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CW's 'Containment' Imagines a Bioterrorist Flu Virus Threatening an Apocalypse
April 19, 2016  | By David Hinckley

Containment is as close as you’ll get to an antidote for Walking Dead withdrawal.

This six-episode miniseries, which launches Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on the CW and wraps up on May 24, starts with the somehow-familiar notion of an unexpected, unthinkable disaster that threatens to wipe out the human race.

And Containment suggests that all it would take is for a bioterrorist to release a re-engineered flu virus.

Which, compared to the zombie apocalypse, might fall a little higher on most people’s “okay, this could actually happen” scale.

So if that sort of possibility worries you, Containment probably isn’t recommended viewing.

If you do watch, it shakes down like this. Syrian terrorists target Atlanta with a virus that kills everyone who contracts it, painfully and quickly. Because the terrorists created it in their lab, no existing medicine can cure it.

Medical personnel and government authorities pick up on the threat almost immediately after its first victims begin coughing and bleeding. They identify the virus and confirm it spreads through body fluids. A sneeze will do it. So would a sweaty handshake or a kiss.

They also find Patient Zero, a Syrian who may or may not have known that he carried the virus in his luggage. That’s kind of a moot point for him, because

within a few hours he’s dead, as is the doctor who examined him at the hospital.

But understanding the menace is only a first step toward beating it.

Federal official Sabine Lommers (Claudia Black) jets into town from D.C. and authorizes a “containment zone,” a multi-block area encompassing the hospital and the house where Patient Zero took ill.

Authorities quickly throw up an electrified chain-link fence that keeps anyone from getting in or out. It sounds drastic, but the alternative seems to be letting the virus start spreading through the general population.

Since the virus takes effect within 48 hours, the optimistic thinking is that if authorities can isolate everyone who has it, everyone else is safe after 48 hours have passed.

Good luck with that one.

For starters, the panicked and angry people inside the containment zone are hardly model patients. They don’t quietly sit 4-6 feet away from each other. Those who are separated from family or loved ones by the fence also don’t take it well.

Lommers, who understands the situation, tries to manage it with lies. Everyone in the zone is cooperating, she tells the world, and within those next 48 hours it should be all over, nothing more than an “inconvenience” that was necessary to save the planet.

Viewers will see the situation somewhat differently. The zombie apocalypse yields nothing to the streets of Atlanta, with desperate dying people demanding help and neither the health care system nor what remains of law enforcement capable of providing much.

Much of this unfolds, naturally, through the prism of a few key characters.

Besides Lommers, that includes Major Alex Carnahan (David Gyasi), a respected police veteran who is tapped by Lommers to be “the face” of the government response, tasked with explaining what’s going on and reassuring people it will be handled.

As PR gigs go, this is like having to make Kim Jong-Il look rational.

Carnahan also is dealing with a personal drama, as he has been trying to convince his girlfriend Jana (Christina Moses) to pull the trigger and move in with him. Jana, as it happens, works in the biohazard field, so her involvement here is likely to be more than incidental.

Carnahan’s partner and best friend Jake Riley (Chris Wood) ends up inside the containment zone and isn’t happy about it, though he does bump into a potential consolation prize: Katie Frank (Kristen Gutoskie), a single Mom who’s inside because she was shepherding a field trip of grade school students.

Their interaction, too, becomes more than incidental. Containment could have been a disaster movie pumped up into a miniseries. But at least at the beginning, it uses its time wisely. It keeps the drama flying and raises the right questions about how an imminent pandemic could drive people to act.

Of course, anyone who watches The Walking Dead would have some ideas about that already.

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