Thursday, 21 July 2016

Review - 'Containment', Episode 13 - 'Path to Paradise'

Over the course of the series, Containment has proved itself to be a frustratingly inconsistent series. For every high-point that the series has been able to reach, in those moments where it is able to make the most of those moments of tension and character drama that can be drawn out of its basic premise, there has been an almost immediate dip in quality, as the pace grinds to a halt. Even at its worst, though, Containment has never been a bad series, by any stretch of the imagination – it has simply shown a frustrating tendency toward mediocrity.

Still, those high-points that the series has been able to reach, over the past few weeks, did leave me feeling somewhat optimistic that the final episode would be able to bring things to a satisfying close. This is, after all, not just the end of the season – it is also the end of the series, as a whole. So, if there actually are any more moments of great tension and drama to be found, here, now would seem to be the time.

There was certainly enough set in motion, going in to this final episode, to carry us toward the end. We had Dr Cannerts, and the wonderfully tense situation he has found himself in – essentially held hostage by his own 'body guards' as he desperately tries to come up with a cure. There was the desperate attempt to escape through the sewer tunnels, just as those same tunnels where discovered by those outside the containment zone – a series of events which seemed to hint at a potentially tragic encounter. Then, there was the quieter character drama of Bert and Micheline – who, finding themselves injured and isolated in the midst of all of this chaos, were clearly struggling just to get through each day.

So, clearly, there was plenty going on. But, unfortunately, as we actually move into the final episode, it seems that each of these plot-threads is set to resolve itself in a decidedly anti-climactic manner.

The idea that Officer Meese's (Jimmy Gonzales) efforts to lead the group through the sewer tunnels, and under the containment wall, should happen to come at the same time as those same tunnels were being collapsed from the other side was a little contrived, sure – but, it was still a genuinely tense situation for those characters to find themselves in. Unfortunately, as the episode progressed, it began to feel as though we were spending a bit too much time with what the creator's clearly saw as the most important plot-line, with other plot-lines suffering, as a result. On top of that, there was also the fact that the resolution, which saw Lex headed into the tunnels just in time to have a chance encounter with Jana, lacked any of the emotional pay-off that their eventual reunion was clearly intended to have.

Similarly, Dr Cannerts' continued efforts to find some means of treating the virus finally seemed to meet with some limited success – though, with the unpleasant implication that Thomas, the young boy whose seeming immunity to the virus provides the key to a possible treatment, could not possibly provide the amount of blood that Dr Cannerts would need to treat everyone in the containment zone. It seems like a fascinatingly grim note to end this particularly plot-line on – but, any tension is quickly undermined with the convenient, and statistically improbable, revelation that there is at least one other person in the containment zone who shares Thomas's immunity.

Meanwhile, the season-long conspiracy/cover-up story-line came to a similarly unsatisfying end when Lex's father, Roy (Thom Gossom Jr.), managed to track down Leo, off-camera – and, together, the two of them released all of the information that Lex had managed to gather to the press.

With each of these plot-threads, we had things wrapped up in a manner that felt a little too neat, and convenient. But, with Bert and Michaline, things seemed set to go in the exact opposite direction – as, in what seems like a somewhat misguided attempt to inject a bit of drama and tragedy into what was otherwise a surprisingly optimistic final episode, the audience was forced to watch two of the show's most likable characters come to the decision to commit suicide.

There seems to have been some confusion, over the past few weeks, about whether Containment was truly intended to be a intend to simply be a single-season 'event series', or whether there was intended to be more before its cancellation was announced. After seeing the final episode, I have to admit that I'm still a bit confused, on that point. There are still, clearly, many directions that the story could have gone, if there had been a second season.

If I had to guess, I would have to assume that the writer's were hedging their bets, here – striving to bring the season to an end in a manner that could go either way, depending on the circumstances. I can see the sense in that sort of attitude, at least – yet, I can't help but feel that the open-ended nature of the final episode is another mark against it.

By the end of the final episode, there is still no sign of a cure (with the treatment that Dr Cannerts is developing really only being a means of delaying the effects of the virus, for those infected). The quarantine is, also, still very much in effect – and, those within the containment zone are still trapped. The character arcs for most of the main cast do seem to have reached some sort of logical end-point – but, there is still so much left unresolved that I have a hard time believing that this was ever supposed to be the true end of the story.

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