Season 1, Episode 13
Air date: Sunday, October 5, 2014 at 10PM ET/PT on FX
“An ancient truce has been broken. An act of war has been declared. We need a human soldier who can move freely in the daylight; someone who can use the power of the sun to massacre the unclean.” – Quinlan
When I first heard about The Strain, I was excited. A new, darker twist on the traditional vampire genre was just what the doctor ordered. I do love my sexy vampires and what not but sometimes, you want to be scared by these undead beings. Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s novels of the same name do exactly that. Bringing their imagination to life on the small screen gives those of us who haven’t read the books a chance to discover something different. While the first 11 episodes of The Strain had me climbing imaginary ladders and wriggling out of non-existent tunnels in my living room, the final two episodes left me wanting in a bad way.
In the penultimate episode, “Last Rites,” I was still on my anxiety high from episode 11, “The Third Rail.” But watching “Last Rites” basically killed my buzz. My hopes were high for an intense, drama laden season finale but “The Master” doesn’t deliver. There are moments in the season finale that capture my interests, but the majority of the episode lacks any grip. I’ll compare it to a 7-layer dip. When you sink your tortilla chip into the very top and plunge down, hoping to get every single delicious layer only to have your chip break halfway through … well, this is how I felt when I finished watching “The Master.” I got some good layers but I’m left with a broken chip and only three and a half layers of dip to satiate my palette.
The recon mission Eph (Corey Stoll) and Vasiliy (Kevin Durand) go on provides some anxious moments but unfortunately, it fizzles quickly. In a city overrun with strigoi, hordes of them hiding in underground caves, for Eph and Vasiliy not to run into one until they reach the top floor of Gabriel’s (Jack Kesy) loft doesn’t seem realistic. The use of dynamite also doesn’t seem plausible in the sense that it causes only minor destruction. Two sticks of dynamite should have caved in the tunnel but somehow, it only caves in the area where the strigoi are lurking. I’ll give it to Vasiliy; his idea to open the manhole and let the sunlight in is a smart plan. But again, these strigoi don’t appear to be smart and for them not to trample each other to avoid the small circle of sunlight is a bit odd.
The mano a mano between Abraham (David Bradley) and The Master (Robert Maillet) should have been much more exciting. I know Abraham is elderly and still has some fight left in him but that body slam from The Master should have broken his back. The Master is supposed to be this 9’ tall, super strong immortal being, for Pete’s sake! Eph’s plan to break all the windows is genius but there is a hitch in Abraham’s account of what will and won’t kill The Master. Apparently, The Master isn’t like the rest of his minions. The interesting part about this is how The Master calls to his underlings and they come to him without fail, strangely walking backwards, not out of loyalty but compulsion. The only one loyal to The Master is Eichorst (Richard Sammel).
The fight scene with Eph, Vasiliy, Nora (Mia Maestro), Dutch (Ruta Gedmintas), and even young Zach (Ben Hyland) gets a bit incredulous. Five people battling against how many strigoi? Silver bullets and swords flying about but these strigoi have those long tongues that lash out. I don’t understand why the strigoi weren’t using their tongues more. The only one who does is Gabriel (still wearing that long wig, too).
I am happy about one part of “The Master;” it deals with Gus (Miguel Gómez) and his captor Quinlan (Stephen McHattie). Quinlan is part of the elusive strigoi SWAT team I’ve been raving about. I’m so intrigued by this group and want to know more about why they are doing what they are doing. In looking at Quinlan more closely, you’ll notice his front teeth are shaped differently, almost like rabbit teeth but with sharp fangs. I think this group of strigoi is different from The Master and his minions. Quinlan mentions a feud that has been waging for quite some time and why he’s recruited Gus. This scene alone is what makes me want to tune in next season.
We also learn what’s become of Kelly (Natalie Brown), Eph’s ex-wife and Zach’s mother. I felt so bad for Zach seeing what she’s become. I am confused, however, about why she’s still lurking around her old house. Did she know Eph and Zach would come back? I thought The Master had a grander plan for her. I kind of hoped she would end up becoming like Eichorst, in manner of speaking. Perhaps next season?
Overall, I am less than enamored by “The Master.” I will not give up hope, though, that we will have much more intensity in season two, and learn the origins of those three hibernating vampires in Quinlan’s underground lair. I wonder if there are branches of these strigoi SWAT teams all over the world. Did they follow The Master from Germany? And what will become of Mr. Fitzwilliams (Roger R. Cross) now that has left the employ of Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde)?
What did you think of “The Master?” I’d love to hear from all of you, especially those who have read the books. I welcome all opinions. Tweet me @judybopp or leave a comment below.
The Strain has already been renewed for a second season coming in 2015.
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Photos: ©2014 FX Networks. All Rights Reserved.
© 2014 – 2015, Judy Manning. All rights reserved.
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