As we’re going into the 7th episode of the final season of The Strain tonight and looking back on the season thus far, I think the perfect metaphor would be a raging rollercoaster. Episodes 1-4 were more of a build-up, kind of like your rollercoaster car slowly, inch-by-inch making its way up that monster of a hill. Then came the magnificent, superbly-written episodes 5 and 6 depicting Quinlan’s star-crossed relationship with Louisa and her daughter, Lydia., which could be viewed as when you reach the very top of that hill. For a moment, everything is peaceful, everything is perfect, as you look out at the breathtaking view from hundreds and hundreds of feet up in the air. Then, it hits you — OH SHIT!! Well, tonight is that “Oh, shit!” moment when your rollercoaster car plunges downward at a speed you didn’t think was possible, nearly stopping your heart and taking your breath away.
REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD
Now, isn’t that a great photo? Ever since the season premiere, this is a reunion that I’m sure we’ve all been hoping for and anticipating. Then, as an added bonus, we now have Gus (Miguel Gomez) in the same picture. Yes, folks, while tonight’s episode is more bittersweet and heart-wrenching than anything, the one uplifting part is we FINALLY have our heroes all back together (well, almost. Quinlan and Fet haven’t made it completely back yet, but they’re close. Stay tuned for more on that). So, now that we know we have some warm-and-fuzzy hugging scenes ahead, let’s see how we got there.
First, Setrakian (David Bradley), well, he’s on the verge of losing it. Given that he already had a bad heart to begin with, those experiments at the Partnership research facility certainly didn’t help. His condition is worsening, he knows his time is running out, and he’s desperate to find a fast-track solution to end the Master. So, after Dutch (Ruta Gedmintas) is successful in retrieving the Lumen and they decide to hole up in the Met Cloisters (which is the branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan dedicated to art, architecture, and the gardens of Medieval Europe), he begins to comb throw the pages — almost obsessively — for clues. In fact, to Dutch’s horror, he begins to tear out the pages and paste them to the walls, claiming that it helps him if he can see all the pages at once. The title of the episode is “Ouroboros” which refers to an ancient symbol of a serpent or dragon eating its own tail (you should also recognize this as the same symbol on Quinlan’s coat and on the Sun Hunters’ jackets). This turns out to be important because Setrakian has an epiphany and remembers this being mentioned in the Lumen. He also recalls the delusion he had at the Partnership facility of the snake and now believes that was a sign that this is the key. That the “face of God” doesn’t mean a nuclear bomb but instead, is referring to this. Hmmmm….is Setrakian right, or is this just a delusion of a desperate, dying man?
Neither here nor there, the overload of drugs at the Partnership facility as well as the stress of finding the key to take down the Master is a little too much for Setrakian’s fragile heart, and so, he ends up collapsing. You know, sometimes there are coincidences in TV series that are so far-fetched, so astronomical that the likelihood of their happening is about as good as you or me winning the lotto. Well, this sort of coincidence occurs in tonight’s episode with how our heroes reunite, and while at first, I laughed out loud and was a tad bit annoyed, I finally decided I didn’t care. If it gets our heroes back together in one group, then I could give a rat’s ass how they did it.
Back to Setrakian, while Dutch is tending to the unconscious Professor, she hears a noise down the hall. When she goes to investigate and with the mother of all coincidences, she is surprised to see that it’s Eph (Corey Stoll) along with his new side-kick, Alex (Angel Parker). They embrace, and yeah, yeah, for a brief moment, Dutch does give Alex the stinky, jealous eye. But, it’s quickly forgotten because they have much more pressing matters — Setrakian and his failing health. As it turns out, Dr. Goodweather showed up just in the nick of time because Setrakian is in some pretty bad shape. He seems to be suffering from afib, and Dr. Goodweather believes it was brought on by a stroke. Damn. That being said, to lessen the risk of another stroke, Dr. Goodweather says it’s imperative they find some blood thinners, as well as some IV fluids, since Setrakian also appears to be dehydrated. Well, this is where Dutch comes in because she just happens to know someone who can probably help with that.
