Have you ever licked a doorknob on a dare? Played Marco Polo in a septic tank? Allowed animated woodland creatures to dress you for a ball? Well, perhaps stop doing these things! As it turns out, they are all great ways to catch a disease. Germs are all around us, and although most of them are extremely chill and just want to hang out and have a good time, quite frankly some germs are not trustworthy. Some germs will get all up in your private regions and ruin your weekend by turning you into a very leaky, human-shaped gristle balloon. It’s these kinds of extremely unsoothing germs that are the stars and subject of the new CW series Containment.
Containment, executive produced by Julie Plec (The Vampire Diaries, The Originals), is a surprisingly serious-minded (for The CW) saga about a rage virus-like outbreak in downtown Atlanta. Beginning with a flash-forward to two weeks from now when the streets are littered with flaming corpses and screaming single moms, it’s instantly better than the maddeningly disappointing Fear the Walking Dead and even flirts with Homeland in how it embraces quick-acting authority figures working against international conspiracy. Unfortunately Containment’s grossest infection are the virulent soap opera tropes that invade the screen every few minutes. Somebody please take a flame thrower to those.
We’re all savvy enough by now to know that pilots aren’t necessarily great television; they need only introduce the characters and premise as efficiently as possible while leaving us intrigued enough to invest in a second or third hour (where one hopes it’ll become actually good). Unfortunately, writers and producers tend to severely overestimate the importance of character details before the story has given us reason to care about these people.
In Containment, only a few minutes after the aforementioned corpse-strewn flash-forward, we’re forced to endure a thread about a woman who doesn’t like to move in with boyfriends. Tell me more j/k! Later, two strangers bear witness to festering cadavers yet within minutes they’re flirting, complete with aw-shucks quips and lilting piano music. DO NOT CARE, show. There are bleeding orifices to worry about! Sure, you want us to like your characters, but nothing is less likable than people who distract themselves (and us) from the central threat. And speaking of tropes, anytime we risked forgetting that Containment airs on The CW, someone with a salon-fabulous hairdo and who appears to be 5-10 years too young for their job would show up and burst the illusion. Which, fine. Even shows about disintegrating immune systems deserve to be populated with hunks and babes, I guess.
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All that being said, the first installment of Containment very much succeeded in grabbing my interest. You have to love a show where the best jump-scares are sneezes. Also Containment is absolutely disgusting. Credit where credit’s due! Let’s get into it.
NEXT: Meet the Infectees