So I have a busy life. I am working on many projects right now, some that will require a lot of my attention and in an effort to save time and some energy, but keep up with my reviews, I’m gonna give my thoughts on the latest seasons of The Strain and Masters of Sex together, episode by episode.
Now before I talk about the episodes themselves, lets talk premieres, really season premieres since we got a double header here today. Depending on a certain show a season premiere can quickly put us back where the previous season was left off and advance the story and characters while still feeling connected to what had just happened about a year or several months ago depending when the finale aired, or a premiere strictly reintroduces everyone, usually for the sake of new audience members, and sets up an entirely new story for the season, while continuing to progress characters. One thing any season premiere needs to do above all is to remind us why we’re with this show in the first place. That’s my way of seeing it at least. Story progression can be an essential part, but more so character progression is as we’re here for the long haul of following these people we are so interested in, but also get a good story out of it too. So with that said, here we go!
The Strain: Season 2: Episode 1: BK, NY: GRADE: B
The Strain starts its premiere seemingly a day after the events of last fall’s finale where we discover The Master is in no way harmed by sunlight as thought of and shit is getting worse and worse. On the upside, Gus is only in one scene this episode so you take the small things where you can.
The season opens with the origin of The Master being told to Setrakian back in 1932 Romania. The Master, or as he was known, Jusef Sardu. A man born with gigantism, but such a love of life. As said the disease “made him aware of the fragility of life.” It was searching for those lost on a hunting trip that he came across a very aged vampire, with a ball sack throat as I’m putting it, and is vomited upon with the worms and the rest as many say is history. This prologue is a highlight for the series as a whole as it gives us some great backstory we lacked in season one since that was mostly about the hunt for him and it stands to reason that we’d get more of his history this season. Also because it was directed by Guillermo del Toro himself. I really wasn’t aware until the credits had appeared. I went and re-watched it and it did feel del Toro from the angles and the scariness factor. Honestly I just felt like it was them aping his style since he’s so involved with the show.
Speaking of The Master he is at front and center of the episode. He’s in need of a new body soon since his current one is a little sun damaged, but also with a deal made with Setrakian and the vampire army commandos (that is seriously never not gonna sound amazing) that once Setrakian locates The Master, he must contact them so they can kill him for betraying their agreement.
The premiere of The Strain really relies on exposition for both story purposes here in the premiere and as building blocks for the season. Here for this week its the Occido Lumen which Setrakian wants to track down to find out how to really defeat the master and Eph’s Sherlock moment of discovery in how to possibly stop the vampires by finding a weak link in the vampire biology and infect those already infected, killing the vampires, but also something that humans can tolerate. That second one really was all of Eph and Nora’s arc for the episode, aside from trying to keep sane around each other given the impending apocalypse outside and Eph falling off the wagon. The cure does play into the excellent climax of the episode where when gather supplies and Setrakian’s storage, vamps come out of nowhere and go after them. Its a nicely plotted and tightly shot sequence that concludes with a couple living at the storage lockers being infected. Hello test subjects!
Really this whole premiere is Setrakian’s episode and beginning of his redemption quest after failing in the finale. His vengeance still drives him. We get a peak into everyone else, Fet is still the best, Dutch is on full time, and Zack is well Zack. Hopefully he doesn’t fall into the annoying side of kid characters.
Palmer and Eichhorst (still wonderfully creepy) move forward in their next phase of the plan and while its more building blocks, it was only really half compelling with Eichorst rather than Palmer. Palmer’s spinning wheels by opening a line of credit to the mayor and the city, but also for how downplayed everything seems to be. There is a clear epidemic going on and there are many parts in the city that seems to just be going on as life is the same. Apparently Stoneheart are master clean up men to keep such a tight knit on this. They do mention National Guard help and such in keeping the peace, but I can’t help but think that showing the dirtier side, the real results of last season’s actions would raise the stakes for the current season rather just just slowly build to yet another climatic battle with The Master.
But back to Eichhorst who while complying with The Master’s order of a new body hunt, his taken a school of blind children and infected them. Why? So they may answer to their new mother, Kelly. Yes this is how she factors into the playings of the second season. Kelly has been chosen to mother the Children of the Night in efforts of tracking Eph and Zack, as well as abuse her connection to them. Smart move.
Masters of Sex: Season 3: Episode 1: Parliament of Owls: GRADE: A-
Masters of Sex’s third year return is more of the premiere that sets up a new story. We’re now in 1965 where Bill and Ginny are on the cusp of their book, Human Sexual Response finally being released after 12 years of hard (hehe) studying being done, but they might still discover some things about themselves. One thing that’s evident is their faults as parents. The episode is framed within a press conference for the book as well as a weekend at the lake with both families which further pushes the stick up Bill’s ass if it already wasn’t so deep in there. She wants to relax and be able to go more after her degree, but Bill just wants to proof the manuscript and keep Virginia close by for the work.
Their flaws as parental figures are in the fore front, but really I wanna start with Ginny who obviously is fine and all talk and discussing all things sexual with strangers for her job and academic advancement, but can’t seem to wanna talk to her own children about it. Tessa especially who is starting to bloom. Henry she needs no worries of given she catches him with a local girl in bed. Even trying to get Bill to talk to her, which he knows is major bullshit.
Bill’s is more than obvious with his dedication more to the work than to this family, but also the past sins of his father which played out nicely last season to develop his character. Though they seem to really just more so Bill is a serious man here a bit much to get across his faults. I like flawed characters, but I still gotta find something engaging and interesting about him writers. His climax here comes when he gets a wakeup call from Johnny when he catches a drunken and topless Tessa trying to make the moves on him. He explains her drunken state, but he wants to leave it at that, but Bill can’t stop. Johnny calls him a fucker and throws the manuscript out into the lake and Bill demands an apology as he notices the cocked back fist. Usually this would come off as trying way too fucking hard, but the direction takes it down a bit. Oh its still like an overbearing crowbar in some aspects, but its well handled at least to where I find myself not really hating the scene.
Libby meanwhile is clearly not giving any fucks. She is fully fine with Bill and Virginia, but that is causing stress along with her work which is why pills are candy to her. Libby wasn’t the most compelling thing in season two really, but I like the set up here for her eventual breakdown. She knows the marriage is over but doesn’t want her kids hearts broken as many times as her with the dealings of divorce and will read the manuscript to help Bill, but also maybe discover something about herself. Libby’s freakout over Henry getting hit by the car says a lot for her now and what will come in the season. Her best moment comes with Ginny in bed when she’s really just looking for someone to connect with.
The premiere ends with a great, impassioned speech by Bill and Ginny about how the book is about giving information, but also freeing everyone from the fear of sex. Its something that feels entirely right for the characters to say and also reads as a mission statement for the show as well where there are still individuals out there today who live in fear of sex when really we shouldn’t. Also Ginny is pregnant and most likely Bill’s. Yep that’s the real ending and well I can see Ginny keeping the baby as a way to make up for not being there for her children, but how Bill will react next week is anybody’s guess.
Both premieres do their jobs of reestablishing us as to where we were and where we’re going, albeit some minor distractions such as Zack and Henry’s Vietnam deployment hopes. The Strain showed us the heightened sense of stakes and danger from last year whereas Masters of Sex puts us in a new time and new situations for everybody. Here’s to what’s next not just for each show but this review bundle.