“The Strain” and “The Walking Dead” are both TV series about infected humans undergoing horrific transformations, and they both focus on epidemics that threaten the future of mankind. If you aren’t convinced that “The Strain” vampires are more formidable and frightening than “The Walking Dead” zombies, perhaps the list below will change your mind.
1. The method of infection is worse.
We’ve learned that everyone on “The Walking Dead” already has the pathogen that causes reanimation. No one knows how or why, which is pretty terrifying, but “The Strain” method of infection is far worse. Before you can die and become a vampire, a tiny, parasitic worm has to wiggle inside your body through the eye or another orifice. These squirmy little assassins are almost creepier than the killer creatures they create.
2. The vampire transformations are more terrifying.
Transforming into a zombie is a simple process: you die and rise as a walking corpse. You’re already dead when you turn, so you don’t have to witness your transformation into something terrifying. This rule also applies to the vampire pathogen, but some of the infected don’t die before they begin to thirst for human blood.
The four survivors on “The Strain” plane had to watch themselves slowly change from healthy humans to bloodthirsty beasts with new sets of organs. Ansel was cognizant enough to realize he was becoming a danger to his family. After drinking the bloody juice from a raw piece of steak and snacking on the family dog, he chained himself up in the shed.
3. Vampires are deadlier.
A zombie’s dinner has to be within arm’s reach, and it can be hard to latch onto something when your appendages are slowly rotting away. Vampires have an easier time hunting because they can run.
We didn’t get to watch society fall on “The Walking Dead,” but we’re seeing how fast the vampires can take over a city on “The Strain.” They’re running the rats out of the sewers, and the vampires are already so numerous that one just happened to go for takeout at the nursing home Nora was visiting. Within the next episode or two, vampires might outnumber human beings in the city. And they won’t just wander around until they hear a loud bang or see something move – they’ll hunt for their food.
4. There’s a master vampire coordinating the undead.
The brain-dead zombies aimlessly follow one another, but the vampires are controlled by the fully functional brain of a behemoth beast called The Master. As we learned from Abraham, he’s a master manipulator who has carefully planned the most efficient way to spread his disease. He’s telepathically linked to all his “children,” so he can control their movements and see through their eyes.
The Master also has human cohorts in high places. He used the promise of immortality to recruit powerful billionaire Eldritch Palmer to help him with his cause, and the influential businessman ensured that the vampire plague made it to the city. As long as The Master is around, it will be impossible to save society from a fate far worse than death.
5. All vampires aren’t brainless beasts.
We’ve learned that some vampires aren’t just murderous monsters driven by a need to feed. Thomas Eichhorst has retained enough of his humanity that he’s capable of disguising himself as a human and walking among the unsuspecting living. While The Master controls the vampires, Eichhorst manipulates people using money and offers that they just can’t refuse.
“The Strain” made its story even more sinister by connecting Eichhorst to real-life monsters. The wax-faced acolyte is a former Nazi officer who first encountered a young Abraham during the Holocaust. Eichhorst was in charge of a concentration camp that The Master used as an all-you-can-eat buffet and silver collection service. The nefarious Nazi has been doing evil for a long time, so he’ll also prove to be a formidable foe for Eph and Abe.
What do you think? Is the scenario presented by “The Strain” scarier than the world we see on “The Walking Dead?”
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Photo: Michael Gibson/FX