Thursday, May 5, 2016

Containment, Season 1, Episode 3: Be Angry At The Sun

This week brings some knotty political issues as more and more people get agitated over the cordon. Tensions are high and the new container wall around it and the indefinite extension of the cordon.

On a personal level, Jenna opens a rift with her fellow co-workers when she insists on a quarantine when the two guys go to get food – and they then act like petulant man-childs.

In the hospital Kate, the words worse child minder, loses track of one of those children (there are four. Four she needs to watch. Four. Kate you are terrible at your job), possibly gets said child infected and then his angry, gun toting father take the child out of the hospital using said gun. No-one died because Bertie is much calmer and more sensible and excellent at defusing tension.

But this also shows another major problem hitting the cordon. There are only 11 cops for the 4000 people behind the cordon and law and order is beginning to fray. Teresa’s mother’s shop is nearly robbed by men for supplies after she starts profiteering (she appears to have a monopoly).

Alex desperately asks Sabine to let him send in more police to try and bring some level of order (though who is going to volunteer for this remains to be seen) but she is insistent that absolutely no-one can possibly. She also thinks controlling the media and making sure everyone co-operates will solve all the problems (uh… that’s why Alex wants more cops, to ensure… “co-operation”. That’s traditionally what cops are for).

Alex decides to set Jake up to be his point man behind the cordon. Which seems like a bad idea since he has no rank but it also seems that he’s not exactly working with the cream of the crop here. Between this and the fact he’s on body disposal duty and this show seems determined to break Jake. I mean, I was less than sympathetic to him in previous episodes with his little break down but, c’mon show cut the guy some slack! It’s also nice to see someone who is, in so many ways, a classic alpha-male-this-should-be-the-hero-guy basically saying “me?! But I’m not a leader!”

What is bringing this to a height is independent journalist, Leo Green who is posting footage to the net about how bad everything is in the cordon and how the government is totally trying to cover everything up. As an aside here – the terribad pictures of bodies and horror he’s getting from his contacts in the cordon don’t seem to match what we’re actually seeing from the people in the cordon?

I also wonder at the general media mismanagement here… there’s a general incompetent “everything is fine!” message which is blatantly not true rather than a starker, but more honest “no, shit isn’t fine. We’re doing our utmost to stop it being worse and make it better. Here’s how, here’s what we need” which would likely be more effective.

Sabine is desperate to control the message and keep everyone calm and pretend the big wall of containers is a big modern art installation or something and alternate between telling Alex “no more cops!” and “control the internet!” Unsurprisingly, Alex fails to control the internet. Especially since Leo takes the next step from being a blogger journalist after the truth but with a little less nuanced take on the situation to out right ridiculousness – by broadcasting a way around the cordon

This causes an armed confrontation at the weak point and a man, ignoring many warnings, is shot. Shot by a cop inside the cordon who feared the disease getting out and infecting his family. Tensions ratcheted up to the max

This also touches on another ongoing fear – someone sweating, someone sneezing, anyone looking even slightly ill is now a source of immense fear and paranoia.

This could lead to a lot of debate about freedom of the press, reasonable limits and generally what consitutes shouting “fire” in a crowded theatre. Showing a way past the cordon? Probably counts. Showing slanted or exaggerated depictions of chaos in the cordon? Or even reasonable depictions of the cordon? It’s a knotty question – what level of media control is necessary? This could be interesting to explore

So Sabine just shuts down all mobile phones and internet in the cordon… we’re not having any of that tiresome nuance going on here. This is not how you control panic. No no it is not.