The Final Season Of ‘The Strain’ Revitalizes the Series

While Guillermo del Toro‘s “The Strain” has never drawn impressively high ratings, even by FX’s own standards, the niche audience that follow the apocalyptic modern-vampire series will find the fourth and final season premiere of the Guillermo del Toro produced affair rather refreshing on several notes.

Picking up nine months after the unexpected season three cliffhanger, the world of “The Strain” is an entirely different place following the nuclear explosion. There is a new world order, and the strigoi are now in full control. The characters are physically separated this season, seemingly scattered around the post-nuclear country, making for a multitude of exciting and revitalized storylines.

Eph (Corey Stoll) relocated to Philadelphia following the assumed disappointment in his disjointed family. But while Eph is working the streets of Philly, searching for gas and slumming it inside warehouses with his friends at the bottom of the social class, Zach (Max Charles), his angsty teenager, is now living the high life. Back in New York City, Zach, a faithful ally to the strigoi, especially after detonating the bomb in season three, is living in an upscale loft atop the city skyline.

The scope of the show feels much larger, as the action courses out of New York City and branches from Eph in downtown Philadelphia all the way up to Fet (Kevin Durand), Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones), and Charlotte (Rhona Mitra) scouring the cornfields of North Dakota as they strive to destroy the Master. The viewer is now truly privy to just how this disease has affected the population across the entire country.

An ad declaring, “we are now able to join hands and work together to create a new and more just society for us all” promises a new world order where humans and strigoi live together in harmony and peace. But the reality appears much bleaker than the Nazi-like propaganda suggests. Because of the nuclear bomb detonated on “Illumination Day,” the strigoi have the ability to walk around during the day in this dusted and gloomy environment. Humans are required to wear wristband scanners and make blood donations — some more willingly than others.

On an important cultural side-note, in a post-“Twilight” / “Vampire Diaries” culture, it is safe to say that by season four, “The Strain” has successfully made vampires (strigoi) terrifying again. That is no easy feat considering the way that their glittery “Twilight” counterparts dominated the mainstream perception of bloodthirsty night crawlers for much of the early millennium. The show had to break free from that commercial stigma and should be recognized for making vampires, one of the horror genre’s oldest form of creature, scary and threatening again. Oh, and bloody. Very bloody.

With many moving parts, several different locations offering a wider-scope, and a refreshing new world order, “The Strain” feels revitalized as it enters its final season. Hopefully, the fourth season can keep a tight leash on itself and remain as compelling and intriguing as it starts. With season four confirmed to be the show’s final act, it appears that “The Strain” has laid the tracks to go out on top.  

Season 4 of “The Strain” premiered July 16 and airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on FX.