The Strain S1E13, “The Master”

Strain Poster 2

We find ourselves at the end of the season.  It took 13 episodes, but I’m now finally coming around to the sight of Corey Stoll with hair.

This season showed us a show with promise, but was ultimately unfulfilling.  It had some flashes of greatness, but mostly it was maddeningly inconsistent.  It went to the school of building drama by having characters make the worst decision at the worst moment.  So, basically, I’m all warmed up for the start of The Walking Dead.

I love the mythology behind the vampires, but they didn’t get into it too much in this season.  I guess we’ll have to hang on the promise of more of that in the second season.  I really liked Fet, but I could have done without every other character.

Let’s talk about this episode in particular.


1. Why is Palmer so eager to be turned into a vampire?  Isn’t being healed of his thousands of ailments good enough?  Has he seen the vampires?  With the exception of Eichorst, they’re all unthinking monsters.  Why would you want to be that?
I could go my whole life without hearing the phrase, “The Master gave you the white, but not the worm,” again.  Although it is nice to have a name for some Strain-centric erotic-fiction already in place.

2. Zach asking Eph when they can go home.  Eph’s face was as perplexed as mine.  “We can’t go back.”  They have tried to portray Zach as a composed, intelligent kid, but they have no problem turning up the ignorance when they need to.  “Quick.  Let’s have the kid say something that will pull at the heartstrings or whatever.”  Poor writing.

3. Gus’ insistence on acting tough and trying to punch vampires.  It never ends well for you.  Just stop.

4. The plan of heading out in sunlight to battle vampires is smart.  The plan of then traveling by sewers and secret tunnels is not.  That completely negates your advantage.

5. Zach playing a game of Plants vs. Zombies as a way to kill time.  That’s the wrong game, kid.  You should be playing Infect Them All.  That would help your preparation.

6. While I liked Fet using dynamite to make “munchers go boom-boom”, it doesn’t seem like the smartest idea to blow up a bunch of creatures with infectious blood.  All season they’ve made a point to say, “Just one worm will infect you.”  It’s how Jim died (well, technically a bullet to the brain is how Jim died, but you get my meaning).  Yet they have no issue blowing up a bunch of vampires in a confined space, or slicing-and-dicing countless vampires in closed quarters without any kind of protection.  The blood is only as infectious as the writers need it to be in that particular scene.

7. The Master – assumed to be the smartest of the vampires – knew Eph & company were coming, yet he decided to keep himself in a room filled with windows in the daylight.  Why not move to somewhere no sunlight could possibly get into?

8. The attack on The Master seemed to work fine.  They got him out in the sun, where he was clearly in pain, then Setrakian stood over his body for a while and talked instead of slashing at him.
After The Master made his escape, Eph said, “If sunlight doesn’t kill him, what does?”  Were you not paying attention?  Sunlight was doing fine.  Another minute and he likely would have been dead.  Or perhaps an assault with weapons while he was writhing in sunlight would have finished the job.  You stared at him instead of attacking him and you wonder why your attack didn’t succeed.

9. Zach.  Stupid, stupid Zach.  He faked an asthma attack just to get back to his old house.  It was dark, the city was crawling with vampires, and they had just survived a siege on Setrakian’s pawn shop the day before.  The smart move was to stay away from anywhere the vampires would think to look for them.  Instead, he really needed to see some pictures, so he lied to get back to his house.  Again, smart when they want him to be, stupid when they need him to be.  Zach is the worst.

10. The voiceover at the end annoyed me to no end.  Not a good way to end a season.


1. The idea of using hordes of vampires as security.  Sometimes I wish I was The Master, because that sounds like an amazing use of resources.  “I’m going to turn all of you into vampires, but then some of you will just stand in my general vicinity during the day and be willing to die for little to no reason at all.  Cool?”

2. Fet talking about Eph and Setrakian: “You two are falling in love.  It’s a beautiful thing.”  Kevin Durand’s Fet was absolutely the best part of this season.

3. Speaking of Fet, I loved him opening up the sewer cap to flood the tunnel with daylight to stop more vampires from filling the theater before they could get there.  Really smart.

4. Nora finally throwing down on Eph in regards to Zach.  It’s a new world, man.  No time to coddle your kid.  If you want to protect him, give him a sword and keep him at your side.

5. Eldritch Palmer throwing that woman over the ledge.  I laughed pretty hard.

6. The glowing eyes of the vampires in the club.  I don’t remember seeing that before this episode, but it was a great visual.
I think I really liked the scene where the vampires all backed out, but I’m torn.  On the one hand, it looked cool.  On the other hand, I don’t understand why the humans stopped their killing.  The vampires are vulnerable and not in the fight.  Why not try to take out as many as you can while their guard is down?

7. I’m a big fan of Quinlan the vampire hunter, and I like that we saw The Ancients towards the end of this episode.  Delving deeper into that side of things should help make the second season more interesting than the first.  I say that it should, but I don’t have a ton of faith that it will.

Final thoughts: Not a great end to the season, but it wasn’t a great season, so I suppose it was fitting.  I had high hopes for this series, but those expectations have been lowered greatly.  It wasn’t terrible, but it was remarkably inconsistent.

Make sure you read CC’s take on this.  She’s better than me.

Also read LC Fremont’s take.  She’s one of the best writers I know.