‘The Strain’ Season 4: Two Steps Forward…

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The premiere of “The Strain” focused in on two main characters, Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) and Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand), but left us guessing as to what became of the rest, with only Professor Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley) making an appearance, and that was in a dream sequence.

With episode 2, “The Blood Tax,” we filled in the blanks of the rest, including at least one major surprise, though perhaps not to book readers: Gus Elizalde (Miguel Gomez) was still out and about in New York, after seemingly having headed for the hills after the sad loss of Angel. Now working the black market in a post-Strigoi victory world, Gus seeks out a cousin, Raul (Michael Reventar, “The Flash”), who works for them at a factory, to help steal some food.

Of course, this doesn’t go as planned, as a (human) security guard, Eddie (Michael Rhoades, “Saving Hope”), catches them in the act, demanding that they put the food back. Raul valiantly tries to talk him into going along with it, as does Gus, but no dice. Eddie makes a run for it and sets off the alarm after another member of the team, Alonso Creem (Jamie Hector, “Heroes”) threatens to kill him.

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With no time to lose, the team make a break for it, and though the gig is up for Raul, who obviously can’t go back to work, what with Eddie having seen him and no doubt told his superiors what happened, Gus offers him a place on the team on a more permanent basis. This doesn’t go over particularly well with Creem, who tries to tell Gus that Raul can stay overnight, but that’s it. Gus overrides him, pointing out that Raul lost his job over what they did, so they owe it to him.

Given Creem’s overall reaction to this- Creem also grumbles about the amount of food not being worth the risk to the team on the whole- count on there being some friction between him and Gus moving forward. Obviously, Creem is used to being the head honcho- you’ll recall he was the one the team went to when they were looking for the book, the Occido Lumen- so he’s not too keen on being told what to do by an “underling,” as it were.

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Meanwhile, on “The Handmaid’s Tale”…um, make that Team Dutch and the Professor, the two are caught by the Strigoi when the former goes back to the place the aforementioned book is stashed to move it after the building is besieged by Strigoi troops. On the plus side, Dutch at least manages to successfully relocate the book, but whereas the Professor is taken elsewhere, Dutch ends up at a camp for women that are fertile, with the plan to make them get pregnant and churn out babies whether they like it or not. Gotta keep that food supply coming.

Those who don’t manage to get pregnant are shipped off, never to be seen again. Needless to say, Dutch isn’t keen on either option, despite the more comfortable living and better amenities for the would-be mothers. (Dutch takes a hard pass on pineapples in particular, in a callback to a previous, ick-inducing episode in which she was held hostage by Eichorst.) She does, however, have a plan to escape, thanks to the cooperation of a delivery man, Jeremy (Jonathan Malen, “The Mist”).

Unfortunately, Jeremy gets cold feet, so Dutch threatens to blackmail him to keep him on point. Another crisis emerges when some of the other girls gets into an altercation with Nurse Ratched Greenwood (Lisa Ryder, “Andromeda”), which Dutch handily defuses, not wanting to derail her planned escape any further. Head honcho Sanjay (Cas Anvar), another recurring character, who you’ll recall working with Eichorst last season, takes notice and offers Dutch an even cushier job- at a price.

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That price being that she’d be helping him push his agenda on anyone who gets out of line, as well as an implied “romantic” element between the two of them. Needless to say, this does not go over well with Dutch, who turns him down flat, though he tells her to think it over, given the alternative. With her escape plan in place, Dutch isn’t too worried, but naturally, fate intervenes and trouble arise when she discovers a friend of hers there, thought to be pregnant, isn’t, and knows she’s about to be in deep doo-doo.

As such, Dutch opts to let the poor girl escape in her stead, which doesn’t go over well with Jeremy. After the squabbling gets them behind schedule, along with the girl having a panic attack, the group get caught by guards, with Jeremy being hauled off after the girls neglect to rally to his defense, making it look like he was up to no good with them. That’s where we leave things for now, but my guess is that Dutch will make a deal to save the girl by going along with Sanjay’s offer- for now.

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Finally, in a plotline that bleeds into this week’s episode, Eph, after having successfully helped Alex’s brother (Rainbow Sun Francks, “Stargate: Atlantis”) heal from the fallout of the bomb he set off in the premiere, is set to skedaddle with supplies and weapons in hand, as promised, when Alex (Angel Parker, “American Crime Story”) beckons him to stay after he suggests a better move for the radical group: poisoning the Strigoi’s blood supply.

In the aptly-titled “One Shot,” we see the fruits of their labors. Realizing they can’t highjack one of the trucks without tipping off the Strigoi, Eph comes up with a plan to stage a car wreck in the path of one of the trucks to distract the driver long enough to pump a mixture of rat poison into the tank filled with blood. It works, albeit just barely, as it does attract the unwanted attention of a nearby Strigoi guard.

Thankfully, Eph thinks fast and interjects himself into the proceedings and speeds things along. Mission accomplished, Eph’s new team sits backs and waits for the results, but Eph isn’t satisfied that, just because things are quiet at the place the tanker delivered to, that their plan was necessarily a success, especially after things very nearly went south. So, to that end, Eph decides to take a closer look, with Alex and her brother tagging along for good measure.

