For 3 straight seasons, FX’s The Pressure struggled to search out its personal voice and outline its inventive imaginative and prescient. In putting a stability between being devoted to the novels by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan whereas additionally attempting to forge forward with a vampire story throughout a time of peak “monsters on TV,” the present couldn’t assist however really feel like a lesser model of a lot of the reveals round it. For 3 seasons The Pressure was, in a phrase, “nice.” It delivered sufficient gore to fulfill the informal viewer simply in search of one thing horror-tinged to observe, and most of the performances did sufficient to hook some viewers in search of one thing extra substantial. But it surely by no means actually discovered its footing throughout three seasons, and the important thing to understanding why is contained throughout the present’s closing season.
Unequivocally, the fourth and closing season of The Pressure has been the present’s finest. There’s been an urgency to the narrative that genuinely constructed anticipation from one episode to the following, and for the primary time for the reason that virus began to ravage humanity, it felt like the primary characters have been being challenged in fascinating, difficult methods. Extra vital than that although is the truth that The Pressure lastly dedicated to exploring the themes that had been buzzing within the background of the present all alongside. This closing season, eventually, moved these themes to the forefront, changing into extra political and pointed.
Whereas I’ll get to the sequence finale’s single large setback that virtually ruins the whole lot that got here earlier than it in a second, it’s actually worthwhile to say that “The Final Stand” clarifies the season’s themes in a satisfying and, dare I say it, lovely means. The sequence finale is concentrated on one story: the plan to destroy The Grasp with a nuclear warhead. A giant process, sure, however what The Pressure will get proper is in by no means actually attempting to sort out the broader scope. If there was a time to try this, it was again when the virus was spreading by means of New York and the present was struggling to convey the devastation whereas additionally specializing in the characters. With all that previously, the finale can slender its focus, making this extra of a private journey fairly than one which encompasses your entire destiny of humanity. Sure, the workforce is attempting to avoid wasting the human race, however the restricted perspective provides the finale a private really feel, and it really pays off right here.
Nowhere does it repay greater than within the journey of Fet, a person who started as an exterminator and finally ends up as, effectively, one other sort of exterminator. Alongside the way in which although he’s turn into the present’s ethical heart, far more so than Corey Stoll’s constantly conflicted Eph. When he and Quinlan provide you with a brand new plan for destroying The Grasp as soon as and for all, one which entails luring him deep beneath floor earlier than detonating the warhead as a way to save the town above, Fet provides certainly one of his signature historical past classes on the tunnel and waterway techniques of New York.
Embodied in that lesson is the thematic underpinning of this season. He says that this 50-year undertaking, with a gap dug 800 ft deep and scheduled for completion in 2020, is not like something ever tried. He stares in marvel on the sheer vastness of the tunnel, the dimensions of which parallels the enormity of the work and creativeness wanted to make it occur. “Individuals constructed this,” he says in a reverent tone. He’s not simply amazed by the work, however by what humanity can accomplish when it’s working collectively, undivided, towards a typical aim. Isn’t that what him and Eph, Dutch, Quinlan, Setrakian, and the others have been preventing for? Not simply to outlive, however to make sure that the human race, with all of its flaws, will get an opportunity to come back collectively once more?
Look, we’re all sick of noting the parallels between the artwork we devour and the political local weather we’re dwelling in, nevertheless it’s close to inconceivable to speak concerning the closing season of The Pressure, and its sequence finale, with out noting that a lot of its inventive success comes from being far more political. When The Grasp tells his strigoi to wipe Manhattan of all human life, telling Zack that “the masquerade of coexistence is over,” it’s onerous to not see parallels with the reactionary swing represented by the election of Donald Trump. “The Final Stand” is about individuals coming collectively to battle off an evil they thought was prior to now, solely to search out out that it’s been lurking of their communities all alongside. There’s destruction and injustice abound, however inside that could be a sense of hope, the concept that such a cataclysmic fall can solely result in one thing higher rising out of the ashes.
