The Strain Season 2 Recap

The Strain Recap: Are the 'Feelers' the Creepiest Thing on TV Right Now?

Segueing from Comic-Con to vacation last week, I was not able to recap The Strain‘s Season 2 opener — but I’m delighted to report that the strengths and improvements I saw when (carefully!) screening that episode on my flight to San Diego (with my 12-year-old son sitting next to me*) were still on display this Sunday.

In fact, thus far Season 2 has made only one misstep, which if you follow me on Twitter, you’ve seen me comment on. More on that/him in a moment.

This week, we learned much more about the first major thrust in Setrakian’s journey/quest, flashing back to 1965, where as an untenured professor he first made the acquaintance of a young Edlritch Palmer. At the time, Setrakian was playing his “Vampires are among us” card to the vest, but Palmer knew his true leanings and thus charged him with seeking out the silver-handled cane — which Setrakian had to finagle from Nazi Dr. Dreverhaven, who is now posing as shopkeeper and had promised it to Eichorst — and then the elusive Occido Lumen tome, which possesses the Strigoi’s deepest most damning secrets, including the key to the Master’s undoing.

In trade for embarking on this lark, Palmer promised to endow Setrakian with a full professorship (as well as a lucrative stipend). Though his wife Miriam was iffy on the agreement, Setrakian believed it was he who would come out ahead on the deal. (But at what ultimate cost?)

Back in the present day, objectives were brought into focus and some relationships were embellished. For starters, Eph and Nora nearly gave up on experimenting on the McGeevers, until they arrived at an “a-ha” moment — something about amino acids being able to “munch on vampire brain juice.” Meanwhile, Fet and Dutch went to rid neighboring buildings of Strigoi, leading first to a fierce face-off inside a cramped locker room, and then a much lighter moment when Dutch invited the “rat man” to skinny dip with her in a pool. Fun fact: Fet can’t swim. Funner fact: Dutch is a quite convincing teacher.

I’m still warming up to Dutch — they seem to have transitioned her overnight from uberhacker to all-around badass — but in doing so she is much less the Euro-cipher she was in Season 1. Also, she and Fet have some highly entertaining banter.

Meanwhile, on the nastier side of the canvas….

Palmer presided over the opening of a “freedom center”/food pantry he funded to help his fellow New Yorkers. In doing so, he delivered a rousing speech penned by his new assistant, Coco. His celebration would be interrupted, though, by his old friend Abraham, who warned the Master’s pawn not to claim victory just yet. (They traded threats a bit loudly, given the subject matter, no?) Palmer keeps a stiff upper lip, threatens to one day display Setrakian’s heart next to Miriam’s, and then orders his guards not to let the old man get away — and yet Setrakian does, with help from Fet.

Elsewhere in Episode 2:

It was a small scene, yet one that made an impression on me: Samantha Mathis (forever of Broken Arrow) made her debut as a pretty damn impressive city councilwoman who 1) scoffs at the National Guards’s efforts to date, 2) would gladly choose euthanizing the infected over “warehousing” them, and 3) plans to “take Staten Island back one block at a time,” while the Mayor et al “carry on with their mental jerk-off.” Oh, we like her.

The new Zach continues to confound, aged up for Season 2 to, what, forever scowl at his dad? Do his best Carl Grimes impression? I dont know what the story was behind this recast, but thus far its purpose eludes me. I’m not saying the original kid was irreplaceable, but neither do I see what this Neighbors alum is bringing to the table.

Last but far from least: We laid witness to what has to be one of TV’s most unsettling, disturbing, ookie visuals, the army of “feelers” that Kelly is now mother to. Is it their clickety-clacky/gurgly communicating that weirds me out so? is it the crouched, sideways scampering? Kelly’s indifference in snapping the neck of an unworthy ward? The stringy hair, the veiny eye sockets…? Whatever the case, they are a frightful bunch, and now Kelly has put them on son Zach’s scent. [Shudder]

What did you think of this week’s The Strain?

* I need to share this anecdote with someone…. So, I’m watching The Strain on the plane, while my son has one of the Harry Potter movies playing on his Kindle. At one point, he taps me on the arm and points to his screen, where David Bradley is playing Hogwarts caretaker Argus Filch, and then he points to my MacBook Air, where Bradley is on screen as Setrakian. He smiled at the coincidence. As did I.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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27 Comments
  1. Ian says:

    I really wanted that amino acid science to be simplified a bit more and explained more thoroughly. Im not a dum-dum, but I could have sworn Eph and Nora were mumbling and speaking too fast in those scenes. What a great time for my subtitles not to be working.
    And while it was a treat to see Kevin Durand naked, Dutch could die next episode and I wouldn’t care. She’s a fanboy bait character if there ever was one, and those never do anything for me. And wasn’t she a lesbian? And what’s with the use of the name Dutch these days? There’s this girl over here, and then there’s one over on Killjoys too.
    The original Zach was a lot sweeter. So my guess would be that Zach’s headed for tragedy, and perhaps the show wants us less sympathetic for the outcome.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      Yeah, they plowed through that amino acid babble, and my screeners don’t even have the option of CC! As for Dutch, they certainly suggested she and her female roommate had had a thing, but….

      And I agree about Zach, they must want us to not like him, maybe Kelly will “recruit” him or something.

      • Ian says:

        They had no problem breaking my heart with what happened to Kelly last season, so it must be because Zach’s a child.

  2. Ron says:

    This new Zach kid is really, really ruining this show for me. I mean, much of this show falls in the ridiculous realm, but I can deal with it. But whenever Zach is on screen, I honestly want to just stop watching altogether. Not only is he completely insufferable, but the kid who plays him is a terrible actor–and I feel like ‘terrible’ is being generous. It’s practically unwatchable.

