Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Review - 'Containment', Episode 12 - 'Yes Is The Only Living Thing'

One of the more frustrating elements of Containment, over the course of the season, has been the wildly inconsistent pacing we have often had, from one episode to the next. Since the series began, it has often felt as though any point where we have an episode in which the pace seems to pick up, and things begin to become genuinely tense and dramatic, it is almost immediately followed up by an episode that comes to represent something of a low point for the series. Honestly, it has often felt as though the show's creators have struggled with the task of maintaining any sense of forward momentum, here – and, the result is a series that seems to constantly grind to a halt, just as things are beginning to get exciting.

This has been true at various points in the past – so, with the previous episode providing some of the tensest and most dramatic moments of the series so far, it only makes sense that it would also prove to be true, here. With this being the penultimate episode of the season, though, this is an issue that feels especially problematic.

With the previous episode ending with Katie's tragic, and incredibly unpleasant, death it makes sense that the episode would wish to take the time to explore the immediate aftermath, for both Jake and Quentin. While I still can't say I was every entirely convinced by their relationship, I am still glad that the episode took the time to show Jake dealing with some genuine emotional turmoil – even if his immediate decision to buy himself a bottle of bourbon, in order to drown his sorrows, felt almost laughably misguided. Quentin, meanwhile, is left similarly grief-stricken by the loss of his mother – and, Zachery Unger is able to continue with the recent trend of proving that he is actually a genuinely talented young actor, now that he actually has some genuinely compelling material to work with.

With Leo Greene's disappearance, Lex is left with little choice but to follow the cryptic clues that his former partner has left for him – a trail which eventually leads him further in his efforts to discover the true source of the deadly virus. Unfortunately, much like when we were forced to watch Leo in his own one-person investigation, Lex's efforts come across as significantly less interesting than anything that is occurring, elsewhere. We already know that the virus has been developed in a lab, and that its release had been a tragic accident. So, unless there are further developments still to come, learning the exact details feels a little superfluous, at this point. I was left feeling as though it might have been better to have Leo return with this information, having recovered it in his time off-camera, so that Lex could have spent the episode doing something more interesting – but, unfortunately, that wasn't the choice that the writers made.

So, instead, we were forced to watch Lex poke through old files, and explore long abandoned buildings, as he works to uncover a truth which just doesn't feel as interesting, or as important, as what is taking place within the containment zone. Even his eventual confrontation with Dr Lommers, with the new information he had uncovered, felt a bit anti-climactic – as, it was almost immediately superseded by the knowledge that the quarantine walls had been breached.

Similarly disappointing was the frustrating back and forth we had to endure, as various characters struggled to make up their minds on whether or not they wanted to go alone with Officer Meese's (Jimmy Gonzales) plan to sneak them out of the containment zone. The entire process simply took much too long to resolve itself – to the extent that it ultimately became the show's most blatant attempt at padding things out, so far.

Sure, the ways in which various character's finally crossed paths was made for some interesting moments – with the moment in which Teresa and Xander were able to introduced their newborn daughter to Teresa's grandmother, Micheline (Sandra Ellis Lafferty), standing out as particularly effective. But, it still wasn't quite enough to make the time we were forced to spend on this worthwhile, in the end.

A much more successful aspect of this episode, though, would have to be the increasingly precarious position that Dr Cannerts finds himself in, now that rumours of his involvement in the creation of the virus have spread into the containment zone. Having Trey (Mykel Shannon Jenkins) and his gang, who had spent most of the season running the store that they had stolen from Teresa's family, be repositioned as Dr Cannerts protectors was also an interesting development, here – as well as something which served to finally give one of the show's most underutilised characters something useful to do.

With his occasional moments of compassion and understanding, even as he seeks to profit from the tragedy taking place in the containment zone, Trey has always come across as a fascinatingly complex figure whenever he was on-screen – to such an extent that it feels like a genuine shame that we have spent so little time with him.We know that he has family (including young children) outside of the containment zone, for example. But, it is only in this episode that we learn that we learn that his younger brother is also a part of his small gang of profiteers – something which, in a depressingly formulaic twist, we only learn moments before his brother has a close encounter with an infected man who had come to the hospital to challenge Dr Cannerts.

For the most part, if feels as though the primary trend of this episode is to foreshadow plot-threads which will become important in the finale. With Dr Cannerts still hard at work on some form of treatment for the virus, just as Trey's brother becomes infected and the people of the containment zone threaten to turn on him, we are left with every indication that the final episode is going to be a particularly brutal one for this particular character. Similarly, the reveal that someone else had already been caught using the tunnels that Jana's group intend to use to make their escape sets the scene for a potentially tragic confrontation, as Lex finds himself compelled to renew his commitment to keeping the quarantine walls secure.

So, it seems as though all of the pieces are in place for the final episode of Containment to be as tense, and as genuinely dramatic, as the best of what we have seen, so far. But, it still feels like a shame that so little of genuine interest actually takes place, here.

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