‘The Strain’ Season 4, Episodes 4-6: Anger is an Energy

After a bit of a poky start, “The Strain” finally kicked into high gear with a series of episodes that offered up lots of action, some much-needed back-story on fan favorite Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones) and yet another reason to hate on Zach (Max Charles)- not that most of us needed another one in the first place, lol.

Granted, the season’s most unfortunate flaw is one that has befallen many a “team”-based show before it- all of our favorites are scattered to the four winds, as it were, residing in different places, instead of working together, as one would like. Of course, it was somewhat inevitable, given what went down last season, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be nice to “get the band back together,” so to speak.

In the meantime, the show rebounded from a few so-so episodes at the top of the season with three much stronger episodes, which found them struggling to keep their new alliances above water, with decidedly mixed results. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that any new characters are more likely to fall by the wayside over older favorites, but by expanding the ranks in a few cases, we at least got more action along the way, even if it was mostly of the “redshirt” variety.

For instance, when Alex Green (Angel Parker, a decent add to the series, even if she’s probably ultimately doomed) beseeched the more knowledgeable Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) to join the ranks of her rag-tag group of would-be resistance types, he was hesitant, because, even as he knew he could help step up their game, he also knew he’d probably get most of them- if not all of them- killed. He wasn’t wrong.

After a successful attack on the Strigoi’s blood supply, Dr. G. knew it was going to draw attention to the crew in a bad way- especially since he assumed they’d think it was one of the core crew he used to be part of. As we know from “One Shot,” that’s exactly what happened, as Eichorst realized it had to be one of them, and in “New Horizons,” the Strigoi struck back, raiding the high school Dr. G’s crew was laying low in while they decided their next move.

Naturally, some of them wanted to do another blood supply attack, including Jason (Rainbow Sun Francks), Alex’s brother, after the success of the first one, but they barely had time to celebrate their victory when the Strigoi took nearly all of them out in one fell swoop, including- you guessed it- Jason himself. Though ultimately, it’s Goodweather who has to deliver the final blow, after Jason gets bitten by one of their attackers. (Alex couldn’t bring herself to do it.)

Now down to seemingly only Dr. G. and Alex, the two seek shelter in a creepy mannequin factory, as one does in a horror movie, where the former finally comes clean about his role in the recent nuclear bombing- it was his son that did it. We discover that he’s not entirely sure if Zach is alive or dead, but unfortunately, the rest of us already know the answer to that one. One gets the sense that he might not want to know, really.

The two decide to seek out one of these “New Horizons” locations, which look to be all sunshine and roses on the surface, but which Dr. G. suspects may not entirely be the case, if at all. Despite all that he cost her, and his recent confession, Alex opts to stick with him, no fool she. After all, the guy literally survived a nuclear apocalypse- even if he somewhat caused it.

Meanwhile, at the icky baby factory that Dutch (Ruta Gedmintas) finds herself trapped in, Eichorst (Richard Sammel) is putting the screws to Sanjay (Cas Anvar), trying to get him to hurry along the whole process by removing the babies from their mothers sooner. Nice! Anyway, Sanjay recruits Dutch to be a midwife of sorts, because she’s such a calming force, given her (tiger) motherly attitude towards the other girls. What could go wrong?

Naturally, everything does. No sooner is the current mother’s baby born than it is whisked away from her- she doesn’t even get to see it, much less hold it. Dutch punches Sanjay, takes him hostage and makes a run for it. Unfortunately, she ends up in one of those rooms with the hooks where the Strigoi are hanging people up and bleeding them dry in a sort of human assembly line. Maybe she should have stuck with the whole midwife thing.

Meanwhile, Gus (Miguel Gomez) is training cousin Raul (Michael Reventar) when one of their crew comes in, injured, talking about a rival crew in the area having done it. After he dies, Gus’ crew understandably wants revenge, but Gus, ever the wise one, tells them to back off while he does a little reconnaissance on the new crew in town. This turns out to be a good move, as they are former NYPD officers who have their thing together.

Fortunately, Gus finds a sneaky way into their lair via the sewer tunnels and air conditioning vents and a plan to avenge their fallen comrade- and land an arsenal of weapons and a cache of food and supplies in the process- is launched. Note for future reference that fellow team member Creem (Jamie Hector), whose team this actually is, isn’t too happy at the way Gus is taking over. He doesn’t act on that for now, but expect that he will before too long.

The raid is predictably a success, though not without some casualties. Gus, Creem and Raul are not among them, though, so our core known group members remain intact- for now. In the meantime, they have a win on their end, and are able to reap the benefits as such, while further staking their claim to the area in question to the surrounding community, Strigoi notwithstanding.

Next up, in “Belly of the Beast,” Dr. G. and Alex’s car breaks down somewhere in Pennsylvania, where the former finds a cell phone belonging to a little girl named Emily (Ava Preston, “Reign”). A video shows that she has her reservations about going to New Horizons and is plotting to stay behind, having taken advantage of a hidden compartment in her house that her father doesn’t know about to do so. Smart girl.

