I could try and pretend that a shippy, angsty, gory, scary CW show (a remake of a Belgian original, as it happens) about a potentially apocalyptic virus outbreak, complete with handsome, flawed but brave cop; beautiful, flawed but smart teacher love interest; bodies dropping all over the place; and sinister government shadiness/shenanigans messing up everyone’s lives, isn’t just my jam, but my marmalade, peanut butter and chocolate spread too, but nobody who’s ever read unpopcult before would or should believe me.
Never mind the walking nap that is Major Lex Carnahan, the lead outside the cordon sanitaire, or his commitment-phobe girlfriend Jana, stuck inside it. And never mind the unlikely idea that there’s only journalist – an angry, annoying, conspiracy-obsessed blogger, because are there are any other kind? – remotely suspicious of what the authorities are up to. Nobody’s saying Containment doesn’t have its flaws. But it also has an irresistible, insanely shippable, very probably doomed, romance between the aforementioned handsome, flawed but brave cop Jake and beautiful, flawed but smart teacher love interest Katie; stakes so high they’ve gone into orbit; and an unnerving but immensely watchable mix of sweetness, sadness, and unflinching horror. Which means that, this week, the same script that has Jake hopelessly but doggedly patrolling a lawless hellscape by day and burning dead bodies by night (true love and good looks notwithstanding, it kinda sucks to be Jake), also has him and Lex doing something impossibly lovely for a terrified father separated from his daughter, for no reason other than good, old-fashioned human kindness. Aww.
Fleeting moments of joy notwithstanding, though, Containment’s body count is impressively, depressingly high, society’s descent into post-apocalyptic madness impressively, depressingly swift, and, the social commentary might not be subtle – “It’s so gross they would pin it on a Middle Eastern guy”, says Katie, who’s right but can’t exactly be surprised, given that unjustifiably pinning things on Middle Eastern people is almost an event in the Olympics it’s become so mainstream over the past few years – but at least it’s there. And since the whole thing is set helpfully in the sticky, steamy heat of a southern summer, no matter how grim the death and despair gets, at least there’ll be a shot of a sweaty, muscly, frustrated Jake along soon enough to take our minds off it.
(That last line should probably have stayed in my head.)
In this week’s ep, then, the disillusioned (and soon to be dismissed, I should think) Lex teams up with Leo the blogger to investigate Katie’s entirely correct theory that the authorities are lying about the cause of the outbreak. Pregnant teen Teresa and loyal, enterprising boyfriend Xander try to escape the clutches of a group of gangsters to join Jana, her frankly annoying quarantine-mates and the thoroughly decent, unflappable maintenance manager who’s worth more than all of them combined at their some-form-of-computer-business office building. And Jake and Katie
go on a plague date venture outside to try and find her lost pupil Thomas and continue to fall in love but not touch some more, since the 4-6 feet anti-infection rule prevents them from doing much more than looking adorably at each other and they haven’t used their imaginations to come up with any remotely satisfying, er, workarounds yet. The moment when Jake ties a scarf round Katie’s mouth to protect her from infection – which is odd, because she’s been wearing an actual surgical mask for weeks, so why stop now? – and I’m screaming “KISS HER OVER THE SCARF, DUDE! COME ON!” is a particularly frustrating one, but since Containment has been cancelled, there are only 7 eps to go and Lex says things are only going to get worse, I should probably be trying not to get too invested in Jatie. Sigh. Shame I’m already nuts about them, then, isn’t it?