakian this episode, but his more Ahab-like tendencies were on full display.
We also checked in with Gus Elizalde (Miguel Gomez), my personal favourite character, as the former gang banger and current Strigoi slayer extraordinaire is desperately trying to keep his vampire mother alive. Poor Gus is draining himself of his own blood to feed his beloved mama. Poor dude, Gus has such a heart of gold, hopefully it doesn’t cost him because I really need to see Gus and Fet team up at some point.
Speaking of vampire hunters, we also get to see everyone’s favorite benevolent vamp Mr. Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones). Quinlan is the only sentient being who has the figurative balls (because his literal balls fell off long ago) to stand up to the Ancients. I will say this, the Ancients are still one hell of a creepy ass design. Shrivelled beings of ancient evil tied to boards, barely existing but still self-indulgent power brokers. The Ancients are greatly concerned that Setrakian’s Lumen will be used against them if he cracks the book’s secrets. Quinlan seems okay with that prospect.
So everyone is pretty proactive except for Eph, even the evil Kelly. Kelly has yet to transform Zach as the kid just kind of lays around and reads Y, The Last Man (hey, maybe he isn’t all bad). The episode ends with Kelly paying Eph a visit and tells him that she will free Zach if he secures the Lumen for the Master. Well, that could drive a wedge between our gang of Strigoi killers.
Things get worse for our crew as the SEALs actually find the Master and his nest. Let’s just say things don’t go well as the SEALs are taken out by the Master and his favorite toady, the former Nazi Thomas Eichhorst (Richard Sammel).
The whole scene seemed to exist just remind us that Eichhorst and the master are badasses. As I said before the episode served as a re-introduction to the major players of the series (sans Dutch, the super cool computer hacker). While it repositioned the major players of the series it also ran in place as nothing new was established. I appreciate that in a world where there are currently about six thousand post-apocalyptic shows on the air, The Strain is a pre-apocalypse series with a group of compelling characters desperately trying to keep the end times at bay. Here’s hoping that the third season is a bit more briskly based than this year’s opening episode.