Realizing from the video that the girl’s house is nearby, they duck in to see if she’s still there- or still human, for that matter. She is not, but someone else is lurking in the area: Francis (Tonya Pinkins, “Gotham”), who recently escaped the aforementioned New Horizons facility. Dr. G. wants her to take them to it, but she is understandably reluctant, not in the least because she’s “turning”- thanks, no doubt to the Strigoi powers that be.

Nonetheless, she agrees to do it, and once there, they get a sense of Emily’s potential fate, as her abandoned suitcase is found at the facility. Francis is getting worse, and eventually, the Master (Robert Maillet) takes control of her mind and body long enough to taunt Dr. G. about his son and his “progress” in New York before Eph shoots her in the head, putting an end to all that. Further searching at the facility reveals that humans are the ones being farmed there, not the ones doing the farming. Not too cool, Master.

After skipping out on them last episode, we reunite with Fet (Kevin Durand), Charlotte (Rhona Mitra), Roman (K.C. Collins) and Quinlan, who are still in search of the nuke components they need to be able to fully arm and activate a bomb. It seems like the Strigoi/human contingent is always one step ahead of them, so they decide to strike while the iron’s hot and attack them while en route to their destination instead, as opposed to on site.

This takes some convincing from our core group to the others, so Charlotte promises them they can have whatever silver they find on the truck if they help. Only problem- there isn’t any. But THEY don’t know that, so the others agree to help. Ah, greed. Where we would be without you in the post-apocalypse? Alive, in this case, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

This leads to one of the best action sequences the show has ever staged, as Quinlan plants himself in the middle of the road to take out the lead truck, then hops on top of a freight car on a tractor trailer and does battle with a Strigoi, who is eventually cleaved in half by a wire, which is all kinds of awesome. Cue the rewind!

Quinlan then takes out the driver, while Fet takes out the rest- or so he thinks, as Quinlan saves his life when another Strigoi tries to get the jump on him. “Resist the temptation to read anything into the fact that I saved you… again,” says Quinlan, ever the charmer. Despite this, methinks a bond is developing between the two unlikely allies. Not so much the others, who are pissed to find out there is no silver on said truck, and bolt after a hidden Strigoi claims one of them upon opening the door to check it out.

Still, mission accomplished, so the core four load up their truck with everything they need, including some extra ammo and the like, which Roman hopes to trade for an airplane to get them the hell out of there before a new band of Strigoi come to take back the goods.

That is where we leave the crew for now, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a sweet set of flashbacks from 1888, where we see Quinlan’s softer side, as he falls for- gasp! – a human, when Louisa (Hannah New, “Black Sails”) beseeches him to help her Syphilis-ridden brother and make him immortal.

Can a vampire get Syphilis? Not sure, but he outright refuses. Nonetheless, Quinlan bonds with the woman, who even goes so far as to let him feed on her, to say nothing of interact with her child. She also gives him a human makeover, allowing him to partake- albeit not without some sideways glances- in some public activities, thus helping him get back in touch with his own human side, and even fall in love somewhat.

Shortly thereafter, Louisa’s brother is buried, and afterwards, we see a priest discover a storage crate with some familiar soil inside, which can only mean one thing: The Master has arrived, which can’t be good for Quinlan’s newfound love life. The Master quickly dispatches the priest in typically gory fashion and we’re off to the races, to be continued in the next episode.

Dutch, meanwhile, is being held in a cell, and is fetched for a lovely candlelit dinner- with Eichorst. Hard pass. Dutch is revolted to find out that the babies are only being bred to be drained of their blood, as infant blood is more potent than that of an adult. Ick. Pretty repulsive there, Eichorst.

He demands that she tell him where the long-unseen Abe Setrakian (David Bradley) has gone. Getting killed off on “Game of Thrones”? (Sorry- retroactive spoiler alert!) She informs him that he and she were taken at the same time, with the Strigoi probably taking Abe off to one of their blood farms, which means he’s likely dead, much to Eichorst’s chagrin.

Realizing he may have been robbed of his final showdown, Eichorst rushes off to find Sanjay, who informs him that he might still be alive, after all, as Abe is part of some sort of research study. Eichorst runs off once again to search for his old foe and is delighted to see Abe is still hanging in there, albeit not in great shape. Still, he’s alive, so that’s something.

Despite objections from the doctor on hand, Eichorst insists Abe be revived by any means necessary, lest the doctor find himself as the subject of one of these studies. Needless to say, he agrees, and in no time, Abe opens his eyes to find himself face-to-face with his greatest, non-Master enemy, who wastes no time in taunting him.

Meanwhile, Dutch is taken to the “draining room,” which sounds fun, on Eichorst’s orders. She sees her friend about to be taken, and freaks out, causing a mass revolt in the process. Dutch tells her friend to get everyone to safety and goes in search of Abe.

She finds him, but is naturally confronted by Eichorst, but, as ever, girlfriend is prepared and lights him up with something or the other and makes haste out of there, Abe in tow on his stretcher, as others scramble to put out their boss, lest there be hell to pay.

