Shane Mahood/FX
July 16, 2017 at 11:05 PM EDT

The Strain

TV Show
Current Status
In Season
David Bradley, Corey Stoll, Mia Maestro
Drama, Horror, Thriller
We gave it a C+

The television event of the year is finally here. The cable drama based on a series of novels that everyone has been waiting for is back! Winter is com…. Oh wait, sorry. Wrong show.

Well, the end is coming, I guess. On the same night Game of Thrones returned for season 7, the fourth and final season of vampire series The Strain premiered on FX. While Jon Snow and company may be bracing for battle with the White Walkers, the humans have already seemingly lost to the strigoi on The Strain.

The Season 3 finale brought some much-needed momentum, before a predictable ending that concluded with a not-so-predictable nuclear bomb explosion. The result is a final season set in an almost post-apocalyptic world, where the show’s scope has expanded beyond solely New York City. It’s an intriguing premise, but the premiere didn’t inspire much confidence, mostly due to the team being scattered across the country and the inexplicable rise in screen time for possibly the worst TV teenage character of all time.

After killing your strigoi wife and watching your son detonate a nuclear bomb in NYC, where do you go to seek refuge? The city that booed Santa Claus, of course! Season 4 begins with Eph living alone in Philadelphia, but by no means is he living the high life, considering his lack of gas and the abundance of homeless men sleeping on his doorstep. As Eph goes for a stroll, we get a sense of what life has become for humans. Forced to wear arm bands with scanners on them, people are lined up to get supplies from the Freedom Center, where it seems both humans and strigoi work. The show is definitely aiming for parallels with the Nazis and World War II.

The details of this new status quo are explained by a propaganda video about “The Partnership.” It’s been nine months since the explosion, a.k.a. “Illumination Day.” Zach’s handy work has created an environment where strigoi can walk around during the day and humans are required to make blood donations. “We are now able to join hands and work together to create a new and more just society for us all,” declares the ad. Tell that the guy who just got murdered by a feeler!

Don’t worry about Eph, though. He might not have his wife or son, but he’s got some friends! He heads to a warehouse to see Neil, with whom Eph is currently engaged in an ongoing baseball board game. Eph is looking for some gas and a job. “You could be King Rat of all of Philly if you just wanted to work a little,” quips Neil. Pro tip: Don’t google “Rat King.” In exchange for some liquor, Eph agrees to make a house call. He finds his patient in pretty rough shape, but he’s able to quickly diagnose her with scurvy. Talk about fast work. Someone is getting a good Yelp review. On second thought, maybe not — the woman’s husband is pretty salty, accusing the doctor of profiting off of other people’s troubles. “We’re all doing what we can to get by,” replies Eph. And as we know, alcohol is a big part of how Eph gets by.

The action shifts back to the Big Apple, where things don’t seem so bad. Well, not so bad if you’re Zach. He’s basically a strigoi king — living in a swanky loft, playing with his pet feeler, and taking a visit to the Central Park Zoo. He’s not there to feed the giraffes. Instead, he’s gunning down a tiger. And when I say gunning down, I really mean getting scared, falling down, and managing to get a few shots off as the tiger leaps at him. Observing from above are Eichhorst and The Master, who has settled nicely into Palmer’s body. “There is a dark potential in this boy,” he says. Like surely every other person (myself included) and/or strigoi, Eichhorst isn’t a fan of the kid. Back down low, Zach gets a blast from the past with the appearance of his dead strigoi mom. She’s just dropping in like moms do to say how proud she is. Her one piece of advice: Listen to The Master. As they hug, we can see it’s really The Master talking to Zach. Can’t even tell his mom apart from the world’s most powerful vampire? Someone isn’t getting a “No. 1 Son” mug for Christmas.
(Recap continues on page 2)

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