• INTERVIEW: Friday, 7/14 - 5:00pm ET - Midnight, Texas - Monica Breen
  • INTERVIEW: Tuesday, 8/1 - 9:30pm ET - Wynonna Earp - Tim Rozon
  • INTERVIEW: Thursday, 8/3 - 4:00pm ET - Midnight, Texas - Peter Mensah
  • INTERVIEW: Friday, 7/4 - 6:00pm ET - Midnight, Texas - Parisa Fitz-Henley

Carlton Cuse Teases Last Season of The Strain

Carlton CuseSeason four of the FX series The Strain, premieres Sunday, July 17th. The season premiere picks up nine months after the events of last season. The explosion caused by Eph (Corey Stoll)'s son Zach (Max Charles) started a global nuclear winter, allowing the strigoi to move in daylight. The Master, having now taken the body of Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde), has created an alliance in "The Partnership," a ruse that provides free food and medical; however they don't take kindly to those who refuse to collaborate.

Separated, each of the characters must work to fight the Master's regime and try to save humanity. Eph works to find a way to cripple the strigoi, while Fet (Kevin Durand) and Quinlin (Rupert Penry-Jones) look for a nuclear bomb to turn the tide, while Setrakian (David Bradley) and Dutch (Ruta Gedmintas) face their own problems.

Yesterday, showrunner Carlton Cuse talked to the media about what's to come in season four and closing out the series.

Carlton CuseThe writer talked to SciFi Vision about Zach and his relationship with the Master this season. "I think we presume at the end of season three that Zach and the Master have gone off together. It's kind of a mentor/mentee relationship. [laughs] Zach is hopefully one of the evilest child characters in the history of television. Who better to mentor him than a giant parasitic vampiric creature?"

He also talked to the site to whether Zach is really truly evil and if he can be redeemed. "I guess the ultimate question for that character, is really does what he did have some deeper resonance and effect? Is he moved, or has he been changed by that event, and ultimately where is that going to lead him? I think the question for Zach really is, is that character ultimately redeemable? As bad as he is, is there still some shred of humanity left inside of him? That question gets explored in great detail as the season goes along."

Cuse also talked a bit to the site about the new character, Charlotte Watkins, played by Rhona Mitra, and her relationship with Fet. "She's a woman who grew up in that part of the world. She's very confident and self-reliant. She really exists to kind of create a real dilemma for Fet, and that dilemma is, there's an easy to see a scenario where he could retreat to some little enclave in the woods out there on the Great Northern Plains and live out his life in happiness and contentment with this beautiful woman, but he's also compelled by the sense of duty. He's been out there, because he's got a mission, and that mission is to find a nuke and to try to use that nuke to bring the Master to an end. So the character is torn between love and duty, and that's something that felt like a really compelling thing to explore for Fet."

For more, read the full transcript below.


SCIFI VISION: When we last leave Zach, he's still with the Master. He and the Master have an interesting relationship this season, can you talk about that?

I think we presume at the end of season three that Zach and the Master have gone off together. It's kind of a mentor/mentee relationship. [laughs] Zach is hopefully one of the evilest child characters in the history of television. Who better to mentor him than a giant parasitic vampiric creature?

QUESTION: When did you know what the ending was going to be, since it seems to be going in a different direction from that of the novels?

I think the answer to that question, is that it evolves across time. You make a television show, and the more time you spend in that creative world, the more you learn about the world, the more you think about the world, and the more the characters evolve.

It's one of those things where I think pieces of the ending kind of arose across time, but I would say that during season three, Chuck [Hogan], Guerrero [del Toro], and myself, we all looked at the amount of narrative that we thought we had left, and it felt like one more ten episode season was the right amount time to end the show.

When we sought to plot out season four, the thing we really focused on at the beginning was what our ending was going to be. We had already had certain ideas about what characters would be doing and where they would be going, but it was really at the very beginning of season four in the writing process that we sort of when figured out what our ending was going to be, and then we wrote towards that. And that was very exciting. It's wonderful to be in a position to determine the ultimate fate of you characters.

QUESTION: Is this season basically just all about survival or is there revenge going on? What's the overall theme?

Well, I think the ultimate overall goal is to try to defeat the Master. I mean, the characters may be down, and they may be living in nuclear winter, and they may not be at the top of the food chain, but they are still determined to defeat the forces of evil. That's kind of fundamentally what the story about.

At the beginning of the season, we're starting out more in survival mode, but certainly in the case of Fet, he's running around the Midwest trying to get a nuke. He's trying to get a nuke, because he believes it's the thing that's going to be able to bring the Master down. Our characters may be very disadvantaged at the start of the season, but they still have this larger goal of ultimately conquering this global parasitic force.

Carlton CuseQUESTION: What kind of surprises can fans of your show and fans of Guillermo and Chuck's book be looking out for this season? Is there going to be anything really special either in regards to Fet's development or anything else we might not be expecting?

I think the thing is, most importantly, if you read the books, the show is its own animal, and it has its own narrative journey. So I don't think you can watch this final season of the show and think you know what's going to happen to any of the characters. I mean, all bets are off.

We allowed the television show to be its own creation. Don't think that if you've read the books you know what the fate of the characters are. The ultimate thing about the last season of the show is that you get to really find out what their ultimate fate is. That's very exciting, and I think in the case of our show, in a lot of ways, it's very surprising.

QUESTION: One of the things that is so neat about the show is that you've had Chuck Hogan and Guillermo del Toro, who wrote the books, involved throughout the creative process this entire time. I was just curious if there's any involvement on del Toro's part, either from the directing side or the makeup effects side, that we have to look forward to seeing in the finale season?

