Eph and Zach have an uneasy and suspicious reunion

By Derek Lawrence
September 10, 2017 at 11:04 PM EDT
Marni Grossman/FX
S4 E9
B
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  • TV Show
Network

Coming off two of The Strain‘s best episodes, my expectations should have been high for the series’ penultimate hour. But the ending of “Extraction” left me dreading “The Traitor.” Unless you’re new here, you’re aware of the beating Zach has taken during these recaps, so the prospect of him reuniting with his father and Eph immediately falling into The Master’s trap wasn’t appealing. And while Zach’s prominence in the episode was still a problem, I give The Strain credit for both committing to Zach going fully dark and, rightfully, having Eph be skeptical of his terrible son. Not doing so would have been a disservice to the character, show, and fans.

“The Traitor” skips past Zach and Eph’s reunion, instead beginning with The Master’s pawn being kept locked up in a secured room at the team’s new HQ. “I want to trust you,” says Eph, to which Zach responds, “But you don’t.” I mean, teenagers who nuked New York City don’t really deserve trust in my book. Zach hasn’t slept in days and wants to save the talking for later. When Eph leaves, Quinlan is waiting outside the door to get the scoop. Thankfully, Eph realizes his son’s reemergence is “suspicious as hell,” and he intends to find out why he’s here.

Zach isn’t the only prisoner on location, as Dutch and Fet are using slightly harsher interrogating methods on Sanjay, who insists he did all of this to help save the rest of humanity. He calls those killed “the price we paid to build a better world” and says, “No one had the balls to face an inconvenient little truth: too many people.” Considering he’s Dutch and Fet’s hostage, he makes the bold move of firing back at them and asking how many they have killed or will kill. “Yeah, sure, we paid the price, but it was worth it,” Sanjay opines. Tell that to Setrakian, Nora, Jim, and Angel. This causes Dutch to lose it, beating the crap out of his face.

Meanwhile, Roman is still chilling at the Federal Reserve, where he’s watching old sitcoms, eating Count Chocula, and guarding the nuke. Actually, that’s not such a bad gig. He’s startled by a noise, so he goes to investigate and spots Cream’s guy, Marcus. This briefly turns into a standoff when Gus sneaks up on Roman, but it’s all good because Fet sent them, and Gus proves it by doing a perfect impersonation of our favorite exterminator. They’re going to help him keep the nuke safe.

While they’re there, Gus and Marcus decide they might as well steal a bunch of silver. This angers Roman until he realizes this isn’t your classic heist. “This man I knew, he taught me that the most valuable thing in this fight is silver,” explains Gus, giving a nod to Setrakian. Roman is in. Damn, Gus sure knows how to recruit. He’d make a hell of a college basketball coach if this vampire apocalypse ever ends.

During an interrogation break, Fet is trying to calm down Dutch, who is shaking after the beatdown she delivered Sanjay. (Post-vampire apocalypse, she shouldn’t be a boxer.) He gives her some alcohol to relax (hey, that’s Eph’s move!), and Dutch says she doesn’t understand how Sanjay can justify his actions. “Are we any better?” she asks Fet. “Are you sure we’re doing the right thing?” He responds, “What’s the other option? It’s the best hope that we have.” As they bond over missing Setrakian, Fet caresses her face and they hold hands. Sorry Eph — he stole your move and your girl.

Since Fetch (such a better couple name than Etch) are unable to break Sanjay, they bring in the closer. Looking like a badass, Quinlan strolls in, grabs a knife from Dutch, and…cuts Sanjay’s restraints. The human traitor is surprised and thankful. Well, until Quinlan knocks him out and drags him to a room where his wife, Stella, is being held. The half-strigoi threatens to drink her if Sanjay doesn’t give up The Master’s location. Sanjay eventually relents, and the team asks him to draw a layout of the floor in the Empire State Building that The Master nests in.

