2015-08-28 / Entertainment/Lifestyles

‘The Strain’ sinks its teeth into character development

By Rory MacDonald-Gauthier
TV Media

Mía Maestro as seen in “The Strain” Mía Maestro as seen in “The Strain” The 2010s decade has been a bloody entertaining one so far, that’s for certain. In the past few years, we’ve seen AMC’s juggernaut “The Walking Dead” dominate the zombie-apocalypse survival genre and HBO’s “True Blood” sink its teeth into the vampire drama scene.

Enter FX’s “The Strain,” which blends the best of both catastrophes — undead vampires have taken over New York City, and in the midst of surviving, a select few are looking to cure the epidemic through medicine or flat-out eliminating the night walkers. With season 2 now underway, catch an all-new episode of “The Strain” airing Sunday, Aug. 30, on FX.

“The Strain” began as a horror novel trilogy created by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan and was originally imagined as a television series. After countless unsuccessful attempts to pitch it to networks, though, del Toro decided to adapt the idea into a series of books, and in 2011, graphic novel publisher Dark Horse Comics began “The Strain’s” transition into comic book form, with the series running for 32 issues.

It premiered on FX last summer, and the premise is pretty straightforward: a genetic disease takes hold of New Yorkers and turns them into vampires. Hundreds of thousands of citizens run amok crying for help, but no one outside NYC is willing to lend a hand.

As with most shows, the first season focused on introducing characters, including epidemiologist Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll, “House of Cards”), looking to save the world through medicine; Eph’s close ally, Dr. Nora Martinez (Mía Maestro, “Alias”); Holocaust survivor Prof. Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” 2001); and nail gun-wielding rat exterminator Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand, “Vikings”).

“A lot of the first season we spent following each character and learning about the biology of the virus and how it completely changes human beings into something completely different, grotesque and scary, but oddly kind of beautiful at the same time,” said Durand in an interview with “Collider.” “That’s what Guillermo [del Toro] does. I feel like everything in the second season is just turned up, which might include that fear of losing your favorite character. It’s so damn scary. We don’t want to lose anybody.”

What’s the most ridiculous character you could insert into a horror-adventure show about a vampire epidemic? If you guessed a muscle-bound luchador, you’re absolutely correct. A masked crusader named Angel (Joaquín Cosío, “Quantum of Solace,” 2008) appears in the fray and decides that he’s going to relive his glory years as a wrestler — but this time his opponents are the living dead.

“What I like is the idea that a real Mexican wrestler is fighting real vampires,” said del Toro, as reported by “Collider.” “It’s not tongue-in-cheek. It’s not wink-wink. These are real monsters and a guy that used to be a wrestler but now works as a waiter in an Indian restaurant in New York. So it’s a really down-to-earth reality to the Mexican wrestler genre, and it’s a character I’ve been thinking about for ages.”

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