Containment ep13

How do you finish a story when you don’t know if you’re halfway through telling it, a quarter of the way through telling it, or completely, irrevocably done?

The idiosyncrasies of the basic American tv network system with its 13 episode initial order, followed by the “wait and see” if you’re going to get a” back nine” to finish your season, followed by another “wait and see” if you’re getting a second season or more on top of that, or nothing at all, is frustrating enough for the viewer, but in a show like Containment where the ratings are borderline and the overall arc is everything – unlike say a cop procedural where the arc can be prioritised or completely ignored from week-to-week – it must be the Rubik’s Cube of writing for the people actually trying to make it. How do you plan an ending to your story when you don’t know if it’s actually going to be the ending or if it might turn out to be something more akin to a paragraph break?

In this particular instance, rather than go for broke with a big cliffhanger – if it had finished with say Jake suddenly starting to cough up blood, DUN DUN DUN, I might have resorted to violence – or give up and give us a big finish, the writers of Containment have found a middle road, giving us a series of little finishes instead.

Having spent the past thirteen weeks twinkling at each other while waiting to die (since episode 1, every time one of these two ever came on screen, the sense that something terrible was going to happen to them was palpable), Bert and Micheline decide they’ve had enough of waiting around for the inevitable and write themselves out in somewhat maudlin fashion. I never quite understood either character, and juxtaposing Bert’s triumphant, hard-won survival with Katie’s horrible death two eps ago only to have him chuck it all in now seems a bit pointless, but then again I’m spending my Sunday morning writing about the “finale” of a CW show that was cancelled after thirteen eps, so “pointless” is probably the order of the day.

Granddaughter Teresa, Xander and baby Leanne meanwhile, get stuck with Jana and co in the sewer tunnels which Dr Lommers – in one last villainous flourish, before she’s finally brought down, ignominiously and somewhat bizarrely, by Leo working with Lex’s Dad – is having blown up. Team Teresa bails out early, retreating to the now-empty store (since gangster-philosopher Trey and co are currently in residence at the hospital) to reclaim, rebuild and get engaged. Congratulations! Jana and the others press on, however, till they’re stopped, not by the explosions all around them, but by unhappy boyfriend Lex proclaiming, in somewhat ridiculous fashion,”People of the Cordon! Do not come any further!” A brief struggle with his conscience, though, and presto! Lex and Jana are reunited at last, which is nice for them, but they’re also back in the Cordon, which isn’t so great for their long-term prospects of survival. Or indeed Quentin and Suze’s.

Or is it? Cannerts’s “cure’ – essentially bleeding poor Thomas dry – doesn’t save Cinco(?) but, as Jake, proving himself to be a better scientist than the man in the white coat on whom all hope depends, points out, this death is different. Small comfort, one might think, but no: Cinco died from the treatment, not the virus. So a pinch less of this, a touch more of that and we may well have a cure on our hands after all. Even if it means that that supremely creepy preacher guy who was telling people ages ago that he could heal them was apparently, if accidentally, right.

Still, the scene where Jake starts to list the names of the dead and people start to volunteer is poignant and sweet, and Jake’s heartfelt monologue as he scatters Katie’s ashes on the roof and ends the show (forever, as it turns out) inevitably made me cry. I loved Containment; it had its problems but it was also far more thoughtful, serious, harrowing and moving than critics or many viewers gave it credit for. Most of all, though, I loved Jake and Katie, and while killing her off was a brave move by the writers, defying audience expectations, breaking shipper hearts and fully committing to the indiscriminate, devastating nature of the virus they had created, it also left a great gaping Jatie-shaped hole in the show, which poor Jake can’t fill on his own for long, and no one else in the cast comes even close to compensating for. Better then, that it does end now, with hope of a cure, justice for Lommers and one last promise of love and honour from our handsome cop hero to our beautiful fallen heroine. That’ll do me.

Containment eps 11 & 12

Sob. The less said about episode 11, the better.

Not because it was bad; far from it, actually, I thought it was excellent. Unfortunately, it was also utterly devastating.

Apart from the ineffectual Lex, the characters I’m not overly bothered about had a fairly successful week: the Evil-with-a-capital-E Lommers “slithered right out of it, like the snake she is;” the increasingly saintly Jana (the Cordon has been the making of her) went shopping, helped reunite Bert and “Michi” and found a potential escape route; and Dr Cannerts put on his big boy white coat and finally told the truth.

