Network: The CW.
Airing: Mondays – a “Limited Series Event”.
Developed by Julie Plec, from the Belgian television series, Cordon.
Starring: David Gyasi, Chris Wood, Kristen Gutoskie, Christina Marie Moses, Claudia Black, George Young, and Hannah Mangan Lawrence.
“He was fine; he just had a bad cold.”
Hands up. Who doesn’t love a bit of bloody gore and oozing pus now and then? Okay, you can put your hands down, and make sure you wash them. And stay four to six feet apart, all right? No touching, no kissing, and no shaking hands. Because Atlanta, GA, has her own version of Captain Trips and life is about to get very interesting for her citizens. It’s H7N2, and it brings pain, suffering, and certain death to all who come into contact with it. It knows no discrimination: it is an equal opportunity taker of life, regardless of age and gender. No one is immune.
We are immediately thrown into the heart of the action, where violence, mayhem, and death are front and centre. We are 13 days into a situation we know nothing about, but we’re grabbed by the arms and pulled along anyway. It’s only when we’re brought back to Day 1 that we’re given a refresher course in Viral Outbreak 101. In a nutshell –
A young man of Syrian origin has smuggled both himself and a virus he’s carrying back to Atlanta and manages to infect his family and friends, as well as a young female doctor at the local hospital. Also at the hospital is Katie (Kristin Gutoskie), an elementary teacher leading a troupe of young children, including her own son, on a field trip. They like rats, apparently. (Who doesn’t?) She and her charges are caught in lockdown, but not before she makes eyes at the local hard-as-nails cop, Jake (Chris Wood), who was sent to the hospital as part of a detail that found Patient Zero. He’s not too happy, particularly when Dr Bobby sneezes four feet from him. Pretty soon people start dying, beginning with Patient Zero, the unfortunate lady doctor, and her poor boyfriend. (What did I say about kissing?)
The Federal Government, led by Dr Sabine Lommers (Claudia Black), takes charge. With the help of the CDC’s researcher, Dr Victor Cannerts, they identify the virus as a particularly deadly strain of avian flu, and so order a cordon sanitaire of Atlanta, effectively dividing the city into two. Our main characters find themselves trapped on side of the cordon or the other.
Leading from the front is Major Lex Carnahan (David Gyasi), Dr Lommers’ eyes and ears at the quarantine site, whose commitment-phobe girlfriend Janna (Christina Marie Moses) is stuck on the infected side of the cordon. He’s caught between duty and love.
A pregnant teenager (Hannah Mangan Lawrence) is stuck, too. Planning to run away with her boyfriend, she arrives at the train station just as it’s closed down. She slinks back to Mom, desperately disappointed. Both her boyfriend and Lex now have their loves on the wrong side of the electrified fence.
So this is our starting point for The CW’s Limited Series Event. A further 12 episodes come after this one, and having been a fan of the original Belgian thriller (of which I watched all ten episodes avidly over two nights), I’m pleased to write that all the main elements are in play in Containment’s pilot. It’s pretty gory, and while Atlanta doesn’t have quite the dystopian feel of Antwerp, I can see how and where things are going to fall apart.
Without giving too much away, nothing about the virus’ origins is quite what it seems. There are politics at play here, too, and if Containment follows the Belgian Cordon to form, not all of the lead characters will be around for season’s end. (Filming of the second season of Cordon is already under way in Antwerp, and it may indeed have wrapped at this stage.)
Suspecting what is going to happen has in no way affected my enjoyment of Containment’s pilot. In fact, I hope it’ll turn out to be one of the better American adaptations of European television shows. (For my money, however, the Danish show Forbrydelsen is of far better quality than the American show it inspired: The Killing. Ditto The Bridge.) I’ll have to wait and see. Either way, I’m on board for Containment. As long as folk keep within four to six feet of me, I should be okay.
Containment - Episode 1
PLOT: Following its Belgian counterpart very closely, Julie Plec, aided by veteran director David Nutter, has put together a decent pilot. From the first frame to the last, the pace rarely let up. Okay, we had the obligatory CW romantic interludes, but they’re a necessary evil in this day and age. As I said, not everybody survives.
ACTION: Gory, bloody, and eventful. There are high stakes involved here, and the tension is evident.
PERFORMANCES: A show such as this lives and dies by its ensemble, and The CW is highly rated for putting together good casts, even if they are remarkably good looking. But the quality of performances is plain to see. I like David Gyasi’s Lex Carnahan, both the character and the actor. He’s our main focus for the series. It all rests on him, and he’s up for it. Other mentions go to Lawrence’s heavily pregnant Teresa, another important character as the show gathers pace. It’s all very well done.
DIALOGUE: Nothing too awkward, nothing that took me away from the story. The focus on “Four to six feet” was hammered home at every opportunity.