At the least, that’s the optimistic take. And to be honest, “The Final Stand” maybe is a bit too optimistic. When a montage closes out the episode, and Fet’s voiceover says “ultimately, it was love that saved us all,” you’d be forgiven for cringing. It’s an overwrought, cliché message, however I can’t say that it’s not, in its personal means, efficient. Contemplating the doom and gloom that surrounds us each day, and that pops up on our telephones each time we refresh our information feed, it’s good to see individuals recovering from a traumatic occasion and popping out on the opposite aspect of it. They’ve misplaced rather a lot alongside the way in which, however they’re right here. They’re motivated and shifting ahead, and that’s one thing.
If that was The Pressure’s closing message, it’d be a becoming finish to a closing season that pushed itself into extra clearly political territory. However that’s not the ultimate message, and there’s one single plot selection that is still baffling. After lastly getting The Grasp into the tunnel, Fet prepares to sacrifice himself for the great of the town; a becoming finish for the person who loves New York with all of its bumps and bruises. However then, Eph steps up and steals his second. To be honest, it’s a selection that is sensible; Eph sees that Fet has extra to dwell for, and on prime of that Zack continues to be with The Grasp, knocked out within the service elevator whereas Quinlan and The Grasp battle it out beneath floor.
However then issues take a flip. After The Grasp kills Quinlan, ending their centuries lengthy battle, Zack refuses to kill Eph. Thus, a dissatisfied Grasp seems to be to show his protégé as soon as and for all by vomiting a bunch of worms into his mouth (a picture I gained’t essentially miss seeing, to be trustworthy). He’s too sluggish although, and Zack turns the gun on The Grasp and shoots him, however not earlier than Eph will get the worms as a substitute. As The Grasp takes over Eph’s physique he tells Zack that they will now rule as father and son. That’s not Zack’s plan although. He apologizes to any a part of his dad that will nonetheless be inside The Grasp, after which he units off the warhead, saving the town and all of humanity with one flip of a swap.
That second would have great emotional impression if it was actually another character flipping the swap. Zack’s journey throughout 4 seasons has been certainly one of reprehensible habits and incrementally growing violence towards these round him. I used to be satisfied the present wouldn’t search to redeem Zack as a result of, effectively, there appeared no logical means to take action. There was no blueprint for redemption in that particular character arc, and for me, it knocked a B+/A- finale right down to the grade you see above.
And but, regardless of the dearth of blueprint for redemption, The Pressure goes for it, and it’s onerous to underscore simply how disappointing it’s. Relatively than give Fet his heroic second, or maybe give Eph the contact selection of killing each him and his traitorous son as a way to save the human race, Zack will get a second of monumental heroism. He will get to be the savior, and it’s a very disappointing, infuriating selection. I can’t see a solution to justify giving Zack an closing act of redemption after the whole lot we’ve seen. It seems like handy, sappy storytelling that doesn’t slot in with the extra brutal, difficult turns the present took in its closing season.
In that sense, The Pressure was very a lot itself in its closing episode; the whole lot was wanting good till Zack practically ruined all of it.
- Each time Fet isn’t sporting a hat, it freaks me out.
- “Proper earlier than I detonate the warhead I’ll most likely say one thing intelligent and funky. Like Bruce Willis, you already know?” Fet, you’re a lovely, charming human.
- The “9 Months In the past” flashback was a bit misplaced. It’s meant to underscore how far these characters have come whereas additionally permitting for one closing look from Setrakian, nevertheless it momentarily derailed the episode’s in any other case strong pacing.
- “We gained Zack. Due to you.” No, that’s not how that works!!!
- Properly people, that’s a wrap on The Pressure, and due to this fact these evaluations (of their numerous types). I’ve to say, whereas it’s been a slog at occasions, it’s been enjoyable sharing in our distress collectively. Every time I felt discouraged reviewing this present—which, thoughts you, did have loads of brutal, distinctive, evocative moments—I might at all times depend on a bunch of like-minded people ripping Zack to shreds within the feedback. For that, and for studying in any respect, I thanks.