Something wicked this way comes, but not for long as this is the final episode. It's been known for some time, but even when you prepare for the series end of any TV show, it doesn't mean it'll be easy. It also doesn't mean that it'll be the best experience in the world. Not all series finales are created equal. It's more a roll of the dice, so hopefully if you're a fan, you have enough faith in the writers. While some series enders are instant classics and elevate the series to a whole new level, or the level it deserved from the beginning, some just are. Neither good nor bad, but more in the middle.
The 20th Century Television series finale of The Strain, based on the series of books by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, did what it was supposed to do, and at the end of the day, what more could you ask for? I don't know. As sad as it is to admit right now, this season didn't excite me. No, I didn't think it was bad or boring, but somehow I wasn't completely pulled in. I can recall various times I was only ever half paying attention, and the sadder part is, it wasn't because I was distracted by something infinitely more important. I just was. But, now that it's over, and I had to sadly work on the night it aired, I find myself here. Satisfied enough by what I got, glad it got to end on its own terms, and annoyed that the writer(s?) chose to wrap up one character's arc in the way that it was. It was just bad all around for that character. Mind you, that being said, it could've all been far worse.
The Fate Of Mankind
I call bullshit! Bullshit!!
Okay. Now that that's been established, let's jump into this final episode of a pretty damn entertaining #horror series.
Max Charles' Zack didn't suddenly discover the error of his ways, of which there are plenty to fill several sheets of paper, and probably no amount of praying for forgiveness would ever do the trick. The fact that the writer (who was that?) thought this an acceptable anything is the most infuriating part of this series finale. Sure Charles' slow descent into villainy, after being this obnoxious, whiny, asshole the previous three seasons (or is it two?), was handled well, but his redemption, at the last minute (almost literally), was too much for me to ignore. If it had been composed a bit before hand, then sure, maybe I'd accept it. I wouldn't see it as the best developed arc, but there would've been an attempt. But no, that would be too easy and smart. Instead, go for the father/son forgiveness route, which is baffling given that mere hours before, Corey Stoll's Ephraim was ready to abandon his kid and allow him to live with the consequences of his terrible actions. It's, like, make up your mind! Do you want your kid to learn a tragic lesson or just let him get away with it, as if it were just some ordinary accident? Ugh! Worst. Kid. Ever. Even in the previous episode, when you knew, Stoll's companion's knew, and people who weren't watching knew that it was all one big setup, there was nothing even remotely redeeming about Charles. While The Walking Dead might have a lot of problems with its characters behaving abnormally unlike themselves, which ultimately put a lot of people in danger and even got some killed, what transpired with Charles is something else entirely. #Drama and dramatic arcs are one thing, but that's not what this was. Not even close.
But stepping away from character closure, really bad closure in this case, if for just a moment, I found there's something missing from this final installment. I don't know what it is, but I could feel something was off the entire time. I don't think, no matter how hard or long I think on it, I'll ever be able to figure it out. The word "big" seems to enter my mind a lot, but it's not what I feel is missing. This episode was fine, on so many levels, save for what I already talked about above, yet it still lacked something. When I think of all the other series finales I've seen this year, this one seems tame in some way. Yes, the final 10 to 15 minutes, before the last few minutes of the actual episode, were exciting and fun, but they didn't pop. There was a lackluster quality to the fighting, and so much of the general episode really just seemed like another typical week. I'm half expecting someone to remind me next week that I need to catch the latest episode. If only that were true and there was more time for a far better finale to be crafted. Then I'd genuinely be thrilled for what was ultimately the final season.
As for the feel of the whole episode, it was what you'd expect. It was what the show had become known for. A big focus on character growth, action, and amazing special and visual effects. I got it all again. Sure in some ways I wasn't too worried, because main characters always survive, especially if they're the good guys, but because this show really stopped being surprising some time ago. But, oddly, that's okay too. From the standpoint of character arcs and what the future would hold after this final battle, I felt I got enough. I knew why I loved watching these characters. Why each one, even if some didn't receive the same amount of screen time week in and week out, was so memorable. Things even got wrapped up with (slight spoiler) one final appearance by David Bradley's Setrakian. I almost missed it, but that's because I was slightly paying attention. I guess in some ways, because of this, it's a good thing this was the series finale. I don't know how long I could've kept going.
I know I mentioned earlier, and just now, about being distracted, but maybe that's more telling about me and my crazy TV viewing habits. (We can't all be Shailene Woodley.) There's so much I watch during any Fall and Spring TV season, then during the Summer months, that in general I'm amazed I have time for other things that make up my life, let alone other TV shows. But I do. I make time. Or certainly try. And maybe that itself is the problem. Sometimes I'm so mentally exhausted, and sometimes physically from too much sitting, that I can't keep everything straight. Sometimes I blur storylines between two different shows, or just between past weeks when watching the same series. I wish I could say I'd find some way to not do this, but I don't think that's realistic. And because it's unrealistic, like I did with at least this show, just casually and semi-watching a series may be all I'm capable of doing. I'll still be able to watch enough to keep up with the ongoing plots, or subplots, but nothing will truly stick or be all that memorable. I'll get the gist, but that's it. The bare minimum. I guess it's better than not knowing what happened by episodes end and having to rewatch, skip the episode, or just flat out abandon the series as a whole.
With another series finale now having come and gone, and an entertaining experience completed, one would think I'd be breathing a sigh of relief. I can't. When one door closes, well, you know the rest of the saying. Now look at it and see how it so easily pertains to the 2017-2018 TV season that's about to fully descend up on TV viewers of all sorts.
Originally Aired: July 13, 2014 - Sept. 17, 2017 on FX
Creators: Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
Starring: Corey Stoll, David Bradley, Kevin Durand, Jonathan Hyde, Richard Sammel, Miguel Gomez, Max Charles, Ruta Gedmintas, Rupert Penry-Jones and the voice of Robin Atkin Downes