CONTAINMENT is a new CW drama that’s been buzzed about for a while now. Starting tomorrow, it’s finally here. Based on a Belgian series called CORDON, creator Julie Plec plays around with a different set of stakes than the ones she normally deals with on THE VAMPIRE DIARIES and its sister spinoff, THE ORIGINALS. Some of the themes will feel similar but, ultimately, the universe focuses on something even scarier than immortal creatures with sharp fangs.
A deadly epidemic rages through Atlanta. It’s up to the cops, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the National Guard and others to figure out how to (1) keep the quarantined and non-quarantined residents from freaking out and adding to the chaos and (2) prevent the illness from spreading and to find a cure.
Tough decisions will have to be made that will test many of the characters at the heart of this show..
Character-driven story matters as much as the actual outbreak
“The stuff I like to do is always grounded in really simple but honest and deep themes of love and family and friendship,” explained Plec at a press event earlier this year. “To be able to drop that into an environment that’s extremely chaotic and terrifying, it’s a different way of exploring a genre.”
The action will take place over a period of days
“It’s a tight time frame,” said executive producer Chris Ord. “It’s not all in one day. It’s not like 24.”
“We keep track of the calendar days and I would say the whole season, I think Day 19 is the last day,” Julie Plec continued. “So it’s a short period played out over 13 episodes.”
The protocols and methods of attack in dealing with this mysterious threat will be as realistic as possible
“In addition to consulting with the CDC, we talked to the Georgia Department of Public Health. We were schooled very quickly in the hierarchy of how things need to happen,” revealed Plec. “It begins at a local level before it becomes the state, that the CDC doesn’t immediately come in. They come in later to take jurisdiction.”
Playing the political game is a requirement, not a suggestion
According to Plec, “There’s a lot of ways to ruffle feathers and to get people very upset if you make assumptions. I said, ‘Well, when does the World Health Organization come in?’ They were, like, “That’s the worst question you could have ever asked us. We are offended deeply.” So it’s a whole world of politics and hierarchy, but it’s fascinating.”
The make-up department is essential in helping bring this world to life
“They had essentially created five stages of the disease, different looks for all five stages,” said Ord. “So we as writers could say, ‘Well this person is going to be at Stage 2 or Stage 4. Or they are about to die at Stage 5. Having that structure in place made everything stay consistent and really adhere to how the disease would affect people.”
The city of Atlanta is a key component to this series
CONTAINMENT is shot in Atlanta where TVD and THE ORIGINALS are also filmed. “Atlanta was the first city that came to my mind just for logistical reasons,” said Plec. “Then instantly, I realized, oh great. The CDC is right there. And how interesting to have a viral outbreak in the motherland of the specialists of infectious diseases, who are outside of the actual quarantine. Just the politics alone I found really fascinating.”
Setting it in Atlanta means the opportunity to feature a diverse cast
Said Plec: “The Belgian version was incredibly soulful and had wonderful, wonderful characters. But, as you know, that part of the country is very white. I set this in Atlanta, which is the opposite of that. And so things like race relations and that kind of thing came up as a result of the context of where we were shooting and how we cast the show and the stories.”
The subject matter is beyond relevant to today’s world — it’s a part of the cultural conversation
“What’s funny is that it wasn’t a cultural conversation at all when I started writing it and then right about the time I was finishing my first draft, the Ebola outbreak happened. And suddenly, it was exactly the conversation,” revealed Plec. “It’s both fascinating because you are seeing what you are trying to portray as what could happen in a very real-world situation. And then you turn on the news and it’s happening in the real world.”
This knowledge came with a little bit of pressure. “You feel this obligation to not aggrandize it and not exploit it, because, suddenly, you will feel more like kind of icky, ripped from the headlines, which, of course, is never the attention.
By the finale, viewers will get answers to all the show’s burning questions
“The mystery behind the outbreak, the origins of the outbreak, the background of Patient Zero, the story surrounding that, the involvement of the Middle East in any capacity, and how quick we are as Americans to jump to those conclusions, is all part of the story over the thirteen episodes,” teased Plec.
CONTAINMENT airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on the CW.