All of which was too little, too late for the characters I do care about, though: the “movie under the stars” was beautiful, the “goodbye” to Quentin was heartbreaking, and Katie dying in Jake’s arms destroyed both of us. Sniffle. RIP Katie. Jake loved you, and so did we.

Which made episode 12 a bit of a bummer, as well.

I put off watching it for a couple of days, to be honest, wondering what would be the point of putting myself through it when true love died with Katie and all we had to look forward to were Jake’s tears, but we’ve come this far, I decided. And I was rewarded with Jake tearfully and tenderly cleaning the blood off Katie’s face before cremating her body, that weird gangster/philosopher with the maternity obsession talking him out of drinking himself into oblivion, and a couple of sweet, sad scenes with Deputy Quentin, before Ghost Katie showed up in the Shower of Memories and made Officer Reilly put his hero hat back on. Sigh.

Which means that, going into next week’s series finale, Jake, Trey and the gang members are on Cannerts protection detail, although Cannerts’ ass may well be grass if he doesn’t come up with a treatment soon. Jana and co (minus Sam for reasons that make no sense) and Q are headed out of the cordon on the Meese Express, the $5000-a-head issue proving to be no problem after all, since black market rates for jewellery are exceptionally, ironically healthy in the mid-Atlanta area, and everyone they know/ used to know (see ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya, Dennis) had fortunately put some super-expensive bauble aside for a rainy day. Lex has finally tracked down the previous Patient Zero (Patient -1?). And the immaculately-coiffed Lommers, having stolen a page out of the 24 villain playbook, has given us one of those “I had to commit mass murder to save America. USA! USA!” explanations which makes no sense but forms the bedrock of a surprising amount of super-villainy. Okay….. One more ep to go, then – if Quentin can be brave, so can I.

Containment ep 10

*SPOILERS*

I love Containment but subtlety isn’t on the list of reasons why; this week’s terrific episode is called “A Time to Be Born” and that means exactly what you think it means -Teresa’s finally gone into labour. Which in turn means that Sam and Jana are on midwife duties, Xander’s in the waiting room/  quarantine/ porch, hoping for the best, and the self-obsessed Suze’s still annoying everyone senseless.

Conditions obviously aren’t ideal: labour seems to be messing with Teresa’s memory – she keeps calling for her mum, apparently having forgotten how and why her mum had to leave in the first place – and freaking everyone else out, but Sam, in his usual resourceful way makes a stethoscope out of a balloon (look, me neither, but it was great), and Suze, having sent Dennis away to die a lonely (entirely preventable if he hadn’t been such a jerk) death, finally pulls both herself and an uncharacteristically panicky Jana together long enough to actually be of some use. Team Data Recovery just about manage to hold the fort on their own then, till the absolutely glorious moment when Officer Jake turns up (bearing a box of goodies from that gang leader who’s weirdly obsessed with pregnant women) to save the day yet again. “Just tell me they train cops to…”says the suddenly-overwhelmed Sam. “They do,” says the supremely calm, never-been-more-attractive-and-that-is-saying-something Jake, striding into Clean Room Three, all “Hey, remember me? It looks like you might be having a baby, which is great news because I actually know how to deliver babies, okay? I’ve just been waiting for an opportunity.”

Swoon.

Anyone who didn’t guess the baby would be named after Teresa’s mum needs to watch more TV. Those of us who did guess might well still have been charmed by the DIY crib though. Bless. If, after all this handiness, Sam proves Jed right and turns out to be a lunatic axe murdering rapist, I’m going to be very disappointed albeit, for now, I have much stronger feelings than disappointment to worry about.

Before we get to my anguish, though, we’ve a conspiracy to check in on. Lex and Lommers are out of quarantine and, oh sure, they’re fine; Lommers barely stops to change silk blouses before cheerfully showing off a tent full of dying guardsmen to the media, wrapping it up in Trump-esque “We will save America!” rhetoric so they’ll lap it and her up yet again. Lex, meanwhile, having reconnected with the now-buoyant Leo (the man loves it when a conspiracy comes together), is disconcerted to find out his new BFF Dr L might be a stone-cold serial killer – I still think her husband might be the one responsible for the virus mind you, even if she clearly knows how it all came about – and sends Jake to track down the smoking paperwork, only to find Meese has already turned it to ashes. The flinty-eyed Lommers promises she’ll resign tomorrow anyway, but let’s not hold our breaths behind our surgical masks, shall we? I’m guessing she’ll still have a trick or two left up those immaculately-tailored sleeves.

