Thursday, April 28, 2016

Containment, Season 1, Episode 2: I Die, You To Live

As we move to the second day of the quarantine, everything is tense. Those inside the cordon are all worried and trying to follow the rules (Jana and her friend Stacy have an awesome relationship and are great together stuck with friends and colleagues at their job) expecting the cordon to end soon. Alex, something of a hero after his actions with Xander went viral is trying to keep everyone calm and collected while Sabine insists that controlling the message is vital to stop people panicking. There’s lots of tense communication by phone between various people.

And then things get a whole lot worse

They find there’s another person who was in contact with patient zero – Elizabeth – and she is not in quarantine in the hospital. After a moment of panic they conclude that she is still in the cordon zone (so not infecting all of Atlanta) but she has run around through the zone. Most terrifying, she attended a party (yes, some teens had a quarantine party because parents are stuck outside the fence, of course they did). By the time they get to her and get her to the hospital many of the partiers have already left and since it was a party they’re nearly impossible to identify. The virus is definitely out.

Attending that party was Amy, a friend of Teresa, which means Teresa (the pregnant teen) is no terrified se has been infected, harming her baby. She’s also worried about infecting her grandmother – the disabled old woman who is Bertie’s wife (hey the characters are linking up). It also means Xander, outside the cordon, is even more desperate to get in.

The virus being out means Dr. Cannert lifts the lock down on the hospital. Holding everyone inside is now pretty pointless with the virus burning around – though Kate stays as she has nowhere else to go with the kids. We also find Kate is on what appears to be anxiety medication.

But the cordon on the zone is doubled over – the electric fence reinforced by a huge wall of containers. It is now going to last far more than 2 days. The quarantine is now in place until the disease burns itself out.

Alex asks how they get help to those inside and Sabine is ominously silent…

…because helicopters and air drops have not been invented…

Character who most needs a slap upside the head baton now passes from Kate to Jake who continues to treat the quarantine as a personal affront against him: taking out all his anger on Alex. I even give a grudging point to Kate for delivering an awesome take down of his tantrum, pointing out she has 11 year olds keeping it together better than him. Ok, to be fair I’m going to say that we all react to panic and fear in different ways. I think this is, perhaps, an especially terrifying thing to face for a man like Jake – strong, very physically fit, cishet white man is not used to facing something he is utterly powerless against.

They’re also really trying to push a “sinister tool of the government” side plot. And, yes, I completely understand why people don’t trust the government. Not so much why people think the government would spend a gajillion dollars quarantining an entire neighbourhood (and not a poor one at that – remembering that Janna’s high tech laboratory and an apparent first class hospital are inside the quarantine) for funsies. But, hey, governments do some sketchy stuff…

But we have a reporter calling Alex a tool of the establishment for daring to follow the rules the CDC is giving (which is, y’know, what he should be doing). Ok this is because the reporter is trying to bully him (with some really nasty and needs-to-be-called-out race baiting) into doing what the reporter wants. But I get the feeling the show genuinely expects me to think Alex has a moral quandary here.

And I think we’re supposed to find it ominous that Syria hasn’t claimed responsibility for sending terrorist germs (because any country would totally own up to that, right?) and that Isis hasn’t claimed responsibility (does anyone think Isis has bioengineering labs? And is Isis the only terrorist group in the world now?)

Then there’s Bertie, the nice guy trapped in the hospital deciding to speak up and ask Kate during her little explanation with the school kids who decides when to let them out. Now, again, I totally get Bertie being suspicious of the government (and gods alone know and older Black man has probably had a lifetime of damn good reasons) but raising that in front of a room full of 11 year olds? And asking the teacher (which is pretty infantilising of Bertie as well)?

Or Kate asking why patient zero died after some of the people he infected. Kate, you’re a teacher, you should know about different recovery rates for disease. Otherwise we’d have a strict time table for every illness. These things are not sinister Containment stop trying to convince us they are!

Also this show is based off a Belgian show that original had an Afghan refugee. Which certainly wouldn’t have been better – but the writers have deliberately changed the identity of patient zero to attack the current vulnerable middle easterner who is being demonised. This was a deliberate attempt to target Syrian refugees at a very vulnerable and desperate time for them.