It’s been a while but I’ve just re-watched the second season of ‘The Strain’, I could have done this review from memory but I wanted to get everything right for this review and frankly, I’m blown away by how different it was from the first season.
The first season introduced the main characters and also made characters out of the ‘survivors’ from the plane as we the audience got to see their gradual transformation into the Strigoi. Now it’s season two and we all know what happens to the people who are infected so there’s no need to dwell on those facts.
To those who want to know what happened in Season One, my review is still on this site so let’s get into Season Two of ‘The Strain’. As ever, I’ll need to talk about certain vital plot details so there is a spoiler warning on this review.
The first scene of the first episode shows Abraham Setrakian as a child and he hears a story from his Grandmother about the origins of the Master as we see him in Season One. The story is of the legend of Jusef Sardu (Robert Maillet) who was a (Romanian?) man who suffered from Gigantism. His affliction caused him many problems with his health but his problems made him appreciate life and so he was really nice to everyone, especially children and he would show up and give them candy. His brother was embarrassed by his huge sibling and so wanted to cure him of his Gigantism. He took his brother on a hunting trip to find a special kind of wolf whose blood would be used to cure him but instead, Jusef’s brother and the entire hunting party are killed by the Master. The Master sees Jusef and transfers himself into Jusef’s body because he wants to be big and strong, I suppose.
Anyway, cut to present day and Abraham is on the hunt for the Master. The Master was badly injured by being pushed into the sunlight at the end of the last season by Abraham and Co but not killed. Abraham doesn’t find the Master but rather the Sun hunters and their newest recruit, Gus. Abraham is brought to ‘The Ancients’ who are the Master’s brothers or something and it is here where we first hear of the ancient book and guide into killing vampires, The Occido Lumen. A book that is bound in silver and contains all the information of the Strigoi and the Master and is the ultimate ‘How to’ guide in how to kill him.
That is Abraham’s main storyline throughout the second season. He needs to find the book before Eldritch Palmer does.
Apart from the main cast, there are quite a few new characters who carry on for a season or two. The first that I’d like to talk about is Councilwoman, Justine Feraldo who’s played by Samantha Mathis. She’s one of those actresses who I’m positive I know from something, but I just can’t place her. Scrolling through her IMDB account, I haven’t watched anything that she’s been in apart from ‘The Strain’.
Anyway, she’s launched an offensive line against the Strigoi and is deploying teams to take back the districts of New York. Her interests are to the citizens but she’s in an awkward partnership with the Mayor, George Lyle (Ron Canada) who wants to protect the interests of his rich friends in the upper East Side.
Who else is there? There’s some guy called ‘Angel’ (Joaquin Cosio) but is better known as ‘The Silver Angel’ and he was a staple in Mexican films before an injury to his leg left him with a limp and forced him into retirement and clearing tables at an Indian restaurant where he has formed a friendship with the family who own it. Gus meets Angel when he starts frequenting the restaurant with an interest in the couple’s pretty daughter, Aanya (Parveen Kaur), and recognises him from his films and the two eventually form a friendship after some initial hostility.
But who I want to really get to is my new favourite character, Quinlan who is played by the tall, the dark, the handsome, the British, Rupert-Penry Jones. Granted, he’s covered in what looks like about six inches of makeup, but I don’t care. His sexy voice remains intact. Quinlan shows up about halfway through the season after the sun hunters are all wiped out in an assault on Palmers penthouse. Quinlan is intrigued by the human (Abraham) who was the first to force the Master to change bodies due to injury. Since that point, he’s switched by choice.
Anyway, Quinlan is a half strigoi, half human who has wandered the Earth for more than two thousand years. Now he’s on the hunt for the Master and is on his own personal mission to kill him. Quinlan recruits Gus and a load of prisoners to fight back against the Strigoi and also tasks Abraham with finding the Lumen.
In a few flashbacks, we see how Abraham found his cane/sword which once belonged to Jusef Sardu and also that Abraham and a younger Palmer once went on their own search for the Lumen but once Palmer met Eichorst, he gave up the search and wouldn’t fund Abraham’s search for it either.
Speaking of Palmer. We saw that the Master gave a little bit of his ‘essence’ to Palmer to cure all his ailments and now he’s finally healthy at the grand old age of a senior citizen, he’s got a new lease of life and he can experience all the things that he never got a chance to whilst he was ill for all of his life. One of those things is falling in love. Enter, Coco Marchand (Lizzie Brochere) who first appears as a representative for a firm that assists Palmer and Eichorst in the purchase of a large property and then becomes Palmer’s secretary.