Sure enough, the gambit worked like a charm, wiping out over 2000 Strigoi in the process, as we discover later on. What’s more, the new team find signs that something else is being transported all over the place in an office space at the site, but it doesn’t fit the bill of blood this time. What could it be? Though it’s implied that the thing being transported is liquid, maybe it was a code for the nukes being transported? No idea.

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Whatever the case, though a clear win for the rebels, it’s also a big fat signal to Eichorst (Richard Sammel), who sees it as the obvious handiwork of the Professor or one of his group, who he and the Master (Jonathan Hyde) have been looking for ever since the nuke went off. (I guess wherever Abe ended up after being on that bus isn’t known to them as of yet- though he’s probably going under a different name, a la Dutch.)

The Master sends Eichorst off to investigate, just in case it is the group in question, or any number of them. In addition, as I suspected, the Master’s “gift” to Zach (Max Charles) was almost certainly that girl, Abby (Jocelyn Hudon, “Lost Girl”), who he immediately uses to manipulate him, telling Zach he can go back to being “normal” if he wishes and be with her, but he would lose access to the bells and whistles he is accustomed to if he does.

Needless to say, the insecure Zach can’t stand for that, so he opts to stay behind, though at least some of it is likely because he knows that it was the nuke he set off that killed Abby’s parents- and possibly suspects it likewise orphaned the other kids she lives with. As such, helping them out with food and the like might help ease some of the guilt he has for realizing his selfish act had bigger repercussions than he might have realized.

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Though, you better believe that The Master will use this against him if he finds out- if he doesn’t already know. I suspect that The Master knows all about what’s up with Abby and her merry band of orphans- she might even be in on it and playing dumb, in exchange for some help of her own. Yes, she acted all freaked out by Zach’s situation and his “pet,” but it could all be an act meant to fish him in, and he fell for it: hook, line and sinker. We shall see.

Though, like seemingly everyone else on the comment boards, I kind of loathe Zach, I will admit taking Abby to that museum was a pretty cool move. Still no idea what The Master’s big plans for Zach and his “dark potential” are, though. Maybe to lure in his father so that they can get rid of one of their biggest foes? Seems likely, but I’m not sure that’s all there is to it.

I much more enjoyed the tense scenes with Fet and Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones), as they arrived at a missile silo, as promised by Roman (K.C. Collins, another “Lost Girl” vet). Roman was shocked to see what appeared to be everyone in his former team dead…but that wasn’t quite true. Upon leading them to the nuke itself, Quinlan was promptly shot by an unseen sniper, falling down into the silo and cracking open his leg.

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Fet went to his rescue, going it alone after everyone else refused to help, save girlfriend Charlotte (Rhona Mitra). Understandably, given the rest of the team’s hesitation, Fet had her stay behind to make sure they didn’t run off with the transportation in the meantime. As the determined sniper kept Quinlan at bay trapped in the bottom of the silo, Fet snuck down through another entrance and behind the soldier, shooting him, with Quinlan finishing the job.

Mission accomplished, the group load up the nuke and hit the road, but Roman realizes that they aren’t done, as a key component of the missile is missing. Given that a group of humans and Strigoi working together wiped out his former group, Roman suspects that they are going around collecting all the nukes and stockpiling them.

However, there is good news- chances are, they don’t know how to use them, so they aren’t likely to fool with them while being transported, which means they can intercept one and get the component they need to fully arm the nuke. But they have to intercept one before it gets back to its destination, where there’s likely someone who knows how to arm and use it present, though I wonder if they might not have sent along someone who already knows that. Maybe, maybe not. It could be that they’re just gathering them up for now.

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That’s about it for this episode, though, regardless. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention what might be my favorite line of the entire series to date, when Alex says to Eph, not knowing that it was his son that set off the nuke, “What kind of sh*thead would help them set off a nuke?” Indeed. The look on Eph’s face! Good thing he didn’t have to try and explain that one- yet. I suspect he might eventually, and so will Zach himself, one hopes.

I am fully against Zach having one modicum of joy, and he’s already achieved that with Abby, so my next hope is that it will end badly- VERY badly. As in The Master tells her that it was Zach who set off the bomb and killed her family, thus stopping his romantic endeavors fully, hopefully before they begin in earnest. I sure don’t want to see this kid get laid, after what he did. Nip it in the bud, Master! That might be his plan, anyway- we’ve all seen the kind of things Zach does when he’s mad.

Anyway, a decent set of episodes, if a little on the bleak side. I suppose that’s par for the course on this show, though. On the plus side, this is the final season, so even if everyone goes down swinging, I do suspect that some sort of happy ending will emerge, if only for some of them. Or maybe just the human race in general- it could be that they have some sort of “Armageddon”-esque ending planned, in which all of the main characters die saving the world or something along those lines.

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Whatever the case, I’m excited to see how it all ends. So long as Zach gets his, I can live with anything else, but if they try and pull some redemption arc, so help me…yeah, I would SO not be okay with that. I know it’s awful to hate a kid like this, but well, he did freaking nuke a big chunk of NYC, after all. That’s pretty terrible, right? Ugh. He really is the worst.

Make your predictions below and join me in a few weeks for another recap/conversation about where the show stands and how things are progressing. Thanks for reading!