Weekly Review: Containment (Season 1)

When a lethal disease breaks out in a portion of the city, a quarantine goes up, breaking families apart for an undetermined amount of time. With no communication and no cure or help in sight, the disease wreaks havoc on those stuck in the cordon.

This review will talk about Containment, a limited series event on The CW.

The trailers for Containment were incredibly riveting. They portrayed the series as something action packed and full of mystery. On top of this, the show was advertised as a limited series event, so I was even more intrigued. A set number of episodes implies that the show has a planned end, so there is a lot of focus and not much filler.

I was expecting Containment to be similar to the film Contagion, but with the additional aspect of the CDC attempting to quarantine the outbreak. Films and shows about viral outbreaks can be really interesting, and also really scary, if done well.

While watching the series, I was disappointed, and I only continued to get more disappointed with each episode. Rather than feeling focused and streamlined in a set number of 13 episodes, Containment felt like it dragged. It had too many focus changes and minor filler storylines for my liking.

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I’m assuming the show was trying to keep you guessing, but for me, it just felt aggravating. I felt like I was watching a show that had no idea what direction it wanted to head in. There are way too many characters, but yet, it seems like nothing ever happens.

On top of that, every thing that does happen feels so contrived. It was too obvious that I was watching a show. All of the main characters were connected in the strangest of ways. Let me give you an example.

At one point, a cop, who is trapped in the cordon with a teacher he comes to love, goes across the disease-ridden city to see his friend/fellow officer’s girlfriend, who is hiding out in a research facility with some coworkers and a pregnant woman, just as the pregnant woman is struggling through a natural labor. If that wasn’t enough of a reach, the cop for some reason knows how to give birth to babies, and he saves the day by making the birth a success. Fantastic!

That’s pretty much what the entire show feels like. I found myself rolling my eyes, shaking my head, and saying, “This show is ridiculous!”, too many times to count.

Another agitating aspect is that the show continually feels the need to define what takes place “inside the cordon” and “outside the cordon,” despite the fact that it’s painfully obvious because of the situations being depicted and the characters being shown.

It’s an ensemble cast, and for a while it’s hard to tell who is going to be important. Both the cast and the creators share from other CW series, so you may see some familiar faces or situations. As typical with shows on The CW, Containment is mainly a melodrama. It focuses more on the relationships between the people inside and outside the cordon than it does on the logistics of the disease itself. It is for this reason that I feel it drags.

For it being a series about a pandemic, it lacks the action and suspense needed to keep people invested. The plot crawls along at a snail’s pace, and I found myself just waiting for it to finally conclude. I wasn’t interested in what was going to happen on an episode by episode basis. I was more concerned with seeing how they were going to end it. Will there be a cure? Will the cordon be destroyed to save everyone else? That’s all I wanted to know.

There definitely were some poignant moments. I won’t ignore those. The final scene between the cop and the teacher was a tearjerker, as was one of the final scenes between the pregnant woman and her mother. Those are probably the two parts that really stick out to me as the strongest in an emotional sense. Those two moments manage to not feel contrived, and this really matters when you look at the show overall.

In addition, the overall story of how the disease began is decently interesting. It’s just a shame that it took so long to reveal these details, and the reveal was divvied out in such a slow and anti-climactic way.

They announced a while back that the series would not be picked up for an additional season, and I definitely think that was a good call. Containment never seemed to have the ratings that the network was hoping for, and I honestly don’t see how the series could have continued past one season. It’s one of those plots where a resolution is needed sooner, rather than later.

If the series ends up on Netflix, then it may be worth a watch. If you’re a fan of this type of pandemic story, you may find it interesting. I would be interested to see if Containment is better as a binge rather than a week-by-week ordeal. If you’re not a fan of shows on The CW, I would recommend you pass on this.

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