It’s been almost a week since that shocking season 2 finale of The Strain, and judging from the responses I’ve seen on social media, fans worldwide are working their way through the various stages of grief. I think most knew we were going to lose a main character, but for whatever reason, very few fans thought it would be Nora. Perhaps it was because of all the characters on the show, she appeared to be in the least danger. Maybe it was her kindness and the thought of anyone wanting to hurt her being so far-fetched. Or, perhaps it was the mere fact that Nora was one of only 2 main characters left alive (Vasily Fet being the other) at the end of the trilogy. Regardless of the reason, Dr. Martinez’s death was a heavy blow to the fandom and one that will continue to be felt for a good long while.
Fortunately, I was able to participate on a press conference call with Executive Producer and Showrunner Carlton Cuse and Executive Producer and Co-Creator Chuck Hogan to discuss last Sunday’s devastating loss, the surprising turn of events for the Eldridge Palmer character, and what all of this may mean going into season 3. Check out what they had to say.
QUESTION: First, are we confirming that Nora is 100% truly dead? I ask because one fan theorized that since the current ran through a silver blade, it killed all the worms and made her OK.
Carlton Cuse: “[Laughs] That is very imaginative but sadly and unfortunately, Nora is dead. ”
QUESTION: In the finale, you killed Nora, you zapped Coco and so, you’ve taken out 2 of the females from the cast. It also dropped us down to only 1 scientist. Will there be any additional casting in season 3 to adjust for either of these voids?
Carlton Cuse: “There will be some casting additions, but we also have a very large cast. I think one of the things we struggled with last season was effectively servicing all of the characters, and we are very excited to do more with, for instance, the Justine Feraldo character played by Samantha Mathis. She’s going to be a big part of season 3, and also, the Quinlan storyline is something we’ll be seeing a lot more of in season 3 as well.”
QUESTION: Nora’s death was a shocker, of course, for a good deal of the fans. Can you talk a little bit about why you chose to kill her off?
Carlton Cuse: “It was a very hard decision because Mia Maestro is one of the most wonderful people you’ll ever meet and a very fine actress. She was a really great part of the show. But I think on some level the audience needs to be told narratively that no one is safe. I think the same was true on ‘Lost.’ We killed popular characters like Charlie and it was extremely painful, but it was necessary to make sure the show has a sense of danger and stakes. No one is safe. We felt like [Nora’s death] was an event, a story that was necessary to move Eph into the place where he needed to be for season 3. And we felt like the impact of it would be shocking and unexpected. It was a big tragic turn in our storytelling, and I think the stakes have been raised. We did it on ‘Lost,’ you see it on ‘Game of Thrones.’ I think the reality of television storytelling is you have to be willing to do some bold things in order to not have the audience feel like the narrative is predictable.”
QUESTION: Nora’s death was a major deviation from the books. Were you purposely trying to do things differently?
Chuck Hogan: “It’s not something we were looking to do or felt we needed to do. This was really something that just came out of thinking big about the story and what would really energize things going ahead. So, yeah, we’ve deviated significantly from the books, but at the same time I think it’s been great to have the books there as a skeleton that we can hang different clothes on, so to speak.”
Carlton Cuse: “What we don’t want to do is just a literal retelling of the books. I think from early on, Guillermo, Chuck and I all agreed that the show should take on a life of its own. That’s the wonderful thing about television is when you make a series, it comes to life. It has its own sort of organic quality, and that’s something we’re following. We listen to the show and the wonderful characters. Eichhorst is a much smaller presence in the books. There’s no Dutch, there’s no Justine. Obviously the seismic events like the death of Nora don’t occur. Setrakian is still alive, as is Palmer. There’s lots of things that we’ve done differently. So inevitably the conclusion of our series will be different than the books.”
TV GEEK TALK: For me, Nora’s death wasn’t the only shocking part of the finale. Another was the fact that Eldridge Palmer survived. If the series had followed the books, Palmer would have been killed by the Master, but Coco took the fall instead. What does that mean for the Palmer character going forward? Are there plans to expand the character to some extent?
