‘The Strain’ Season 4, Episodes 7-8: How the Mighty Have Fallen

On the latest episodes of “The Strain,” the team at long last is back together, just as things come to- ahem- a head with a longtime foe and their ringleader tries desperately to recover from his time being the subject of intense “experimentation.” Heads up- and down (last one, I promise)- things are about to get all kinds of spoilery up in here.

In “Ouroboros,” so-named for the circular, mystical symbol of a serpent eating its own tail, things on the show began to heat up in earnest and all the main players started to converge onto the same place at long last. But would it prove too little, too late, with the Master closing in on them?

We began with the arrival of Fet (Kevin Durand), Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones) and Roman (K.C. Collins) in New York, where they find a group of Strigoi waiting for them, which they take out in short order- but not before Quinlan confronts one and tells them, pointedly- and by extension, The Master (Robin Atkins Downes)- “Yes, we’re here- and now, we’re coming for you”- right before killing it. Yes!

Meanwhile, Eph (Corey Stoll) and Alex (Angel Parker) are likewise making their way into the city, via the sewer system, after Dr. G. received word that Zach (Max Charles) is allegedly alive and well and being held by The Master. And? Who cares? Lol. But hey- it’s his dad, so, you know, I guess he does, in spite of all that’s gone down. So, what are you gonna do? At least it gets him to NYC.

A now-free Dutch (Ruta Gedmintas) and Abe (David Bradley) quickly go to the place where Dutch stashed Abe’s beloved cane and the Lumen, and fetch the items, but it’s clear to Dutch that they need to lie low somewhere while Abe recovers from his injuries sustained while being held captive, to say nothing of his run-in with the dreaded Eichorst (Richard Sammel).

Eichorst, after failing yet again to stop any of the main group, offers up his life to The Master, who refuses to take it, saying he still has work to do: namely halting Fet and company from successfully getting the nuke into the city where The Master is hiding. Eichorst thanks The Master for this last chance to redeem himself and quickly corrals Sanjay (Cas Anvar), giving him a promotion and putting him in charge of a task force to find and capture/kill Fet, Quinlan, Eph, Dutch and Abe.

Dutch and Abe lie low in a church, so that the latter has time to heal, but it’s clear he needs some meds to help in his recovery. As Eph and Alex arrive, the reunion is brief, but mostly welcome, as Dutch needs to track down Gus (Miguel Gomez), who, along with Creem (Jamie Hector), is now in charge of the black market, and may have the drugs they need for Abe. Alex stays put to look after Abe, as the others go in search of Gus.

Meanwhile, Abe is frantically trying to make heads or tails of the Lumen and how they can best use it to defeat The Master, but answers are elusive and his state of mind and illness isn’t helping, resulting in his tearing out the pages willy-nilly and pasting them all over the walls, as if he were auditioning for Carrie’s part on “Homeland.” It’s clear that he isn’t thinking straight.

Dutch finds Gus and he happily offers up whatever she needs gratis, much to Creem’s chagrin. It’s obvious that things between those two are going to come to a head- no pun intended this time- pretty soon. Gus heads back to the church with them, as Creem trails behind, clearly up to no good. Abe is happy to have Eph back, but not so much Gus, who he sees as part of the problem, as he’s not doing anything of value in the fight against The Master and company.

Creem goes directly to Sanjay to rat out the location of the others, but naturally, he has some demands. No fool he, Sanjay takes him to The Master, where Creem immediately pulls the pin on a grenade and holds it, threatening to let it go and detonate, if his demands aren’t met. The Master has other ideas and promptly kills Creem, taking care of him and the grenade in one fell swoop. Then they simply wait for Creem to turn so that The Master can know what he knows the easy way.

Eph sees to Abe, telling him about what he and Alex discovered about New Horizons, aka the “blood farms” The Master had set up all over the US. Abe compares it to the Holocaust and how people were rounded up back then, pointing out that The Master learned from us how to best take advantage of the human race- and make others fall in line and become complicit in helping the Strigoi achieve their goals.

Eph gives Abe some blood thinners, warning him not to take too many of them, as they could prove fatal, given his condition, pointing out that they were even deadly to the Strigoi themselves. Abe says they will only help so much- what he needs is more of the “white.” He shows Eph the formula he’s long kept on the down low, and tasks Eph with making some more of it, which may well be the only thing that can help Abe make a full recovery.

Meanwhile, Fet and company get past a checkpoint and head towards the Brooklyn Bridge, only to watch in horror as it blows up before their eyes- followed by every other major bridge in NYC. It seems that Sanjay didn’t mess around with his newfound position, rigging up all said bridges in order to limit Fet and everyone’s passage into NYC proper, and thus, limit his access to The Master by extension.

The Master is most pleased by this, though he does task Sanjay with one last thing: removing Creem’s silver grill before it renders him somewhat useless by burrowing into his face. Way to find out you’re not as important as you thought, lol. But still, the slimy Sanjay lives to scheme another day- but for how much longer?