    • m3rcnate says:

      I could not agree more. I should not want to jump into my TV and enter the show so i can flay a 10 year old boy alive because he is such an annoying insufferable character.

      What pisses me off most is how it seems TV writers (typically network TV but even cable sometimes) seem to think (through their writing) that kids ages 5-19 are only giant selfish brats who talk back and have MAJOR attitude problems. Every single kid/teen on TV is the WORST a kid can be at their age. Whats worse is they show the parent(s) talking to the kid(s) like they are adults (one of the big problems). The dad in this show shouldn’t need to sit down and explain what he is doing to his son for his son to respect him and obey him. STFU kid, go sit down, suck your thumb and understand that “THE WORLD IS ENDING AND I WILL DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE TO SAVE HUMANKIND!”

      Oh, and along with writers seemingly only seeing kids & teens in one way, they also seem to finds relationships to be entertaining when they are getting together, or breaking up. How often have you seen a healthy relationship on a TV show that doesn’t have cheating or major melodrama in it? Almost never. Apparently in TV writers opinions a healthy lasting relationship isn’t interesting or sexy or fun, i wonder what their wives think about this?

    • Helen says:

      Eh, you can’t blame the actor. They’re writing Zack to be an intolerable little jerk and, in all fairness, the kid is is hitting the mark.

  3. Spence says:

    Am I the only one that powered through the first season, only to be completely turned off by this season premiere? I don’t think the long break has helped this show at all because I’ve stopped watching it now after the premiere only felt mind-numbingly stupid to me.

    • Simon says:

      I think the premiere was just as stupid as the first season. Hopefully they’ll manage to keep the writing a little tighter this time around, sometimes during season 1 it was really hard to follow the logical sequence of events.

  4. Jake says:

    Yeah my disdain for this New Zach is getting close to how I felt about the son on the 2009 version of V where he ruined every scene and I wished for him to die. Hopefully the Strain does us the same favor V did when they let his gf eat his neck.

  5. Ryan says:

    Zach’s gonna be around until the SERIES Finale. He’s annoying but you’d better get used to him.

  6. Simon says:

    I donìt know how it has handled in the books, but the way they are presenting Stoneheart and the government dealing with this is really idiotic. So everybody knows about the vampires and they are just totally cool with that, like it’s a bedbugs outbreak? Some areas of the cities have descended into Walking Dead level of every man for himself but in others people are still going to work like a regular Tuesday

    • Jared says:

      Totally agree with this. Both this recap and a few others I’ve come across seem to be okay with the short scene that introduced the councilwoman with the Mayor, but I thought the whole thing was a giant WTF.

  7. Anna says:

    I thought I saw the 1st episode, but It sure seems I missed some things. Did I not record the whole show? I’m reading the recap and I don’t remember these things happening. (Experimenting on the couple, Miriam, the swimming pool)

    • Anna says:

      Sorry – Never mind. I see that this recap was posted pacific time. (after the 2nd episode aired, not eastern time. I thought the recap was for the first episode.)

  8. AngelWasHere says:

    I couldn’t really get into the first ep of this season for some reason. I know the long break didn’t help. This ep wasn’t too bad, but I don’t like Dutch and Zach is most definitely annoying. Didn’t think he could get anymore annoying or anymore like TWD Carl till now. I thought he looked different this season tho. :P Dutch on the other hand is messing with one of my favorite characters besides Eph and I don’t like it! Leave the bug man alone! I’m also getting sick of the flashbacks. And why the heck IS everyone going to work and going about their lives during a vampire apocalypse? Like really?! Hopefully things get better. The Master is suppose to be transforming/changing? Good if so. Maybe they’ll improve on his looks and make him scarier.

  9. jeff says:

    so didn’t quite guard that ‘way too dark for your kid’ show well enough did you? great parenting…

  10. Linda Kolsen says:

    not liking the new Zach, he’s annoying, I’m sure the other Zach’s parents probably wanted a higher salary and FX said no…and replaced him…whatever, I won’t be upset if this kid finds his mother

  11. R says:

    The kid is another tool/brat so easy to pump up the volume in a horror/suspense series. So tiring. So lame.

  12. Matt, would you be able to find out why they did the recast? I actually liked the old Zach but maybe I am just saying that because I hate this one so much! It seems really unnecessary unless they are purposely trying to make him unlikable because they have a really epic and gory child-death scene coming up and don’t want too many complaints. He is just horrible in every possible way! Not even cute!

  13. Cassy says:

    Did anyone else see a flash of Chandler Riggs in this week’s episode? It was in the shot of the cheering crowd – I think he was in the first shot (but gone by the second).

  14. Geovanni says:

    I have to fast forward through all the Zach scenes. His acting is too annoying. A horrible style for the character he’s playing. Wow, the producers really picked a winner! NOT

  15. Kathleen says:

    I was really enjoying this show but every time that new Zach comes on, I just lose interest. If he says on the show, I will no longer watch it in fact, I dont think the shows ratings will last. What a stupid move by the producers… just stupid!

  16. Shari says:

    This new kid on the show is terrible! The first kid wasn’t too bad. At least he was like-able. I cringe every time this new kid does a scene. I don’t think it’s just the script, it’s bad acting as well. An actor needs to show different facets like a person in real life. This kid just scowls and mumbles and that’s all he does. I hope they hire another child actor who actually knows how to act. Was also glad when Kelly was bitten. Was hoping her irritating character was going bye-bye but unfortunately not the case.

    • John Cook says:

      I was wondering if it was just me. Hate to blame the actor but wish the mother would get him so I wouldn’t have to listen to him anymore. I enjoy the show but cant stand any of the parts he is in.