The Strain recap: 'Ouroboros'
Unless you’re new here, you’re aware that I’ve been fairly critical of the final season of The Strain. Descriptors like “subpar,” “not inspiring much confidence,” and “one of the worst characters on television” have been thrown around. So considering how negative I’ve been, it’s only fair to praise the series for finally delivering a great episode, which arguably could be their best to date.
“Ouroboros” has everything that we could possibly ask of The Strain: our heroes being reunited, big deaths, and no Zach. That’s almost as good a formula as Setrakian’s anti-aging concoction. Completely separating almost all of the important characters on this show for more than half of its final season is still a perplexing decision, but at least with them back together and Eichhorst shockingly taken off the board, The Strain has something it desperately needs: momentum.
The fast-paced, crowd-pleasing action starts off right at the top of the episode, with Roman, Fet, Quinlan, and their nuke landing in Long Island. The excitement is temporarily halted when they’re welcomed home by a group of strigoi, but they take care of that in short order, and it even ends up being a positive, as they’re happy to take the van full of guns off the hands of the strigoi. Before they do, Quinlan has a message for The Master. “Yes, we’re here,” he says to one of the strigoi. “And now, we’re coming for you.” Boom — he shoots it in the head. New York City, the boys are officially back in town.
They’re not the only ones making their long-awaited return to the Big Apple. After getting word that Zach is still alive, Eph and Alex have been making their way into the city via the tunnels. Eph is a little testy and makes a “dick move” when he throws shade at Alex over her dead son. If I were him, I wouldn’t really be talking about anyone else’s kid. He quickly apologizes and says they just need to find Setrakian and end all of this. “Setrakian always has a plan,” he tells her. “Whether it works is another question.”
Speaking of our favorite professor/pawnbroker/vampire hunter, he’s once again got his hat and cane, and now, he and Dutch are going to grab the Lumen from its hiding spot. The secret locale is a little too high up for the weakened Setrakian, who is no spring chicken, especially after months of tests on him. When Dutch worries about him upon returning with the book, he snaps at her, but he realizes she’s the badass who saved him, so he sweetly takes hold of her arm and tells her how well she’s done. It makes both her and me smile.
Things seem to be trending upward for everyone…except Eichhorst. Following his failure in North Dakota, The Master is ripping into him over once again not being able to capture one of our heroes. The Nazi vampire accepts the criticism and offers up his life as punishment. The Master taunts his right-hand man for being “bested by a pawnbroker,” and his harsh words inspire Eichhorst to make the boss proud. (That’s some Bill Belichick-level coaching.) Motivated, Eichhorst gives Sanjay a promotion and tasks him with finding Eph, Fet, Dutch, Setrakian, and Quinlan.
Sanjay’s search will be a little tougher now that Setrakian and Dutch have found a new hideout. The professor seems to have officially lost it and is tearing pages from the Lumen and putting them up on the wall, Carrie Mathison-style. “I’m running out of time, ” he deliriously declares only seconds before passing out. As Dutch does her best to make her unconscious mentor comfortable, she’s spooked by the footsteps of intruders. Psych — it’s Eph (and Alex)! Dutch and Eph sprint towards each other and embrace in a hug that could only be shared by former lovers who fought vampires together. Eph immediately goes back into doctor mode and diagnoses Setrakian with a possible stroke. He also gets a little sassy with Dutch, leading her to proclaim, “At least I was here. It was just me and him; we made it on our own!” They slightly make up and decide to go find some medicine for their old friend, leaving Alex behind to keep an eye on him.
The local pharmacy they decide to hit up is Gus’ black market business, and Gus is so glad to see Dutch (or, as he calls her, “Dutchess”) alive. They embrace, making it a busy hug-and-reunion day for her. And it’s hard to believe, but we also get the first-ever interaction between Gus and Eph. Much to his partner Cream’s chagrin, Gus offers up medicine, including warfarin sodium, on the house.
