Buy it Now: The Strain Season 4
To draw another comparison between Lost and The Strain, whatever the finale might have lacked on a plot level, it made up for by delivering an emotionally satisfying conclusion to this ongoing story. No, “The Last Stand” wasn’t as epic in scope as it could have been. In that sense, it fell short of the standard set by “The Fall” a year previous. But the finale did ensure that pretty much every character was given the closure they deserved. It wrapped up the show’s loose ends neatly while still leaving a bit of room for a sequel, should the need ever arise. The series finale was anything but precious with its surviving cast of characters. The biggest surprise was that both Eph and Zach perished in their final confrontation with the Master. But is there any way Zach’s story could have ended? He had a great deal to atone for given his actions since the end of Season 3. Nothing short of sacrificing his own life and setting off a second bomb that saved New York was going to get the job done.
All seems lost. The strigoi have won the nuclear war that Eph (Corey Stoll) and Zach (Max Charles) triggered on Illumination Day and now rule as bloodthirsty tyrants through The Partnership. Eph’s ragtag gang has scattered all over the U.S. in an effort to survive and evade strigoi persecution. The fight isn’t over, however. Eph works with resistance fighters to attack strigoi nests. Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones) and Fet (Kevin Durand) steal a nuclear weapon. Dutch (Ruta Gedmintas) and Setrakian (David Bradley) escape a blood-processing plant and resume work on the Occido Lumen. All roads lead back to Manhattan as the war between the Master (Robin Atkin Downes) and the human resistance reaches its climax. The fourth season of “The Strain” also stars Jonathan Hyde as Palmer, Richard Sammel as Eicchorst, Miguel Gomez as Gus, and Cas Anvar as Desai. Jamie Hector resumes his role as Alonso Creem. Guest stars include Angel Parker as Alex and Rhona Mitra as Charlotte. Having Carlton Cuse as executive producer isn’t the only thing Lost and The Strain share in common. Both are proof that sometimes the best thing you can do for a long-running series is to give it a firm end date. The Strain immediately received a much-needed jolt of adrenaline midway through its third season once it became clear that Season 4 would be its last. That fueled a literally explosive finale where a nuclear blast ushered in the Night Eternal and the Master’s full rise to power. When that season ended, it was impossible not to be chilled at the thought of a dramatic, claustrophobic final season where our heroes fight a losing war against an unholy enemy that’s no longer affected by daylight.
The Strain Season 4 Trailer Australia
Season 4 never quite captured the intensity promised in those final moments of “The Fall” last year. Probably it was too much to expect for the show to maintain that level of dread and unease for 10 episodes straight. Even so, this season was able to give the series and nits main characters the closure they deserved. Rather than shifting the setting to subterranean New York, as “The Fall” suggested, Season 4 expanded the scope of The Strain by scattering its main cast across the country. Those early episodes certainly offered a change of pace, shifting away from the familiar New York setting and showcasing the rapid breakdown of civilization throughout the country. Maybe we never got to see some of the more dramatic events that unfolded off camera in between seasons (such as the outbreak of war and the onset of nuclear winter), but the general aesthetic of the show became bleaker and more foreboding. Fet’s storyline in particular was great about setting the mood. The constantly overcast skies and cold, barren fields really created a sense that the world had moved on. The downside to that change in scenery, however, is that it took some time for the season to rebuild the show’s momentum. The first half of the season was largely devoted to getting the whole gang back together and paving the way for that true final conflict. At some point you have to question the purpose of breaking them apart in the first place. Still, that slow buildup did make the eventual reunion feel more meaningful. There was a lot of emotional baggage leading into those final few episode, with Eph mourning the loss of his family and Fet still harboring resentment towards Eph and Dutch thanks to their short-lived love triangle. There was a certain satisfaction in seeing these character finally start to put aside their differences for the common good.
That ties into another thing the writers handled very well this season. From the beginning, it was clear just how much the writers were using the strigoi conflict as a metaphor for the current political unrest in America. It’s impressive how easily the show was able to pivot and tackle a post-election US head-on. The rise of the Master clearly paralleled the unexpected victory of a certain real-world political figure. Not that the series was blatantly political in its messaging this year. It was more focused on posing the same question to its characters in different ways – “Will you keep your head down, or raise your voice and take action against the injustice you see in the world?” One way or another, the heroes of the Strain chose the latter, and that made for a more emotionally resonant finish. Nowhere was this struggle better personified than with Eph himself. He’s a character prone to wallowing in his own alcohol-soaked misery, and he began the season at quite possibly his lowest ebb. That’s what made his arc this year so compelling. Eph had to find his courage and his will to resist all over again. And when the final battle loomed, Eph had to weigh the needs of the many against his all-encompassing desire to save his misguided son. Stoll was given a lot to work with this year, and he really made the most of the material.
Zach proved a more troublesome case. Already the show’s most unlikable character by a mile, Season 4 really doubled down on all of Zach’s worst qualities. As if setting off a bomb and killing thousands just to spite his father wasn’t bad enough, Season 4’s Zach descended ever further into creepy psycho stalker territory. As has been the case since Season 2, the combination of lousy writing and Charles’ one-note performance really works against a character who should be the focal point of the entire series. The good news is that Zach did find some measure of redemption by the end. Not enough to justify the character’s questionable portrayal all these years, but enough to at least give his arc the conclusion it needed. In general, most of the recurring characters were given fitting conclusions to their stories. Yes, there were some that deserved more screen time than they received. I was especially disappointed not to see more emphasis on the rivalry between the former Eldritch Palmer and his minion, Herr Eichorst (Richard Sammel). And for the most part, the new characters introduced this season – Alex Green (Angel Parker), Raul (Michael Reventar), Roman (K.C. Collins) and Abby (Jocelyn Hudon) – were fairly underutilized. But all the major players enjoyed some big moments and, pretty much without fail, received the endings they deserved. That was certainly true for Fet, who alone among the cast proved to be the unwavering hero over the course of these four seasons. Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones) also had a great final year, with the show digging even deeper into the character’s tragic back-story.
In many ways, the season really peaked several episodes earlier during the final showdown between Setrakian and Eichorst. It’s become a running gag on the show that these two characters constantly clash, only for Eichorst to always escape and live to fight another day. More than anything, I was looking forward to seeing the cycle finally end this season. And their clash in the appropriately named “Ouroboros” didn’t disappoint. Setrakian proved that, even weakened and nearing death’s door, he’s not an opponent to be underestimated. That confrontation offered a fitting end for this decades-old rivalry and a great sendoff for the tenacious Setrakian. Fet is the one character who truly deserved a happy ending in all of this, and I was glad to see him get one. Durand’s narration during that final epilogue sequence was a bit cheesy, but the optimistic tone was appreciated all the same. What better way to end the series than with a sweeping shot of the sun finally dawning over New York once more? While fairly slow starting out, The Strain’s fourth season eventually built to a satisfying conclusion as it rearranged the playing field and explored the far-reaching effects of the Master’s rise to power. Whatever this season might have lacked in sheer scope, it made up for in solid character drama. Pretty much every character was given the conclusion they deserved, even the perpetually troublesome Zach. Season 4 gave this show the closure it needed.