Eventually, the two form a friendship which then turns into a relationship and the first thing that I thought when those two started kissing was ‘EEEWWWW!!!’. I don’t want to be mean to Jonathan Hyde, he’s a brilliant actor BUT there’s a good 40-year age difference between the two of them. I too like older men but that’s ridiculous and remember that when an attractive young woman hooks up with an older rich man, there’s more than likely only one reason. Sing it with me now…. she wants money!
Not only is Coco young and attractive and perfectly fine with sexing old people, she doesn’t like not knowing anything. Soon she starts asking questions about Eichorst and Bolivar and the Lumen and about the numerous operations surrounding the Master that Palmer is involved in. Once she asks too many questions, Palmer snaps at her and so she exits in a huff. It’s amazing, the sense of entitlement. I’ll be honest, I don’t really like Coco. Just because she’s shacked up with him once, that means she needs to know all the ins and outs. Of course, Palmer can’t tell her because she’ll think he’s crazy but one incident brings her around to the truth.
Which brings me onto Ephraim, Nora and Zach.
Since Eph shot a reanimated Kelly in front of Zach, he’s not cute anymore like he was in the first season. Now he’s a little shit and not because he’s now played by Max Charles. It’s the way he’s written. That boy has gained a serious attitude and when Eph calls him out on being a little shit, he gets shit from Nora. Just because his mother is a vampire and he’s lost his home and his friends and his worldly possessions, doesn’t mean he has the right to be disrespectful.
It’s remarkable how much Zach reminds me of Carl from ‘The Walking Dead’. Remember when Carl was adorable in the first season and then in Season 2, he became a little shit. Disrespectful, had an attitude and thought with all confidence that he could take on the walkers. That’s basically Zach. A little shit with undeserved confidence.
Anyway, Zach now hates his father and is convinced that his mother is sick and not dead and it’s up to his father to find a cure. Instead, Eph and Nora are developing a bio-weapon that will infect and kill the Strigoi in large numbers.
Their first test subjects are a couple they meet at a warehouse of storage lockers who are hiding inside. Because the only alive people are Ephraim, Nora, Fet and Abraham, of course it’s the two people we’ve never met before who get infected. Eph and Nora wait for them to die and turn before testing their new weapon which is successful in infecting other Strigoi.
Eph then takes his bio-weapon to Washington DC and the trip has several bumps. First, he runs into his old boss on the train who dobbed him in to the feds and arguably accidently throws him off the train. Then there’s a high point when he sees his friend in Washington, Rob Bradley who is completely coincidentally played by Tom Ellis of ‘Lucifer’ fame. Remember to tune in on May 8th on Netflix for Season 4 of Lucifer. Just thought I’d drop that in.
Anyway, just when you’d thought ‘The Strain’ had upped its sexiness quota, Rob and Eph’s ‘friend with benefits’, Leigh (Nadia Bowers) are killed by an assassin sent by Palmer. When Eph returns to New York, he’s enraged and so plots to kill Palmer with the assistance of Dutch who has a thing of her own going.
I think Dutch is one of those 60’s hippies who’s into the rebellion and the free love, etc and she has sex when she’s bored. You see, Fet has this plan to clear out the streets of Brooklyn, starting with his own apartment and moving outwards from there. Dutch helps him clear out a leisure centre and afterwards, she strips off in front of him and gets into the pool like it ain’t no thing. After embarrassing him with her nakedness, she then encourages Fet to get butt naked and into the pool with her where they begin their physical relationship. All this lasts for an episode or two until she realises that someone has been putting up ‘missing’ posters for her girlfriend, Nikki who abandoned them in the convenience store back in the first season. She then finds Nikki in their old apartment and decides to bring her back to Fet’s place without even asking him. Nikki stays at Fet’s for a bit and after realising that she’s not wanted mostly by Fet, Nikki moves out and Dutch goes with her whilst making it clear to Fet that she’s going to pursue a relationship with Nikki even though she left them all for dead.
All this probably sounds reasonable. I wouldn’t have had a problem with this scenario if it played out differently. The way I see it, Dutch basically started a relationship with Fet because it’s what SHE wanted going by her little strip-tease and when she knew her girlfriend was alive, the way she reacted to it was unacceptable. She acted like her ‘thing’ with Fet didn’t happen and when Nikki confronted her about it, Dutch acted like it wasn’t a big deal. All the while, Fet is heartbroken. It’s not very nice to sleep with someone, make them fall in love with you and then dump them by the wayside when your real love shows up.
She tries to justify her decision when she’s scouting Palmer with Eph by saying that there’s a breed of monkey that can’t be kept together because they keep having sex with each other but they get along and presumably her thinking is that because we are evolved from apes then that justifies her shagging around. What she’s forgetting is the ‘evolved’ part of that theorem. We are civilised human beings with thoughts and feelings and capable of rational thought. She also says that ‘society’ doesn’t think it be acceptable to love two people at once and she’s right to a certain extent.
