Containment – Season 1 Episode 1
If you’ve ever played Pandemic, you’ll probably want to watch this as Containment is like a real life version of that.
The scene opens with the National Guard in darkness. Contained. Once released we are thrust into the zombie apocalypse made from our worst nightmares; not the gory kind, but the kind that means fighting for ready meals, pregnant youngsters screaming for help on the pavements, and a man yells for us to run.
Then the National Guard steps in and the headshots begin. This is Day 13.
Just as soon as we are thrown into this world we return happily to day 1. Georgia, Atlanta. We’ve seen this skyline before in similar circumstances, for it is not the first time it has been hit by infectious disease (think The Walking Dead, although more likely because the real-life Center for disease control is resident there).
Teresa (Hanna Mangan Lawrence), a pregnant juvenile working in her mum’s café, plotting to run away with her young partner while her mum plans adoption visits is one of the first characters we recognise from the opening scene from Day 13. It will be interesting to see how much can happen with her character over the next few episodes after seeing what Day 13 brings.
Another of the select characters we’re introduced to is Katie (Kristen Gutoskie), a young teacher, taking a group of kids for a hospital visit to sing to some ill older people. Walking into the hospital the camera allows the viewer to acknowledge that shit will be going down, it’s the centre for infectious diseases (why would you take a group of vulnerable people there?) Katie is shown to have a risk-taking side when we see her threaten a hospital employee to gain access into a restricted zone, where she thinks two of her rogue pupils (one being her son) may have gone exploring. Why would you do that?! Katie’s character feels a bit rough around the edges, definite room for improvement there.
Jumping from Katie we cut to several introductions. One of these is protagonist major Alex Carnahan (David Gyasi) and his partner Jana (Christina Marie Moses) who has once again, we’re informed, folded at the last minute to move in with the major. Alex attends a meeting about a potential flu outbreak where we are introduced to who we can assume is the head of the C.D.C, the uncharasmatic Doctor Lommers, played by Claudia Black. Of all the introductions I find hers the hardest to swallow. She’s bolshy, but without any real substance. I am optimistic that as her character settles and we see more of her shadowy motives, only hinted at in this episode when she asks Alex to become the face of the campaign, that she will be able to become one to hate, and I kind of look forward to it.
We know from the meeting Dr. Lommers is heading that this is not your typical flu outbreak. Talk of ‘Patient Zero’ begins (who from this point on will be referred to as ‘that Syrian guy’) and the picture becomes clearer. The many armed forces have been brought together to track and contain Patient Zero. Being Syrian automatically means terrorist alert. In this case, they are, of course, correct. What is more dangerous than bio terrorism? Pandemic even has an expansion pack for that where you smuggle in the biochemical, which we learn is a man-made altered variant of the avian influenza (bird flu). We realise that one of the first doctors we are introduced to via video feed has progressively worsened due to contact with Patient Zero and has now contaminated her partner.
Now for the gore. As the patients worsen (including the now contained Patient Zero), we know it is just a matter of time before their demise.
This is a very fast paced show, we only have six episodes to figure it all out, and I’m torn, at the moment it just feels rushed. For a first episode we are introduced to the main characters rather hurriedly, but I’m sure we’ll have more time with them. The set-up leaves little scope for new characters which could leave us feeling a little bit claustrophobic.
Just as the school bus is loaded up with the correct number of kids, one of the kids sneezes. It’s just hay fever the driver tells us. But the bus is stopped and unloaded. The hospital has been quarantined.
Jake Riley (Chris Wood) is a workmate and pal of Alex and is trying to keep his distance because he is on lockdown(4-6 feet, we’re reminded just a little too much). After sidestepping out of the way of Patient Zero, instead of heroically tackling him, risking infection, Jake finds himself at the same hospital the school trip are visiting. His on-screen relationship with Katie is cute, unable to shake hands, or touch, and her willingness to let him come back into a room full of school kids despite being in extreme proximity to a sneezing doctor, who we know dies, is a little bit strange. But being on a 48 hour lockdown surrounded with other people’s children, plus your own one, maybe she’s just glad of the handsome company.
Teresa’s escape tram pulls into the station, but the doors don’t open. Puzzled faces turn to panic when the authorities arrive and force everyone to evacuate. Very quickly the entire zone is under lockdown, and suddenly there’s electric fencing to keep the city contained. They begin to lose me here, it’s a nice idea; they make it look easy, but really? I also didn’t enjoy the done-before gimmicky phone screen shots where we can see who is calling who. Completely unnecessary and dates it far quicker than any throwaway Kardashian or Ebola comment will.
It’s here we see Alex become the face of the outbreak, the hero in our midst, the relatable guy that Lommers tried to coerce into being before he shot her down for her questionable motives, nipping that friendship in the bud. Not only that, but Jana didn’t make it past the quarantine.
Patient Zero and the infected doctors die in their own containment zones and the episode closes on the sneezing school girl contained, but looking fine. Panning out however, we see that there are more containment cells, with more hospital staff, pacing back and forth, waiting, letting us know we’re just scratching the surface.
We’re very briefly thrust back to day 13, the carnage we saw earlier, with the now recognisable faces, twisted, screaming. I’ll be watching the next episode for sure, and i should probably stop holding out for a happy ending. I don’t think we’ll find one here.
All in all a great opening episode, if a little bit questionable. It’ll be interesting to see how the characters develop, and how long they’ll last. Despite some of the convenient plot turns and gimmicks it still managed to be enjoyable, and it’s done it’s job, I want to see more. So far, I’m hooked and now I’m away to have a game of trying to save the world. Got to love Pandemic.
- Alex. He seems nice
- the naïve Teresa, who we just know is going to have a terrible time, with thanks to the flash-forwards
- some strong character moments
- some contrived plotting and convenient developments
- rushing through parts of the story
- phone screen gimmicks