We gave it a B+
Is The Strain suddenly becoming the show we always wanted it to be? This was the question I was posing to myself for almost all of “Extraction,” the second above-average episode in a row. Season 4’s eighth installment continued most of the winning formula from last week’s “Ouroboros.” There was action, there were reunions, and the series delivered its biggest and most emotional death.
But much of the goodwill the show built up over the last two weeks went out the window in the final moments of this episode. I mean, we knew it was coming, but still, Zach and Eph’s reunion isn’t something any fans wanted, needed, or cared about. The Strain‘s creative team has put a lot of eggs in the Zach basket, and they have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time to redeem this direction.
We’ll get to that uninspiring ending, but we must start at the beginning, which nicely builds on the momentum of the previous episode. Dutch and Eph return to the team’s new HQ, where they discover two bodies: Cream and “a strigoi in a perfectly tailored suit who just happens to be missing a hand.” I wonder who that could be. Wanting to be sure, they search for the head and soon get proof that Eichhorst is finally dead. “Serves him right,” declares Dutch. They need to warn the professor, but Gus finds them first. He tells them about Alex, and when asked about the old man, his silence says it all. As they approach Setrakian, who is feverishly scribbling notes from the Lumen, they catch a glimpse of his face, revealing that he didn’t make it out of his encounter with Eichhorst unscathed — he’s turning. “I don’t have much time,” he says. “I still have work to do.”
Since all of the bridges were blown up by The Master, Roman arrives in Manhattan via a boat. This draws the attention of Partnership security, but Quinlan takes care of that by doing what Quinlan does best: appearing out of nowhere and killing everyone. This allows Fet to come out of hiding and announce, “It’s good to be home.” They decide to leave Roman and the stolen van with the stolen nuke at the Federal Reserve. Sorry man, you’re not part of the old-school crew.
Dutch isn’t taking the Setrakian news very well; he desperately wants to find a way to help him. Meanwhile, with no explanation, Fet and Quinlan find their old friends very quickly. Fet has a big smile until he sees Eph and Dutch’s faces. He begins to proudly tell the professor about the nuke, but like the others, he’s shocked to discover Setrakian’s state. “This can’t be happening,” he begs. Weak and out of time, the professor believes he’s finally learned what they need to do: separate The Master from his collaborators. That seems to be too easy of an answer. “This last move will come at a cost,” he admits. “It will require an act of self-sacrifice.” Fet’s rightfully a little concerned that suddenly this nuke that he’s been tracking down for nine months is being deemed useless. “Please, don’t let the work I’ve done be in vain,” Setrakain pleads to his mentee. “Promise me.” Fet does.
But uh oh, it’s happening. Strigoi Setrakian is coming, so he gives Quinlan his cane/sword and bends down. Our favorite pawn broker/strigoi hunter/professor gives the nod, prompting Quinlan to cut the old man’s head off. This devastating blow hits everyone hard. R.I.P., Setrakian; at least you outlived your longtime nemesis by half an episode.
Setrakian is later buried, his grave marked with his patented hat. There’s silence when Eph asks if anyone wants to say anything, until Quinlan steps up. “We should not mourn this man,” the half-strigoi opines. “Instead, 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. His life was a beacon for all of us.” That was quite perfect from a half-man of few words. He passes Setrakian’s sword on to Fet to carry on the old man’s work.
The next scene is four years in the making. After being introduced to each other last week, Eph and Gus have their first meaningful encounter. “He wasn’t going to let them win, not when he had any fight left in him,” says Gus. Smartly, the series makes sure that the two men acknowledge the other recent losses: Raul and Alex. Not being there when Alex was killed causes Eph to recall missing his own father’s death. He always thought things would be “more settled” if he’d been able to say goodbye. “But I’ve seen a lot of people I love die, and I don’t feel settled,” he shares. “I feel…” Gus interjects, “Like you wish you had them all back.” That was good; maybe these two should have met four seasons ago. (Recap continues on page 2)