Martin Carr reviews the first episode of The Strain season 3…
This opener for season three is a solid balance of action beats, character development and reintroduction for the uninitiated. For those who managed to make it through the non-event of season one and massively improved middle chapter, there feels like a change in the air.
We have the Bradley voiceover, an unshaven Goodweather, some alcohol and firearms as well as Fet and the return of mass slaughter merchant Mr. Quinlan. This then is the season set to deliver on the potential promised falsely all those years ago. I know that stories take time to set up, slow burn tactics are admirable and audiences like to be kept on tender hooks but come on. Preacher managed to be self-contained, hit the ground running and keep up the pace.
Now there will be those that say Preacher and The Strain are worlds apart. One is a seminal story of good and evil set over several volumes which stands as a benchmark for graphic novelisation. While the other represents another successful enterprise from visionary writer, director and all round Renaissance man Mr. del Toro. But the fact that pacing was never an issue with the former, while its latter companion was nearly crippled by turgid heel dragging remains a talking point. If only because this third go round has started out so well.
There are factions within the faction, moral and parental decisions that will definitely unsettle the balance of things. And all this within the first forty minutes and change. Stoll remains engaging as Goodweather, Bradley the backbone alongside Durand, while Sammel is clearly enjoying his return as sidekick supremo to ‘The Master’. This time round it is all about character choices, ramifications after the fact and that all important wider impact. Now more than ever would be a good time to pick up the three volume boxset and gorge on detail. Game of Thrones was both enriching and infuriating for lovers of those books, but they could never say such an investment was a waste of time.
In the weeks to come The Strain promises to layer intrigue upon intrigue whilst keeping those keen for bloodlust equally happy. Within these constraints there now exists a tangible world of recognisable peril worth tuning in for. For fans of Crimson Peak, Pan’s Labyrinth and dare I say it Pacific Rim, this remains a tangent worth pursuing. Do yourself a favour and pull up a pew, while people get busy fighting over a Lumen.