The CW will take a darker turn at midseason with “Containment,” a new drama set against an epidemic that leaves Atlanta quarantined and those caught inside fighting for their lives.
The series is produced by “The Vampire Diaries” and “The Originals” veteran Julie Plec, who was joined at New York Comic Con by cast members Chris Wood (“The Vampire Diaries”), Claudia Black (“The Originals”), David Gyasi (“Interstellar”) and Hanna Lawrence (“The Reckoning”) for a sitdown with journalists.
“Containment” based on the Belgian television drama “Cordon,” in which the residents of Antwerp are victim to a fast-moving virus. “They set up a quarantine zone, and a couple thousand people are trapped inside,” Plec explained, “and the show is really about those on the inside and the people on the outside trying to make sure everybody else stays safe.”
In the American version, she said, the writers “really get to explore all the different parts of your survival instinct and all those games we play around the table like, ‘What would I do in the zombie apocalypse?’”
The virus in “Containment” is deadly. “The virus itself is like a character in the show, and it permeates every relationship and affects in a really brilliant and dramatic way every dynamic between the people that we establish,” said Black, who plays Dr. Sabine Lommers, a manager at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She’s tasked with ordering the quarantine zone and stopping the virus in its tracks.
Lommers has to partner with local law enforcement to keep control of the chaos, and contends with the likes of Major Lex Carnahan, played by Gyasi, and Jake, portrayed by Wood. “This is a guy and his first impulse, even in the pilot, is to protect himself,” Wood said of his character, an Atlanta police officer. “He’s not used to stepping up; he doesn’t want to be a hero. He doesn’t want to be a leader and he’s being put in that position against his will.”
While Lex, Jake and Lommers have administrative roles to play in the crisis, much of “Containment” focuses on the personal impact of such a rapid reorganization of a city’s boundaries and population. This drastic change to their lives gave Plec and the writers a lot of room to create. “These characters are so direct and honest and simple,” Plec said, “and so writing it is completely different than the other two shows [Vampire Diaries’] and ‘The Originals’].”
One of those who suffers most from the outbreak is Lawrence’s Teresa, a pregnant teenager who had hoped to escape the city with her boyfriend. “I get stuck inside the quarantine area and my boyfriend is on the outside,” she said. Worse yet, Teresa has alienated her mother and finds herself alone in the ghetto created by the CDC. There she’s forced to rely on advice from her more distant family through videoconference calls.
The drama focuses on the solitude created by the quarantine zone, but also on the forced relationships that emerge in the changed society. While there are seven primary characters, new relationships are bound to emerge. Black was also promised at the beginning that no character’s survival is guaranteed.
If the show seems bleak for The CW, that’s because it is. Plec only brought “Containment” to the network because of the dogged persistence of executives. “I wanted to do a cable show, personally,” she said. “I wanted to swear and get naughty, but I really just wanted to do something that didn’t fit into the mold of what one would call a broadcast network show.”
“Containment” will premiere at midseason on The CW.
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