The Strain Season 2: Richard Sammel, Rupert Penry-Jones & Crew Highlight an Action-Packed Vampire Apocalypse [Review]

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From FX and the minds of Guillermo Del Toro and Carlton Cuse comes the second season in this vampire apocalypse saga ‘The Strain’, which stars Corey Stoll, David Bradley, Mia Maestro, Richard Sammel, Rupert Penry-Jones, Miguel Gomez, Ruta Gedmintas, Natalie Madison Brown, Ben Hyland, Jonathan Hyde and Kevin Durand.

As the second season unfolds, the transformation has begun. It can no longer be denied — New York City is rapidly falling to an evil epidemic, and no one is coming to its rescue. Its citizens must fight or die. Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) and his unlikely allies tried to take down the embodiment of this evil — the Master — and failed.

Now Eph and Dr. Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro) concentrate on creating a biological weapon to wipe out the creatures, while Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley) searches for an ancient book he hopes will reveal the strigoi’s entire history…and possibly a way to kill them. Meanwhile, the Master is out for revenge, unleashing new and even more terrifying breeds of bloodthirsty creatures after our team. Our team must find a way to defeat him before the infection spreads too far and becomes irreparable … before they become monsters themselves.

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By the end of the first season, New York City was getting decimated by the vampire plague, or at least it seemed that way. When season two kicked off I had assumed we were about to embark upon a more post-apocalyptic journey through a ravaged cityscape but apparently that wasn’t the case. Eph, Abraham and the crew are holding base in the city and have become a ragtag group of vampire hunters while the city tries to stay alive at nighttime. It was an interesting addition to the series to show some politics getting roped into the mix and at one point we see a tax being imposed upon the rich community of New Yorkers so that they can fund the humans in their war against the vampires. Last season I was cheering for a head being chopped off and here I am in season two high-fiving my television when a vampire tax was being forced upon a bunch of rich douchebags.

That’s not to say season two became more of a ‘drama’ however, because the action was ramped up to the highest level possible. If you thought the first season was high-octane then you’re in for a treat now because Carlton Cuse and Guillermo Del Toro have cranked this mother all the way to eleven and they don’t stop. I love it when a series can be this action-packed and still hit on all the right character building notes. Durand’s Vasiliy Fet even manages to wind up in a love triangle and becomes the third wheel in a romance between two women. We also flash back on several occasions into Eph’s past and it works (nice to see Sean Astin return).

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The real reason behind The Strain season two’s success – the number one key to its greatness… Is that I believe the writers truly listened to the fans. Everybody hated Corey Stoll’s wig – gone. That’s right – they came up with a way to ditch Stoll’s distracting hairpiece and now the dude looks handsome as fuck being bald. Deal. That’s just one of several reasons why The Strain works on so many levels. David Bradley once again steals the series as the angry old bastard Abraham. I love this old cranky bastard so much.

Most of season two has him on the hunt for a mysterious old nook called the Occido Lumen, which holds the key to defeating the master and his vampiric army. I loved the rivalry between Abraham and Thomas Eichorst this season – so much hate between these two. Richard Sammel has nearly an entire episode in which we dive into Eichorst’s past to find out how he became a Nazi general and it was one of the strongest of the season. I appreciate tremendously how they’re letting Sammel shine as this wonderful villain by bringing him right into the forefront. Is the master around? Sure he is – looks different, but it doesn’t matter – Eichorst is the true big bad.

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I have to applaud actress Natalie Madison-Brown for her role as Kelly Goodweather – aka Zack’s undead mother and the evil vampire ex. I assumed she was a one and done season kind of character but she’s such a driving force throughout. The introduction of the blind kids turned creepy crawling bloodsuckers was one of the more disturbing factors of the series but it worked and added a whole new layer of evil to The Strain.

The one problem I had with season two was the romantic relationship between Palmer and some secretary named coco. The only thing more disturbing than seeing old-ass Jonathan Hyde lick the face of a 20-year-old was having that 20-year-old blonde be named COCO; But enough of that imagery – back to The Strain being awesome.

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One of the coolest new additions to the series is Quinlan. He’s the leader of that rival vampire clan that is going to war against the master and he’s played by the electric Rupert Penry-Jones. As if the series needed another badass, so they went and acquired this slick son of a bitch and cemented their badass quota forever. They even threw in a crazy old bastard wearing a lucha libre mask who swings a big ass chain. The Strain is firing on all cylinders with no sign of slowing down.

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