Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Strain, Season 4, Episode 8: Extraction

Last week we saw pretty much every woman and every POC be slaughtered. It was a pretty comprehensive massacre which cannot do anything but leave a bad taste in the mouth

This week we have some brief reflections on this loss - but this is, of course, eclipsed by a far bigger loss. Abraham

And, yes, it should be. Abraham has been a constant since the very first episode. He has been the heart of this show. He has been the centre around which everything on this show has revolved around. His death should eclipse all others - no-one’s death, no-one’s would ever approach the devastating impact of Abe

Except it does kind of emphasise another element of this - we lost the majority of the POC and women on this show last episode and I don’t even remember the names of half of them. Nor, for that matter, most of the other women and POC who have died on this show (and, again, there’s been more than a few). Even Dutch and Gus are not exactly on par with Ephraim and Vasiliy (though Dutch comes close).

But Abe is infected - Abe is covered in worms - even as Vasily and Quinn join them with the nuke (the whole blowing up the bridges delayed them all of 10 minutes), they realise they’re just in time to say goodbye. Abe desperately tries to pass on his new insights - including his new decision that they’re totally not going to nuke the Master, instead they need to target the collaborators because the book says so.

Um… ok, y’know I’d buy this if this were last season? I mean without Desai and Palmer last season? Yes that would have made all the difference. But now? Now when the Master is in control and the biggest collaborator we’ve seen, Desai, is at best a midlevel civil servant? When he has armies of strigoi? I’m not buying the idea that collaborators are really the key to his defeat or that the nuke is now a terribad idea.

After passing on his message, Abe then acknowledges he’s pretty much doomed, sharply cutting off any false desperate hope they others have that they may save him. He demands Quinlan finishes it - and Quinlan cuts off his head

It’s devastating, absolutely, completely devastated and everyone feels the shock of it

It also makes his last wish pretty much religious writ to the rest of the cast. No more nuking. Ok, Quinlann kind of objects to the whole not actually killing the Master thing, but everyone else overrules him

Dutch suggests a counter plan - they go kidnap Desai therefore finding someone who may know where the Master is so they can concentrate their nuke on the Master, while also taking down a collaborator and freeing all the women in the collaborator camp.

Time for a raid, using Quinlan’s vampire face to get them inside, there’s much nifty fighting, lots of killing and lots of killing Strigoi and not giving a shit about spraying white blood full of worms which ceased to be a problem for some time for some reason. We also have a bizarre moment where a human declares he won’t help them because he’s not a “traitor”

Nah, I don’t buy it. I don’t buy these people have been that brainwashed by the people eating vampires. We do get a bonus moment when Desai tries to hold a pregnant woman hostage by holding a gun to her head and his own guard knocks him down because there are lines even among collaborators

The fighting is kind of cool though, how can it not be? And Gus has rallied his people to the fight (and Quinlan had a pretty nifty speech about how self-flagellation and guilt are pretty useless and self-indulgent) which ended nicely with Dutch being the one to bring Desai in.

And then The Master activates his secret weapon - and sends Zach to Ephraim. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO no more daddy son issues, Please gods no.

Beyond the awfulness of Zach being made even worse by the combined awfulness of Zach and Ephraim I have some issues with this episode

Abe did get a grand send off which was deserved - but I’m not sure how well the show will hold without him because he was the perfect centre of it.

I also think we have a bit of theme being forced over actual plot: like the theme of this season is how terribad their collaborators are so the collaborators have to be the new big bad to fight even if it does seem a bit bizarre to say the least to decide that killing the Master is no longer the actual priority…

I also think there’s another element that almost robs the whole series of it’s central concept of these humans rising up to defeat the master: Quinn. Quinn is their nuke. Their unstoppable force. And he’s not being used just for support and a bit of extra firepower but there are a lot of moments where Quinn being there is the only reason they survive and succeed. Is this humanity leading the fight for their own freedom? Or thank gods we have a friendly vampire?