The Strain: Season 4
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The Strain: Season 4

The current paradigm for television has expanded to permit mature content that previously would have been blocked by Standards and practices. The television series that have resulted have deviled into material that is used to tell a gripping story that is no suitable for younger audiences. The network that has utilized this freedom to great advantaged. Among the most recent was a blend of classic horror and apocalyptic thriller, ‘The Strain’. The basic premise is a look at the end of world resulting from a vampiric pandemic. It is understandable that the series should be considered by fans and critics alike since the quick and talented mind behind the show was Guillermo del Toro, the filmmaker that brought ‘Hellboy’ from the pages of graphic novels to the movies. The entire project spanned four seasons before coning to a satisfying conclusion. This represents another aspect of the modern standards is to bring a series to such a conclusion whenever possible. Formerly, a network would run a popular show into the run, often long past it has ceased to be entertaining. When an audience has become invested in a series such an abrupt cancellation is disrespectful to the viewers. That certainly was not the case with this series. The time spent becoming emotionally involved with the characters and vested in the situation ultimately paid off. A major reason why it would be particularly disappointing relates to the unique spin Mr. del Toro took on the long-time standard horror archetype. Vampires have been a staple of movies before the addition of sound. The standard modus operandi is a=vampires have eternal by draining humans of their life ‘s blood. Others are turn if the bite is not fatale. There are some slight variations that have become somewhat common as to the particular details. In this variation the main vampire is the Master, one of a small group of the original ancient vampires. Transmission is through the infection of victims by small white parasites that have the appearance of tiny worms. Once infected they are slaves to the Master. A few humans are kept alive by drinking the white fluid from the master’s blood. This permitted vampires to be treated like a public health issue. The closest I have seen these elements was in a British horror/science fiction series, ‘Ultraviolet’.

In this forth and final season a nuclear bomb acquired by the Master was detonated by Zach Goodweather (Max Charles), the son of Dr. Ephraim ‘Eph’ Goodweather (Corey Stoll), former led investigator for the CDC who has been working diligently to destroy the Master. After the bomb exploded in New York City it ignited an all out nuclear exchange leaving the world shrouded in the eternal twilight of nuclear winter. The lack of direct sunlight has allowed the vampires, the Strigoi, to roam freely. They have taken over through human subordinates under the guise of the ‘The Partnership’. They have placed humanity under the draconian rule of the Strigoi administered through they flunky sympathizers. After the blast, called the Illumination Day by the Strigoi, the main team of protagonists were dispersed. Master Rat Catcher and mast of strategy, Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand), headed out to the northern mid-west in search of a missile silo that still contains a live nuclear weapon. With him is an ancient human/ Strigoi hybrid, Quintus Sertorius (Rupert Penry-Jones). Mr. Quinlan was born in ancient Roman. Almost unstoppable in battle his main weapon is a long sword with a human femur as its sole mission is to put an end to the Master forever. The Master has endured the centuries by switch hosts. His latest is Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde), previously a terminally ill billionaire who served the Master in turn for eternal life. The Master’s Majordomo, has been Thomas Eichorst (Richard Sammel), formerly a Nazi officer in charge of a concentration camp. Although turned he can pass for human with stage makeup. He has been hunting a former Jewish prisoner, Professor Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley), who has been instrumental in fighting the Master for decades. Armed with an ornate silver sword cane he is elderly but thanks to a distillation of the White, retains his ability to fight. He escaped the devastation with Dutch Velders (Ruta Gedmintas), former black hat hacker who more recently has been involved with the POV team resisting the occupation. The professor had finally obtained the rare book, the Occido Lumen, an ancient account of the Strigoi including a means to destroy the Master. Dutch has been taken prisoner confined to breeding farm to produce infants with a specific blood type, considered a delicacy by the Master and upper echelon Strigoi. Eph has been using his medical skills as a doctor working for a profiteer. In return for services rendered he feeds his alcoholism.

The central theme of this season is the culmination of the era of the Strigoi. There are numerous resistance cells, but they are disconnected and disorganized. Once Eph, Fet, Dutch and the Professor are reunited\their primary goal is to destroy the Master. Initially the means to accomplished this was an acquired nuke but the logistics prove to be problematic. As an example of the indigenous writing and the stellar performances that brought it to life, many of the requisite scenes are handled with great style. The dénouement of a saga such as this requires several highly dramatic moments that the entire audience knows are coming.\the element of surprise is practically impossible, so the writer wisely choose to have these moments unfold with dignity, justice and amply satisfying flair. It is not feasible for all the primary protagonist to survive and as the story unfolds, few manage. What matters is how tightly written those scenes were, preventing the infusion of even an iota of melodrama. It would have been simple to allow such emotionally intense moments spiral into fodder fit for a soap opera. Gratefully, the level of the presentation achieved cinematic heights. One case of final moments provides the audience with a fitting farewell to a beloved character and one of the dastardliest villain receiving an end that will have fans cheering. The emotional roller coaster is guaranteed to be eminently entertaining. It is always a bittersweet moment when a television series of such quality comes to an end. The characters were fully developed and the circumstances surrounding a overly familiar supernatural monster afford the fans with a distinctively fresh take that never disappoints.

Posted 12/14/2017

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