The Strain: Ouroboros Review
The Strain, season 4, episode 7, ‘Ouroboros,’ settled some major beef, that may have been going cold for having been strung-out too long. To that end, Ephraim (Corey Stoll), Fet (Kevin Durand), and Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones) were allowed to return to NYC, despite the assurances of Eichorst (Richard Sammel) to the Master (Jonathan Hyde). Eichorst’s failures, in the face of a cast reunion forced a final fight, for several involved; but there was a lot to its facilitating that just seemed forced.
Besides the fact that I usually bristle, whenever certain overused songs are attached to scenes/ credits, Paint It Black just seemed really oddly placed, marking Quinfet’s touchdown. More importantly, the fact that Quinfet was able to fly across occupied country, into any part of occupied NYC, signaled that disbelief wouldn’t be needed, this episode – so just check it in, for a spell. The Master stopped a moving train, back when he was in hiding; so he could’ve done better than have a handful of unarmed Strigoi show up, after the landing. The Master’s network should also render in-person update demands, of his sired, pointless; but I guess he really needed to hand deliver a motivational speech to Eichorst (for those of you wondering why he’s been putting up with Eichorst’s recent failures: what he said, here).
Given that there was some self-awareness, concerning their odds, I’d figure Quinfet would’ve at least contemplated an amphibious crossing, into Manhattan – rendering the admittedly impressive safe-guard moot – but Desai’s (Cas Anvar) profile needed to elevated, this episode, for reasons that might’ve been borne out by episode’s end.
In any case, Quinfet was momentarily out of the equation; so accounts were left to be settled between Eichorst, and the coalescing remainder of the old cast.
NYC isn’t too big for someone like the Master to canvas – none of his enemies should’ve been able to stroll about in the open without at least being seen by Strigoi (who seemed to be everywhere, when the season started). That said, a degree of plot armor was necessary, in order to get Setrakian (David Bradley) & Dutch (Ruta Gedmintas) back to ground, make the Lumen relevant, again, and use Setrakian’s failing health sense of urgency to remind us that the show, itself, is running out of time. That last point might come in handy, for anyone trying to figure out why the kill-or-to-die-for Lumen got the insane dot-connector treatment, and how Eph & Alex happened to find them (pre-arranged list of rally points, maybe – I dunno). There was also something of a head-scratcher exchange, between Setrakian & Eph, that seemed to cost Eph some IQ cred. Regardless of his being too wrapped up in family drama, Eph did know that Setrakian was Holocaust survivor – and adult, at the time – so the math should speak for itself.
At least Eph was able to put one bit of relevant family drama to rest; but mostly because Setrakian remains the wiser of the two (between provocations, anyway).
Since plot armor only works when the plot calls for it, the opposite is true. You’d think realizing they were Most Wanted would make our heroes more wary travelers; but they still allowed themselves to be tracked to the new stronghold. Why? Because a reckoning was due, between Gus (Miguel Gomez) & Creem (Jamie Hector).
With every hand-slap, we knew the old Creem was bound to rise to the surface; but somehow Gus never saw this. For what it’s worth, time constraints made Creem a contributing factor to a direct Strigoi-Resistance confrontation – by carelessly allowing himself to be turned sour – instead of a separate side-show showdown with Gus.
For his part, Gus was able to formally rejoin Team Setrakian, in the process; but not before Sour Creem reduced the team by one (a literal twist moment), and Eichorst wasted another OP demonstration with careless gloating (which had been really taking all the suspense out of being in Eichorst’s grasp).
Unlike previously squandered opportunities, however, Eichorst did stick around for more OP funtime (when you resort to needless zip-stalking tropes, with your supposed hunters, you’re just having fun). That fun brought some inevitability to Gus’ last remaining personal attachment (c’mon, you knew it was coming), but also facilitating Gus purging himself of Sour Creem.
As if hyping Desai wasn’t indication enough, this extended play with his food kind of put the writing on the wall, regarding where this round of the Valjean-Javert dynamic was headed. It also explained why Setrakian didn’t start with a decapitation strike. As much as I appreciated some finality to all this sentiment driven carelessness (Eichorst could smell Gus’ blood-ties, but not detect Setrakian’s approach), it seemed a needlessly high price to pay, for a cathartic end to a series element.
Still, that catharsis did put a satisfying spin on what would otherwise have been a fairly frustrating exercise. Once you inoculate yourself to all the plot armor/ convenience it took to bring it about, you might actually find that it does raise a bit of hope for a more satisfying finale to the series.
Yes, I am mindful that getting my hopes up usually amounts to self-immolation; but let’s face it: a certain degree of masochism has become necessary, investing in seeing this series through.
I wouldn’t use that reclaim ticket, for your disbelief, just yet.
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