Monday, May 27, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Hot Zone' - Nancy and Carter Get Into the Lab to Hopefully Contain the Threat in 'Cell H'

National Geographic's The Hot Zone - Episode 1.02 "Cell H"

Dr. Nancy Jaax and her lab partner, Dr. Peter Jahrling, must take matters into their own hands to determine the source of the virus before it spreads. Dr. Jaax convinces an employee to hand over samples from infected monkeys.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of National Geographic's The Hot Zone.

"Cell H" was written by Brian Peterson, Jeff Vintar & James V. Hart and directed by Michael Uppendahl

After it's confirmed that the specimen contains the Ebola virus, Peter and Ben are immediately concerned that they may have been exposed to it. The execution of this story so far would make it seem very likely that one of them actually has and is failing to follow the appropriate protocol to contain a potential outbreak. Sure, Peter and Ben can rationalize that there is a 99.99 percent chance that they haven't transmitted the virus because it's not a known airborne pathogen. And yet, this has become a show that quickly sets something up in order for it to occur just as the individuals had predicted and feared. Nancy was concerned that the monkey bodies in plastic bags could eventually sweep out and spill blood all other the highway as she drives back to the Army base. That's exactly what occurs. It then becomes a matter of great intensity as Nancy and Frank clean it up with bleach before anyone else becomes aware of exactly what's going on. In that moment, Nancy sees the people in the cars driving by and that indicates just how serious and lethal all of this has the potential of being. But it also presents as a minor spill in which there is no cause for concern in the future. It's just suppose to keep the tension high during the opening portion of the episode before it's confirmed that Nancy has been right all along. The same plot beat is played later on when Nancy and Carter go to clean up the monkey cages in the hopes of killing off the contagion before it spreads to the rest of the population at the facility. Carter warns that monkeys are known to spit into people's eyes. He tells Nancy to limit her actions while interacting with a live subject because that could cut down on the risk to her own personal health. And then, the expected plot beat occurs with the monkey spitting at Nancy and causing every viewer to immediately be concerned about her. But again, there is no real cause for concern. There is the hope that they have contained this outbreak. It's only later on that they realize that the virus has already spread to another monkey in a different cell. Sure, a big deal is made about the chain of command with the Army needing to follow the proper procedure in order to even get into this facility. And yet, these opening two episodes have featured two instances by two different characters who were able to get inside. That shows that the forces in play may not be the best when it comes to preventing an outbreak from occurring and spreading throughout the population. Right now, it's contained to the monkeys. But there is the fear that it could show up in humans soon. That's the concern that Peter and Ben have. They only smelled the potential contagion. Peter was so eager to prove that he was right that he exposed himself to something he had no knowledge of whatsoever. That was so dangerous and compromised the health and safety of another person at the facility. And now, they are covering up that decision because they believe they can handle it by themselves. That too is incredibly dangerous and seems bound to carry major consequences to it. But again, that's all based on whether the disease spreads to humans. It may have already with one of the workers at the facility who cleans up and feeds the monkeys. The bureaucracy was why Carter left in the first place. He and Nancy still clash with the upper brass. But they are the ones who keep discovering this lethal disease. They see it as the monster that it is with the potential to wipe out 90% of those it infects. That's a seriousness that is being treated a little too casually elsewhere. And yet, Nancy is also upset that Jerry decides to send the kids away to a cousin for the time being. That seems like the rational thing to do in a world where people are being incredibly reckless just to prove their points.