The Strain: Carlton Cuse Breaks Down Finale, Teases Final Season

Jim Halterman
THE STRAIN -- "The Fall" -- Episode 310 -- (Airs Sunday, October 30, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured:  Corey Stoll as Ephraim Goodweather. CR: Michael Gibson/FX Spoiler Alert
Michael Gibson/FX

Spoiler Alert: Do not read on unless you've watched the season finale of The Strain.

Things went from bad to worse for what's left of civilization in the third season finale of The Strain, which aired Sunday on FX. Besides Zach (Max Charles) setting off the atomic bomb that’s more than likely going to alter the already collapsing world, The Master found a new vessel in Palmer (Jonathan Hyde) and things definitely did not go as planned for Ephraim (Corey Stoll), Setrakian (David Bradley), Fet (Kevin Durand) and Dutch (Ruta Gedmintas).

The good news is that, as previously announced, the vampire series—based on the trilogy of books by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan (who are both executive producers on the TV adaptation)—will be back for a fourth and final season to wrap things up. However, the task of our heroes to stop the vamps is infinitely more difficult now that the munchers have the upper hand on New York City and, presumably, the world.

Executive producer Carlton Cuse breaks down the season finale and gives a look ahead into what we’ll see when the series wraps up next year.

We found out where The Master has been since he left Bolivar. Why was Kroft (Aaron Lazar) the right person who should be The Master up until the point he passes it on to Palmer?
I think it was basically convenience. He was the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time and he ended up being available to be a vessel, but he was always just a transitory vessel for The Master. Jumping into Palmer obviously made a lot of sense because it was super important for him that he locate where the atom bomb was and by jumping into Palmer, he was able to get his memories. By the way, that sentence in itself is just why The Strain is such an awesome show.

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It really is. It was also fun to see Jonathan Hyde become The Master because you could watch him totally change once the transfer happened.
Yeah, part of what makes this plan delicious is that we sort of felt like Palmer’s usefulness as a human collaborator was over. So, this plan, which we had been talking about for a long time, was a way to really keep Jonathon Hyde very active in the show and it just felt like an almost operatic transition to have him move into this new role as The Master. It’s going to be great for the final season of the show.

The answer may not have really changed, but why is Eichorst (Richard Sammel) still important to The Master? Does his purpose change at all moving forward?
The Master has a tender spot in his heart for Eichorst, who has been his most loyal servant for many years. There’s a strong personal attachment between The Master and Eichorst and The Master is not about to abandon him. Part of the fun of the show is that Eichorst is always destined to be No. 2 despite how desperately he wants to be No. 1.

The show does not rest on the love triangle that we’re seeing with Fet and Ephraim and Dutch, but is what we see in the finale planting the seeds for what will come in the final season?
That is a very good question, which I don’t want to answer with any specificity, but for sure there’s going to be more of that coming up in Season 4.

Moving onto Zach, he’s the one that pushes the button that sets off the atomic bomb. What will be the fallout from that, especially when it was only supposed to be The Master to flip the switch.
Yeah, that is absolutely the kind of seminal event of Season 3 that sets up the preconditions for Season 4. Although we’re not sort of telling the audience what the consequences of that bomb going off are until Season 4, I think it’s fair to say that they are massive and completely world-changing.

THE STRAIN -- "The Fall" -- Episode 310 -- (Airs Sunday, October 30, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: David Bradley as Abraham Setrakian. CR: Michael Gibson/FX

Michael Gibson/FX

David Bradley as Abraham Setrakian. (Michael Gibson/FX)

I think Zach’s going to need some therapy. He’s gone through a lot, that poor kid.
I feel like you’re a man with a generous heart to say, “That poor kid,” because other people have been telling me Zach could be the worst kid in the annals of show business. Just to be clear, the character, not the actor. Max Charles is awesome. In terms of just the portrayal, one of the fun things is that kids are ultimately always kind of sweet and redeemable and older people are always sort of wise, maybe slightly curmudgeonly, but in our show, Setrakian is kind of a single-minded bastard and Zach is a bad kid. One of the things that’s interesting, though, and I think it’s a very relevant question for the final season is, “Is Zach redeemable? Is that a possibility?” and that’s something which we will definitely address.

Is Kelly’s journey over?
Yes, Kelly [Natalie Brown] is really dead. I mean, Ephraim did kill her. It’s entirely possible that we would see her again in Season 4, but it would be in like flashbacks or some other form of storytelling.

The fight between Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones) and Palmer was pretty epic. Just to clarify, why didn’t he just kill Palmer instead of putting him in the silver-lined coffin?
This is Guillermo [del Toro’s] awesome mythology. The essence of The Master are these worms and among these worms, there is this crimson worm. That worm, if it can propagate would continue to exist, so simply chopping the head off of The Master or ripping his limbs apart or something that Quinlan could’ve done would not ensure The Master’s demise. Based on just the historical antecedence of this ancient being trapped in a sarcophagus in Egypt and things that they’ve learned from the Lumen, they feel like the only way to ensure that The Master isn’t going to continue to exist is to trap him in the silver-lined sarcophagus and drop him to the bottom of the ocean. Quinlan’s on board with that plan. I think he’s afraid that if he just destroyed his body, the worm would still escape and propagate.

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We didn’t see Gus (Miguel Gomez) in the finale. Will he be around for the final season?
Oh, yeah. Gus is around, we just didn’t have enough shelf space to do any story with him in the finale, so, we ended his story for the season in Episode 9, but he is definitely around for the final season.

Is it safe to assume that the world is pretty much destroyed now because of this atom bomb? Does that mean that we’re go to have only a handful of survivors assuming a big part of the world is wiped out?
Well, the show is based on this trilogy of books written by Guillermo and Chuck. The third book in the trilogy takes place in sort of a post-apocalyptic nuclear winter. In terms of how many survivors there are and what conditions they live in, I definitely don’t want to spoil all that but they are living in a profoundly different world and that’s exciting. The final season is really the third chapter in the story and although it’s radically different on a storytelling level than the third book, it shares some fundamental similarities.