Everyone remember the scene at the beginning of the season with Setrakian and Dutch paying a visit to Gus and Alonso Creem (Jamie Hector)? At the time, the scene felt somewhat out-of-place, but as we will see tonight, it turns out to be quite important. Dutch remembers the meeting, and so, she and Eph pay Gus and Co. a visit with the hope they can help with their medical emergency (for those keeping count, this is the first time Eph and Gus actually meet! Gus did run into Zack once in season 1, but never Dr. Goodweather). Gus then asks about the Professor and is obviously saddened when he hears he’s not doing very well. So, it’s no surprise that Gus tells Eph he can take whatever he needs. What’s more, when he learns they have nothing left to trade, Gus then tells them it’s on the house — to Alonso Creem’s shock and dismay. We all know Creem is a narcissistic asshole who cares only about himself, and so, doing something like helping out his fellow man and getting nothing in return is a foreign concept to him. In the end, Gus wins the argument and Eph gets the medical supplies he needs, but you can be damn sure this is far from over for Alonso Creem.
Back at the museum, with an IV in his arm and the blood thinners he needed, Setrakian starts to bounce back, and that’s when he and Eph finally have the time to talk. You know, I can’t say I’ve ever been a big fan of Corey Stoll and his portrayal of Dr. Goodweather, but I will admit that he does a fantastic job in these scenes as he confesses to Setrakian that Zack is with the Master and it was his son who detonated the nuke that took out Liberty Island. Now, with Eph’s confession and then his bolting and leaving the rest of the group behind, you would think the Professor might be a little upset, but in fact, he’s the complete opposite. One thing you have to remember about Setrakian is that he’s been where Eph is right now. Just like Dr. Goodweather, Setrakian lost his family at the hands of the Master, and he’s seen firsthand how the Master uses people’s loved ones against them. So, instead of berating Dr. Goodweather, Setrakian gives a fantastic speech that we can hope will comfort Eph and serve as inspiration.
The Master took my wife, tricked me into leaving her alone so he could turn her because he wanted me to live with that guilt. You carried that guilt for 9 months, I’ve carried mine for over 50 years. This is what the Master does to those who defy him. This is the price we pay, BUT you must not allow it to weaken your resolve. You did not put that detonator in Zack’s hand, the Master did. It was he who turned your wife and used her to warp your son’s mind. But, you, you must hold tight to that truth — Abraham Setrakian to Dr. Goodweather
Setrakian then shares with Eph what he found in the Lumen about the Ouroboros, but also admits that he’s not sure he has enough time left to figure it out. That’s when he hands Dr. Goodweather a piece of paper and makes a very special request. On the paper is the formula for the white, and Setrakian needs Eph to formulate a single dose. At first Eph is skeptical, but after Setrakian chastises him and reminds him that he’s been right about everything else, Eph finally agrees and says that Dutch may know an old meth house they can use to cook up a batch.
In the meantime and while Dr. Goodweather and Dutch are off on their little field trip, Gus returns and tells the Professor he’s all in now. He may have taken some wrong turns in the past, but now, he’s here to fight the good fight with Setrakian. Yay! Well, that sounds all good and fine, but little does Gus know there’s trouble brewing and the peaceful museum will very soon become the site of one effed-up shitshow.
HEADS ROLL AS SETRAKIAN MAKES HIS FINAL STAND
As I had suspected and as is hinted in the trailer for the episode, Eichhorst (Richard Sammel) gets his ass chewed out by the Master (Jonathan Hyde) for his continuous string of f*ck-ups. Losing Dutch Velders. Letting Setrakian escape. Not being able to locate Dr. Goodweather. Allowing Fet and Quinlan to steal the nuke. And on and on and on. Here we have the very narcissistic Eichhorst, so stuck on himself, so used to being in control, and he is berated and forced to his knees like a 6 year-old who had disobeyed his father. It’s actually quite comical, and given that the majority of the episode is on the serious side, I found it to be very welcome. So, after a thorough ass-chewing and refusing to end Eichhorst’s life like he had requested, the Master gives Thomas one final chance and a new mission — apprehend Setrakian, Dutch, Vasily Fet, and the others and most importantly, make absolute sure that nuke isn’t allowed to cross the river into Manhattan. Piece of cake, right?
