Martin Carr reviews the second episode of The Strain season 3…
Like a Formula One team in those crucial warm up laps The Strain is making final adjustments. Practice laps, months of planning and untold amounts of money have been spent to ensure things go smoothly. That ultimately is how season three feels right now for me. There are bargains being struck, mind games orchestrated and the feeling of large cogs turning in preparation for what may be a truly great final go round.
Palmer and Eichorst are manipulative, under handed rivals both after the power and adulation of their rarely seen benefactor. On this occasion though it would seem it is the latter who holds a bargaining chip or two, meaning their scenes are charged with resentment on an almost Shakespearian level. Sammel and Jonathan Hyde are so in tune with each other that they alone are almost worth the entry fee.
Elsewhere the mother and son chemistry between Brown and Charles respectively adds another element to already strange set up. What you can say about Charles with absolute confidence is he has improved since season two. Banished is the whining child who just seemed to take up space last year, whereas season three gives him more to do beyond playing the adolescent petulance card every five minutes.
Similarly Fet and Dutch continue to intrigue having gone their separate ways in the latter portion of last year. Kevin Durand continues adding a grounded presence wherever and with whomever he performs. Corey Stoll and David Bradley have taken Goodweather and Setrakian to new levels, even if neither of them can be bothered to shave or shower. What has also become abundantly clear is the deliberate shift towards character development over set piece.
In truth this has always been a driving force behind The Strain and should be no surprise bearing in mind its creators. What we are seeing even after only just two episodes is a dramatic broadening of the canvas. Palmer is plotting, Eichorst remains self-aware but unable to see beyond his own agenda, while Setrakian’s obsession with ‘The Master’ continues to cloud his judgement. Goodweather and Quinlan remain driven by seemingly polar opposite objectives, yet both provide The Strain with additional gravitas. Penry-Jones represents a weekly revelation while Stoll has only shone brighter as Peter Russo in House of Cards.
What has to be admired and for that reason stated is the way things have been dialled back. Everything now is a reaction to prior events meaning that things are starting to matter from an audience perspective. As the Lumen looms large over the interests of all, events continue to gather steam and we finally get what’s been coming to us.