In last week’s episode, we checked in with Dutch at the strigoi B+ IVF clinic and also with Gus, who we learned had fallen back to his old ways of working with Alonso Creem, jacking shit and basically just making trouble. I don’t know about everyone else, but while I am intrigued by Dutch and Gus’ divergent storylines and how this will all eventually come together, I couldn’t help but be a tad bit disappointed that we didn’t get to visit with our missile-hunting dream team. But, no worries, because in tonight’s episode, Fet, our Wormless Wonder Quinlan, Charlotte and newbie, Roman, take front-and-center, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
ZACK GOES ON A DATE!
However, before getting to that, as is depicted in the promotional photos, the budding romance between Zack (Max Charles) and Abby (Jocelyn Hudon) is explored further. Zack even gets to take her on a “first date,” so to speak, at the Museum of Natural History and demonstrates his power by showing her that the strigoi do exactly what he says (through the eyes of the Master, of course). For a young boy like Zack, power of that magnitude can really be intoxicating — and as we find out, that’s exactly what the Master is counting on.
Besides mere possessions, the Master (Jonathan Hyde) has also given the love-struck Zack elevated status which he is using to try and woo Abby. When Abby tries to steal some fruit in Zack’s penthouse (and is completely outed by the very nosy and very jealous feeler patrol!), Zack makes a big impression by chasing after her when she tries to leave and then, offering to give her the very fruit she was trying to steal. To take it a step further, Zack even offers Abby as much food as she wants, given that she and her roommates are provided only one Partnership bar a day to live on. While Zack is thrilled with Abby now taking a liking to him, this, in turn, is creating a dangerous dependency on the Master, who freely exploits it to manipulate Zack into agreeing with him and doing what he wants him to do.
For 1000’s of years, the human mind has been at war with itself. Religion, Marxism, fascism, capitalism. Sound ideas in theory but defeated by an essential flaw in the human psyche — The Master
What flaw? — Zack
Human selfishness and vanity are ingrained. I know this because the minds of millions of humans exist within me — The Master
Seriously? — Zack
I possess the consciousness of every individual my spawn has turned. And, of all the creatures in the natural world, the human animal is the most dangerous. Given to impulsive acts of violence — The Master
But, what about the others? The ones down there? The survivors? — Zack
Their leaders cast them into darkness, but fortunately, a new species has risen to supplant them. United by a single consciousness, a single purpose. There will be no more wars. I will make sure their viscous impulses never ravage this world again. And you, Zack, can help me do that — The Master
You know, if we didn’t know what we know about the Master and what a horrible wretch he is, these words would actually make sense. For those who know me well, you’re aware that I’m a misanthropist — that is, a hater of the human race. Every day, all you have to do is turn on the news, go on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media platform to see the atrocious monstrosities humans commit against each other. So, for someone to step up and offer world peace, an end to war, an end to violence, well, that could be quite tempting, especially for a young boy like Zack with a developing and impressionable mind.
With this “speech,” for a brief moment, we get a glimpse of what seems to be the benevolent side of the Master, but that quickly goes out the window when the Master still sees the doubt in Zack’s eyes. That’s when the Master shows his true colors and begins playing on Zack’s basic human need of companionship and his desperate desire to help Abby and have her like him.
Or, you can return to being an ordinary, lonely boy. The choice is yours. Of course, you will no longer live here. I wonder how the girl will feel when she has no job, and you have nothing to offer her — The Master
So, while the Master’s wisdom didn’t phase Zack, this indirect “threat” definitely did the trick. And, with that, the Master gets exactly what he wants. Zack quickly falls into line, says he will help the Master, and agrees to take the white (which reinforces my belief even more that the Master is using the white to mess with Zack’s mind).
YUM! A STRIGOI DINNER OF RAT POISON STEW
For those of you familiar with The Strain trilogy, how many of you remember Setrakian poisoning the Master? And, for those who do remember, do you recall what Setrakian poisoned him with? In one final, desperate act of a dying man, Setrakian swallows his entire bottle of heart medication — which is nothing more than a glorified blood-thinner — and so, when the Master begins to drink him, he is basically poisoned. Although it doesn’t kill the Master, the chemicals do wreck havoc on his system, which makes sense given that strigoi are just one, big blood-processing machine. Given tonight’s episode with Eph (Corey Stoll) and Alex’s (Angel Parker) plan of poisoning the strigoi nests at the Partnership houses, it appears a similar arc has been given to these characters in the television series. The only difference is they use rat poison, which is still effectively the same thing since the main ingredient is a blood thinner.
I don’t know about the rest of the fans, but this is the one arc I’m not enjoying this season. Why? Because it makes no sense at all. We have all seen Dr. Goodweather on the front lines with Setrakian, Fet, and Quinlan, and he knows full well that the solution is not killing strigoi. Even if you manage to knock out a nest of a couple thousand strigoi, that’s nothing, and it will easily be replaced in just a matter of days. The only solution is to take out the source, and that means killing the Master. Eph knows this, and so, it seems pretty foolish that a man as intelligent as Dr. Goodweather would resort back to something that he knows will have zero impact.
Okay, enough with my rant. Regardless, their plan does seem to work, and they are successful in wiping out at least one of the Partnership houses. However, when they go inside and inspect the house after most of the strigoi are dead, that’s when things get interesting, and what they find may end up being quite important. In the back of the house in the offices of the human “collaborators,” Eph and Alex find a schedule on the wall for delivering “units” of something. Of course, given the tankers of blood we’ve seen, units of blood immediately come to mind, but Eph isn’t convinced. A single tanker can carry thousands of units of blood, but deliveries of 650 units, 700 units, etc. etc. are on the schedule, and so, that doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Tankers can hold 1000’s of units of blood. So, what are they up to? — Eph
Fascinating question — Alex
So, as annoying as this arc is, I have a feeling what they just stumbled upon in this Partnership house may be critical and may ultimately link Eph back to NYC and the rest of the group. This theory is supported even more by the fact that the attack on the Partnership houses has gotten the attention of the Master and also Eichhorst, who immediately connects the dots and knows exactly who’s responsible. So, Eph, get ready because Eichhorst is coming for you, and a trip back home to NYC I think is in your near future.
