The fourth and final season of “The Strain” was easily its weakest, but was still fun enough to merit an 8 out of 10.
Season 1 was a unique, detailed, methodically assembled techno-thriller crossbred with vampire mythology — you could tell that it was adapted from a pretty decent book series by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. The show’s subsequent seasons progressively meandered farther and farther into comic book territory … the fourth felt loosely and hastily plotted, with spotty and confusing exposition. (I was considerably confused until late in the game about who deployed nuclear weapons in the war between vampires and humans, when they did so, and what their strategy was.)
But what the hell. I still enjoyed this. The writers here still know where their bread is buttered, and gave survival-horror fans more of the screwball guilty pleasures they were tuning in for. There was plenty of blood and gore (even if it’s only the white, worm-infested vampire blood that I suspect was easier for the censors to approve). There were more of the show’s creepy, cringe-inducing monster effects. And there was plenty of action — right up until a finale that was predictable but cool. (If you’ve been following the show the way I have, do you not want to see machine guns, explosions, swords and severed vampire heads?)
Richard Sammel consistently outshined everyone in his role as the WWII Nazi turned vampire Himmler. What an extraordinary villain.) It’s a further testament to his talent that the man actually appears sublimely good-natured in real life. (He interacts with his fans from time to time on Facebook.)
The show actually surprised me, too, by how attached I got to its characters. It hasn’t always been a show that is strong on its characters, but … I’m going to miss them. Vasily Fet (Kevin Durand) and “Dutch” (Ruta Gedmintas) were two in particular that I found myself surprisingly attached to — especially considering that Dutch was a superfluous character that seems to have been added only for sex appeal and romantic tension. I was rooting for both of them.
So I’d still recommend “The Strain,” despite Season 4’s failings. To quote Jack Nicholson’s Joker in 1989’s “Batman,” “I don’t know if it’s art, but I like it.” (Yes, I do know that Walt Disney said it first. Whatever.)