While Lommers seems destined to fight on, however, poor Katie might not be so lucky. Being stuck in one of the hospital’s observation rooms might have clipped a less determined character’s wings considerably, but no, our Katie hardly misses a beat this week, still managing to parent Quentin, berate Cannerts and be adorable with Jake throughout the episode. Watching her and Jake together, gabbing and gazing through the glass is both swoonsomely lovely and desperately sad, given that what happens at the end of the episode is so horribly inevitable; after all, “Containment” clearly isn’t scared of finishing what it starts and, whether your references are Biblical or lyrical, “A time to be born” also means “a time to die.”  Which in turn means we only have three more episodes to go, Katie may not even have that long and this show’s going to rip me up into tiny little pieces, isn’t it? *Sob.*

Containment ep 9

*SPOILERS*

It’s Riot Week on Containment, as, thanks to last week’s Cordon Hokey-Cokey – you take your miracle cure Thomas out, you put your not-so-miracle cure Thomas back in – the people stuck inside the cordon without the prospect of any CDC sponsored day-trips decide they want a bit of that DIY escape action too, and start storming the wall o’shipping containers.

This does nothing to calm the useless Dr Lommers, stuck in the sluice with a quizzical Lex and already in full-on freak-out mode, because sentencing thousands of people to a desperate death-by-quarantine seems to be easy enough but not so much when it’s you and your Louboutins in the danger zone.

Because this is tv, Lex switches between interrogating her (not that well, it has to be said) and bonding with her, allowing himself to be easily distracted from the fact that she seems a lot more scared of the minimal, no fluid/ no skin contact he had with Thomas than you’d expect, but there we go. Lex is an idiot and if Lommers announcing of her old boss “It was his compassion that killed him” isn’t both a red flag in terms of her personality and a neon sign for how one or two other storylines are going to pan out, somebody’s breaking tv law in spectacular style.

Also because this is tv, instead of staying put and waiting for the best, several of the other cast members have to get themselves caught up in the riot, too, except Dr Cannerts who’s hiding “quarantined” in his office; Leo who is busy confusing the pizza boy and calling in his NSA ex(?) to investigate the Cannerts/Burns/Patient Zero conundrum; and the Create-A-Crisis computer-office-building-thingy team, now down to three and reduced to dealing with the increasingly annoying and stupid Suze’s relationship issues. “This Dennis thing, this is small-time,” says Jana, entirely correctly. “I think I’m pregnant,” replies Suze. “Oh naff off,” groans at least one viewer, “we don’t need any more tiresome angst from you, we already have the apocalypse to contend with.”

Back to said apocalypse/riot, then, which is a bit stagey, but nonetheless well-realised and bloody scary, especially when the National Guard drop in to bring the story right up to ep 1’s original cold open and start shooting folk. Poor, cheery Bert, taking a surprisingly large – she’s cut her leg, what are we talking here? – box of medicines to Mrs Bert, is struck down by a rioter mid-street, and left with a leg injury of his own to worry about. Teresa and Xander, on their way to Chez Bert themselves, get distracted by NotTeresa’sMum, which means Teresa gets knocked down mid-street as well, and Xander may or not get exposed to the virus. (Btw, I’ve been wondering about this for weeks, but is there not a strong possibility Teresa rather than Thomas might be the key to fighting the virus? I mean, her friend, who subsequently died a horrible virus-y death, hugged her and LICKED her face without passing it on. Could the pregnancy hormones have something to do with T’s resistance?)

But it’s my beloved Katie and Jake who end up in the most unhappy position. Having reached peak sweetness with a simultaneously cringeworthy and adorable singing lunch date, and with both Bert and Quentin shipping them hard, it’s obviously time for things to veer from deliriously happy to deeply horrible, so they entrust the kids to some random called Ray – seriously, are we supposed to know who that is? – and lo! Ray kidnaps a couple of them, Jake tracks one down, the other dies in Katie’s arms, and Oh, God, No. NO. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Containment ep 8

Time for another ep of SQUEEs, OMGs, NOs and WHOAs.

In “people I don’t care about” news, Teresa’s grandparents, who have been hanging around waiting for the sword of Damocles to fall on them since the show started, decide to speed things up by bringing a bookcase down on them instead. This results in a leg injury which may later prove important, but is unlikely to ever prove interesting because these folk twinkling at each other was cute at first but is now just taking up screen time that we DON’T HAVE, people. Don’t they know this show is on a CLOCK?

