Thursday, 28 April 2016

Review - 'Containment', Episode 2 - 'I To Die, You To Live'

The previous episode of Containment had set the scene for a series that seemed to have a fair amount of potential, but which also had some issues that it needed to resolve. While the show's central 'viral outbreak' premise was instantly compelling and, judging by what we saw in the first episode, very well-realised, it was somewhat disappointing to have to come to the conclusion that the same just couldn't be said about some of the characters that we met. Unfortunately, by the end of the second episode, I found that I was left to draw much the same conclusion.

Much like with the previous episode, any scene that concerns itself directly with the viral outbreak plays out in a way that feels genuinely tense – as the series seeks to offer up a fascinating, and disturbingly realistic, take on its subject matter. Here, especially, Lex Carnahan's (David Gyasi) efforts to maintain control outside of the quarantine zone encounter fairly significant complications when a teenage girl who had previously been in contact with one of the already infected patients is identified.

For a few, very tense, moments, there was a genuine sense of uncertainty that the virus might already have spread beyond the quarantine area – and, while it was unlikely that the series would have gone in such a direction on its second episode, it was still a very well-played moment.

Fortunately, though, it is soon discovered that the girl in question, 15 year old Elizabeth Franklin (Elle Roberts) is still located within the quarantine zone – though, unfortunately, there is still the small matter of the 4000 other people, similarly contained, who now face increased risk of infection. And, so, with Lex unable to take any action from outside the walls, it falls to Jake Riley (Chris Wood) to step up as the police's official representative withing the contained section of the city.

Jake, however, remains oddly difficult to get a proper handle on, as a character. There have been hints, both in the previous episode and in this one, that he is a man with his own list of unresolved issues, of course – but, so far, all we have really seen of him is the oddly resentful attitude he seems to have developed toward Lex in response to finding himself trapped within the quarantine zone. The fact that he, as a police officer, would even go as far as deliberately avoiding the calls of the person who is, technically, his superior doesn't exactly make him seem like the most capable, or competent, of characters. Though, to be fair, he does share some strong moments with Katie Frank (Kristin Gutoskie) – as, seemingly in spite of himself, he does find himself moved to do what he can to help, at least as far as Katie, and the children under her care, are concerned.

Teresa Keaton (Hanna Mangan Lawrence) had something of a scare, too, when it turned out that a party she had been invited to was the very same one at which Elizabeth Franklin was eventually located – meaning that many of her friends, including the one who had payed her a visit earlier in the episode, may already be infected. I have to admit that, while Teresa didn't make all that strong an impression on me in the first episode, that single scene in which her immediate reaction to learning that she might also be infected was to hastily clean up after herself and leave her grandmother's house as quickly as she can went some way toward raising my opinion of her. Sure, she might have chosen to hide herself away, rather than seeking out medical help – but, that sort of admirable selflessness in situation like this is exactly the sort of thing that can elevate a somewhat bland character into a genuinely likable one. It was just a great little character defining moment.

Dr. Victor Cannerts (George Young), the CDC representative also trapped within the quarantine zone, is quickly proving to be another fascinating figure within the series – especially when you consider this episode's seeming indication that he is not being entirely honest about the details of the outbreak. The fact that George Young is playing Dr. Cannerts with a strange sort of unshakable calm only serves to enhance the impression that this is a man with some secrets to be revealed. If you combine this little detail with the hints that we have already received suggesting that the whole outbreak may actually be the result of bio-terrorism, and it becomes clear that Containment does actually have some interesting mysteries set to play out over the course of its thirteen episodes.

Beyond that, though, much remains unchanged from the first episode. Lex Carnahan and Dr. Sabine Lommers (Claudia Black) each still feel like they have the potential to grow into genuinely fascinating characters – but, need more screen-time before they reach that point. Jana Mayfield (Christina Moses) remains an especially bland character, with nothing to really justify the importance that is clearly being placed on her beyond the fact that she is Lex's girlfriend. And, beyond that, much of the rest of the supporting cast could also benefit from some more developing, too.

So, as I said, Containment remains in much the same position by the end of its second episode as it was at the end of its first. It is still a series that seems to have quite a bit of potential – but, that potential remains somewhat unfulfilled. However, if future episodes are able to make room for more of the great little character moments that we had with this episode, then the cast of characters we have been introduced to should soon be allowed to developed into genuinely compelling figures more than capable of holding the audience's attention. On a similar note, once we begin to delve into the hinted at mystery regarding the true cause of this sudden outbreak (whatever it might prove to be), things promise to get much more interesting.

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