Carlton Cuse: “That’s an extremely good question that, if we were to answer, would potentially spoil stuff that we’re planning to do. The whole Coco storyline was meant to pivot the character a little bit and force him to recognize the consequences of his actions on a very personal level. That’s all going to have consequences in season 3.”
Chuck Hogan: “Coco isn’t in the books, and her relationship with Palmer served a really cool purpose – to show us another side of Palmer. Basically it’s about him becoming a human being, maybe for the first time. So I do think her death is going to spin him off yet again into another mindset. Don’t forget also that he’s relying on The White – vampire blood nutrient – to keep him healthy. So he’s stuck in a very interesting situation. That’s where he will be dramatically at the start of season 3.”
TV GEEK TALK: I also personally loved the train and derailment scene. Excellent job. For television, that was a fantastic sequence. Can you talk a little bit about that scene and how it was filmed?
Carlton Cuse: “Well, thank you. We have an incredible production team in Toronto led by Miles Dale who is our Producer/Director up there. He worked very closely with Vincenzo Natali, who was the Director of the finale. Then, a lot of it were brought to life with visual effects, and we have Guillermo del Toro supervising our visual effects. Guillermo worked extensively on that sequence, and I don’t think you’ll see anything any better on the visual effects level on TV.”
QUESTION: How will the events of Nora’s death and Zack’s disappearance affect Eph going into season 3?
Chuck Hogan: “I feel like the events of the final episode are going to push him even further in season 3. I’m really excited about where that’s going. One of my favorite things about season 2 was that Corey Stoll’s character, Eph, was really re-energized. Coming off [what happened to Nora and Zach], he is going to really be looking to anything he can for revenge and to find out what happened to his son. So he’s going to be on a terror in season 3.”
QUESTION: You had that fantastic opening sequence that you ran once right before the episode “Battle for Red Hook.” Can you talk a little bit about how that came about?
Carlton Cuse: “We had become aware of this graphic artist, and he was a huge fan of the show. He had reached out to us and was interested in doing something with us. This also happened a lot with ‘Lost,’ with artists being inspired by the show to create related work. So, we really liked his work and thought, ‘Let’s do a title sequence.’ We thought it would be a fun one-off Easter egg that would present someone else’s creative input on the show. So, we commissioned it, and we were excited that this artist in France had fallen in love with our show and wanted to be a contributor to it.”
QUESTION: What can we expect going into season 3? Quinlan is so mysterious and has quickly become a fan-favorite. Can you tease about what we’ll see from the character in the next season?
Chuck Hogan: “[Quinlan’s] a really, really fun character to write. We’ve had a lot of fun teasing out the mystery. But absolutely, certain questions will be answered, and he’ll be an integral part of the story going ahead. We also have the Occido Lumen. Setrakian has been working very hard to get that. So that opens up a lot of possibilities. At the same time, it’s going to have the potential to attract a lot of unwanted attention from the other side, too. We definitely won’t see our gang necessarily living and working out of the same place, at least at the start of the season, although we love Fet’s warehouse as a home base. The set is just incredible, and you can do a lot of things with it. So we’re going to come up with some interesting things to do in that same structure. But, I do think the feel of the show in season 3 is going to be different. Not radically different, but we are going to be advancing the story faster and getting more of a world view. I think it will speed up the storytelling even more. There might be some more time jumps so we really get a sense of things falling in the world situation, going into a serious collapse.”
Carlton Cuse: “Yes, Quinlan is a very mysterious character, and you saw 1 flashback of him [last season]. There’s definitely more to tell there. And we’re only doing 10 episodes for season 3, which is also going to really add a lot of propulsion to the narrative.”
Well, there you have it, folks. Season 2 is officially a wrap, and now, we head into that dreaded 9-month hiatus. But no worries, I’ll still be here writing feature articles on the show from time to time to make the wait a little less painful. So be sure to check back with the site, and to all my Strainiacs, until we meet again…
The Strain returns for season 3 in the summer of 2016.
Geeky computer and math nerd by day and TV fanatic by night. My beats are The Walking Dead, The Strain, Person of Interest, Z Nation, and anything that most people would call freaky. Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer of TVGeekTalk.com
s are closed.