The Strain on FX has unlikely heroes coming to the rescue as a modern day plague of vampires has descended on New York City and its surrounds.
I guess they are vampires, but in The Strain on FX it is hard to tell sometimes. The Master, who should really be named Pandora, in honor of the box he should never have been let out of, seems the most conventional of all the vampires in this FX show. Although there are nods to traditional vampire lore throughout, there are also many new twists on the genre. I was initially interested in this FX show because of its creator, Guillermo del Toro, and his movie Pan’s Labyrinth. The atmosphere created in The Strain reminds me of that in Pan’s Labyrinth. The use of color, lighting, art and set design, and cinematography are common to both stories. From the outstanding pilot episode and throughout the entire series this mood has been maintained. As the season one finale ended with our heroes winding their way through the burning city, safe and secure in a Wilson’s Bread Company truck, yet facing an unsure and insecure future, the mood and feel was set for the return of The Strain in season two. That vampire mythology, and fresh takes on the same, gives The Strain a life of its own.
According to Strigoi knowledge repository, Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley), the vampires of The Strain will shimmer in a mirror and find silver to be their own personal kryptonite. But we get updated mythology here, too, such as Setrakian instructing Center of Disease Control doctor Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) in using a gun to use shoot silver bullets at these vampires. But it is no ordinary gun or bullets, but instead a nail gun shooting silver nails. Just ask your friendly neighborhood guy at Home Depot for help in this department. Setrakian did.
Goodweather, who goes by “Eph” in the show, and his CDC doctor girlfriend, Nora Martinez (Argentine hottie, Mia Maestro), are research-oriented doctors who are confronted with this new contagion event. At first they want to treat the patients. Now they are all for just lopping their heads off with a sword. While doctors treating a viral outbreak is to be expected, the rest of the crew of vampire killers is somewhat unusual. In The Strain, the have nots of New York City emerge as the heroes of the story which, among other things, is a parable of good versus evil greed. Aside from Eph and Nora, anyone with a fancy title, fancy salary, government power, or a privileged lifestyle, might as well check it in. They are going down in the evil sweep of The Master and his, begot by worms, minions.
It takes someone used to a grittier side of life than upscale coffeehouses and fancy suburbs to combat this plague. Our heroes know how to get business done when push comes to shove and getting nicked is tantamount to death. City of New York Bureau of Pest Control man, Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand), knows a thing or two about big rats. The new rats of New York City, thronging like Willard’s dreamscape just beneath the city streets, are mighty big, ugly, and sharp of tooth.
The aforementioned Setrakian has experience with the problem going back to his internment in a concentration camp in World War II. Now he is a Harlem hero, pawn shop owner, with a great big sword and an Uncle Sam-like zeal for enlisting recruits in his fight against The Master. The Master has been around for a long, long time as Jagger and Richard pointed out when they asked us to guess his name. In fact, it is likely he has been around a few thousand years before The Thousand Year Reich so he was no Nazi invention, but they certainly are enablers in The Strain on FX. Nazis are always a good target as evildoers, so I guess it is no surprise that Hitler’s henchmen turn up in The Master’s backstory. For anyone who wants to play around with numbers, there is some very unsettling and mind-blowing numerology associated with the occult, and Illuminati lore, in the Nazi’s concentration camp number for Setrakinan, A230385. Time traveling, evil Nazi, Thomas Eichorst (Richard Sammel), now a C-suite level executive vampire (CVO for lack of a better term), repeated this number to Setrakian so many times during season one that I could not resist playing around with the numbers. Break the numbers down, add them up, reverse the numbers, do them in different groups and sizes, and you will see some freaky results. Either this is something well know to mathematics, or it is a very spooky anomaly. Proceed with caution here. And don’t do it in the dark.
Some of the rest of the crew of unlikely heroes are a boxer, Gus Elizalde (Miguel Gomez), who doesn’t mind skirting the confines of the law now and again, and a computer hacker hottie, Dutch Velders, (Ruta Gedmintas), who has seen the light after working for the Stoneheart Group who imported The Master into the United States with the help of corrupt CDC man, Jim Kent (Sean Astin). I love it when corrupt government officials, working for their own account, are so obviously marked for a grisly and well deserved death as that which befell Jim Kent.
There are a few other heroes and would be heroes in this urban nightscare, too, although who and what they are, as well as the nature and intent of their motivations, remain to be seen. These things will likely be clarified in season two of The Strain on FX as they percolated along the surface of the show as it wound through season one and pretty well drew to a boil by the season finale.
They include a group of car thieves who may or may not help the cause. They also include a group of black-uniformed (with red accents, I might add), very well-armed and equipped, vampire types who are distinguished from the evil-type, enemy vampires, controlled by The Master, by their warm, friendly and caring manner. They’re so loveable! That’s right! Their leader, Quinlan (Stephen McHattie), is just such a nice, non-threatening sort, with such a kind, quiet, demeanor, you can kind of overlook his pallid skin and generally bizarre features. And have him over for dinner, too! They carry really cool, vampire killing guns of some type, quietly mechanical, virtually silent, almost pneumatic, which fire something like a bolt or a blunt spike. These cuddly vampires (I’m so sure!) are deadly efficient killers.
The last group of mysterious would-be heroes, or not, are even more undefined and grotesque, whatever they are. They appear to be the betters, bosses and benefactors of Quinlan’s merry men, even though they are basically mounted on stick-like thrones and being fed an unending stream of innocent, or not so innocent, blood in their unearthly, underground lair. What the hell? These things just suddenly appeared in the season finale and who, and what, they are we shall soon find out. That being said, they appear to have all the power, these ancients.
And power is what makes the world and The Strain, and the strange world of the twain, go round and round. The Strain on FX is a not so subtle parable of power run amok. What better theater for that particular brand of excess than the corporate boardroom of faceless New York City power brokers, the Stoneheart Group? What becomes of that power, and how the misuse of it plays out, remains to be seen. One thing seems sure, however. In The Strain, in its parable of power and greed, the Stoneheart Group of New York City, with all the lives they have touched, have created a crisis that has now gripped the entire Big Apple and makes the financial crisis seem quaint by comparison. What was a worm in an apple has now geometrically escalated into millions, if not billions, of worms in the The Big Apple. Still, it is best to keep calm and stay the course. As Vasiliy Fet, our intrepid city rat collector, so simply, but eloquently, put it when first taken aback by the discovery that sunlight fries our unwanted pests, “Okay, then.”