Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Strain, Season 4, Episode 10: The Last Stand

Last episode the terrible plan failed because Quinlan and the gang decided that the Master would face them in person rather than send a huge army. Because.... Why?

They do all manage to escape, albeit not before Gus sees his entire gang of POC sacrificed for the sake of everyone’s escape. And the death rate of POC on this show is pretty glaring, especially since Gus has been pretty much sidelined for most of this season and the show just doesn’t seem to have any plan for him at all

And why was Roman with them? Why? He’s not a gang member - he’s an expert on nuclear weapons. The one weapon they know can kill a vampire of the Master’s power. More than anyone else here, Roman is the most important character - yet this whole season has made absolutely no attempt to establish or use this. And to have him tucked in with Gus’s gang because they’ve all got dark skin (and don’t even try to tell me this isn’t the reason why they’re grouped together because there’s zero reason why Roman should have been left with Gus in a near suicidal last stand against waves of vampires.

Quinlan also stabs many vampires, taunting the Master for using his very useful army rather than, y’know, put himself at risk.

Everyone finally gathers together (well Gus & co later because the plot likes to ignore them) so Dutch can support poor Ephraim and his evil evil evil evil child who is evil.

Quinlan, meanwhile, has another new plan - but it may involve Vasiliy sacrificing himself to do it. Dutch is very upset by this because she has decided she loves Vasiliy and cannot stand to have him sacrifice himself. Yes, she’s back to loving him again. While this fills in with some big emotional scenes on the whole it’s somewhat filler and Vasiliy is not giving up his chance to sacrifice himself for the sake of his beloved New York (and we do have some nice scenes reminding us of just how much Vasiliy loves the city) by nuking it. Again.

In desperation Dutch turns to Ephraim to talk Vasiliy out of it. Which seems unlikely because Ephraim is hardly persuasive.

So what is Quinlan’s plan? It’s to lure the master underground while he fights the Master and Vasiliy pushes the button on the nuke, killing him, Quinlan and the Master

Which is basically the same as the last plan and has the same glaring flaw: the Master has an army of people he can literally possess and has absolutely no need to attend in person when there’s a nuclear bomb aimed at his head. Quinlan has adapted his plan by… oh… he hasn’t? No, for some reason everyone assumes that the Master is just going to show up in person this time for no damn good reason. Quinlan held a sword to the throat of the writers or something

Anyway the Master is sick of all this rogue nuke out there somewhere bullshit and summons his whole army to rage through the streets killing every last human until they find the nuke (which they will because with all humans dead the city will be so quiet the strigoi could literally hunt the stragglers by their heartbeats). Zach is along for the ride and looking increasingly sad that the evil destroyer of the world is an evil destroyer of the world.

I care little about Zach’s sadness.

Ephraim does talk to Vasiliy about Dutch wanting him to live - which doesn’t convince Vasiliy especially since he thinks their past opportunities are over. He does suggest that Ephraim be ready to forgive Zach. I say no. So no. Never. Nope nope nope.

So, time for the plan - Ephraim waves at the scary vampires and they report to the Master who decides to go kill them all. In person. Not sending his army and staying safe, maybe out of the city. Maybe, say, Philadephia.

Nope, he’s going himself to put him directly at risk. Look, this is why the strigoi is scary. Not because the Master is big and scary - but because he’s hidden, unreachable, yet still able to act through any of his minions. This is why the Master is scary. This is why he’s horrifying - because he’s the hidden spectre, hard to find and touch while still able to act directly all the time. To have him approach in person defeats the whole concept of what makes him such a terrifying force

But it’s plot convenient because if he didn’t look at this obvious trap and decide “hey, I’m going to walk into this trap rather than send my army of sacrificial drones”.

So time for the trap - which means lots and lots of awesome fight scenes and the master being pushed into the lift to take him underground next to the bomb… and it’s Ephraim who ends up down there with him. Yes, Ephraim has decided to save Vasiliy by sacrificing himself

I completely approve of this. Because Ephraim is the worst. Zach also ends up down there so this is definitely looking up
While the gang upstairs continues fighting awesomely, Quinlan faces off against the Master - in the rule of a good guy fight he gets badly beaten before finally tearing out the Master’s throat and collapsing. The Master is mortally wounded - he needs to jump to a new body.

At this point they see Ephraim - Zach points a gun at his dad but as the Master tells him to murder his dad, Zach can’t do it. Yes he’s now team Ephraim - and he shoots. The Master reaches for Zach to pass on the Master worm and possess him - which is when Ephraim jumps in

And get all wormed. And reconciles with Zach

And I admit I forgot this was the last season and cringed because I could see a season of Master Ephraim with the annoying Zach sidekick and I begged and pleaded, no, no please don’t do this, pleaaaaaaaaaaaase.

Then Zach declares he loves his father… and activates the nuke.

Zach and Ephraim are dead!!!!

Oh, yeah, so’s the Master, I guess. That’s kind of important as well.

As Vasiliy says in his rather awesome conclusion which addresses much of the remaining cast’s future, the nuclear winter et al; without the Master guiding them the remaining Strigoi are mindless and easily hunted down and killed. It goes really well until it ends with really unnecessary mushiness, but it is generally a good ending.

I think as the season finale of this show it did end… satisfactorily. But it was also somewhat forced in a way that made me think that the finale was unplanned and they felt they had to speed things up. So we had the whole heavy handed plot line about collaborators which didn’t really go anywhere (what was the point of Desai anyway?). We had the odd Blood type breeding program thrown in. We had the Lumen, the book everyone had been fighting over all of the last season, suddenly become irrelevant? We had the arguing back and forth about using the nuke and it all not really coming to anything. And we had Zach’s emotional… I won’t say development because his whole attitude seemed unrelated to his experiences - he just changed to fit what was needed with the story. There was a lot of potential with this last season and at times it came close but then it kept distracting itself. To me it felt like there was a bigger story they had to tell - but they just didn’t have the time to do it.

As I’ve said multiple times I’m not thrilled with how the minorities were treated. Abe had a suitably dramatic and awesome send off - as was appropriate - and his loss was felt by all. But I do think the whole turning on the Lumen rather shrunk everything he had been fighting for. Ultimately all his arcane magic and struggle came down to “nuke him”. The treatment of POC has been poor - there have been several, but from Alex, to Creen, Roman, to Gus’s gang, to Desai, to Gus, they’ve all died, and/or been sidelined and those deaths have not even been meaningful, important or had any real long reaching plot effects.

The same applies to women - of which there were very few; Vasiliy’s girlfriend was stuffed in the plot box (though I think she was very sensible not to go on the suicide mission), Alex died without great effect, We were really left with Dutch and the whole special pregnancy-horror trope (which, again, didn’t seem to add anything overarching to the plot) is a fairly overdone theme. She was a good, proactive character but somewhat seemed to lack a role once the Desai storyline had been removed (also I don’t think this season remembered she is bisexual at all).

Ultimately the plot focused around Vasiliy, Ephraim and Abraham - and then Vasiliy and Ephraim.