I was expecting to see Sardu's story in The Strain Season 1, but better late than never.
Say what you will about this series, but the world definitely has a feel all its own. The Strain is part horror, part camp and all comic book goodness. If you can buy into what the creative team established, you're in for one helluva good time.
Though the writers made a couple of questionable choices, The Strain Season 2 Episode 1 started things off on the right foot. You can already tell it's going to be an insane second season and I'm stoked!
Since the creature was badly damaged by the sun and will be body-hopping, the time was right to learn Sardu's story. I am delighted the Setrakian flashbacks will continue, because those were some of my favorite scenes last season.
That's right, the prologue was directed by Guillermo Del Toro. I understand he's a busy guy, but it's a real shame he does not direct key installments.
Had Del Toro shot the Master's big reveal in The Strain Season 1 Episode 9, I guarantee you the lighting would have been just right. His vision and esthetic is so unique, I could tell right away he was involved with the opening sequence.
Setrakian's bubbeh sharing Jusef Sardu's tale is how we're introduced to this world in the first book. While that would never have worked as an opening to the series, it fit brilliantly at the start of the new season. How great was it to see Robert Maillet in human form? I loved that bit!
There once was a great nobleman named Jusef Sardu. Since childhood he suffered from gigantism. His body was aging, his bones were bent and riddled with ache, so he was forced to walk with a cane.Setrakian's bubbeh
If you found the Master's "look" exaggerated or odd, it's finally clear why the vampire's so damn huge. He was literally an Albanian giant before he was turned. Which reminds me, that was a whole lot of bloodworms the ancient transferred to Sardu. I wonder when we'll see the Master pick a new body. Man, why can't this be Netflix?
I think the prologue was the best part of the premiere, but it was wonderful to catch up with our characters in the present. The Master sizzling and crawling down the side of the building still looked pretty freaking cool. Can you believe Setrakian went in search of the monster alone?
That old man's got a set of brass ones, I'm tellin' you. Good thing he ran into strigoi soldier Vaun. Nope, that's not Quinlan, but I'm sure we'll meet Mr. Q soon enough.
It was nice to see Eph and Vasiliy getting along a bit better.
Eph: So you're still on board? You're still ready to follow him down every dark tunnel in the city?
Vasiliy: Yeah, but I've got my own plan.
Eph: Which is?
Vasiliy: I'm gonna secure my place, then next door, then the block and then the next block.
Eph: The ground game isn't for me.
Vasiliy: So what are you gonna do?
Eph: Well seeing as how as a vampire hunter I'm total shit, I'm gonna go back to being a doctor.
It's going to be interesting to watch the team attack this thing from different angles. They tried bringing the Master down together and failed miserably. Why not go about it in a different way?
Wasn't it cool to see Nora agree with Dutch when she called Eph presumptuous? In my Season 1 report card, I wrote that they should, "Beef up the female characters and not make the guys look good at their expense." We might just be on the right track this year.
I loved that Gus immediately recognized Setrakian, but didn't the old man seem too at ease among all those strigoi? Of course, he had heard of The Ancients, so that might have something to do with it. During that scene, we learned the Master is the seventh ancient. The Occido Lumen details the rise of the Strigoi and a possible vulnerability.
Locating that book is Setrakian's mission this season. By the way, how vicious was that feeding? Eeeek!
Elsewhere, Eph and Nora set up shop at a nearby lab to work on a biological weapon. Naturally, they had to take out a few strigoi scientists first. The doctors no longer have any issues "releasing" the infected. Nora refusing to kill "patients" last season grew old quick. Especially after everything she had seen.
Anyway, everyone's missions have been clearly established so they won't be wandering around aimlessly. The baddies have their plans as well, Palmer purchased a large factory and the Master's moving in. He's also elevating select strigoi like Kelli. Bring on the creepy strigoi kids!
Speaking of kids, here's where I'm going to bitch a little. I miss Ben Hyland as Zack Goodweather. Not that Max Charles won't do a fine job, but there's an angriness and obnoxiousness to this new Zack that doesn't feel like the kid we met last season.
Was little Ben not able to pull that stuff off? Either way, I don't think I'm going to like Zack this season and he was the one redeeming quality about Eph. What do you think? Let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments below.
Eph: She's gone.
Zack: She's not gone. She was right there. You scared her away. You shot her.
Eph: She's turned, do you understand how that works?
Zack: She's sick. You even said so.
Eph: Her heart, her organs, they're all gone. There's nothing I can do to help her. There's nothing anybody can do to help her. She's something else now.
Zack: Bullshit. You're a doctor, right dad? Then save her. Find a cure.
Eph and his drinking are going to bug the hell out of me, I just know it. He's inevitably going to make stupid decisions and blame it on the booze. That's one of the reasons Vasiliy is my favorite character on the show. He's focused, clever and it's touching the way he looks after Setrakian.
Eph is definitely not your typical protagonist. Will we ever warm up to the guy? I hope so, but I'm not counting on it.
At least Eph and Nora's plan seems viable. "Infect the infected" she said and that works for me. I never read the second book, but I hear 80% of this season is brand new material. That's exciting, even fans of the books will have no idea where the story is headed. That's not to say there won't be specific milestones from the books, but I'm all for the new stuff.
The self-storage facility scene was classic The Strain. Let's be honest, those light timers are fairly unsettling in real life. Imagine a bunch of munchers chasing after you down those narrow poorly lit hallways. I think that was actually one of the scariest moments of the series to date.
The poor old couple they reeked of death, didn't they? They'll probably wish they had been released, depending on what Eph and Nora are going to put them through. They're the strigoi killer guinea pigs.
I thought this was a solid start to the season and I'm thrilled to be back in this world. Yes, I am still hoping for scarier moments this time around, but I think they've done a decent job setting up the season. I enjoy The Strain, comic bookey campiness and all. It's going to be another killer ride! I hope you join me here at TV Fanatic weekly to discuss it.
What did you think of "BK, NY"? Does Eph still annoy you? Are you looking forward to more Setrakian flashbacks? Why did the Master want blind children? What's Palmer up to with Coco? Your turn Strainiacs, sound off in the comments below.
NOTE: The Strain Season 2 Episode 2 is titled “By Any Means” and airs on Sunday, July 19.