Airtime: Tuesdays at 9PM on CW
Episode: Season 1, Episode 6 (S01E06)
Tweetable Takeaway: The latest episode of #Containment starts with a bang and ends with the show’s first gripping cliffhanger
Tonight, CONTAINMENT asked the question: Can life actually go on? Or more creatively, does the start of the cordon mean the end of baseball season as we know it? Setting up a contrast of people who care too little and people who are trapped by their own grief, the show argues that there is a way to acknowledge tragedy without being consumed by it.
Ambitious as it is, “He Stilled the Rising Tumult” seems like a tough pill to swallow after the delectable dessert that was The Flash Season 2 finale. This week’s title is ripped from the stanzas of an iconic Ernest Lawrence Thayer poem, which we know because the episode starts with five seconds of silence and a quote from “Casey at the Bat.” The opening makes it clear that a confident man is about to learn a hard lesson. But as is standard on this show, it misses the opportunity to let us find the themes on our own. Baseball is a key player in this episode, from the opening radio voiceover to a tense but brief showdown on a baseball field. It wouldn’t be much of a leap for audiences to connect the title to these recurring images.
Besides hammering in the baseball theme, the opening radio voiceover shows that the outside world knows what is happening in Atlanta, but doesn’t really care. This may be the show’s parallel to situations like the Flint water crisis, but it is a little hard to believe that the government waited eight days before sending in the National Guard. In a twist, the arrival of the troops is a threatening situation for Lex and the others, because it signals a loss of autonomy as the power shifts to Chief Besser and his Fed-backed allies. Lex now finds himself, a man of the law, working outside the law.
Meanwhile, Xander and Teresa ponder their fate in the gang-controlled grocery store, while Katie finds that her student Thomas is not safe with his family as previously thought, with his father succumbed the virus and his sister hospitalized. Jake, Katie and inexplicably Quentin search for Thomas, and in the process find the one thing that every pandemic narrative needs – a character who is immune to the virus! After surviving the death of his father, young Thomas seems healthier than ever, and Jake and Katie hope he is the missing link.
Lex needs to break into a data center to find security footage from the hospital, so he seeks out the MVP of breaking and entering, Leo Greene (Xander is obviously unavailable). But their heroics are interrupted when Lex has to respond to an emergency call, which takes up his entire day and ruins the one chance we had of seeing some action in this episode. Instead of showing the data center heist, the episode shifts to a dramatic dialogue between Lex and a grief-stricken squatter. Leo mirrors our own frustration as Lex insists on doing his duty. But in the end, though we don’t actually get to see it, they use their wits, wiles and a fake warrant to get the footage they need. Crucial reminder here, this is footage that will prove that the virus originated from the hospital.
In a touching moment of sacrifice, Teresa’s mother Leanne offers to distract Trey and the gang while Xander and Teresa escape. Officer Meese buys his way into the grocery store posse with the promise of communication, via a satellite phone. Motives TBD.
Lex and Leo arrive at the cordon’s makeshift sluice, which is now surrounded by Chief Besser and a swarm of national guard officers. Despite their presence, Lex manages to deliver the stolen footage to Jake, along with the unfortunate news that the data is corrupted.
Jana and Sam spend most of the episode on a harrowing quest to turn on the air conditioning, that’s not sarcasm, they do find a decaying body in a closet. They accomplish their goal, along with a lot of conversational character development, including the possibly important detail that Jana is a data recovery expert. However, the end of the episode sparks hope that Jana’s storyline may prove to be the most engaging yet, as beleaguered couple Xander and Teresa arrive at Bitscan. Defying her mates, Jana decides to admit the two new refugees. But their peace is short lived, as Trey arrives holding Leanne at gunpoint.
Though Containment mostly shied away from any gripping conflict, it also took a few bold steps. Tonight’s final cliffhanger may mark the first time the audience leaves wondering what’s going to happen next, and actually comes back to find out.
Heather makes things for TV by day and writes by night (also sometimes by day). She is a fan of all stories that reflect life, but it doesn’t hurt if they’re set on another planet or in another time.
Heather West | Contributor