SNAKE EYES FOR OUR MISSILE-HUNTING DREAM TEAM
Since the season 4 premiere, perhaps the biggest complaint I’ve seen from fans is the implication that the global nuclear winter was caused by the single nuke in NYC. You don’t have to be a nuclear physicist to know that simply is not possible. In fact, it’s outright ridiculous. Fortunately, in the opening scenes of tonight’s episode, that theory is finally debunked, and we learn what really happened. While Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones), Fet (Kevin Durand), Charlotte (Rhona Mitra), and Roman (K.C. Collins) are sitting around a campfire and and waiting to travel to the missile silo the following morning, the topic of the nuclear winter is brought up, and that’s when Quinlan explains so well what happened.
It’s your bombs who brought about the Night Eternal, not the Master. Without the weapons of mass destruction your people so held upon, the Master would still be hiding in tunnels — Quinlan to Fet
In other words, the United States, as well as other nations throughout the world, panicked and impulsively launched nuclear missiles in a futile attempt to stop the strigoi. That is, our own impulsiveness and foolish behavior are what got us into this predicament in the first place. I think we can all appreciate the irony in this given the above speech the Master gave to Zack. Kind of proves the Master’s point, don’t you think?
Moving on, once the group arrives at the missile silo in the morning, that’s when the real shitshow begins. First, and foremost, it’s clear the outpost had come under attack by strigoi because it’s littered with bodies, both human and strigoi. Of course, Quinlan starts wigging out, worried that the missile may be gone, but Roman assures him that there’s a very good chance it could still be inside. Bottom line — they’ll need to send someone inside to check the place out, and that’s when Fet gets all giddy because he’s about to have some fun. To insure no stray strigoi are lurking within the silo, Vasily gets to fire off one of his famous silver grenades, and we know how that guy loves things that go BOOM!
Never been a more perfect time to say this. Fire in the hole! — Fet
Then, what happens next? Crickets. Dead silence and nothing but crickets. “Finally some good news” Quinlan says bending over the silo, but as we are about to find out, that is premature. Boom, a single gunshot hits Quinlan, and he falls down the silo, hitting one thing right after another on his way down. Yikes!!! I swear I could hear all the Quinlan fangirls gasping and screaming when this scene played out! Just breathe. Breathe. Breathe. There’s no need to start hyperventilating because a few moments later, we do learn Quinlan is still very much alive, but he has a nasty gash and a compound fracture in his leg.
OUCH!!! That has to hurt like an effin’ bitch!! But no worries, because this is our Quinlan, and we know what a bad-ass he is. Without Dr. Goodweather there to attend to his wounds like last season and no other options available, Quinlan has no choice but to set his own leg (ouch again!). Then, he uses the silver from Fet’s grenade to cauterize the wound (double-ouch!!). You only have to look at Quinlan’s face in these scenes to know how excruciating this must have been! All I can say is Q has some balls (no pun intended! ;-)) to be able to perform major surgery on himself, while, at the same time, still carrying on a fire fight with the sniper at the top of the silo.
If you stop shooting, I’ll let you live! — Quinlan
So, while Quinlan is still taking fire, Fet is making his way to the silo through tunnels from an alternate entrance. Vasily is finally able to locate the sniper, and when he turns around, shoots him in the chest. Fet then tries to talk to the guy, in an attempt to get information on what happened at the outpost, but before he can get even a few sentences out, Quinlan appears and shoots the sniper in the head.
Why did you do that for! — Fet
Because I said I would. He should have stopped shooting when I told him to — Quinlan
Okay, so that crisis is over, and now for the big question — what about the missile? Is it still there? Well…yes and no. The missile **is** there, but when Roman opens the capsule, the smile quickly disappears from his face, and we know it’s bad news. As it turns out, the “pit” — a 10-lb ball of plutonium — is missing, more than likely stolen and hidden somewhere. Of course, we know who’s responsible for this, but it doesn’t take long for our heroes to connect the dots either. Fet remembers the strigoi convoy they had passed earlier, and it was probably them who attacked the outpost and stole the plutonium. The good news is if they’re able to find that plutonium pit, Roman says they’ll have a 100% functional nuclear warhead. Next step — another road trip to find that strigoi convoy!
All in all, tonight’s episode is another solid installment of the show’s final season. There’s plenty of action, plenty of character development, and the plot moved forward further in one hour than in 1/2 dozen episodes of prior seasons. And, that definitely isn’t a trivial task to pull off, given that 3 separate storylines are featured in tonight’s episode. So, kudos and plaudits to the writers and producers for that. However, besides the annoying Eph and Alex arc that I’ve already discussed, my main complaint is still the same one I had in the season premiere episode — our group being fractured and too many storylines to keep up with. Here we are in the final season of the series, with only 7 episodes left now, and so, there’s very little time to begin with to tell a full, complete story. Now, on top of that, time must be made for all of these character “check-ins”. On the other hand, as I have said before, I do have the utmost respect for Carlton Cuse and feel he has done an exceptional job with every series he has worked on (most recently with the superb final season of Bates Motel). That being said, I’m going to cautiously optimistic and have faith that everything will eventually come together, and the fans will be given the memorable, satisfying ending they so deserve and will be talking about for a good long while.
The final season of The Strain airs on Sundays at 10/9c on FX.
Critic Grade — A-
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