'Containment' On The CW Taps The Wrong Hero In Jake Riley

The viral outbreak drama trots along as the infection spreads, but it's got some character problems and an apparent lack of hazmat suits.

Bob Mahoney / The CW Network

Containment’s second episode finds tensions building inside the cordon while those on the outside track down a patient that threatens the entire city. It isn’t a significant improvement over the lackluster first episode, but it uncovers a couple of unlikely heroes.

Lex (David Gyasi) contends with a blogger who turns him into a hero and then a bleak illustration of a government puppet. The media isn’t at the top of his priority list, though. Jake (Chris Wood) discovers that a girl that’s presently unaccounted for had contact with a family member of Patient Zero. He and everyone at the makeshift HQ outside the gates work to pinpoint her location and find her at a party with a bunch of other teens, some of whom are now also infected.

Bob Mahoney / The CW Network

Teresa (Hanna Mangan Lawrence) fears she’s been infected when she sees her friend (who she’d had contact with the night before) listed among the newly infected teens on the news. Immediately, she springs into action, dousing everything with bleach and semi-quarantining herself. She’s establishing herself as one of the most pragmatic people inside the cordon, despite being a very pregnant teenager.

Katie Frank (Kristen Gutoskie) continues trying to keep her class together and calm whilst they ride out the hospital lockdown. She’s the picture of patience and level-headedness, at least around others. Diffusing situations with ease and handling a room full of curious elementary schoolers with ease, Katie a quiet kind of hero and maybe the most sympathetic character thus far.

The same cannot be said for Jake, who’s handling the whole thing like a total brat. He’s throwing things around, ignoring calls and pouting a lot. He’s got a hard job, definitely, but he’s a real asshole about it at every turn not a great look for someone who is presumably supposed to be a protagonist. He also keeps doing super dangerous work with contaminants in his police uniform, because apparently he thinks a bullet-proof vest is more helpful than a hazmat suit. Its hard to believe he couldn’t come by the proper equipment to be dealing with extremely sick people, but I digress.

Containment still leaves something to be desired in the character department. Sure, we want most of these people to live, and Katie and Theresa have done the best job of establishing themselves as people we actually want to root for and heroes in their own right, but Jake is aggressively tiresome. It feels like the show is going to try to make him a “reluctant hero” and frankly, its already exhausting.

He’s a jerk, he treats people poorly, and he’s petulant and deeply unlikeable and nowhere near the show’s strongest character. It’s a little disheartening to see the show try to tie Jake’s story into Katie’s because she deserves a storyline that stands on its own. In fact, all of the women do. They could also use a stronger, more independent treatment like that of Dr. Sabine Lommers (Claudia Black), who is a refreshing, if fleeting, presence.

In the coming episodes, hopefully the show gives these female characters more separation from the men who are setting out to “save” them and lets them prove that they don’t need to be saved in this cordon — they need to survive it, and they can manage it without the help of Pouting Expert Jake Riley.

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