Eph, not knowing that Dutch is listening, confesses to Abe what happened with his son, and his role in setting off the nuke. Abe points out that this is what The Master does- he turns people against each other, and Eph feels a little better, or as good as one can feel knowing their own offspring was responsible for multitudes of deaths. On the plus side, it does help bring him and Dutch together, as she feels for him, under the circumstances, and tells him it’s not his fault. Agreed- Zach doesn’t need any help being a little sh*t.

After Eph and Dutch leave to go to a former meth lab to hopefully concoct some more of Abe’s “white,” Alex checks in on Abe, who suddenly has a realization and scrambles to try and make some sense of it, using the Lumen. Alas, before he can, Eichorst and a group of Strigoi arrive, including the newly-turned Creem, and quickly take out poor Alex. Poor Alex, we hardly knew ye. So much for her budding romance with Eph- but then, I suspect he and Dutch will end up back together, so… not THAT sorry?

Eichorst can’t resist a little bad guy monologuing, once again, before killing Abe, even though it didn’t do him any favors before. Hasn’t this guy seen a Bond movie? This buys Gus just enough time to sneak in and attack the bad guys, but once again, there’s a casualty, as his cousin and new recruit Raul (Michael Reventar) is taken out by Eichorst, which distracts Gus just enough to be grabbed by Creem.

Eichorst turns his attention to Gus and more talking ensues, but Abe cuts this short by stabbing Eichorst in the back with the blade of his cane. This, of course, doesn’t kill him, but it does help Gus to use the moment to take out Creem.

Eichorst bites Abe, as we see him drop the bottle of blood thinners to the ground. This means that Abe, knowing his death was likely upon him, took the whole lot of them, which, in turn, means that Eichorst just did the same- and we know what that means, thanks to Eph’s handy-dandy explanation.

Eichorst falls to the ground, convulsing and spewing up white fluids. Abe summons The Master, and tells him his name- not that number Eichorst is fond of using- and promptly cuts off Eichorst’s head with his cane blade, as The Master watches his #1 henchman bite the dust once and for all. And yes, it was totally awesome! “My sword sings of silver,” indeed.

This was easily the best episode of the season thus far, from the opening sequence set to the Stones’ classic “Paint It, Black” to the big final, long-coming showdown between Abe and Eichorst. Yes, the show couldn’t resist taking out newbie characters Alex and Raul in short order, but hey, at least the band’s about to be back together in earnest, right? You win some, you lose some, but overall, this was pure win.

In “Extraction,” we at long last got that full-band reunion, as Fet triumphantly returned, like a proud son, to tell Abe the good news about the nuke he managed to smuggle into the city. But would it be all too late? We began with the return of Eph and Dutch, who have successfully managed to concoct a batch of the “white” for the ailing Abe. Upon their arrival, they spot several dead bodies, including, astonishingly enough, that of Eichorst.

Gus emerges and tells them of the death of his cousin and Alex, but is oddly mute on Abe’s fate. When the two see him, back at his desk, quickly scribbling down notes on the Lumen and what he discovered, it doesn’t take long to see that Abe is infected. I guess Eichorst sucked out all those blood thinners, effectively taking Abe with him, by leaving him vulnerable to his bite in the process. Like I said, you win some, you lose some.

Roman arrives on the shore by boat, as this is now effectively the only way into the city. Of course, they are met by a group of Strigoi and human collaborators, but Quinlan makes quick mincemeat out of all of them. They take the nuke to the local Federal Reserve, which is built to protect gold on the level of Fort Knox, so it should do as a quick place to stash the nuke in the meantime.

Fet and Quinlan leave Roman behind to meet up with Abe and company, not wanting to leave the nuke unguarded until they find him. He isn’t thrilled about this development, but agrees to it all the same. They do leave him with a radio to call them on, in case trouble arrives, at least. Inexplicably, Fet somehow finds the gang’s church hideout in no time at all- it would have been nice to even had a throwaway line as to how, but such is “The Strain,” so I guess we’ll just have to go with it.

Besides, like I said, it does give us a final opportunity to reunite the old gang once again, and though Fet’s joy at seeing everyone is short-lived once he sees Abe’s state, at least he gets to see him, period, before Abe is taken by the infection. Abe tells them that they need to separate The Master from his collaborators, but that it will require an act of “self-sacrifice.” That doesn’t sound good. Am I starting to get “Armageddon”-style vibes here? (The movie, not the event.) If so, who will be the unlucky one to go down in flames- or whatever?

Fet is a bit confused about the role the nuke will play in all of this, but Quinlan is determined to use it one way or another, even if it takes out a bunch of innocents in the process. Quinlan isn’t so sure they can truly be called innocent at this point, given that they aren’t actively fighting against the Strigoi and The Master. He has a point, but then again, we can’t all be bad-asses like this crew, and certainly not on the level of Quinlan.

