Quick Review of The CW’s Containment: Entire Series

 

Containment- Sabine, Jake, Lex, Katie, Jana*With this post, we’re beginning a new series of posts, called “Quick Reviews”, where we do short reviews on older series and films that we wouldn’t normally review. There are so many great older shows out there, that we’ll never get around to fully recapping, but we still want to recommend.*

Containment was a limited series which ran for 13 episodes on The CW in the spring and summer of 2016. Like all CW shows, it now lives on Netflix. Because it aired during that odd time of the year that isn’t a traditional TV “season”, Containment didn’t get much attention at the time, and had mixed critical reviews. (Metawitches wasn’t around yet.) Metamaiden and I both thought it was a fun show, for the subject matter, and brought some things to the table that we rarely see when a plague is the main subject.

Containment, based on the Belgian series Cordon, was developed for The CW by prolific showrunner Julie Plec, of The Vampire Diaries fame. She and David Nutter both served as executive producers. It starred David Gyasi as Major Alex “Lex” Carnahan, Christina Moses as Jana Mayfield, Chris Wood as Officer Jake Riley, Kristen Gutoskie as Katie Frank, Claudia Black as Dr. Sabine Lommers, George Young as Dr. Victor Cannerts,
Hanna Mangan-Lawrence as Teresa Keaton, and Trevor St. John as Leonard “Leo” Greene.

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The Passage Season 1 Episode 1: Pilot Recap

Brad and Amy- Can One Girl Save Humanity?

Review

Fox’s new science fiction series, The Passage, which is based on Justin Cronin’s trilogy of novels, got off to a great start this week. The pilot served as an appetizer to whet our taste buds for what’s to come in this series, giving us small bites of different aspects of the universe established in Justin Cronin’s books and the changes made in order to transfer it to the screen. So far, all of the important book elements are present (or on their way), and the changes make sense, given the different logistics required for books vs TV.

I enjoyed everyone in the cast, though I can’t say they’re all exactly how I pictured the characters in the book. That’s mostly because the show has done a great job of diversifying what was a very white, male cast of characters in the book version of Project Noah. This is a welcome change. The gender swaps have already made for some intriguing changes in character interactions.

The early part of the story depends on the chemistry and believability of the pseudo father-daughter relationship between Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s federal agent, Brad Wolgast, and Saniyya Sidney’s orphaned 10 year old girl, Amy Bellafonte. The two actors nail it. Individually, they are each talented, charismatic and charming. Together, they share an immediate warmth and light that makes it understandable why they’d bond so quickly. Both characters come into the relationship feeling like they are alone in the world and each is mourning a deep loss. Their chemistry allows them to slot each other into the holes in their hearts.

The virals (vampires) are suitably menacing as they lie in wait for their prey and use hypnotic psychological tricks to draw in their victims. The series has added the threat of a global avian flu pandemic, which kills its victims in 12 hours, to help explain the reasoning for the accelerated pace of the research on the virals, who were meant to cure all diseases.

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Kiss Me First Season 1 Episode 6: You Can Never Go Home Recap

 

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Adrian has decided to move on from team sports to a one on one battle with Leila. For all of his brave talk about wanting to play a high stakes game, he’s changed the rules at every turn to make sure the deck is stacked in his favor. Leila’s captivity at Adrian’s hands is different from anything we’ve seen before on Kiss Me First, and could be triggering for some viewers who aren’t expecting the sudden change in tone.

Someone, meaning Tippi, Force or Adrian, fished Leila out of the water after the end of episode 5, and tended to her injuries. The action moves back to London for the season finale, though it’s not clear in the beginning exactly where Leila is, other than being held hostage.

I appreciate that Kiss Me First once again shows Leila holding it together while she fights her battle, but needing to break down later. That’s the reality of being strong and good in a crisis. Leila isn’t a psychopath who fakes emotions like Adrian. She’s reserved. Her emotions are internalized, and sometimes deferred to a time when she can express them privately and safely.

For the grand finale, Adrian goes for kidnapping, assault and torture. During the precredits sequence we see Leila stripped down to her skivvies, lying on a mattress, strapped down, and hooked up to an IV that’s keeping her drugged. She rises to consciousness briefly when a bright light shines into her eyes, and struggles against her bindings, whimpering and complaining. Before long she’s drugged unconscious again.

