Tuesday, May 28, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Hot Zone' - Nancy, Carter and Jerry Assemble the Team to Go Inside the Lab in 'Expendable'

National Geographic's The Hot Zone - Episode 1.04 "Expendable"

An employee at the monkey research facility falls ill, causing Dr. Nancy Jaax to fear the virus has spread to the human population. Jerry Jaax searches for a way to protect his wife. Dr. Wade Carter is obsessed with exposing the dangers of Ebola.

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.

"Expendable" was written by Brian Peterson & James V. Hart and directed by Nick Murphy

Paranoia can be absolutely crippling. That has been a core theme throughout this series. The fear of the unknown can cause people to act in irrational ways. When Carter, Rhodes and Melinda arrive in a new African village, it's easier for the locals to believe that a pregnant woman and her family have been cursed instead of plagued with some mysterious disease. It's much more acceptable for them to have someone to blame for this destruction of their community than comprehend that something much scarier and lethal is going on. All of the flashbacks inform the audience of the past relationship between Carter and Rhodes. But it also shades in their own understanding of Ebola. This is their perception of the disease. It's something that spreads quickly and kills everything in its way. That's what Nancy has been articulating to everyone in this story. The reaction needs to be severe because it's a matter of life or death. It's all about surviving and defeating one of the most deadly diseases in the entire world. It now hits much closer to home than what was ever thought possible before. It's no longer an improbable thought experiment. Monkeys have contracted the disease. And now, the virus has spread to a human patient. The Army and the CDC can no longer be butting heads. They have to establish the protocol to care for as many people who could have been exposed. But again, paranoia fuels so many actions in this story. Peter and Ben didn't want to come clean about potentially be exposed because they knew that it would lead to them being quarantined. And yet, that's no longer a secret they can keep. It was always reckless and stupid. Peter's rationalization here doesn't even make sense in the long run. It's just important that Nancy is aware of what's going on and can also work to contain the situation. She's driving the story forward. Rhodes is accepting that she isn't being persuaded by Carter to take the most dire actions possible in order to cause chaos. She even accuses Carter of trying to expose the virus just so more people take it serious and give him the validation he believes he has earned at this point. He doesn't want to be ostracized amongst his former peers. He wants to be taken seriously. Nancy wants that as well. Right now though, they are just being pitted against each other. Carter saves himself instead of abdicating for Nancy. Jerry believes he is protecting his wife because he deems himself to be the expendable member of their family. All of the personal drama doesn't entirely work because it requires some strong emotional connection to the characters. At the moment, it's all about ensuring that things are as complicated for them personally as possible. They are prevented from going into the lab as they planned. That means that the mission to exterminate the monkeys hasn't happened yet. Nancy believed she put the pieces in motion to ensure that the response would occur the next day. That was her position at the close of the third hour. And now, the fourth episode ends with Jerry and Carter leading a team to complete that mission. That makes it seem as if the show is dragging its feet a little bit. To make up for it, Nancy is torn between her duties as a wife and mother with her need to save as many lives as possible from this threat. She does visit her father in the hospital. She wants him to keep fighting. That ensures that there will be a great personal cost at the end of this story. But it's not really doing enough to shade in the characters' lives to make them feel like fully realized human beings. That's odd considering the show continually wants to point out how much connects people in their average daily lives.