Wednesday, May 29, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Hot Zone' - Nancy Pleads with the Government to Be Better Prepared for Any Future Ebola Outbreaks in 'Hidden'

National Geographic's The Hot Zone - Episode 1.06 "Hidden"

A volatile situation inside the research facility comes to a head. Dr. Jaax steps up, but exhaustion threatens the precision needed to sterilize the threat. The press arrives and neighbors become aware of the danger next door.

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 season finale of National Geographic's The Hot Zone.

"Hidden" was written by Kelly Souders, Jeff Vintar & James V. Hart and directed by Michael Uppendahl

In many ways, The Hot Zone acted as a conventional drama on television. It built towards commercial breaks with tense teases. It incorporated flashbacks to flesh out the history of the characters. It had characters making dumb and reckless decisions. It features a fake out moment meant to manipulate the audience into not knowing if Nancy's husband or father has died. As such, it felt like the show never quite rose up to the best of what is now capable in this medium. It felt like the very standard approach to telling this kind of story. And yet, the six-episode series closes on an absolutely chilling note. It has been such a tense journey as Nancy and her team have tried to contain this Ebola outbreak without causing mass hysteria. Rhodes articulates in his meeting with his bosses at the CDC just how devastating that fear could be - especially in the Washington, D.C. area. This fear could absolutely destroy this country just like it did to the villages in Africa a decade ago. Too many people are completely oblivious to it all as well. There is the fundamental understanding that it's simply easier to react to what's currently going on than prepare for the absolute worst that could happen. But that's not a position the government or the people of the world should be willing to take. All these years later, there is still no definitive answers as to what caused this specific Ebola outbreak. Carter tracks down where the monkeys came from. That points signs to the Philippines as the source of the contagion. But that's also vastly different from the disease that was previously known from Africa. It's completely mystifying. It highlights the importance of funding medical research and humanitarian aid. Answers may be elusive regarding what happened in the past. But a solution may still be on the horizon. There are absolutely cheap thrills going on during this finale as it remains a race against time to contain this threat. Nancy has to take over command after Jerry collapses. Another monkey breaks free and risks sending another soldier to isolation. More members of the press show up with the suggestion that a huge story could be happening in their backyard. Even a bunch of needles are discovered nearby. That last moment is so strange while still absolutely sickening. This entire story showcases just how lax the rules were not that long ago as well as how common some of these practices have become throughout the world. The viewer likely knows not to share needles and to properly dispose of them when they are done. But there is also no easy answer for everything that is going on here. It's all purely a reactionary response. Carter and Rhodes rush to stop even more infected monkeys from spreading throughout the country. But that's also played as the big, resounding conclusion to all of this. It's later learned that the disease mutation in humans isn't actually lethal. So, it ultimately doesn't matter that several individuals have tested positive with Ebola. They won't die from this specific strain. They were still susceptible and exposed to it though. As such, it's important that systems are put in place to prevent any future outbreaks from spreading. This becomes a story about the unsung heroes in the army and medical field. They saved lives because of their actions in 1989. They save lives to this day. But the final narration also points out the destructive quality humanity has had on the planet. We have exposed ourselves to diseases that refuse to die. No cure has been found for Ebola. It's still killing thousands of people to this day. The show has to remind the audience of that fact. It has to be brought back to the surface once more. This just allows that to be true without anyone having to die on U.S. soil to get people to stand up and take notice.