While Fet, Dutch, and Quinlan are getting tough with Sanjay, Eph is taking the soft approach to questioning Zach. It seems to be working, as Zach is completely honest about what has happened to him since he and his father were separated. It’s less clear if he’s telling the truth when he attempts to make the case that he’s on Eph’s side. The team decides to test both of their prisoners by having Zach draw a map of The Master’s location and comparing it to Sanjay’s. They’re identical…but everyone remains unconvinced of Zach’s loyalty. “I want to believe him,” says Dutch. “There’s just something in my gut telling me not to.” And, we soon learn, for good reason. (Recap continues on page 2)

As a reward for his pretty drawing, Zach gets some time outside and a surely warm ginger ale. The father-son duo wish they could see some stars, but one of them ruined that for everyone. “Dad, I’m so sorry,” says Zach. “I know I did a horrible thing. And I wish I could take it back.” Eph hugs his son, telling him, “You can’t…any more than I can take back my mistakes.” I bring this up a lot, but Zach blew up New York City, which I’m pretty certain is way worse than anything Eph ever did. Zach continues to be the worst by proving that he can’t even open a soda can without cutting himself. They go inside to clean up Zach’s hand, but some blood is left behind on the ledge.

Upon their return to Zach’s holding room, Eph has a contemplative look on his face. Zach is officially busted. “I think you did it on purpose,” Eph says of his son’s cut hand. “I think you came here to betray me.” Zach sticks to his story until his dad screams, “Will you just have the decency to look at me and tell me the truth?!” And like a true psychopath, Zach quickly flips the crazy switch and shows his true colors. He came here to learn the location of the nuke. Also, feelers are tracking his blood and are now likely on the way. Even worse, The Master is going to let Zach decide what to do with Eph. Nothing could be worse than already being Zach’s father. Eph grabs his son and holds a gun to the back of his head, but he can’t pull the trigger. “Goodbye, Zach,” he somberly says. “You made your choice — live with it.” Eph locks Zach in and tells the others they need to go.

They’re headed to the Federal Reserve, where Roman and Gus are bonding. “Don’t you need something to dream about?” asks Roman. For Gus, it’s Aanya, who I completely forgot existed. “I just pray she didn’t die, like everybody else I know,” he says of the girl he helped get out of the city. “Or like I’m going to at the end of this whole thing.” Roman makes light of the situation, asking for Aanya’s address so he can console her upon Gus’ death. Gus cracks a smile, saying that’s what he’s going to do. I guess he doesn’t plan on dying anymore.

The rest of the team arrives at the Reserve to go over the plan. Whoever triggers the nuke will be stuck in the blast zone. “That’s not a factor,” explains Quinlan. “I don’t plan to survive.” He takes the trigger and will attempt to lure The Master into their trap. Eph still isn’t thrilled with the idea of being involved with setting off another nuke, but it’s the “least bad option.”

They head out and stop a little short of the Empire State Building. It’s time for Quinlan to go at it alone. “Good luck…all of you,” he says in his probable final goodbye. Don’t worry — at least we get one nice last bromantic moment between Quinlan and Fet. And as Quinlan walks off, Marcus remarks, “That one has quite a pair of balls.” Dutch cracks back, “Actually, he doesn’t.” Damn, low blow, considering the guy is about to sacrifice himself!

Back at the team’s now old HQ, The Master and his cronies have arrived to free Zach, who gets scolded for signaling them too early. Next up, they go to see Sanjay and Stella. The unhappy couple are in the midst of a fight when the strigoi arrive, which prompts Sanjay to throw his wife under the bus and say she gave up The Master’s location. Stella is instantly dispatched by The Master, but that doesn’t mean he’s buying Sanjay’s story. He repeatedly and gruesomely pounds the human’s head into the wall. Yep, he’s super dead. “Perhaps it’s clear to you now that I have no tolerance for the weak,” The Master declares as he stares at Zach. Oh, you’re f—ed, kid.

Quinlan arms the bomb and walks into the Empire State Building for his last stand. When he arrives on the right floor, he only finds Abby, who is being channeled by The Master. “Such a pity, you’ve wasted your existence with humans, instead of taking your place beside me,” the villain tells Quinlan. Abby is soon joined by a large group of strigoi. “Is this the best you can do?” asks Quinlan. “Understand this, until you confront me, you will never have the security you crave, no matter how many humans you enslave, no matter how many cities you hollow out. I shall never give up my pursuit of you.” Then, he proceeds to cut off Abby’s head and radio the rest of team, telling them to get moving. Quinlan is prepared to fight all the strigoi surrounding him, while unbeknownst to him, his cohorts are set to face an incoming group as well. “Brace for impact,” warns Fet.

What did you think? Were you buying Zach’s lies? What are you expecting from the series finale?

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