The Strain Season Finale Review: “The Master” (Season 1, Episode 13)

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Season 1 of The Strain started out small, with Eph and Nora investigating a plane that had mysteriously gone dark on the runway outside JFK, and finding inside something both horrifying and inexplicable. At that time, the show played more like a Contagion-esque scientific thriller than anything else, especially with two quasi-believable eggheads in the main roles. However, as the weeks ticked by, the unfortunate citizens of New York weren’t the only ones to undergo a dramatic transformation. The Strain itself morphed from a grounded, modern horror thriller into something much bigger, more wild, flawed and entertaining.

That’s not to say it was always good. This week’s “The Master” isn’t the most satisfying finale that the minds behind The Strain could have come up with, to be sure, but it’s an extremely fitting one after a season of standard mediocrity with intermittent highs. In its first year, this series went through some serious growing pains, delivering misjudged filler episodes (“Runaways” and “The Disappeared” ranking among the worst) and erring in its distracting attempts to deepen Eph as a character (finally, the writers seem to have received the memo that we don’t need a hero with Don Draper levels of depth). And despite the involvement of Guillermo del Toro, The Strain didn’t always follow through on its initial promise of inventive scares and gore.

Now that the credits have rolled on the first season finale, though, I’m hopeful for The Strain‘s future. In addition to delivering one hell of a centerpiece action sequence (undoubtedly the series’ most full-throttle to date), “The Master” brought new players into the spotlight, clarified Gus’ purpose going forward and ended on a surprisingly optimistic note, courtesy of some much-needed monologuing from Setrakian.