Monogamy is arguably a learned behaviour that we’ve developed over the last couple hundred years. Some people are made for it and others aren’t and that’s cool. BUT you also have to pay courtesy to the people who find it very difficult to love more than one person and in fact love the shit out of you and they weren’t aware that the relationship that the two of you had was suddenly going to go away because she doesn’t love you as much as someone else.
What’s even more mind-boggling is that her relationship with Nikki isn’t even all that good. I don’t personally see what Dutch sees in Nikki and vice versa. They’re two drastically different people and when they get into a fight, Dutch says to the ‘love of her life’, ‘I’ve always been in love with you and it’s never made me happy’. Why are you with her then!? Surely, it’s all very well being in love but the point of being together is having a relationship as well. The ability to be in the same room for long periods of time without a war of words. I’m just saying, you never had any problems with Fet.
She doesn’t care enough about Nikki anyway because she goes on this ridiculous assassination attempt with Eph. Surely, what with her being the smart one, she must know that the chances of success weighed against the chances of the plan going wrong are vastly in favour of the latter. Palmer is rich and influential and if he’s assassinated in front of the press and several witnesses, then all efforts and resources will be put into finding the killer. It doesn’t matter how fucked up the city is.
Practically, it’s both a good and bad idea. Eph knows that Palmer is funding the Master’s plan and so killing the source of the Master’s resources will deal a significant blow but it’s a bad idea because of the above. The chances of Eph and Dutch escaping are minimal. Chances are, they will be caught. Which is exactly what happens. What’s mystifying is the speed in which it happens. They get caught minutes after the shot is fired.
But what Eph doesn’t know is that he didn’t hit Palmer. He hit Coco. Now she’s at deaths door and Palmer is devastated. Palmer demands that the Master save her otherwise, he will cease all his funding. The Master obliges and saves Coco. After she gets a good look at him, Palmer tells her everything.
But what about Eph and Dutch? Eph is held by the police but Dutch is dragged away. Eph is rescued by Fet and Nora when the Strigoi attack the police station and kill all the officers. The trio discover that Dutch was taken to the Mayfield Hotel and is being held by Eichorst.
I quite liked the episode where Dutch is held captive and it’s not because she’s being psychologically tortured. I like the episode because we get to see what Eichorst was up to before he was a Nazi.
This is a subject that interests me. We all know the Nazis we complete bastards but what was it that made people join the Nazi regime? What element interested them? Who did they appeal to?
Eichorst’s flashback takes place in 1931 in Germany and this is the very specific brand of ‘American’ Germany where no one speaks German and everyone has a comedy German accent. Anyway, Eichorst is a door-to-door radio salesman and not a very good one. Because all the other salesman are so much more successful than him, he feels disillusioned but he has a little crush on the secretary, Helga (Julie Engelbrecht). She likes him as well and agrees to go on a date with him.
Whilst they’re at dinner, a spokesman for the Nazi party arrives and begins a speech about how Germany’s economy is in the toilet and loads of people have lost their jobs and do they want to change that and he’s scouting for recruits.
On the way home, Eichorst wants in to the Nazi Party but Helga knows what Hitler’s all about and WE all know what Hitler was all about and Eichorst knows what Hitler’s all about which at that time, it’s mentioned in the show that Hitler blamed the Jewish banks for crashing the stock market and making Germany broke. And then the unsavoury comments start. Eichorst calls the Jewish people ‘parasites’ and ‘leeches’, then Helga mentions that she and her family were Jewish which we all saw coming then Eichorst does that thing when we accidently insult someone we’re fond of where he says, ‘I wasn’t talking about YOU, Hitler’s talking about the foreign Jews. He has no problem with German Jews’ in the kind of tone that’s desperate and pleading. Of course, Helga’s having none of it and basically calls him a failure and leaves him.
Later on, in 1935, Eichorst has become an officer in the SS and is called to the Nazi HQ where Helga is being held. She’s told the SS that they had a relationship and has called for Eichorst’s help but he refuses and says that he did know her but only when they worked in the same office and then LIES by saying that she was accused of stealing but it was never proved and that was the extent of their relationship. I don’t know if he did this to get back at her because unrequited love is a bitch or because full Nazi ideology has set in and now he’s being a prick.
Walking down the street, Eichorst is being shown respect by the German people, whether it’s actual respect or just done purely out of fear, I don’t know. I would think the latter as Eichorst soon sees the bodies of Helga and her family dead and hanging in the street. Eichorst sees this and is initially shocked but when he sees that he’s being watched by another officer, he acts like it ain’t no thing but walking away and away from the prying eyes, Eichorst looks like he’s going to throw up.
That to me was an interesting little bit of character insight. Was he sickened by the act itself or the fact that it was Helga?
Back to Dutch.
