RED ALERT (NEWS) THE STRAIN
Showrunner Carlton Cuse talks tackling the mean streets of New York in The Strain season three...
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.”
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.