Despite existing as a TV adaptation of a pre-existing book series, The Strain hasn't let that fact get in the way of defying the expectations of those who followed along with Chuck Hogan and Guillermo del Toro's trilogy of novels. Nowhere was that more prevalent than in tonight's episode, "First Born," as Quinlan and The Master's eternal beef came to a presumable end as Gabriel Bolivar's beheading had been accomplished.
As a fan who's read the trilogy of books, seeing Bolivar beheaded at the end of tonight's episode was a huge surprise, considering that the series of novels saw the former rock star turned vampiric overlord surviving to the end of the series. However, series co-creator and the writer of tonight's episode, Chuck Hogan, saw Bolivar's death as a huge opportunity for the show to move forward with a renewed sense of energy. As I recently sat down to speak with Hogan, he informed me of the reason he took such a left turn with the adaptation of the plot he helped create, as he made the following statement:
It really excites me, because then we can power ahead with the story from there. It's all about energizing the storytelling, challenging the characters, and keeping the viewer off balance.
Nobody could have expected Bolivar to bite the big one tonight, as he was being set up as the big bad of the series from the early days of Season 2. Of course, now that The Master's recent vessel has perished, the big question on everyone's minds is, ''When will The Master return?'' Surely he can't be dead, as the planned five season arc of the entire show is hitting a mid-point that promises to be full of twists and turns the audience won't see coming. Chuck Hogan himself promised as such, as prodding about The Master's eventual return gave him the opportunity to tease the following:
I can almost guarantee that you won't guess who he is... You might find that it may a mystery for a little bit, and again we've got a bit of a curve ball in mind.
Curve balls seem to be the specialty of The Strain as of late, as season 2 saw the show kill off yet another character that crossed the finish line in the novels, Dr. Nora Martinez. So if Chuck Hogan and his fellow writers can be that merciless with the good guys, he surely can be just as devious with the villains of the piece. But perhaps seeking the new Master isn't so hard after all, as Hogan's ''curve ball'' remark does seem to disqualify certain candidates. Most specifically, we can expect The Master right hand man, Thomas Eichorst, to be eliminated from the line of succession, as he's the only other candidate we've ever seen considered for the job. In fact, after tonight's episode, two candidates seem to be at the head of the list.
With Kelly Goodweather serving as one of The Master's top lieutenants, and with Zach Goodweather already being groomed as The Master's next human vessel, it would only make sense for the lord of all things dark to screw with Eph's head even more. Already this season, we've seen Kelly being used to convince Eph to steal and deliver the Occido Lumen into his possession, so the good doctor is clearly the weak link that can most easily be exposed. Either would be a nice, hard turn of the screw, but if we had to settle on one character, we'd say that Zach would be the most surprising candidate for the job of freaking out the viewers.
We'll have to wait and see what The Strain has in store for the Goodweathers, as well as the rest of New York City, as it continues its third season run Sundays at 10 PM EST on FX.