As we probably know by now, Eichhorst is more of a delegator than anything else, and so, the first thing he does is delegate the task of locating Fet, Setrakian, Dutch, and the rest of the group to one of his most-trusted collaborators, Sanjay Desai (Cas Anvar). And, it works too because very soon after plastering the group’s faces all over Manhattan on the Partnership’s version of “America’s Most Wanted,” asswipe Alonso Creem shows up at the Partnership facility, all ready to make Sanjay a deal. After following Gus to the museum to deliver the medical supplies, he now knows the location of Setrakian, Dutch and Mr. “Chrome Dome.” Of course, Eichhorst is beyond ecstatic and takes Sanjay and Alonso to meet the Master and give him the good news themselves. This is when Alonso Creem confirms with absolutely no doubt that he’s the mother of all idiots. I mean, come on, it should be criminal to be this stupid! Creem’s offer is their location, but in return, he wants his island back, and he also wants full control of the black market. Oh, and the cherry on top is he pulls out a grenade, fully prepared to take everyone out if the Master tries to sting him to get the information. A grenade, Creem? Really? What. An. Idiot. #FacePalm Of course, as all of us who have half a brain know, you don’t pull shit like this with the Master and live to tell about. So, immediately, the Master grabs Creem’s neck, pops the grenade out of his hand, and then, quickly diffuses it. Then, Creem, completely stunned and speechless, tries to make another offer, but is quickly cut off by the Master lunging his stinger and draining the asshole completely dry.
Oh, but the best part is yet to come. Creem is starting to turn, and those silver teeth are starting to become a big problem. So, instead of having Eichhorst pull the silver out, the Master gives Sanjay the order to perform the grisly task. After this and the horrid look on Sanjay’s face when the Master drained Alonso Creem, will this finally be enough for the guy to grow a set and do something — anything — to help stop this nightmare? My gut says “Yes,” but only time will tell.
So, with Alonso Creem turned and the Master having access to his memories, we should all know what this means — the Master, as well as Eichhorst, now has the location of Setrakian, Dutch, and the rest of the group. Brace yourselves because the shitshow of the century is about to begin. Keep in mind that Eph and Dutch are at the meth lab cooking up the white for the Professor, and so, Setrakian and Alex are left to hold down the fort. So, when Eichhorst and his handful of minions come knocking, things definitely don’t look good. Alex, having never encountered a sentient strigoi like Eichhorst before, is caught off-guard and immediately killed. So, that leaves poor Abraham, still weak and barely able to stand, against the all-powerful Eichhorst. It’s actually a very sad scene and very hard to watch. For Setrakian, his life’s work has been to locate and destroy the Master, and to see him hopelessly swinging the air with his sword while Eichhorst just looks on and laughs is just heartbreaking. But, then, nothing short of a miracle happens.
Just when we think it’s all over for Setrakian and Eichhorst has won, we hear gunfire and see that Gus and his cousin, Raul, are now there to save the day — or at least offer a very convenient distraction while Setrakian figures out a plan. They fire off dozens of shots, but in the end, Eichhorst is only playing with them. That is, they have zero chance against the “Waxy Boy,” as Gus likes to call Eichhorst, and finally, at the optimal moment, Eichhorst shows himself, kills Raul right before Gus’ eyes, and then, with the help of strigoi Alonso Creem, moves on to Gus. I know Gus has a ton of fans out there, and I’m sure this scene had all of them freaking out. However, as we are about to find out, it’s not over until Abraham Setrakian says it’s over.
So, just when Eichhorst is about to have Mexican for dinner, Setrakian appears behind him and stabs him with his silver sword. Stupid move — or was it?
Are you just going to stand there, flapping your lips all day, or are you going to end this? — Setrakian to Eichhorst
Wait, did Setrakian just white-flag Eichhorst?! WTF?! Regardless, Eichhorst takes the bait (no pun intended), lunges his stinger at Setrakian and proceeds to drink him. But, wait….. A prescription bottle falls from Setrakian’s hand, and we see it’s the empty bottle of blood thinner that Dr. Goodweather gave him. Oops!!! I think this is check and mate, Thomas F*ckin’ Eichhorst. It doesn’t take long for the Warfarin to start taking hold, and with that, Eichhorst pulls back and falls to his knees. Yes, Setrakian just handed himself a death sentence by allowing Eichhorst to drink him, but in exchange, he’s about to take out his lifelong nemesis, which should also be a striking blow to the Master since Eichhorst is his #2. However, leading up to the big moment, Setrakian gives us one of the most memorable speeches of the entire series, which could also serve as a battle cry for the remaining final episodes
Like rats, you cannot vomit the blood thinner. You are vermin. Look at me! I want your Master to see this. Can you hear me? You are the hunger, but make no mistake, you’re still a parasite. And, we will flush you out and burn you. It will not be me, it will not be now, but it will happen. No matter what it takes, another face, another eyes, you will see me as you die. And, as for you, Heir Eichhorst, my name is Abraham Setrakian, and you should know I’m not a number anymore — Abraham Setrakian
Then, ending the speech with “My sword sings silver” in German, Setrakian takes the swing he’s no doubt dreamed of for years, and Thomas Eichhorst is no more. Most. Epic. Ending. EVER.
