Tuesday, September 19, 2017

TV Show Review: The Strain (Season 4)

A show that had once seemed really interesting turned into a bit of a chore to watch even as it moved toward a finale. There were enjoyable points throughout the four seasons like the nuclear blast in New York City. The show picks up with the repercussions of this wild finale and sets the stage for the human characters last stand against the strigoi. I really don't like that name when this show was first advertised as a viral vampire horror. In my season three review, I expressed my dismay with the choice and mentioned the clumsiness of the dialogue with this terminology. I got over it somewhat this time around but the show still has pretty cheesy dialogue, though the special effects could be impressive at points, like the creepy tentacle tongues that coming out of the enlarged mouths of the creatures.

Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll), the epidemiologist is hiding out in the wasteland of New York after his son Zach (Max Charles) the most annoying character on television set off a nuclear bomb. The strigoi run the city putting up a front that humans only need to donate blood to avoid trouble. Dutch Velders (Ruta Gedmintas) knows the truth as she works at a human baby farm where pregnant women are forced to give birth to strigoi slaves. Zach now lives under the direction of Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde) who has becomes possessed by the master. Thomas Eichorst (Richard Sammel) carries out the master's will by setting up concentration camps.

Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand) has left New York City and lives out in the flyover states hunting strigoi with Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones). The show goes into the backstory of Quinlan and the Strain is often at its worst when it tries to show backstory. Still, Quinlan is a highlight of the show with his abilities making for some of the best action as he works with Vasiliy to obtain a nuclear bomb. They eventually commandeer a plan and return to New York with the weapon. Ephraim has discovered the evil plan of the master and his strigoi to farm humans and he sets out to learn the awful truth. Eldritch Palmer tries to foil Vasiliy's plan but they manage to escape before he can stop them.

Dutch saves Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley) who was sick in a hospital under a different identity. She meets up with Ephraim and Vasilly joins them. Gus (Miguel Gomez) was working with a group of mercenaries to steal food from the strigoi slaves but they run into some trouble especially when Alonso (Jamie Hector) betrays him and tries to side with the master. The show works toward a confrontation revolving mainly around Zach and Ephraim. Zach has a love interest who turns him down and the master turns the girl into a strigoi, but that was one of the weaker stories of the season. Eventually, the master sends Zach out to trick Ephraim though Dr. Goodweather does not fall for it. The finale sees the heroes trying to set off one last bomb to kill the master.

Quinlan fights the master but loses only weakening his current physical form before Quinlan dies. The master orders Zach to kill Ephraim but Zach has an attack of conscience and refuses. The master vomits the infectious worms into Ephraim's mouth rendering all the zombie-like strigoi motionless and allowing Vasiliy and Dutch to escape. As the master takes over Ephraim's body, Zach seeks forgiveness for his evil ways and ruining the show by becoming the ultimate savior and setting off the nuclear bomb. The show wraps up quickly with the strigoi being wiped out and the atmosphere healing itself. Vasiliy returns to his extermination job and has a neat little voiceover to end it all.

The Strain really plummeted in quality or maybe was never that good in the first place. The apocalypse was slow moving and bizarre and at times the horror was decent enough to make up for the mediocre acting and odd plotting. The Strain has long been overshadowed by better genre shows but still made it to four seasons. It started as an exciting horror show with the mind of Guillermo Del Toro behind it but deflated until it was just a silly mess. There was always potential and characters like Ephraim, Quinlan, Setrakian, Dutch, Gus, and Eichorst but never lived up to the promise. 

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