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.