The Strain struggled throughout it’s second season. The sharp focus was left to finding a book, protecting a child from it’s vampire mother, and a really bad love triangle. There were some more things out there, but not much. At the end of the day I was left wanting more and feeling even less satisfied than I had last season because it felt like we went on too many tangential missions and lost sight of what was important. In the grand scheme of things we didn’t really make progress like we did last season. Instead, it felt like the show was spinning it’s wheels, making minor breakghtroughs, but never getting a true payoff. Even the season finale which had some emotional weight, lacked the punch that good finales have to draw people back in the next year.
Let’s address what was ultimately given the most focus this season, the Occido Lumen. From the beginning we learn that in order if they are going to bring down the Master from this point forward they would need to get the Lumen. That sent Setrakian on an endless goose chase. He’d find a lead pursue it and turn up with nothing. By the time we finally see the Lumen the season was nearing an end. Shockingly it all boiled down to not a matter of finding it first, but a bidding war. However, a bidding war is ridiculous when the two people who are fighting for it know what the other is capable of. The idea that Eichorst didn’t just go after the book in force from the very beginning made no sense. He could have hunted down Setrakian’s leads and beat him to the punch every time. He does have an army of vampires who will do his bidding at his disposal. It wasn’t until the very last moment that Eichorst realized that this was an option and it felt foolish. Ultimately it made this entire storyline just feel entirely too drawn out. It could have been condensed over a couple of episodes rather than drawing it out the entire season.
Since I spent so much time speaking of Eichorst, it only makes sense that we talk a bit about The Master and Eldritch Palmer as well. The Master after being seriously injured at the end of the last season, shredded his former self and transitioned into Bolivar. Then he simply faded off the map except for help or threaten Palmer. The result was that The Master didn’t feel as much of a threat. When he keeps fading into the background and leaves only his army to attack it feels less personal and less urgent. The Master was hiding and our team spent all of their time looking for the Lumen. It just didn’t work for me. Then there was Palmer who was healed last season. We learned notably that the cure is not ever lasting. However it grew tiresome all season when Palmer was flexing his position when all he was was a grunt. Sure this was something he needed to come to an understanding himself, but it didn’t work. Ultimately he only realized this once he saw that The Master would take life as easily as he could help rejuvinate it if those under him tried to get too big for their britches. It did however make it clear why Eichorst never stepped out of line even though he was clearly upset over being passed over as the new Host of the Master.
One of the worst elements of the season was a very close draw. I’m deeming the lesser of the two evils as Zach. I know, I know he remains to be a problem, but it felt less problematic as the season went on. Zach was a whiner. He had anger issues. Most importantly he made more bad decisions than I can remember. They changed his actor, but with it they must have thought it a good idea to make him angst ridden as well. That was not a good idea. In the first season Zach made some reckless decisions, but he was level-headed for the most part, he was an interesting element that gave other characters more stakes, but more importantly you got the sense that he was able. That changed in this season when they sheltered him, made him fly off the rails (inheriting his father’s anger issues), and generally not knowing what to do with his character. I wanted Zach to take charge a bit more this season, demand not to be left out so often. I wanted him to get a little tougher. I didn’t expect him to make good decisions about his mom. However, I also didn’t expect he would go so far as to make the terrible decisions he did make. Sure, we know we’ll get more Zach drama next season, but I think I can tolerate it more than my other major issue with the season.
The absolute worst element of the season turned out to involve my dear dear Vasily Fet. I adore Vasily. I was abundantly happy when he was paired off with Dutch in the beginning of the season. I didn’t expect everything to be as rosy as they were then. They are fighting a war after all. I didn’t expect that we would be dragged into the worst love triangle ever. Vasily and Dutch couldn’t have been together long, so I could understand her hesitance when the “love of her life” stomped back into the picture. The problem is that I couldn’t even remember the girl’s name. In my reviews I think I said something different every week. Not only was this girl unremarkable, unable to help the cause, and resistant to letting Dutch do something she was good at, but she was also a pain in everyone’s side. It distracted Dutch and forced us to watch a silly melodrama that had no great emotional pay off. If anything, it made me dislike Dutch again after all the time it took for me to like her in the first place.
Lastly, the show just couldn’t find it’s footing. The horror was a bit weaker. The plotlines felt unimportant. Characters would fade to the background for episodes only to return and have a minor storyline. The actual storylines that proved to be the most interesting were quickly rushed in and out of the story, leaving the less compelling storylines to remain. That said, we did get the introduction of Justine and she is both fabulous and fierce and I look forward to seeing more from her. The problem is where the season left off, I’m not particularly drawn in to watch next season. I certainly don’t care enough about Zach to motivate me. Gus and Justine are currently the two characters that have the most interesting story moving into the future for me
What did you think of the season?