Thursday, 5 May 2016

Review - 'Containment', Episode 3 - 'Be Angry At The Sun'

With two episode almost entirely devoted to establishing its central premise, it is probably well past time that Containment began to give the same attention to its cast of characters. That has, after all, been my main issue with the series, so far – as, with a few notable exceptions, the majority of the characters we have been introduced to have struggled to make any sort of lasting impression. While those previous two episodes were somewhat underwhelming in themselves, though, they did still hint at the obvious potential of Containment – so, it actually came as something of a relief to see things start to come together by the end of the third episode.

With this episode, we had the expected escalation of an already tense situation, as the people held within the containment zone learn that the initial 48 hour quarantine period has been extended – while, outside the containment zone, Lex Carnahan struggles with the realisation that there are no plans to get the healthy people out. With the virus already loose within the containment zone, the new plan seems to be to simply let it run its course – while, at the same time, maintaining the security of the quarantine zone.

With the hastily constructed electrified fence already proving to be a source of genuine concern for those unfortunate enough to find themselves trapped inside the containment zone, it was difficult to imagine what the general public's reaction would have been to the previous episode's end-point, in which that fence was replaced by a significantly more imposing wall constructed out of shipping containers. But, of course, both Lex and the audience are confronted by the very real consequences of that harsh decision as this episode opens – with the mixture of fear and anger being directed at Lex as he makes his way along the fence proving to be one of the series' most effective scenes, so far. Perhaps more than even those glimpses we have had of the sick and dying, this gradual construction of a new wall, and the general public's reaction to it, provides the clearest example of the dark and depressing road this show seems to be heading down over the rest of the season.

Outside the cordon, too, Lex finds himself sent by Dr Lommers to confront Leo Greene (Trevor St John), a video blogger who seems to exist somewhere in the middle between 'genuine champion of the truth' and 'sleazy click-bait obsessed hack'. Leo Greene was, of course, introduced to the audience in the previous episode – but, as with so much of the cast, he really wasn't allowed to make much of an impression. Here, though, his obsession with posting videos from within the containment zone on his web-site has finally attracted the attention of the authorities – and, believing that Leo's videos are only likely to incite more panic, Lex heads out to try to convince him to stop.

While I may have developed an instant dislike for Leo Greene, as a character (he is played as much too smug and self-satisfied to ever count as 'likable'), there is still a great deal of interest to be found in the way in which he and Lex come to represent opposing sides on a very interesting issue. The issue of the freedom of information versus the need for control in a tense situation is a very worthwhile one, of course – and, it is interesting to see that neither Lex or Leo are being portrayed as inherently in the right. Or, at least, that is how it seemed initially.

When Leo made the decision to reveal the existence of a, so far, undiscovered means of potentially escaping from the containment zone, Lex found himself confronted by the similarly compelling issue of exactly how far he was prepared to go to maintaining security, and to keep the virus contained. But, as interesting as all of this was, it is difficult to deny that Leo Greene was clearly directly responsible for making a bad situation so much worse in this moment – so, I can only hope that this will be addressed in a suitable manner, in a later episode.

Within the containment zone, we have an interesting blend of tension and tragedy as different characters find themselves confronted by different challenges. Jake, already struggled to cope with the situation he has found himself in, finds himself pushed even further as he is recruited into two new roles. While Dr Cannerts recruits Jake to assist with the cremation of those already killed by the virus, Lex also declares him to be the officer in charge of the police presence within the containment zone. Given how much Jake was already struggling, it seems inevitable that these duel burdens are going to weight on him fairly significantly going forward – though, of course, the long-term consequences still remain to be seen. In this episode, at least, Jake was permitted a few moments in which to display a genuine strength of character that had been missing before – with the moment in which he defuses a tense stand-off with some armed thugs looking to rob a store standing out as his best moment, so far.

Katie Frank, meanwhile, has a scare when one of the children under her care has an encounter with an infected man – leading to the possibility that he, too, might have been infected. This is followed, soon after, by her being threatened by the child's clearly distraught father – who arrives at the hospital, with gun in hand, in order to forcibly remove his son. The circumstances by which this chance encounter took place may have come across as a little obvious and contrived, sure (with the boy running off, only to promptly run into an infected man who deliriously grabs at him for support), but the fall-out of that tense moment were still well-played. As Katie, herself, point out, it seems as though the usual rules of society have clearly already begun to erode – something which clearly troubles Jake, also, as he found himself further pushed into the spot-light.

With the emphasis seeming to slowly shift from simply establishing its basic premise, to exploring the ramifications of that premise for its cast of characters, Containment has already managed to go some way toward overcoming the issues which brought down its first two episodes. This was an episode that featured some truly fantastic moments of development for a variety of characters. If it can manage to build on this foundation, then Containment could very well grow into a genuinely compelling series over the next few episodes.

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