Thursday, 23 June 2016

Review - 'Containment', Episode 8 - 'There Is A Crack In Everything'

With its effective mix of character drama, and genuine tension, the previous episode of Containment managed to earn itself a spot as the best of the season, so far – or, at least, it was for me. It certainly provided the most genuine sense of excitement and danger that we have had with this series, since the brief 'flash-forward' of the first episode. But, of course, as we move into the aftermath of the attack on the data recovery centre, there did seem to be a definite danger that the series could fall back into its old, somewhat inconsistently paced, ways.

Fortunately, though, that doesn't actually happen, here. The season's eighth episode might not be as tense, or as exciting, as the previous one had been – but, it is an episode that is still able to get some interesting material out of exploring the immediate aftermath of those events.

With their former sanctuary no longer so secure following the previous episode's attack, the quartet from the data recovery centre are left determined to find some means of escaping from the containment zone. Fortunately, in the sort of contrived development that you really just have to force yourself to accept, Jana and Suzy happen to know of a secret tunnel beneath a nearby church which might allow them to slip beneath the quarantine walls – but, of course, things aren't that simple. First of all, there's the brick wall that they will need to break through in order to access the tunnel. Then, there is Jana's extreme claustrophobia – which had caused her to suffer a severe panic attack when the pair had attempted to use the tunnel in the past, and which was certain to significantly complicate their efforts in the present.

In terms of continuing the justify the amount of screen-time that has been spent on this group, since the series began, their plot-threat in this episode continues with the recent trend of gradually turning them into positive and proactive members of the cast – or, at least, that seems to be the cast with Jana. Given how little interest I had in either her, as a character, or her relationship with Lex in the first episode, it would be fair to say that she has come a long way – gradually evolving into one of the show's most interesting characters. Unfortunately, the same can't really be said for the rest of her group of survivors – but, it still feels like some progress has been made. Though, as an odd side-note, it did feel a bit strange to have Xander and Theresa suddenly vanish from this episode, after playing such an important part in the previous one.

Outside of the containment zone, meanwhile, Lex finds himself also caught up in the immediate aftermath of the events of the previous episode – as, having been caught in his attempt to climb the quarantine wall and get to Jana, he finds himself placed under arrest, and suspended from active duty. Fortunately, though, Dr. Sabine Lommers soon brings Lex back into the fold, when she pulls some strings to have him placed in charge of a mission to secretly extract Thomas (Donielle T. Hensley, Jr.), the young boy whose seeming immunity to the virus may provide a means of creating a cure, from the containment zone so that he can be taken to the CDC.

Understanding the need for secrecy, since he already has first-hand experience with the panic that ensues when the increasingly desperate people caught up in the containment zone think that they might have a way out, Lex immediately sets about working out the best way to discretely extract Thomas. Unfortunately, though, Lex immediately finds himself butting heads with the National Guard, once more – as, they clearly have their own ideas about how this extraction should be conducted.

I have to admit that the whole issue of Lex's suspension, and rapid reinstatement, did come across as a little strange to me. The manner in which Lex finds himself returned to active duty just seemed to undermine the drama of the previous episode, somewhat – by conveniently brushing aside the consequences of his decision. But, at the same time, I can't imagine that anything interesting would have come out of the alternative – so, looked at purely from a plotting point of view, it's probably for the best that Lex was returned to active duty, as soon as possible.

Along with Jana's desperate escape attempt, and the possibility of a cure, the episode also found time to fit in a bit of relationship drama. With the possibility that they might soon be able to escape the containment zone seeming increasingly likely, Jake and Katie found themselves forced to question exactly how real their blossoming relationship truly was – and, whether it could survive the transition back into the 'real world' and their regular lives. It was an interesting development, certainly – after all, each of them have very real issues that their current circumstances have placed on hold. The problem for me, though, is that the series hasn't done a very good job of convincing me that they are actually in anything resembling a real relationship, to begin with – so, the sudden injection of drama didn't really work for me. As individuals, I like both characters – but, when it comes to the two of them, together, I can't say that I feel very invested. Also, I'm not sure what response the audience was intended to have to that 'shower curtain' scene – but, I imagine that it wasn't awkward laughter and eye-rolling.

Fortunately, though, that is really the only significant issue I had with a mostly entertaining episode. With its eighth episode, Containment may have returned to the somewhat slower pace of the first half of the season – but, it did so in a manner that still managed to do so in a manner that felt both real, and genuinely interesting. There was even room for the latest developments of the season-long 'conspiracy' plot-line, as new information is uncovered that points at a new 'Patient Zero'.

It took much longer than it should have, really, but it seems as though Containment has finally been able to fulfil the potential that I saw with the first episodes. Hopefully, this is something that can be maintained as the series moves toward its end.

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