The Strain “The Master” Review (1×13)

6 Oct


“Nothing is written that cannot be changed. It is a small world, after all. We made it that way.”

The most frustrating thing about The Strain is that it’s rarely truly great and rarely truly terrible. It’s just fine, and although there’s quite a bit of potential here, questionable writing and flat acting from many of the cast members drags down what could be a very entertaining show (and what was one throughout that whole gas station episode). The season one finale, “The Master”, is simply fine. It’s fun in places, mind-numbingly stupid in others, and alternating between boring and intriguing during the rest.

Right now, the show seems to be exploring power structures and how even with vampires, there are “turf wars” and hierarchies and manipulation. Take Eldritch Palmer, for example, someone who’s been sidelined for much of the season but has the spotlight on him throughout the finale. We get the sense that he’s unpredictable, a wild card, someone to be feared because he won’t stop until he gets what he wants, and although those qualities are exactly what make him useful to the Master, they are also what distances him. The Master keeps him at arm’s length, not turning him but still using him as much as possible, and that stands in stark contrast to Eichhorst’s reverence of the one above him. He truly is a minion, and that’s exactly what he wants to be.

So, there are definitely some interesting ideas floating around in here, and Palmer throwing the Secretary of Health and Human Services off a balcony is pure, pulpy entertainment; it also has me looking forward to what the writers do with this character in relation to those like Eichhorst. I’m, in addition, intrigued by Mr. Quinlan and The Ancients and how a human and vampires will work together, and even given the awful dialogue with Gus, there’s at least a new element to the show that has only been teased in prior episodes.

What is not very interesting in this finale, however, is what should be the most interesting because we’re spending the most time with them: the main “heroes” of our show. Every time Zach appears on screen, I want to feed him to the vampires, have him turn, and then burn him with the sun, because everything about him is grating in every way. Faking an asthma attack to get a photo album? Check. Him and Eph getting all sentimental while still in the house because it’s the finale!!!? Check. Overacting when Kelly shows up? Check. Vasiliy just saying so long to every one of these idiots and heading out to destroy vampires on his own? Not yet, but I can dream.

As for the battle at Bolivar’s, it certainly pales in comparison to the sequence in “Creatures of the Night”, but it does make for some cool fight scenes and visuals. The problem here is how awkwardly paced everything is, how it seems like the fight was only developed with the end result in mind–The Master getting away–instead of the fluidity of it all. Speaking of The Master getting away, our super intelligent characters do pretty much everything wrong when it comes to attempting to kill The Master, and then they act like the revelation of him being able to escape under the sunlight is the only thing that prevented them from killing him. Hint, guys: general incompetence leads to the Big Bad escaping sometimes, too. I’m not expecting the show to kill off that Big Bad this early in its run, but give me a break.

The episode closes with a monologue by Setrakian about how our infrastructure is being used against us by the enemy. This is an interesting idea, for sure, and it turns the tables on the common “us vs. them” mindset. What if it’s “us vs. us”, and the vampires are merely extensions? It is a small world, after all. We made it that way.




-Kelly can speak to Zach, apparently.

-Nora’s right in saying that Zach needs to learn how to fight, and I encourage this because that opens up new opportunities for Zach to be eaten. As you can tell, I don’t like him very much.

-Vasiliy is still awesome, and him blowing up those minions is a fun scene.

-I’m not sure I’ll be back for season two. We’ll see how Sunday nights are shaping up next summer.

Photo credit: FX, The Strain


2 Responses to “The Strain “The Master” Review (1×13)”

  1. thycriticman October 7, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    You summed up this perfectly. Not terrible, but not great either. Just a mixed bag. Although it did start off in a way that caught my interest…but it slowly began to lose steam as the episodes continued. It has some horrible characters and actors (Palmer)…but also has some potentially great characters and actors. Vasily is such a bad-ass…

  2. Matthew Thompson October 17, 2014 at 1:19 am #

    I finally finished this. You definitely captured all the frustration I felt with our heroes during the Master fight. Of course he wasn’t going to die, but they could have made the main characters look less incompetent while he got away. I kind of dig the Vampire SWAT team or whatever they are. And Fet is pretty awesome. Knowing me I’ll probably be back for Season 2, but I’m not sure I should be.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: