‘The Strain’ Season 4 Premiere Review: This is How the World Ends

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As the fourth and final season of “The Strain” begins, it’s clear we’re not in a great place. After the so-called “Illumination Day”- aka the day that ungrateful brat and all-around douche nozzle Zach (Max Charles) literally nuked New York City because daddy Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) killed his mommy, Kelly (Natalie Brown), who, lest we forget, was a full-on monster that was about to kill Ephraim- it is clear that the Strigoi have the upper hand over humanity. At least, for the time being.

Freedom Centers abound across the nation, and humans have teamed up with Strigoi in what is called “The Partnership”- not that most of them have a choice. Of course, some are still fending for themselves all over the map, forming small pockets of resistance where they can. Needless to say, the Strigoi are attempting to quash these rebellions whenever and wherever they may occur. The more publicly they do so, the less likely people are to resist in the first place.

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But it’s clear that this is a dictatorship, not a true partnership, and that the leader continues to be the nefarious Master, now personified by Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde), to the continued dismay of his right-hand Nazi man, Thomas Eichorst (Richard Sammel), who questions the Master’s schemes at nearly every turn. Particularly his odd attachment to Zach, who he keeps around, much like a pet- or Zach’s own guard-Strigoi.

The Master has Zach “hooked” on his blood, which he feeds to the boy at regular intervals, and he manipulates him by appearing to him as his mother. Though Eichorst doubts Zach’s “leader potential,” The Master thinks he has “dark potential.” You think? The kid did nuke a large swath of NYC, after all, because daddy made him mad. So, duh.

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For whatever reason, he plops Zach down in Central Park Zoo and has him kill or be killed by a loose tiger. Zach handily defeats the foe, but, as Eichorst points out- a single shot would have sufficed. He’s still surprised the kid overkills his prey after what happened before? Whatever the case, it’s clear that the Master has plans for him, though what we don’t know just yet.

What we do know is that, at least in part, the Master sees Zach as leverage against his still-on-the-loose wild card father, who is laying low in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the moment. As a “reward” for killing the tiger, the Master gives Zach a video game- “Guitar Hero” or some such knock-off.

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Although, I must admit, I wondered if that was the gift, or if the Master actually intended that girl, Abby (Jocelyn Hudon) to be the “real” reward for Zach’s being a good boy. Given that the actress seems to be intended as a recurring character, it’s entirely possible she might be the “real” gift here. If so, the question is: what is Zach meant to do with her? Is she supposed to be a “pet” like the child Strigoi he has on a leash? Or is she a “test” of some kind, to see if Zach will follow orders, like the tiger? Or is she simply meant to help keep him in line? We shall see.

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Meanwhile, Dr. Goodweather is off the grid, taking odd medical calls here and there for money or booze, on behalf of a small group of people in the underground resistance. They don’t last long, as the Strix burst in after a certain point and round everyone up to take them who knows where. However, another resistance group blows up the bus, killing everyone but the doctor, who is thrown from it and emerges relatively unscathed.

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He helps someone who was injured by the explosion, who turns out to be one of the ones who caused it. His sister, Alex Green (Angel Parker), initially tries to pull a gun on the doctor, but he easily disarms her. In exchange for food and supplies, he agrees to stay with them for a few days to look after her brother. Given that they didn’t even realize that there were humans on the bus they blew up, it’s obvious they aren’t the most well-thought out bunch of Freedom Fighters, but maybe Dr. G. can help with that.

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Out in North Dakota, Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand) is likewise off the grid, and now has a new girlfriend, Charlotte (Rhona Mitra, “The Last Ship”). They approach a group of people also laying low, looking for info on an alleged missile silo in the area, but meet with resistance. Enter the rest of their group, which includes Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones), who makes short order of most of them, leaving only a few alive to answer Fet’s questions, but it’s a no go.

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We see from a nightmare, in which the Professor (David Bradley, fresh from his ill-fated “Game of Thrones” gig) appears to him, asking him how he’s faring, that Fet is trying to track down a nuclear warhead, in order to retaliate against the Master for what he did to NYC. Fet runs afoul of a group of women who have gone radical, using men as slave labor, including Roman (K.C. Collins, “Lost Girl”).

Fet’s capture doesn’t last long, as Quinlan shows up to free him soon after, along with Charlotte, who was balking at joining up with the feminist clique. Fet notes that Roman has military insignia on his uniform and finds out that Roman used to work at the missile silo they’re looking for and that the missiles there are indeed intact. In exchange for freeing him, Roman agrees to show them where it is. Lucky for them, this time, Quinlan doesn’t kill everyone, leaving the women to their own devices as the group leaves.

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That was about it for this episode. We still don’t know where Abraham and Dutch (Ruta Gedmintas) are at the moment, but the photos that were released would seem to indicate that she’s laying low as well, possibly working as a waitress somewhere. Either way, it’s obvious that all of the core cast members are spread out all over the place, but are still in touch to some degree, with each working towards a specific goal- namely, revenge against the Master and Eichorst and to turn the tides of the war against the Strigoi.

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As this is the final season, expect some deaths along the way- I can’t imagine Abe will make it through the season, not in the least given what transpires in the preview of the upcoming season, but we’ll see. The survival of Fet and Dutch seem more assured, though Dr. G’s fate is up in the air, depending on the level of his continued attachment to his son. If he accepts that Zach is beyond the scope of being helped, then maybe he’ll be okay, but I don’t see that happening. Despite his actions, Zach is still his kid, after all.

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As to how it all unfolds in the end, I’m going to forgo any predictions on that just yet, as it would be mere speculation at this point. (I haven’t read the books, FYI.) The obvious would be that good wins out in the end, and the Master and his minions are defeated and humanity reigns supreme once again. Of course, this is Del Toro we’re talking about, so a happy ending isn’t always a foregone conclusion, i.e. “Pan’s Labyrinth.” So, we’ll see how things go over the next few weeks before I make any sweeping proclamations about what will happen.

Until then, feel free to make your own predictions below, though I ask you don’t reveal any book-based spoilers- though, from what I hear, the show differs from the books a fair amount, so it might not matter, anyway. I’ll be checking in on the show from time to time in the weeks to come, so keep an eye out for my articles! Until then, thanks for reading!