The Strain weekly recap: ‘The Master’ lacks teeth in the season finale

strain weekly recap master lacks teeth season finale 113 00097 hires1
“The world is not what it was one week ago. What will it be one week from now?”

Those are the deeply unsatisfying questions that Abraham Setrakian ponders in the final moments of The Strain‘s first season. It’s a stark reminder that only a handful of days have passed since Regis Air Flight 753 touched down at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, loaded with an ancient vampire called The Master, hellbent on remodeling every man, woman, and child in Manhattan after his own likeness. How much has changed?

Sure, blood-sucking creatures called Strigoi run rampant throughout the five boroughs, doing the Master’s bidding. Setrakian’s lifelong quest to vanquish the Master and his minions has reawakened, with new soldiers recruited to his cause. But those pieces moved into place in the early days of this hellish week. The past handful of days have been marked by little more than failure and stagnancy — both on the part of the characters, and the show.

STRAIN_111_00004_hires1The season finale, titled “The Master,” does not feel like a season finale. It’s a midseason episode, with midseason stakes. Among the big reveals: Kelly Goodweather is now a vampire; we knew this. Ephraim Goodweather is a bad dad and an alcoholic; we knew this as well. New York City remains a Strigoi cesspool, buried under Eldritch Palmer’s bags of money; nothing new there.

A small handful of “game-changers” exist, but still feel slight. The Master can survive in sunlight; further proof that he’s a vampire above all other vampires. Gus Elizalde is such a badass, that even the vampire-hunting vampires want to work with him; not a newsflash, but an intriguing promise for season two of the series.

Beyond Gus’ new role, very little about the finale feels like an “event.” Team Ephraham wage war against the Master and accomplish precisely nothing, once again retreating to home base with their hats in their hands. (Abraham’s pawnshop is no more, with Vasiliy Fet’s Gowanus loft operating as the new anti-vampire clubhouse; so, there’s that.)

It’s the same exact result every single time Abraham and Eph bring silver to bare against the vampires; they slice off a few heads and dodge some six-foot tongues, before running home with their tails tucked between their legs in failure. Same story, different episode.


Same story with the villains, as well. There’s a moment where Thomas Eichhorst finally looks like he’s about to meet his maker, riddled with silver bullets and nails. Then, he’s summoned away by the Master, seconds before he’s allowed to die. It’s hard to imagine The Strain without Eichhorst’s magnetic presence, and yet, killing off the show’s deadliest villain would be a toothsome twist.

And perhaps that’s the problem: For a show about vampires, The Strain lacks teeth. The show couldn’t bring itself to give the good guys a real loss, beyond Zach seeing his vampirized mother, and Eph returning to the bottle. The show couldn’t give them a win, either, with Eichhorst or The Master not biting the silver bullet. Even the world remains exactly as it was in the latter half of the season: New York City, on the brink of chaos, but never fully tipping toward the bloody darkness.

So, we return to Abraham’s question — a version of it, at least. What will the world of The Strain be like months from now, when it returns for a second season? Will it be the show of its first handful of episodes, filled with dread and nastiness, with the promise of a horribly mutated world? Or will it be the show of its most recent handful of episodes, shifting from one foot to another as it does the “I-gotta-go” dance?

The series has months to answer that question, but once season two begins, it needs an immediate answer. No more time to waste, The Strain. You’re burning daylight.


The third DLC for ‘Spider-Man’ swings onto PlayStation 4 next week

The third part of Spider-Man's episodic DLC, Silver Lining, releases on December 21. The episode focuses on Silver Sable and Hammerhead, and it includes three new suits for Peter Parker.
Movies & TV

Pedro Pascal officially cast as 'The Mandalorian' as Disney show fills out cast

The Mandalorian, Jon Favreau's live-action Star Wars series planned for Disney's streaming video service, will be one of the most expensive television shows ever made. Here's everything we know about it so far.
Home Theater

What’s new on Netflix and what’s leaving in January 2019

Our complete list of what's new on Netflix for January 2019 and which titles will be removed will help you catch up on your bingeing, and also ensure you don't miss any titles heading into the streaming ether.
Home Theater

Stranger Things season 3 predictions: Decoding the episode titles

Netflix has revealed the episode titles for season 3 of Stranger Things, and the eight titles could shed light on what we can expect to see when the hit show returns in summer 2019.
Home Theater

‘Star Trek: Discovery’ season 2 gets a new, Spock-heavy trailer

CBS has released a new trailer for Star Trek: Discovery season 2, which premieres January 17 on CBS All Access. The new trailer features series newcomers Spock and Christopher Pike prominently.
Movies & TV

Netflix is testing an instant scene-replay feature, but would you use it?

Ever felt like Netflix was missing a scene-replay button? The company is currently trialing a feature that lets you skip back to the start of the scene you just watched, though early tests appear to be annoying some viewers.
Movies & TV

'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' is one of the hero's best movies ever

One of Spider-Man's most memorable big-screen adventures, animated feature Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse simultaneously feels like nothing we've ever seen before and a tale that feels familiar in all the best ways.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Movies & TV

Celebrate the 25th anniversary of ‘The X-Files’ with the show’s 10 best episodes

The X-Files premiered 25 years ago, so here are the 10 best episodes of the award-winning sci-fi series. From alien-abduction drama to hilarious satires, these are the best episodes from all 11 seasons of the hit series.
Movies & TV

Can't get enough lightsaber action? Here's how to get your Star Wars fix online

Few of us want to deal with DVDs or Blu-ray discs anymore. Unfortunately, the Star Wars movies are few and far between when it comes to streaming. If you want to watch Star Wars online, check out our guide on where to find the films online.

Psychedelic 'Spider-Man,' Superman goes evil, 'Star Trek: Discovery' trailer

This week on Between the Streams, we'll talk about the wondrous, psychedelic adventure that is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. We'll also discuss Dr. Strange 2, the freaky trailer for Brightburn (Superman goes evil?), and more.
Home Theater

Streaming services blast past networks for the most scripted TV shows in 2018

For the first time in history, streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, produced more original scripted series than broadcast or cable channels, setting a new record for the number of TV shows on the air.
Home Theater

The best Dolby Atmos movies for your home theater sound as good as they look

If you've got your hands on some sweet Dolby Atmos gear, the next step is to find films that take advantage of it. These are our picks in every genre for the best Dolby Atmos movies currently available on Blu-ray and streaming services.
Movies & TV

Do you have questions about Hulu? We’ve got answers

Not sure which Hulu subscription is right for you? We're here to help. This is your complete guide to Hulu and Hulu with Live TV, including content offerings for each service, pricing, internet requirements, and more.