Thursday, 23 June 2016

Review - 'Containment', Episode 9 - 'A Kingdom Divided Against Itself'

The previous episode's reveal that Thomas, the boy we had been led to believe was immune to the virus, was actually an asymptomatic carrier of that same virus may not have been entirely unexpected, given the circumstances (with a few episodes still to come, there was bound to be some sort of last-minute complication) - but, it still made for a genuinely dramatic moment. Rather than providing a possible cure to the virus, we are now left with the unpleasant implication that this innocent child has been unknowingly infecting any number of people he has come into contact with, including (quite possibly) his own father - all while displaying no signs of the virus, himself. While this episode doesn't concern itself with exploring the trauma to be found in that particular angle, the revelation concerning Thomas's true status for the rest of the cast.

Lex and Sabine, for example, find themselves forced into their own period of quarantine, after coming into contact with Thomas - something which leaves them isolated from the chaos that quickly erupts within the containment zone, throughout the rest of the episode.

Kept separate from the action that is taking place elsewhere, two of the show's most proactive characters find themselves forced into more passive roles just as the city needs them most. It's the same type of deliberate plotting contrivance that so many stories depend on, of course - but, it feels like a natural development, here (it certainly felt more natural, to me, than the convenient phone call that had Lex attempting to climb the quarantine walls, at least). Placing these two characters together, like this, also led to some very interesting moments between them - as they found themselves forced to respond to whatever snippets of information they were able to receive, while also seeming to bond in some genuinely interesting ways.

As the closest thing that this show has to a main protagonist, Lex has always been the strongest presence on Containment - thanks, largely, to David Gyasi's performance. Sabine, on the other hand, has yet to truly establish herself. The character's frequent absence, over the course of the season, has made it very difficult to get a proper handle on her, or on the role that she is intended to play on the show. To be fair, though, this was likely to be entirely intentional (there is, after all, a season-long mystery behind all of this, which Dr. Lommers may, or may not, be complicit in) - and, Claudia Black has always given a genuinely great performance whenever she actually has been on-screen. Placing these two characters together like this, though, may actually have been this episode's greatest strength - even considering the action that takes place, elsewhere.

On the topic of characters bonding, this episode also provided some great moments for Jake and Katie - with a brief side-story concerning their first proper date that was almost adorable enough to make me forget the absurd 'shower scene' of the previous episode. It does feel a little strange that, after already hearing so much talk about how in love with her Jake is, it is only now that I am starting to believe that there is actually any genuine sort of romance, there - but, it still feels like some progress has been made on that front, at least. But, of course, this brief moment of happiness between them seems almost destined to be cut tragically short.

Elsewhere, that brief glimpse which a group of bystanders had managed to catch of Lex's efforts to extract Thomas proves to be the spark for a large-scale riot - as increasingly desperate citizens find themselves resolved to force their way out of the containment zone, by any means necessary. As the crowd's numbers begin to swell, this rapidly expanding riot soon escalates to becoming a genuine threat to the security of the containment wall - and, with both Lex and Sabine locked away, the task of managing the situation falls to the National Guard, who have already proven themselves to be ill-equipped when it comes to handling a viral outbreak.

Since the series began, the one lingering question that I imagine most of the audience would have had in the back of their minds was how, and when, we would finally get to that brutal and chaotic 'flash-forward' sequence which opened the first episode - so, it was definitely very interesting, to me, to see those events playing out, here. Clearly, and very appropriately, it was this large-scale riot which took up the bulk of the episode - and, the whole sequence of events proved to be just as effective when placed within its proper context as it had been back in the first episode. It all especially tragic, of course, due to the simple fact that we had actually come to know, and identify with, many of the characters involved, at this point.

Xander and Theresa found themselves caught up in the escalating violence when their efforts to make their way to Theresa's grandmother's house forced them to cross paths with the rapidly swelling mob - and, when Theresa became convinced that she saw her mother in the crowd. Katie and Jake found themselves drawn in when they discovered that a couple of the children under Katie's care had been taken to the containment wall - which, of course, ended with Katie calling for help while carrying a wounded child, as we saw in the first episode. Bert (Charles Black) was knocked to the ground, and left severely injured, while trying to get back to his wife, Micheline - who, for anyone who might be having trouble keeping track, is also Theresa's grandmother. And, to make matters worse, the episode also ends with the possibility that some members of the main cast may have come into direct contact with the virus, as a result of this whole mess. So, not everyone makes it out, unscathed - and, with this 'flash-forward' sequence playing out with a few episodes still to go, we are left with the clear implication that there is certain to be worse still to come.

Along with all of this, the episode also makes room to push along other side-plots. After receiving so much attention, over the past couple of episodes, it did feel a little strange to see Jana, and her group, end up back at the data recovery center - but, given everything that they have been through over the past few episodes, it did, at least, feel more like a well-earned opportunity for this increasingly harried group to rest and recuperate.

Outside of the containment zone, meanwhile, Leo finds himself forced to continue his investigation into the origins of the virus, alone - as he works to uncover the identity of the true 'Patient Zero', and of who he was attempted to contact in the video footage that that has been recovered. It's all very interesting, certainly - and, it is good to see that they season-long 'conspiracy' plot-line hasn't been forgotten, in all of the excitement. But, at the same time, it doesn't quite measure up to that excitement. Leo was able to uncover some interesting new information, though - so, hopefully, this plot-thread will lead somewhere interesting as we move into the final few episodes.

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