It's hard to believe that The Strain is already heading into its third season, with tonight's premiere bringing the vampire action in New York back to our screens for the first of the presumed last three seasons. With just 30 episodes planned to end the series, the creative team has their eyes on the prize, with a clear beginning, middle, and end always planned out. However, as co-creator and writer Chuck Hogan will tell you, the path to that ending is ever evolving.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Hogan and his work on The Strain, the series that he'd co-created with horror / fantasy mastermind Guillermo del Toro. With the move to a 10 episode season comes questions of why a series would scale back its production, and in the case of FX's vampire action-drama, the move to a shorter season was made to jump-start the charge towards the end. Hogan explained the motivation as follows:
We went from 13 episodes to 10, and I feel it supercharged the story-telling in every facet. Now that the mystery of what's been going on, and how "The Strain" is spread in NY, we've played that out and now the threat is real. And we've got our characters no longer trying to figure out what's going on, but actively trying to fight against it. This season is pretty much wall to wall, crazy stuff.
With earlier seasons of The Strain setting up the world and the lore of the Strigoi, the Ancients, and The Master, you could consider those first two seasons as "Act I" to The Strain's overall story arc. Which means that Season 3 is poised to stand as the "Act II" arc that propels the action and gives "Act III" the momentum it needs to finish strongly. Should the television adaptation stay loyal to the original source material, that ending will be strong indeed. Also, trimming a show's episode order from 13 to 10 episodes can decrease the reliance on "filler" episodes, trimming the story to a lean and mean through line that's easier to follow.
Though, much like the ever evolving adaptation has shrugged off some of the original twists from The Strain's printed incarnation, the plan to adapt the three book series into five seasons of TV may not always stand firm. Even Chuck Hogan knows this, as even he doesn't know exactly when the drama will end. In fact, the original plan to bring The Strain to TV screens wasn't even that extensive, as he recounted the following path to production:
When we first pitched it there was a three-year plan. That became a five- year plan. I really don't know. Along with everything else in the show, everything's on the table.
While the end has always been in sight for Chuck Hogan and those involved with The Strain's production, it's comforting to know that while the events to close the show are already plotted out, the pitfalls and obstacles that will line the path are enough to keep the journey interesting.
The Strain returns to infect your Sunday nights, tonight at 10 PM EST, only on FX.