To that end, Abe knows that no one else will be able to do what needs to be done, so he tasks Quinlan with the dirty deed of taking him out before the infection can be fully realized. Abe hands Quinlan his cane and Quinlan dutifully does what he’s been told to do, as the rest watch in horror- as do we- as their leader is swiftly and emotionlessly decapitated. I was fully onboard with Eichorst being taken out, but this one stings.

Quinlan makes up for it with a genuinely moving eulogy, after Abe is buried. “We should remember what it is he showed us. That the real impact of a life depends on will: the determination to keep on fighting, no matter the cost.” Hell, yes. To that end, Quinlan bestows Fet with Abe’s cane, which he humbly receives, vowing to put it to good use.

Dutch comforts Fet, as Eph and Gus comfort each other, at least in so much as they can. Fet mentions the dream he had about Abe dying earlier in the season, which now seems like a premonition in retrospect. The team discuss what their next move should be, debating what Abe meant by his final words and trying their best to decipher his notes, without much success.

In the meantime, Dutch has a suggestion: why not capture Sanjay and see what he can tell them? And if they happen to free some innocent pregnant women in the process, then all the better. As they prepare, Zach meets with The Master, who is still lamenting the loss of Eichorst, and well aware the walls are closing in. He’s down but not out, though, and still clearly has a plan which, naturally involves Zach.

The Master tweaks Zach about the nuke thing when he mentions that their enemies have one and they need to stop them before they use it. I’d say that was a low blow, but honestly, screw Zach. As if he wasn’t icky enough, he later confides in the now-turned Abby (Jocelyn Hudon), at one point telling her she’s “hot.” Eew. Just when you though Zach couldn’t get worse. If they hook up, I’m so out. He then sets off to do whatever the task he’s “uniquely suited for” is, which can’t be good.

Quinlan drives a truck into the facility that Sanjay is overseeing, with the rest of the gang posing as prisoners. A guard understandably finds this a bit dubious, as it isn’t that kind of facility, but nonetheless lets them through. Later, just to hedge his bets, he calls Sanjay and informs him of the possible trespassers, thus giving him a heads-up that they’re coming- not that it will do him much good.

The guard sets off the alarm, letting everyone know they’ve been found out, and they split up to try and do as much damage as they can, freeing people as they go where they can. Ever the sleaze, Sanjay holes up in a room with several of the pregnant women, holding them hostage in a bid to save his own skin. When that doesn’t seem to stop Dutch and Fet from trying to break in, he orders a guard to shoot one of the pregnant women- class act, that Sanjay.

The guard refuses, understandably and the two struggle, with the guard being killed in the process and Sanjay making a break for it as Dutch and Fet burst into the room. Dutch catches up to him, as Fet helps get the pregnant women to safety. Sanjay worms his way under a huge tank, taunting Dutch as he goes, telling her that her friend is dead, which is never a good thing to do to a highly pissed off woman with a knife.

She follows him under, as he kicks at her face to try and get away. Then she promptly stabs him in the foot with said knife. She eventually knocks him out, and when we next see him, he’s tied up and hooded, ready to be questioned by the gang.

In addition, Quinlan and Gus take out a bunch of Strigoi and free some humans destined for the blood-draining assembly line. At one point, Gus saves Quinlan from one of those mongrel types, and we see Quinlan hoist one up and put him on a hook, Leatherface-style. RIP, Tobe Hooper.

Back at what is now Gus’ black market hide-out, as Creem has left the building, the gang discuss what to do next. One of Gus’ team mentions that there was some kid asking about Eph and his whereabouts at the actual market. He didn’t say anything, and thinks it might be nothing, but Eph begs to differ and wants to investigate, because of course he does. Did he miss the memo about Zach being on Team Master from earlier? Ugh.

Naturally, Eph finds him, and that is no doubt exactly what The Master wanted. Will he be stupid enough to actually tell Zach anything of value? Let’s hope not. Either way, this is where the episode ends, so we’ll just have to wait and see. Only two episodes left to go!

These last two episodes were easily the best of the season thus far. Obviously, it was sad to see Abe go, but at least it was fittingly spectacular, and more importantly, he was able to take longtime foe Eichorst along with him. I call that a win on the whole.

After being a bit poky earlier on, and dubiously introducing a bunch of new characters, only to later kill them off, the show has finally gotten back on track by reuniting our core group and taking out some major characters to boot. It’s obvious things are winding down, one way or another. The only real question is: who will be left standing in the end?

Join me in a couple of weeks to find out. I, for one, can’t wait to see how all this turns out, having not read the books. Though, from what I hear, the show has diverged from them quite a bit, so even readers might not know what’s coming, a la “Game of Thrones.” We shall see. In the meantime, thanks for reading, and be sure and leave your comments and predictions down below!

  • ptjackson

    I agree that these were great episodes.

    I knew that Zach would be Eph’s weakness – we have discussed this before. Let’s just hope it is not the cause of mankind’s end!

    I too will miss Abe, but you are right, it was spectacular and it was satisfying since he took Eichorst with him!

    Can’t wait to see how this ends!