That leads us to our final episode, the wryly-titled “Tainted Love.” As you might have noticed, we’ve been blissfully Zach-free for a few episodes, so unfortunately, we’re due for some. As to be expected, he continues to be the worst. After continuing to bond with the ill-fated Abby (Jocelyn Hudon), who proves not to be “in” on anything, as I initially suspected, he seeks out advice from The Master, who encourages Zach to tell her how he feels, probably knowing good and well where this is all headed.

I might have been wrong in my original prediction, but I was right on the money with my second one, as sure enough, Zach catches Abby in the act of getting all smoochy with her actual boyfriend, her being a good bit older than Zach, after all, and seeing him as “just a kid.” Well, as we all know, Zach is not just a kid, he’s also a major D-Bag.

Upon finding this out, he promptly sets his “pet” Strigoi on poor Abby, who turns her into one of them, thus ensuring her complete subjugation. Yep, Zach really takes the cake on being a major league a-hole. I sometimes wonder if I don’t hate him more than the Master himself. Ugh. Is it wrong to root for the death of a 13-year-old?

Speaking of the Master, when we last left him in the previous episode, he was about to rain on the parade of another character, Quinlan, in his 1888 flashback extravaganza. Sure enough, when Louisa is nearly attacked by a Strigoi, Quinlan rises to her defense, only to be recognized, via the whole mind-meld thing, by you know who.

Knowing an opportunity when he sees one, he apologizes profusely to Louisa and her child, telling them he has to end this while he can, or they’ll never be safe. The problem is, as we know, he and the Master are linked, so if he dies, so does Quinlan, which makes this a goodbye, one way or another.

As we see, Quinlan very nearly vanquishes his ultimate foe, but hesitates ever-so-slightly in the clutch, and it costs him. The Master impales him on his own sword, and gleefully announces that he’s off to kill Quinlan’s loved ones, which he does, leaving them neatly presented on the bed for Quinlan when he arrives, which is all kinds of creepy. Even worse, he’s obviously infected them, which means they’ll be back, unless Quinlan put them out of their misery, which he does.

This back-story does wonders to fill in Quinlan’s motivations, which, until now, were simply of the vague, “it must be done” variety. While not untrue, these revelations show that it’s way more personal than we first thought, which makes a lot more sense, and makes us cheer Quinlan on in his quest that much more, not that we really needed any help in that department, as he remains the biggest bad-ass on the show as it was. (With apologies to the near-equally awesome Dutch.)

Meanwhile, Eichorst, clearly recovered from the burns he suffered in the previous episode, more or less, catches up with the former members of Fet’s crew and kills all but one, forcing the last one to drive him to wherever Fet and Co. are at the moment. They are, in fact, at the airfield, where Roman successfully negotiates a plane for the other stuff they snagged.

However, a heads-up from their former comrade- who, knowing he’s likely screwed, turned on the CB radio, thus letting them all know Eichorst was coming- which puts them into high gear, loading up the plane to get out of there ASAP. Unfortunately, knowing all too well what can happen to one’s loved ones from experience, Quinlan advises Fet to leave Charlotte behind, for her own safety, as this will likely be a one-way mission.

Amusingly, she had no intentions of coming in the first place, knowing it was likely a doomed mission her own self, and opting to find herself a quiet place to settle down somewhere in the vicinity instead. She does invite Fet to go with her, though, but naturally, he declines, having bigger fish to fry.

On the plus side, when Eichorst arrives and tries to stop them, it gives the rest another ally on the ground to help stop him, which she does, though the guy at the airfield doesn’t fare so well. But will she manage to evade Eichorst, or will he nab her and use her as leverage over Fet? Then again, he may not even know she and Fet are an item, given that he left her behind, so maybe she’ll get lucky. Or he’ll just kill her for getting in his way. Either way, we don’t know Charlotte’s ultimate fate, as of yet.

That is where we leave things for now, but this was a definite step up from the initial episodes this season. Given that Fet’s crew are headed to New York, that puts them one step closer to reuniting with Abe and Dutch, while Eph and Alex will likely head there themselves for whatever reason before too long, making for a full-on reunion, at long last, and none too soon.

With only four episodes to go, things are definitely heating up, and an endgame is in sight. Who will be left standing? We shall see, but hopefully, Zach won’t be one of them. Surely, even Eph realizes that would be for the best, at this point. In the meantime, loving the budding bromance between Fet and Quinlan- his response to a sneaky compliment he paid to Fet, which the latter picked up on, was priceless: “I like to give one out every 100 years or so,” he deadpanned. Gotta love it.

As ever, I love the show’s flashbacks, and Quinlan’s really served the character well, in terms of fleshing him out more, and giving real motivation to his quest to take down the Master beyond that fact that, you know, the Master is evil and all. As with Abe and Eichorst, there’s a reason for Quinlan’s vitriol against the Master, and it makes supporting his mission all that more meaningful.

Also, always nice to see Dutch kicking a little ass, and even getting the better of Eichorst, if only temporarily. And, of course, it’s nice to have Abe back into the fold, even if he’s a bit worse for the wear. Will he be able to recover enough for the final showdown with the Master and Eichorst? We’ll see, but lest we forget, that mystical book is still out there, so maybe that will be of some help.

Join me in a few weeks for another recap and breakdown, and thanks for reading!