Showrun­ner Carl­ton Cuse talks tack­ling the mean streets of New York in The Strain sea­son three...

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How things are shap­ing up for a third sea­son of Noo Yoik vam­pires.

You may want to steer clear of New York City this sum­mer – at least Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Ho­gan’s ver­sion – be­cause blood­suck­ers are over­tak­ing the Big Ap­ple. Sea­son three of The Strain, which is adapted from the duo’s best­selling nov­els, finds our he­roes scattered as the des­per­ate search to stop the ram­pant strigoi plague hits a critical junc­ture.

It’s 23 days into the Mas­ter’s (Robert Mail­let) plan to over­take hu­man­ity and things are look­ing bleak for the good guys. Zach (Max Charles), the son of sci­en­tist Dr Ephraim “Eph” Good­weather (Corey Stoll), has been taken by Eph’s vam­pire ex-wife, while vamp ex­pert

The stakes are mas­sively high. The show feels re­lent­less in a great way

Pro­fes­sor Abra­ham Se­trakian (David Bradley) is team­ing up with the hy­brid fanger, Mr Quin­lan (Ru­pert Penry-Jones), to crack the Lu­men text in hopes of wip­ing out the de­mon scourge.

“We’re in full-tilt war mode,” ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Carl­ton Cuse tells Red Alert of where the story picks up. “The stakes are mas­sively high. The show feels re­lent­less in a great way. Re­ally, sea­son three is the bat­tle for New York, and ul­ti­mately as New York goes, so goes the world.”

In or­der to hon­our that in­ten­sity, Cuse says this year US network FX agreed to cut the episode count from 13 to 10. “It re­ally ac­cel­er­ated the nar­ra­tive velocity of the sto­ry­telling,” he ex­plains. “Now there’s a ki­neti­cism to the show that’s re­ally ex­cit­ing.”

With the char­ac­ters each on dif­fer­ent, fraught jour­neys to find a way to stop the plague, Cuse re­veals there’s more of a sense of a tick­ing clock for ev­ery­one. “Dif­fer­ent mem­bers of our col­lec­tive con­nect with each other at dif­fer­ent times,” he says. “Fet [Kevin Du­rand] and Se­trakian are to­gether a lot. Dutch [Ruta Ged­mintas] and Eph con­tinue to find a sci­en­tific so­lu­tion to the strigoi plague. She is in­stru­men­tal in the evo­lu­tion of their plan. Ob­vi­ously, they made this bio-weapon last year and that story evolves and con­tin­ues in some new and cool ways. She and Eph are re­ally col­lab­o­ra­tors in that ef­fort.”

How­ever, Cuse ad­mits that Eph’s fo­cus will be chal­lenged as he also tries to find his er­rant son. “Zach is with Kelly and that’s a ma­jor is­sue for Eph and a big piece of the drama,” Cuse ex­plains. A po­lar­is­ing char­ac­ter for au­di­ences, Zach is about to get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the vam­pire world that in­trigues him so much. “We see him get pulled into the world of the Mas­ter and Kelly,” Cuse teases. “Any­body who is held cap­tive is po­ten­tially a vic­tim of Stock­holm Syn­drome which is very in­ter­est­ing. To what de­gree does Zach find him­self em­pathis­ing with his mother and her cause? It’s def­i­nitely a big part of his sto­ry­telling. Zach’s jour­ney this year is not typical of most kids on tele­vi­sion and that’s what we love about it.”

Mean­while, Se­trakian, Fet, Quin­lan, Gus (Miguel Gomez) and Angel (Joaquín Co­sio) are with the Lu­men as the Mas­ter’s army are in pur­suit. Cuse laughs about this mot­ley group: “They’d make an in­ter­est­ing din­ner party, ex­cept Quin­lan would be drink­ing a goat so that’d be less than ap­peal­ing to ev­ery­one else.”

As for the group’s col­lec­tive quest for knowl­edge, Cuse adds, “The key for those guys is can they de­ci­pher the Lu­men, and does it hold the an­swer to how to kill the Mas­ter? It def­i­nitely pays off in a big way across the sea­son. Se­trakian puts a lot of ef­fort into fig­ur­ing out what’s go­ing on there. The Lu­men is very much in play and there’s in­for­ma­tion in it that’s very im­por­tant.”

go­ing deeper

De­spite the loss of Mia Mae­stro’s Nora at the end of sea­son two, The Strain still boasts a sprawl­ing en­sem­ble of char­ac­ters. Cuse adds that, aside from the ad­di­tion of a Navy SEAL char­ac­ter named Kroft and an­other NYPD char­ac­ter, the show will get a lit­tle more in­tro­spec­tive in its third year. “What we did this sea­son is dig in deeper on some of the [ex­ist­ing] char­ac­ters, like we’re go­ing to learn more about Quin­lan and his back­story,” he re­veals. “We have so many char­ac­ters that we felt we have room to learn more about them, so it’s less about new cast.”

As fans just set­tle into this new sea­son of ter­ror, though, Cuse, del Toro and Ho­gan are al­ready look­ing ahead to the next sea­son, which started pre-pro­duc­tion in July. Ex­cited of what’s to come, but wary of spoil­ers, Cuse only re­veals: “I just fin­ished hav­ing a se­ries of cre­ative con­ver­sa­tions with del Toro about what we’re go­ing to do in sea­son four. There will be a time jump for sure, some­time in sea­son four. We’ll do ten [episodes again] next sea­son. I feel like we’re get­ting to a re­ally ex­cit­ing place in our jour­ney.” It’s enough to get the blood pump­ing.

The Strain sea­son three will air on FX in the US from 28 Au­gust, and on W in the UK soon af­ter.

These two are not in for a nice day at the park.

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