So, this is it. Goodbye to Thomas Eichhorst, and goodbye to Richard Sammel. For me, this is so bittersweet because while Eichhorst was one of our heroes’ most formidable foes, he’s also a villain that you can’t help but love to hate. What’s more — and perhaps most importantly — Sammel always gives superb, exquisite performances in every scene he’s in, going all the way back to our introduction to the character in that iconic jailhouse scene with Setrakian from the Pilot. And, as Sammel went into his final episode tonight, he didn’t skip a beat and perhaps gave his most compelling, magnificent performance to date. Wow. Wow. Wow!! So, goodbye, Thomas. I can’t really say we’re sorry you’re dead, but we will most certainly miss you, Richard Sammel.
BROOKLYN BRIDGE IS FALLING DOWN
So, while most of the group is finally reunited and Setrakian put Eichhorst on the express train to hell, for the most part, this episode is one big buzzkill. Alex is dead. Raul is dead. But, the most heartbreaking part is Setrakian is now infected, and so, it’s only a matter of time. However, on a more positive note, our nuke-hunting dream team of Fet (Kevin Durand), Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones) and Roman (K.C. Collins) do bring some good news. Well, not entirely 100% good news, but hey, I’m a glass-half-full kind of girl.
As we see in the opening sequence, Roman seems to have been on the level because he pulls off flying that airplane and getting everyone, as well as the nuke, safely to Long Island.
Roman, you are 1 mean, lean flying machine! — Vasily Fet
Haha, love me some Fet! However, not all is easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy because it’s not a minute after they land that loads of strigoi in Partnership trucks pull up to greet them. There’s a huge fire-fight, and also, keep in mind that Quinlan is down one uzi after that shenanigan in the nuke tube in North Dakota. So, when he runs out of ammo and then, is attacked by a mongrel, it’s enough to make the die-hard Quinlan fans’ hearts stop. But, no worries, because while Q has saved Fet more times than we can count, Vasily finally gets to return the favor. As an added bonus, when they open the trucks, it’s Feliz Navidad as Vasily puts it, and Quinlan even finds himself a couple of new uzi’s. Yay! It’s a winner-winner chicken dinner day, and now, the only obstacle left is to get the nuke into Manhattan. No problem, right?
Well, remember the Master’s ultimatum to Eichhorst to make sure they don’t make it into Manhattan with the nuke? Well, it seems that Eichhorst does pull through on this task, or at least delegates it to Sanjay Desai who, in turn, makes sure it gets done. Unfortunately, our heroes make this discovery after they trek all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge only to watch it blown to smithereens as the Master, Eichhorst, and Sanjay Desai look on from the Empire State Building. Uh, Fet, do you have a plan B?
So, everyone, what did you think of THAT? Given that we’re quickly approaching the series finale, I knew they would up the stakes a notch or two, but man, oh man, this was off the charts. So, for the shock-and-awe effect, the writers definitely get a resounding A+. However, they also get a strong A in just about every other area as well. For those who know me well, you know that I have read both the books and the comics, and so, one of the most interesting aspects of this series for me is seeing what spins the writing team decide to put on the original source material. Take for instance the endgames for both Thomas Eichhorst and Abraham Setrakian. In the books, the showdown between Eichhorst and Setrakian isn’t quite as dramatic, and in fact, it’s the Master who is gifted Setrakian’s little blood-thinner cocktail. Of course, it doesn’t take out the Master like it does Eichhorst, and it only gets Setrakian killed. Not very exciting. So, instead, the writers once again made a move nothing short of genius and spins the blood-thinner storyline as a way for Setrakian to finally get his revenge and take out his nemesis of more than 70 years. Brilliant move, brilliant writing. And, finally, the performances of the entire cast — especially David Bradley and Richard Sammel — were just spectacular. Kudos and plaudits to all of you! Bottom line — given that we still have 3 episodes left and if this episode is any indication, I think we can expect one mind-blowing series finale and one fans will be talking about for a good long while.
The Strain airs on Sundays at 10/9c on FX.
Critic Grade — A
Random thoughts and observations:
Geeky computer and math nerd by day and TV fanatic by night. My beats are The Walking Dead, The Strain, Person of Interest, Z Nation, and anything that most people would call freaky. Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer of TVGeekTalk.com