The Strain “New York Strong” Review (Season 3 Episode 1)

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On the season premiere of “The Strain,” we saw were everyone was, with one notable exception, in the aftermath of the events of the finale, as well as where most of them were headed, on “New York Strong.”

After seemingly starting to get somewhere with defeating the strain by the end of season two, Justine Feraldo (Samantha Mathis) found herself starting to falter, as the bioweapon that Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) had developed, along with the late Dr. Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro) started to inexplicably lose its effectiveness.

Or, as she put it, what was once 100% effective is now about 75% so. Why? Had the virus evolved to become more immune to it? Would it continue to adapt further? Or was Dr. G. slipping, lost in a haze of alcohol and brooding over his lost son Zach (Max Charles) and the death of Nora? Whatever the case, Justine, understandably, needed Dr. G. to get it together, before 75% became 50%…or worse.

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Meanwhile, the strain was slowly but surely starting to move out across the rest of the US, with one Navy SEAL telling the formidable Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand) that New York was considered a lost cause already to the powers that be. So much for “New York Strong”! Either way, that didn’t stop Fet from trying to walk through the SEAL forces into potential lairs that the Master (Jack Kesy), dubbed by them as “King Rat,” might be lurking.

It seemed as if things were going swimmingly at first, but by the end of the premiere, it was clear that the military might be right in thinking that it was a lost cause, as the Master was able to lure the cadre of soldiers to a church hideout via the dastardly Eichorst (Richard Sammel), who just won’t die. By the end of the incident, nearly all the soldiers were dead and even Fet barely made it out alive.

While Fet and Justine were trying to gain some semblance of control their way, Abraham (David Bradley) continued to work tirelessly to gain some traction on his end, as he worked overtime on translating and reading the mysterious book, the Lumen, in order to defeat the Master himself- if not the strain as a whole.

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It wasn’t fast enough for the “Born,” aka Mr. Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones), the half-man, half-vampire, who was working with the Ancients to defeat the Master, but who had his own agenda that made it clear that he wasn’t really working for anyone but himself. Opting to let Abraham decipher the book over handing it over to the Ancients like he was supposed to, needless to say, this didn’t go over well with them. Not that he cared, mind you.

Be that it as it may, it was clear that he was growing frustrated with Abe, who was working too slow for Quinlan’s tastes. However, there is a method to his madness, as Abe was looking for ways to not only defeat the Master, but the Ancients as well- and probably Quinlan for good measure. Of course, none of this is lost on all concerned, and yet, no one has made a move on Abe again- yet.

That was really it, save the fact that Kelly (Natalie Brown) continued to watch over Zach until the Master gives her an assignment, in exchange for which he will allow them to be together- to approach Dr. G. and offer up a trade: Zach for the book. Of course, Dr. G. doesn’t have the book, and may not even know where it is, nor would he likely give it to the Master even if he did, one hopes.

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After all, the likelihood that the Master will honor his word is a dubious prospect at best, and even if he did, it would be giving up the best chance they have of defeating not only the Master, but the strain in general. Furthermore, I can’t imagine Kelly would be on board if it meant her having to give up Zach anyway, after all the lengths she went to get him back in the first place, so it’s obviously a double-cross waiting to happen. The question is, will Dr. G. fall for it?

Missing in action still is Dutch Velders (Ruta Gedmintas), who wasn’t in the finale, either. When we last saw her, she was being unceremoniously dumped by Nikki (Nicola Correia-Damude), who was leaving town with her mother, having chosen survival over love. That couldn’t have been easy for Dutch, who unwisely chose Nikki, even though she knew it was the bad choice for her, and even though Fet had saved her from the clutches of Eichorst just in the nick of time.

Clearly, Dutch has yet to seek out Fet, probably because she realizes she screwed up and turned her back on a better thing. Either way, she is missed, and I hope she’ll be back in the next episode. She’s still listed in the credits, so that’s good news, at least. Until then, we’ll have to wait and see.

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All in all, this was a decent, if unspectacular, season opener, mostly adequate more than anything, in terms of setting the stage for where we’re headed next, plot-wise. The action with the military guys was solid and thrilling, not to mention claustrophobic, but as we don’t know any of them, it was hard to mourn their loss when most of them bit the big one in the final siege on the church.

Hopefully, with all the place setting done, we can get down to business in the next episode, and really get somewhere with this thing. The overview of how the strain is progressing across the US and getting stronger by the minute is promising, and I like that they opted to not make the bioweapon the answer to everyone’s prayers after all, despite its initial success. I think we all knew it wasn’t going to be that easy.

The real question is, where is all this headed, and will it be intriguing enough to warrant the additional two seasons the showrunners have asked for to wrap this all up? I like the show enough to want to see it happen, but at the same time, it can be awfully up-and-down and frustrating in its measured approach. Sometimes, like Quinlan watching in impatience as Abe slowly translates that book, I feel like the show is a bit too methodical for its own good.

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On the plus side, it does go a long way towards making vampires scary again, after one too many years of the whole “Twilight”-ification of vampires thing. Those spider kids are genuinely freaky and the noises these vamps make are certainly disquieting, especially if you have a solid sound system.

The look of them is also pretty gross, even if the original Master looked a bit like an overgrown Muppet. Wise choice going with Bolivar as the “new” Master, BTW- it makes sense that he would look like a Marilyn Manson type these days, and that works for me a lot more than the original version, despite his intriguing back-story.

Here’s hoping the show has better things in store for us moving forward, but for now, I’m in.

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What did you think of the season premiere? Was the action enough for you, or do you also want more, plot-wise? What would you like to see in the future, story-wise? Any early predictions on what happens next? (No spoiling, book-readers- though I hear it doesn’t really follow the books that closely, anyway.) Sound off down below and see you next week!