After the title sequence the show moves to Leila’s house, where Jonty is sneaking in through the kitchen window. He can’t stand being left out of the loop any longer and needs to find out what’s happened to Leila. He finds Tess instead. She’s hoping that Jonty has news of Leila.

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Kiss Me First Season 1 Episode 5: The Witch Is Coming Recap

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In episode 5, The Witch Is Coming, Adrian speaks directly to the audience for the first time, perhaps trying to seduce us into joining his next venture, after Red Pill is done self-destructing. He shares his personal manifesto, giving viewers insight into his motives and background. As it turns out, the theme of episode 4, friends (and family) let us down, is the theme of Adrian’s life, one he’s reenacting in his cults. Each suicide or murder is a proxy for his own issues. As a real life human, he remains invisible, perhaps because he wants to erase himself most of all, but can’t until he’s done with his revenge on the world.

Adrian’s voiceover:

Take a life, any life. Take your life. Think about all the people you’ve encountered today. This week. This year. Then think about how many people you’ll encounter in your entire existence. Family, friends, colleagues, enemies, lovers. The ones who stuck around. The ones who got away. Fleeting, stolen relationships. Endless friendships that ended. Consider the ones you loved and couldn’t tell, or were afraid of, or secretly yearned to humiliate, or maybe suck out of the world. Then consider how it would be if it were all possible. If you weren’t lost, buried in your stupid life. But making it, shaping it and molding it until you had everything you deserve. And you were loved as you should be. 

This is what the cult and the game offer. If you play along with Adrian, he promises that eventually, after you’ve done everything he asks, he’ll be the one who’ll love you forever, unconditionally, in the beautiful mansion next to turquoise waters that Tess is arriving at now. It’s the sort of place that’s owned by the very wealthy, who can afford to mold and shape their lives, and pay people to stay with them. But, as the Beatles taught us, even the wealthy can’t buy real love.

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Kiss Me First Season 1 Episode 4: Friends Let Us Down Recap

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The battle between Adrian and Leila becomes more intense in this episode, as more real world players characters are drawn into their fight. Several Red Pill members meet for the first time in the real world, with varying results. Adrian’s plans continue to include violence, death and isolation. Even when his victims see through his machinations, like Leila, they are often powerless to stop him from manipulating and hurting people.

At the beginning of the episode, Tess has been gone for 4 days after the argument she and Leila had at the end of episode 3. Leila is hoping she’ll come back soon. Tess left her phone behind and Leila answers when it rings. It’s Adrian calling, of course, and he thinks it’s Tess that answers, or pretends to. When he finds out that it’s Leila who’s answered and that Tess is missing, he drops all pretense. Leila asks if he’s going to kill Tess when he finds her. Adrian insists that he “never kills anyone. That would be so unsubtle.” Lord knows, we wouldn’t want to lose the subtlety points when the judges score the game.

Leila asks why he doing this, but Adrian just says, “Let that emerge.” He leaves her with a challenge, “Who’s going to find her first?” Then he hangs up. Leila doesn’t want to be part of Adrian’s sick games, but she also won’t walk away from people who need her. Adrian is counting on that. Leila takes the bait, and tells the phone, “Me.”

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The Innocents Season 1 Episode 8: Everything. Anything. Recap and Season 1 Speculation/Analysis

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Everything. Anything., the season 1 finale, begins much the same way as the season premiere did, with the camera floating across the fjord to give the audience a panoramic view of the beauty and isolation of Sanctum’s setting. As with the premiere, Bendik’s Halvorson’s plans are spiraling out of control and he’s trying desperately to stop the chaos. Sanctum is his kingdom, and he rules it with an iron fist covered by a velvet glove. But even on an isolated island, the past has a way of coming back to haunt you.

Live by the sword, die by the sword, as they say.

The shots of the fjord gradually transition to a montage which recaps the season, reminding the viewer where we are now and how we got here. Sohn’s The Wheel plays over the montage. It has a pretty melody and vocals interrupted by staccato silences that sound to me a lot like a record skipping. The contrasts in the song fit the contrasts in the show’s physical and emotional environment well. Every character’s life has been interrupted and rendered out of sync by the events of the season.

On a side note, John is still naked in the morning. I find it hilarious that everyone else at Sanctum is wrapped in multiple sweaters and layers from head to toe, 24/7, but they got John naked as soon as he stepped onto the island. The harem’s been deprived of a broad-shouldered specimen like him for ages and they’re going to take advantage of it. While they launder his clothes, of course. Slowly.

