The Strain recap: 'Extraction'
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)
Dutch already had a recent heart-to-heart with Eph, so now it’s her other former lover’s turn. Fet tells her about his dream in the season premiere, where Setrakian was infected and burning the Lumen. “And it all basically came true,” he says, to which she responds, “Maybe you were just dreaming of what you were most afraid of.” She puts her arm around him and lays her head on his shoulder. Fetch always was a better couple name than Etch.
As the group is discusses Setrakian’s final notes, they’re pretty split on what to do next. Quinlan and Fet are determined to use the nuke that they worked so hard to find, while Eph is understandably sensitive about being responsible for another nuclear explosion. Dutch interrupts the heated debate by suggesting their best path to finding The Master might be to grab Sanjay, a.k.a. “the top of The Master’s pile of human s—.” Fair description. Though I’d probably argue that this title should go to a different human…maybe someone much younger who’s responsible for the current state of New York City.
Speaking of Zach, he goes to see a slightly panicked Master. “Our enemies are closing in,” he says, before mentioning they’re also armed with a nuke. “You know the devastation such a weapon can cause. Yes, of course you do.” Low blow, man. Gullible Zach is eager to help, so The Master assigns him a task that he’s “uniquely suited for.” Being the worst? Eph’s son is packing up and preparing to leave when strigoi Abby gives Zach a pep talk. “Wow, you’re so hot,” he says as they embrace. “I meant like, you’re warm, your body.” Well, we know being smooth isn’t his task.
Before the mission to grab Sanjay, the group splits into duos for some nice moments. The Dutch and Fet Reunion Tour continues when he says how sick he feels that she was kept in The Partnership’s facility. “Not half as sick as it makes me,” she replies. Fair and true rebuttal. On the other side of the armory, Quinlan asks Gus, who convinced Cream’s guys to stay and fight the strigoi, about his “recommitment to the cause.” Clearly, Setrakian inspired him, and he also takes the blame for the professor’s death since Cream is the one who tracked them. Quinlan isn’t usually one to worry about people’s feelings, but he tries to take some of the burden off of Gus, who replies, “You have no idea what I’ve done.” Yeah, as much as we love Gus, we do kind of forget that a lot of this vampire apocalypse is on him.
All right; it’s time to get Sanjay. With the rest of the team posing as prisoners, Quinlan drives a Partnership truck to the building where Dutch was previously kept. Not long after they get in and break off into groups, the security guard who let them in gets suspicious and warns Sanjay. The human trader has enough time to sound the alarms, but just as he does, Fet and Dutch come in firing. Sanjay makes his way downstairs and barricades himself, a guard, and a few pregnant women in a secured room. When the guard refuses to shoot one of the women, the two men engage in a struggle that ends with the guard dead and Sanjay fleeing. Dutch ends up catching up and capturing him, but in the process, she learns that Rosalinda didn’t make it out alive.
While Fet and Dutch are doing that and Eph is being kind of useless, Quinlan and Gus are freeing the humans who are about to be put on the strigoi assembly line. It isn’t easy, though. There are a few close calls, including Quinlan barely surviving a face-off with a mongrel.
Post-mission, the team is back at Gus’ stocked hideout when one of Cream’s guys tells Eph that a kid who sounds a lot like Zach was asking about him at the market. Dutch and Fet are skeptical, but Eph is going. “I know, you’re both probably right,” he says. “But I have to see for myself.” But do you? Like, just get a new kid.
So he does what The Master surely wants as he goes and finds Zach. For some reason, Eph is happy to see his nuke-setting-off, strigoi-loving son.
What did you think? Did you expect Setrakian to make it to the end? Has the show’s recent improvement gotten you more excited for the final few episodes?