Dutch is being held by Eichorst in a padded room with a chain around her neck. At first, Eichorst drains a cop right in front of her and forces her to eat a bit of pineapple. But towards the end of the episode, things get sinister very quickly. Dutch has managed to grab a bottle of pepper spray from the officer’s body but when Eichorst comes in, he tells her to take off her pants and then he puts some red lipstick on her. Yep, this is creepy. Eichorst sits behind her and tells her to bend over just as he brings out the ‘stinger’ and that’s when she hits him with the pepper spray, steals his keys and escapes.
Long story short, Fet chucks a silver grenade at Eichorst and he escapes, leaving Dutch to leap into Fet’s arms. This experience severely effects Dutch emotionally and once she returns, to her credit, she acknowledges that maybe she didn’t treat Fet in the best way possible and thanks him for coming to rescue her before leaving to be with Nikki anyway. It doesn’t matter because Nikki is leaving with her mother who got passes for them to leave the city. Dutch is devastated but there’s nothing she can do about it.
Let me get this right. Nikki left her girlfriend to die in a convenience store, threw her laptop into the river, berates Dutch’s character, picks fights, doesn’t appreciate Dutch’s efforts in trying to stop the Strigoi, accusing her of being selfish and when Dutch leaves to join the battle of Red Hook in an attempt to help her fellow citizens, Nikki doesn’t want her to go. Nikki does join the battle and saves Dutch’s life so that’s one point in Nikki’s favour. Let her go, Dutch. You can do better.
Speaking of leaving, we’re pretty much at the final episode and since Kelly showed up at Fet’s place to get Zach, the Master now knows where the gang are hiding. Eph and Nora are now BFF’s with Justine Feraldo and she’s all on board for the bio-weapon idea. She gets Eph, Nora and Zach passes to leave the city so Eph and Nora can take the bio-weapon somewhere to do something with it and also drop off Zach with his grandparents so he will be safe. That’s the best idea ever. But before we get into that, let’s finish off Eldritch Palmer’s storyline.
Coco was the one shot by Eph and so the Master has given her some of the white that has saved her life. It seems that one of the side-effects of the white is some overblown confidence. I thought the Master thought that in saving his girlfriend, it would whip Palmer into submission out of some kind of gratitude, but it seems not. Palmer wants to be treated as an equal partner alongside the Master but we all know that’s not what’s going on. Palmer wants some respect and now the missus is in his ear about demanding such a request, especially since they are informed that the effects of the white are not permanent. It all comes to a head in the finale.
The Occido Lumen has fallen into the hands of Alonso Creem (Jamie Hector) who is a trader of sorts and since both Abraham and Palmer want the Lumen, he holds an auction. I have a problem with this. Why is Eichorst playing along? Why doesn’t he just kill everyone and take the Lumen? That seems to be more his style and yet he shows up on the day to stand beside Abraham and Fet to bid for the Lumen.
Anyway, Abraham is backed by the Ancients and Quinlan who Abraham promised the Lumen to once he retrieved it. The auction came down to whoever had more money in their accounts, the price would be one dollar more than the losing bid. Abraham had $323 Million whilst Eichorst possessed something in the region of $350 Million BUT Palmer revoked Eichorst’s access to the account and so Abraham won the Lumen.
Despite an attempt by Eichorst to ambush Abraham and Fet that was thwarted by Quinlan, Gus, Angel and the band of prisoners that they’d recruited, Abraham convinces Quinlan to join him in decoding the Lumen and finding out how to destroy the Master.
Naturally, the Master isn’t happy about Palmer’s betrayal and so as punishment, the Master drains Coco right in front of Palmer. Naturally, Palmer is devastated and this sets the scene for further betrayal in Season 3.
Eph, Nora and Zach leave the city by train, but another ambush is waiting in the form of hundreds of Strigoi who throw themselves underneath the train and derail it. Eph and Nora are separated but Nora and Zach are found by Kelly. Here is where Zach is a little shit again. He has been told several times that his mother is not his mother anymore and it seemed that after she showed up for him at Fet’s place that he finally understood. But when Nora tells him to run whilst she keeps Kelly occupied, he stops, distracts Nora and that gives Kelly time to infect her. With Nora incapacitated, Kelly takes Zach away. Eph finds Nora and rather than turning and coming after Eph, she kills herself by touching her sword onto the third rail and electrocuting herself. Eph is left grieving for both Nora and his son.
I think that’s everything.
I really enjoyed Season two. It was a change of pace, but it was necessary. We found out more about the characters and there were some exciting new characters and this show is heading in the right direction. I’ve nearly finished re-watching Season 3, so I’ll write that up and see you then.
By the way, my book, Patient 187 is available in both paperback and as an e-book. Why not grab a copy? For me?