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The Innocents Season 1 Episode 7: Will You Take Me, Too? Recap

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In this episode, we finally discover the meaning of Lewis’ oft repeated question, the episode title, “Will You Take Me, Too?” When June and Elena are reunited, Elena’s actions on the night of the Penines 5 are revealed, as is her connection to Lewis. It’s hard to know whether to count Elena as a perpetrator or another victim.  She didn’t have premeditated intent, but should she have had better control?

We also inch, ever so slowly, closer to understanding Ben’s intentions. We’ll have to wait until the finale to find out exactly what his plans for June are, but he definitely has plans to use June to save Runa. I think he wants June to shift into Runa indefinitely, the way she shifted into Elena and was becoming indistinguishable from her. With June wearing Runa’s body, he’d have the best of both worlds. Presumably the June version of Runa wouldn’t have dementia, and they could have shapeshifter children together.

I knew someone else gave Kam the idea of shifting into another person and staying them forever.

As the penultimate episode of the season, this episode continues to move the chess pieces into place for the finale. John and Harry make it to Sanctum, but John is hurt. While Harry recommits to June, she’s more scared than ever after shifting into Elena and discovering how bad things could get. She can’t trust that the two of them are enough to keep her from hurting someone anymore.

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The Innocents Season 1 Episode 6: Not the Only Freak in Town Recap

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In episode 6 of The Innocents, the men get weepy and the women go drinking. Left alone on the island, Runa, Sigrid and Elena break the rules and share some female bonding time with Runa’s homebrew. Harry goes home to his family and has a tearful reunion, then discovers some distressing information about Lewis. He runs to the farm to share it with Ryan and John, leaving Ryan teary-eyed as well. June meets the mysterious Dr Halvorson, and agrees to go to Norway with him. One of the first things he does is take away her phone, cutting off her access to anyone else. Before they leave London.

The groups and alliances are reshuffled in this episode. Some much needed communication happens between multiple characters, building bridges between them. By the end of the episode, the characters have moved into position for the final act.

After Harry walks away from her, June walks back to Kam’s flat in the sunshine, with her beautiful hair glowing in the sun. She looks sad and lost, but her hair will carry her through this disaster. That hair is survivor’s hair.

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The Innocents Season 1 Episode 5: Passionate Amateur Recap

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June and Harry meet another shapeshifter in episode 5, the passionate amateur who left a comment for June at the end of episode 4. The new shapeshifter lives a very different lifestyle from what the teenage couple had in mind. When she tries to manipulate June into breaking up with Harry and joining her party crowd, their friendship goes wrong. There are consequences for Harry and June as well.

At Sanctum, tensions continue to grow between the three women. Elena begins to gain control of her shifts. Sigrid prepares to move back into the world. Runa grows more unstable. Ben prepares to bring June into the fold. It’s hard to imagine that incorporating June into this powder keg will go well.

Elena has already made progress in her therapy. Her overall emotional trigger is love, which explains a lot about her life. Ben has created a slide wheel that’s tailored to her triggers, filled with images of mothers and children, sex and death. Elena watches it, and tells a story from Ryan’s childhood, when he was chasing butterflies down a path.

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Castle Rock Season 1 Episode 8: Past Perfect Recap

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Episode 8 of Castle Rock season 1, Past Perfect, is the beginning of the third and final act of the season, and it asks a very important question: Is it better to bury the memories of traumatic events, or to dwell on them? The show has a firm opinion on the matter, in the form of Jackie Torrance, taxi driver, real estate assistant, local history buff, and ax aficionado.

While Henry has buried his memories, and new Castle Rock resident Gordon has become obsessive and angry about his, Jackie uses history and her past experiences to inform her decisions. The memories aren’t dangerous if you’ve made your peace with them, as Jackie has. We’ve seen this throughout the season with other minor characters as well.

Kid isn’t turning anyone evil, he’s bringing out whatever demons were already there. The characters are doomed when they become emotionally involved with a situation and lose perspective, or don’t pay enough attention to a situation until it’s too late. They haven’t learned from past experiences. As long as they maintain their balance and sense of self, they can withstand the evil in the town, wherever it comes from.

Except for Henry, who walks around half awake, with no sense of self, ends up a damsel in distress on a regular basis, and has an entourage of heroes who save him: Molly, Kid, Ruth, Alan, now Jackie. You have to wonder why they all want to protect him so badly.

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