Gus heads back to the new hideout with Dutch, Eph, and, unbeknownst to them, Cream. Setrakian is pumped to see Eph but not so pumped to see Gus. “We need you fighting the good fight,” Gus tells the professor, who replies, “What would you know about the good fight?” It’s hard to say if they’re talking about the battle against The Master or The Good Wife‘s spin-off. Gus’ assertion that he’s “just trying to get by” doesn’t sit too well with a fighter like Setrakian. “That is exactly why The Master won: because people try to get by,” he posits. (Recap continues on page 2)
Having learned the location of the fugitives, Cream heads to see Sanjay in order to be “fairly compensated” for doing his “patriotic duty.” This leads him to be brought in front of The Master to share his information. But first, he’s got a few demands, which prompts him to pull the clip from a grenade, assuming it will keep them from killing him. And you know what happens when you assume. “No, we do not,” The Master says when asked if they accept Cream’s terms. “I was merely curious to the depth of your delusion.” He proceeds to take care of both the grenade and Cream.
Next, we get the first of two heart-to-hearts between Eph and Setrakian, who says he “never doubted it for a moment” that the doctor would return. Eph admits, “I did.” He tells the professor about New Horizons, which for Setrakian conjures up memories of suffering through the Holocaust. “He learned it from us,” he says of The Master. Eph continues to play doctor and gives Setrakian the medication, but he warns to not take too many of the blood thinners, noting how they worked as poison against the strigoi in Philadelphia. Setrakian is more concerned with a different type of medicine, sharing with Eph the formula of how he’s been able to extend his life. “I know I’ve been unreliable, but I’m with you until the end,” promises Eph.
After forcing their way through a Partnership checkpoint, Roman, Fet, and Quinlan are loading up to cross the Brooklyn Bridge, which proves to be unnecessary as they watch all of the bridges that would connect them to the city get blown up by Sanjay, Eichhorst, and The Master. Before he can go, Sanjay must fulfill one more duty: taking the silver grill out of new strigoi Cream’s mouth. Not the most glamorous job for the newly promoted man.
Now, back to more heart-to-heart convos between Eph and Setrakian. As Dutch eavesdrops from nearby, it’s confession time for Eph, who tells the professor about Zach setting off the nuke. “This is what The Master does to those that defy him,” says Setrakian. “This is the price that we pay. But you must not let this weaken your resolve.” Then, maybe as repayment for those inspirational words, Eph heads across town to make a new batch of the formula for Setrakian. Dutch comes along and reveals that she heard what happened with Zach. “You’re back and and that’s all that matters,” she tells him. Do I smell a possible reconciliation?
Well, that road just got a little easier considering what’s about to happen to Eph’s current possible love interest. When Alex goes to check on Setrakian, it leads to an epiphany for the professor, but before we find out about that big piece of information, Eichhorst and strigoi Cream interrupt. Sadly, Alex is quickly disposed of by Cream. R.I.P., Alex; you were a solid addition to an underwhelming string of episodes.
“It’s over,” declares Eichhorst, even though, he should be more selective with that phrase since he said it to Setrakian two episodes ago and it didn’t end up being over. Declaring, “He belongs to me,” Eichhorst stops his new toy Cream from killing his rival so Eichhorst can get in a little more taunting, which backfires when Gus and Raul come in to save the day.
As Eichhorst runs off, the cousins go looking for him. Gus is ready to “settle up” with the vampire, considering it was Gus who unknowingly set The Master loose in New York City when he accepted a job from Eichhorst in the series premiere. His hope for revenge doesn’t look good as Eichhorst kills Raul, and Cream grabs Gus. But now, it’s Setrakian’s chance to save the day when he stabs his longtime enemy in the back.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough, and Eichhorst takes Setrakian by the neck, saying, “Admit it, A230385, you’ve always been curious about what’s on the other side.” He bites him, causing Setrakian to drop his medicine bottle, which the camera lingers on for way too long (you don’t need to hold our hand that much). Eichhorst falls, giving Gus the chance to kill Cream.
But as it turns out, Setrakian took a bottle full of those blood thinners, which means Eichhorst got poisoned when he sucked on his blood. Prepared to finally kill the man who has tortured him for 70-plus years, Setrakian summons The Master so he can see his right-hand man killed and to tell him, “You will see me as you die.” But those last words are meant for Eichhorst, as Setrakian announces, “My name is Abraham Setrakian, and you should know, I’m not a number anymore.” He cuts off Eichhorst’s head, to The Master’s great dismay.
What did you think? Am I overhyping how much of an improvement this was? Did this inspire more confidence for the final few episodes?