It remains a wonderful collaboration and division of duties, and as always Guillermo remains in charge of the creatures and visual effects, the color timing, and really, the look of the show, particularly this season, when are characters are living in nuclear winter. That was all guided by Guillermo.

Unfortunately he was directing this movie, The Shape of Water, and therefore was not available to do any directing this season, but he has remained very much involved in the visual creation of the show. He's very much lent his talents and provided narrative input, particularly as it relates to the ending of the show. That's something that Chuck and Guillermo and I all discussed in a lot of detail.

SCIFI VISION: I wanted to ask you something else about Zach. He detonated the bomb at the end of the season, and you commented earlier that he was evil, which I don't know that I necessarily expected that in the character through the seasons, that he would turn out that way. Is he going at all to deal with the idea that he killed people, or does he not care anymore?

I think that's a really good question, which you'll get more on that as the season goes along. I guess the ultimate question for that character, is really does what he did have some deeper resonance and effect? Is he moved, or has he been changed by that event, and ultimately where is that going to lead him? I think the question for Zach really is, is that character ultimately redeemable? As bad as he is, is there still some shred of humanity left inside of him? That question gets explored in great detail as the season goes along.

QUESTION: Out of all the characters you've been able to write for over these four seasons, is there one in particular that you looked forward to writing the most or who's story you feel the closest to?

Oh my gosh, that's like asking someone to choose their favorite among their children. I really love them all, but I would say though in some ways it's always more fun to write antagonists and protagonists, because of their lack of morality and their unpredictability.

So I think Eichorst (Richard Sammel) is really fun, because he is loyal and dutiful, but he's also petty. [laughs] I think it's really delightful to see him be this scary force of evil, but also to be really highly annoyed when other characters seem to be getting stuff that he doesn't get and things like that. But I really love all the characters.

Carlton CuseQUESTION: You've brought a couple of series to conclusion now, Bates Motel, and now, The Strain. Could you talk a little bit about the process of bringing a series to a conclusion and the feeling of bringing a series to a conclusion?

Oh yeah, and Lost too. Don't forget Lost. [laughs]

QUESTION: Yeah, Lost was one of the first ones that did that, right, that announced they were going to conclude?

Yeah, when we did Lost, it was the first time in history of television that someone was able to negotiate an end date to a network show. I mean, that was just unheard of. Network shows would just go until they ran out of gas, but to negotiate a conclusion, while the show was still very successful, was something that hadn't been done before.

I think it's obviously a challenge to know how to end a show well, but I think you ultimately have to really rely on your gut and your heart, and really think about what is it that the audience is expecting, and what are really the unresolved issues of any given show.

In the case of Bates Motel, Kerry Ehrin and I always saw that as this kind of a wonderful romantic tragedy and a sort of Romeo and Juliet metaphor of how could these characters ever be together. Ultimately only in death can they kind of find their place with each other. That was something that we always had thought about early on and worked towards.

In the case of The Strain, it's this larger than life graphic novel and epidemiological thriller, and there's this very larger than life force of antagonism, you know, this Master and his parasitic minions and all of these wonderful good guy characters that are trying to bring them down.

So I think the proper ending, is one that leads to sort of the ultimate conflict between those forces and tells us what the fate of the characters will be. That's what we set out to do this final season.

And it's kind of great, because there's no more stalling around; everything is pretty definitive this season. I shouldn't even say pretty; it's very definitive this season. You get to really see what the fate of each of these characters ultimately is.

QUESTION: When did you know that you were going to park the Master in Jonathan Hyde? Was that because Eldridge was the logical repository, or was that because you went, 'Oh Jonathan Hyde would be really really scary?'

[laughs] The honest answer to that question is, it's kind of a combination of both things. No one makes a successful television series in a vacuum, and if Jonathan Hyde wasn't as outstanding as he is, we probably wouldn't have done it.

That said, as we were talking about the narrative over the seasons of the show, it became pretty clear to us that that was an interesting logical progression of where the Master would end up. It seems particularly delightful because of how annoying it would be for Eichorst. And ultimately, Palmer as a character, kind of combining his sort of innate human evilness with this evil parasitic creature, it felt like we wouldn't be able to do much better than that.

The answer is, it's really both, but it really requires not just a conceptual idea. It really required also a conviction that the character was extraordinary and would be able to really pull it off, which Jonathan absolutely did. He reveled in it. It was great. I mean, it was a really fun thing.

QUESTION: Can you tell us a bit about the new character Charlotte Watkins? We really don't know much about her at the start of the season.

She's a woman who grew up in that part of the world. She's very confident and self-reliant. She really exists to kind of create a real dilemma for Fet, and that dilemma is, there's an easy to see a scenario where he could retreat to some little enclave in the woods out there on the Great Northern Plains and live out his life in happiness and contentment with this beautiful woman, but he's also compelled by the sense of duty. He's been out there, because he's got a mission, and that mission is to find a nuke and to try to use that nuke to bring the Master to an end. So the character is torn between love and duty, and that's something that felt like a really compelling thing to explore for Fet.

The StrainGreat. Well, I hope he keeps going with duty, because that's where we like to see Fet, in the action.

Yeah, well, it's a pretty good chance that will happen.

One of the things I love about the show for the first three seasons, is that, kind of like with Lost, there're these great flashback scenes. We get to see characters who maybe aren't with us anymore or haven't made it that far, or see characters at different stages in their lives, which is always interesting, especially with Eph's family dynamic. I was curious if flashbacks will be another kind of core element that we can look forward to seeing in the final season?

Absolutely. There is even a flashback in the final episode. I mean, it's just always been a kind of good way for us to really provide some resonance about these characters, and that's something we've been doing since the beginning, and we're going to continue to do it this last season.

The Strain premieres Sunday, July 16th on FX.


Latest Articles