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The Strain - Season 2 Advance Preview, Exclusive Interview & Spoilers



The first season of “The Strain” ended barely a month ago but planning is already in full swing for season two. The writers have a number of scripts ready to go and have planned the storyline through the end of the season. In fact, the cast and crew start shooting on Monday, November 17.

So that begs the question: What can we expect from season two? Fortunately we have the answers straight from “The Strain” writer and executive producer Chuck Hogan, who also co-wrote the three novels with Guillermo del Toro on which the series is based. Hogan gave SpoilerTV an exclusive interview about the FX vampire drama’s sophomore season. He tells us season two will be a definite change. Characters are growing, vampires are maturing, the strain is spreading and new stories lie ahead. We break down all the details Hogan was willing to spill. So read on. The second season of “The Strain” returns summer 2015. But after all these intriguing teasers, we’re not sure if we can wait that long! Here is what Hogan had to say about all the different aspects of season two:


Planning & Writing

We started talking about [season two] in mid-June. We’ve been really lucky. FX has been really great in that they’ve allowed us to start writing early so we’re not scrambling to invent things. We’re actually able to do some more deep thinking. I try to lay out as much as possible, to really have a lot of connective tissues, so you don’t have to invent things that might be interesting and cool but don’t really feel right.

Season one tracked the beginning to the end of book one. We have three books and we’re sort of planning out five seasons. So in general terms seasons two and three would comprise a lot of book two. We have come up with a way to progress it that we think is interesting. The bottom line is, we’re adding a lot of new stuff. Now we can expand on [the book’s content] and either do some things we thought about doing but hadn’t, or just coming up with some new ideas. We’re certainly using the books but we are absolutely open to changing things from the book.


Theme


If I had to sum [the theme] up in three words, it would be Crisis Equals Opportunity. That works both from the point of view of the bad guys – certainly that’s Eldritch Palmer’s credo – but at the same time the crisis, the scary plague, allows our characters to really rise to the occasion. I’m thinking of Fet specifically. The exterminator, the rat hunter has suddenly got these human-sized vermin running through New York and [this is] really kind of what he was built for, without ever knowing it. So there are opportunities to do some very gross things and do some incredible things.


The City

We estimate maybe 10, 15 percent of people have been turned. There’s still a long way to go and the city is definitely hurting and is starting to fall. The fun part about our show, as opposed to most shows, is that it doesn’t just happen. It’s not like all of a sudden there are vampires here and it’s on. But we’re actually seeing the fall, the decline of civilization and how society is reacting or failing to react to this sudden scourge. So that’s a big part of what we’ll see and what our characters have to face. We’re really interested in the external pressures, what it would be like semi-realistically if something like this happened in a major city.

What we will see is New York fighting back, too. There are pockets of resistance, there is a growing sort of grassroots effort to throw these things off. In other words, not just our five or six heroes doing it, but other people for their own reasons. So there is a real sense of a growing battle between vampires, who are trying to essentially colonize and take over New York and everything else, and humans who, once they understand the threat, try to mount a resistance and try to hold their city.


Vampires


One of the great things about our creatures, our vampires, are that they aren’t static. As they continue to mature, they get smarter; they get more used to their host body, if you will. And they’re able to work together. So the threat keeps escalating. It’s not just the same vampires coming at you over and over again. They’re learning and getting smarter. Our heroes kind of understand how the vampires work better. But at the same time [the vampires] are maturing also. The more we learn about them, they are learning more about themselves in a sense that they are able to coordinate attacks at times and not be these zombie-like drones.

There’s going to be a different kind of vampire that’s specially created by The Master that will assist Kelly in her hunt for her dear ones. We’re really excited. It’s a step up from our other vampires in a really exciting way. That’s going to present even more of a threat – and they’re also a really great tool for Kelly to use. It’s almost like she gets something of a surrogate – she gets her own form of children who will assist her.


The Master


We’re going to see more of The Master’s backstory. In fact you’ll see that in episode one. And also, Setrakian failed to kill him but he has succeeded in disrupting the progression of the disease. The body he is existing in has been seriously wounded so he’s going to need to make some adjustments. This master plan was proceeding as he’d hoped and then this really throws things off. So he has to adjust his strategy moving ahead.


Vampire Hunters

As you know, they are the hunters or the ancient. They recruit Gus at the end of season one. So he’ll be with them at the start of season two, kind of learning the ropes. There’s a really interesting turn that I don’t want to give away exactly. But something happens fairly early in the season which is a real right turn for that story.


Characters

Eph:
With Eph, you remember he took a drink at the end of the season. He’s pretty much an alcoholic. That’s going to continue. People who drink act in very different ways. There’s definitely kind of a character change as he has decided there’s no real reason not to be a drinker because there’s so much crazy stuff going on. He gets on a mission that is very direct and very dark. He’s a much more dangerous sort of character – and I think much more interesting.