Also in Create-a-Crisis mode – despite there being an actual apocalypse going on – are Jana, Suzy and pals, as they decide to leave the (admittedly vulnerable to attack by Super Meth-heads Inc) computer-office-building-thingy and try to tunnel out of a church, taking in a matinee performance of “Heal Your Plague With Love” on the way. The service is both incredibly creepy and overwhelmingly sad, and those scenes actually have something serious and important to say about desperate people searching for miracles when modern society can’t give them what they need, but the ep skips past all that pretty quickly so that we can focus on Suzy having claustrophobia and a jerk married boyfriend instead. Sigh. It all turns out to be for nothing, too, because, for reasons I didn’t quite pick up but don’t matter in the slightest, they can’t get out of the tunnel after all. Oh well.

The week’s other big “aborted attempt to get out of the cordon” story involves the preternaturally-smiley young Thomas, whom Dr Cannerts has decided is the cure in human form, and whom Dr Lommers (How is this ridiculous person in charge? She is useless.) has decided should be smuggled out so the CDC can make absolutely sure everyone dies take over work on a possible treatment instead. To that end, she brings Lex back into the inner circle, mainly so that the National Guard guy can growl at him and everything can go badly wrong some more. (What is the National Guard guy’s deal? Is he not supposed to be organising food drops? Is his job really just to stand around going “I’m a RACIST, so I’ll do the OPPOSITE of what you say” all the time?) And go wrong it does, because it turns out that Dr Cannerts, as well as having – SPOILER! – caused the virus outbreak in the first place, lied about who Patient Zero was, and generally been a gift to conspiracy theorists everywhere, has got it spectacularly wrong, yet again. Thomas isn’t the cure, Thomas is the silent assassin, and Larry (?) and a variety of horrified hospital staff have the blood and guts all over them to prove it.

Uh-oh.

Thank goodness then for my beloved Jake and Katie who are so completely lovely and adorable and irresistible together, I’m ready to storm the cordon and break them out myself. Not content with cheerfully (and adorably) solving the Patient Zero mystery and smuggling Super-Thomas into the new sluice (the fact Lex and Lommers threw him right back out again is hardly their fault), they decide to up the SQUEE factor by several million per cent this week by having the tremulous Katie give Jake an out, the faithful Jake give Katie a declaration, and the gorgeous pair of them give us the 4-6 feet, er, “workaround” we’ve been waiting for. Oh. My. Stars. Let’s be honest, “There’s no version of my life that doesn’t have you in it” would have turned me into a puddle on the floor regardless – My God – but that shower scene? *fans self* That sends both my heartbeat and internal thermometer sky-high. Like I said, the show’s on a clock, so getting attached to these two is not going to do me any good, but I ship, therefore I am. SQUEEEEEE!

Containment ep 7

This week on Containment, it’s all about the some-form-of-computer-business office building that Jana, her flaky pal Suzy, those two rubbish guys they know and the maintenance manager are holed up in. Blue hazmat suits all round!

Xander and Teresa (currently at the about-to-burst stage of pregnancy) joining the party is fine, but T’s mother being forced to bring a gangster along as her plus-one is not cool, and things go from awful to Armageddon very quickly when the most disturbingly well-organised gang of murderous meth-heads in the Atlanta area decide to stop doing wheelies in the car park and storm the building instead.

Luckily, Jake turns up – in a moment so incredibly awesome I wanted to hi-five the tv – to help, and between him, the surprisingly badass, resourceful Jana and a DIY blowtorch (WHOA!), the day is just about saved. Too late for REDACTED and REDACTED, of course, but they both sucked so whatevs. Lex’s job and freedom bring sacrificed in the process is a shame, I s’pose…. oh, who’m I kidding? Lex and his sudden attack of Daddy Issues – do we really need an outbreak of Daddy Issues in the midst of a show about an honest-to-goodness apocalyptic plague? – are duller than dry cornflakes for dinner. But never mind him. The rest of the episode is properly exciting, Jana is much less annoying than usual, characters who’ve clearly been watching too many medical dramas suddenly shouting out pregnancy-related diagnoses is hilarious (“What if it’s pre-eclampsia?” “Hey, it’ll be Braxton-Hicks!”) and Jake is my future husband. Well, ok, no he’s not, but he’s lovely and that scene where he tells Jana how he feels about Katie is so utterly, utterly adorable it almost makes up for the absence of Miss Frank herself. Almost. If he could just tell her to her face next week, I’d probably SQUEE myself into space.

Containment ep 6

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?