Try as they might to avoid it, television shows occasionally, sometimes inadvertently, develop the kind of character who earns the audience's ire simply by being on the screen. For FX's vampire apocalypse drama The Strain, that character is Zack Goodweather, and now the series showrunner Carlton Cuse is calling the divisive character one of TV's "evilest characters," hinting that, in the show's final season, viewers may see him warrant that indignation even more.
Two different actors have played the character over the course of the entire series. Ben Hyland played the part in season 1 before Max Charles stepped into the role in season 2-4. During that time, Zack, the son of series protagonist Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) has gone from helpless moppet to annoying child to the worst character on television. Zack's progression seemed to climax at the end of season 3 when he set off a nuke, thrusting the world into nuclear winter and effectively giving the strigoi the upper hand in the battle for the planet.
Ahead of final season premiere of The Strain, executive producer Carlton Cuse answered a few questions about what's in store for the series' final 10 episodes, and where he envisions an unlikable character like Zack will go now that he's essentially doomed humankind. In speaking about Zack Goodweather, his actions, and whether or not there's any hope of redeeming him, Cuse said:
"I think we presume at the end of season 3 that Zack and the Master have gone off together and that is kind of a mentor/mentee relationship. Zack is hopefully one of the evilest child characters in the history of television. And who better than to mentor him than a giant parasitic, vampiric creature?
You'll get more on that as the season goes along. That's the ultimate question for that character. 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 Zack really is: Is that character ultimately redeemable? As bad as he is, is there's still some shred of humanity left inside of him? That question gets explored in great detail as the season goes along."
So, if you were never Team Zack to begin with, the final season of The Strain might see the character forced to face the consequences of his incredibly selfish and evil actions. As co-creator Chuck Hogan told Screen Rant ahead of season 3:
"You want to have your characters be essentially likable, and yet the character of Zack is one who, while he doesn’t start off being unlikable, he is a tricky sort… to bring that out without losing the audience in terms of not being sympathetic at all towards him is tricky."
At this point, it seems like The Strain is no longer concerned about audience sympathy and is actively steering into making Zack that unlikeable character. Time will tell what's in store for the Goodweather spawn as the series reaches its ultimate conclusion over the next couple of weeks.
The Strain continues next Sunday with 'The Bood Tax' @10pm on FX.