He’s been following Setrakian and he’s sort of under his sway in terms of the mythological and metaphysical basis of vampirism. But he decides that the only way he can really go at it successfully is using what he knows. And that is epidemiology and using science and medicine. So he figures out that may be a good way to try to fight this plague – work against it using what he knows. There is no vaccine for vampirism, there’s no cure necessarily. But maybe there’s some other way he can weaken these things and try to stop their spread. So that’s his primary directive through a lot of the first half of the season. But he’s using what he knows in a really dark way. Even as he’s pulling away from Setrakian sort of philosophically, he’s moving towards him, too, in the sense that he’s willing to do almost anything to beat these things. So that’s really fun to play with and Corey’s such a great actor, it’s great to give him interesting stuff like that.

Nora:
Nora, having seen what she’s seen – she had to release her mother – she’s definitely got to battle hard. So she’s right there with [Eph]. She agrees that [using science to fight the vampires is] the best use of their expertise.

Setrakian:
After his failure to kill The Master when The Master actually survives his exposure to sunlight, he embarks upon what’s actually a more sort of mythological, spiritual quest. His approach to getting rid of The Master or trying to beat him is by less trying to kill him physically, and instead trying to discover what his origin is in the hopes that if you find out how he was created, then you may be able to find out how you can destroy him. So he’s on a slightly different track.


Fet:
Fet is somewhat on board with [Setrakian]. Fet more practically is really concerned with shoring up his immediate area. They’ve retreated to Fet’s home, which is the warehouse in Red Hook, New York. So his initial thinking is to really try to secure his own home and then his block and then the surrounding neighborhood, and sort of practically try to wipe out the vampires that way. One thing about Fet is he’s a real lover of architecture, he’s a real historian of the city, and yet to fight these things he has to fight against the city that he loves. So there’s a tug-of-war there.

Eldritch Palmer:
At the end of season one he was given some of what we call the white of The Master, which is the white vampire blood, but not with the worms that will spread the virus. So he is feeling healthier – healthier than he’s ever felt before in his life. He’s a lot more able-bodied, and that leads to interesting developments in his personal life, but also in his approach to his motivation for helping The Master come over. He was super sickly and he was interested in achieving some form of immortality. And now that he’s had a taste of what it means to be healthy and vital, he may start to second-guess that strategy. Especially with The Master not giving him what he wanted right away.


Eichhorst:
With The Master wounded after the end of season one, Eichhorst's duties as his emissary are expanded to the point that he comes to feel he is in line for the ultimate promotion.

Kelly:
This bond [of love] that we celebrate in life is just as strong in death. You want to bring your loved ones into the fold. So Kelly has a really strong connection to her son Zack – and Zack is with Eph and the rest of our heroes. That represents a bit of a threat in their location. She can track Zack and in finding him, can find everyone, which of course [is The Master’s] doing.

Gus:
We love Gus. People seem to love him, too. He will be [a big character this season] in what I think is a very interesting way. It does deviate from the book but in a really good way. He has a more expansive role this season. He still has his own story going. The [vampire hunters] draft him as basically a day hunter because the hunters can’t really function in sunlight, whereas Gus can. So they’re looking for someone who can help them. That is his role to start. But the cool thing about Gus is he’s completely instinctual. He doesn’t have any sort of medical science background, nor does he have any sense of mythological-based instinct [about what the vampires are or how they operate], so he’s been learning it as it happens. [That] really works dramatically. He’s someone who has no knowledge base for this but is figuring it out step by step.



New Characters

We’ll have the emergence, the appearance of a very new player in this ongoing [vampire hunter] battle which has been raging for some time: the actual character from the book – his name is Quinlan. We were calling one of the hunters Quinlan in season one (the mysterious black-hooded vampire hunter who recruits Gus, though his name was never used) but we hadn’t really thought that through. There will actually be someone, another entity, if you will, who appears in a really dramatic and interesting way, closer to midseason, and shakes things up. His character arrives in a really cool way and at a really cool time. That’s one thing I’m really excited about. I don’t want to give away too much. There are really exciting things there. And yet I feel like they grow out of the story, too. It’s not like we’re dropping a bomb in the middle of the story just to shake things up. [This new character] will be the actual Quinlan and these hunters have another interesting role but if you’re familiar with the books it’s not exactly what you might expect.

This is the old Quinlan, but a new Quinlan is coming in season two.

We’re trying to mount a real-world response to this plague. And in that vein, we have a new character who is a councilwoman in Staten Island but who decides that she’s not going to wait for anyone else to help. She’s not going to wait for the federal government, she’s not even going to wait for the state or the city government. Staten Island has always felt like they’re separate from New York, anyway. And she starts to have some success in getting the vampires out. Staten Island being an island is a perfect place to start because part of the lore is vampires can’t cross the water.


Final Thoughts

It’s so much fun to do a fun, kind of crazy show like this and have people get it. They get the tone of it, not thinking, ‘Oh, this is supposed to be serious and it’s not’ or ‘This is supposed to be ridiculous and it’s not ridiculous enough.’ We’re kind of an absurd show that within the parameters of the show, the characters take it very seriously. And that’s really our sweet spot. We feel like people get that. That’s really satisfying. It’s great.



What are you most looking forward to in season two of "The Strain?" Let us know in the comments below.


About the Author - Tonya Papanikolas
Tonya Papanikolas is an online, print and broadcast journalist who loves covering entertainment and television. She spent more than 10 years as a broadcast news anchor and reporter. Now she does everything from hosting to writing. She especially loves writing TV articles and reviews for SpoilerTV.