Forget what you think you know about The Strain. FX’s horror thriller may be based on Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s novels of the same name, but the TV series isn’t going to be playing out exactly how the book readers may be expecting. Executive producers del Toro, Hogan and Carlton Cuse already proved that at the end of season two when they killed off Dr. Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro), a shocking move as that character made it through to the end of the book series alive.
But why did they choose to veer so far from the source material and kill Nora?
“There was a lot of back and forth,” Hogan told the room of reporters at the 2016 Summer TCA press tour. “There’s no one reason, for sure. Things come up in the writers room all the time, some are frankly crazy but sometimes some ideas hit home. TV shows are organic and take on their own momentum and that was the case [in this situation]. I can’t un-bake the cake. It was a bold move. We don’t feel beholden to the books and we never have.”
Hogan then added, “We felt it would reenergize the show. It pays off immediately in season three.”
Cuse then explained that from the beginning of the series, they decided not to follow the story laid out in the books exactly as it was written.
“Both [Hogan] and Guillermo, we’ve all walked hand-in-hand and made the decision to diverge from the books,” Cuse said. “The books are their own thing and the show is its own thing. Our goal is not to do exactly what’s in the books.”
According to Cuse, the producers “talk all the time about this.”
“We set this thing in motion and we’re looking to tell the best version of the story and not have the books as an impediment,” Cuse said. “Collaboratively, we’ve all decided that the TV show should be its own thing. There will be things from the books as we march towards the end of this show but it will be different in the way it plays out.”
As a result of Nora’s death, the rest of the cast suddenly realized their jobs may not be as stable as they thought. Even if their character was alive at the end of the books series, they weren’t guaranteed to survive the TV series.
“With Nora dying, it put everybody on their toes,” star Kevin Durand said. “We have no idea whether the next episode is our last or not. It certainly makes it more visceral … especially if you like your job.”
In looking at the overall theme of the upcoming season three, Cuse revealed that they wanted to take a closer look at humanity in the midst of the vampirism outbreak.
“If these characters can all get together, do they have what it takes to win this battle?” Cuse said. “Fundamentally, this show is examining whether the foundational traits of humanity are enough to overcome an incredible parasitic invasion.”
And don’t worry if you haven’t seen the first two seasons: according to the producers, the season three premiere is a good jumping-off point for new viewers. There’s a quick two-minute voiceover recap of the events of the series at the beginning of the premiere, kicking off a new chapter.
“I think it’s an interesting phenomenon that’s occurred in television. People feel that if you start a show, there’s an obligation to start at the beginning. Why is that?” Cuse said. “People have trained themselves to think they’re obliged to start at the beginning. People can certainly watch the first and second seasons but we welcome people to jump into the third season. The audience can figure it out.”
The Strain season three premieres Sunday, August 28 at 10 p.m. on FX.