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Containment: Come for the Virus, Stay for the Characters

Julie Plec unpacks her new event series

Megan Vick

Julie Plec's event series Containment, based on the Belgian series Cordon, will use a virus to amplify American fears of disease, terrorism and the unknown.

While the incurable mystery virus provides a gruesome, bloody death, it's the people it threatens to infect rather than the body count that Plec hopes will keep you tuning in every week. "The bad guy is the virus," Plec tells "Everyone else is doing what they think is right, but they may not necessarily be doing it in the best interests of everyone else."


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The show will compartmentalize the story into two sides - those inside the cordon quarantined with the virus and all of the people on the outside trying to find a way to manage the situation and save their loved ones on the inside. David Gyasi leads the cast as Lex Carnahan, a police officer picked as the public mouthpiece for the CDC whose girlfriend Jana (Christina Moses) and best friend Jake (Chris Wood) are stuck on the inside. Kristen Gutoskie plays a school teacher who gets stuck with her students in the hospital when the virus first hits, while Claudia Black plays the CDC rep who never seems to be telling everyone the truth.

Quantrell Colbert/THE CW

"The cast is really good and I'm excited for them to play these roles and people to see what they're capable of," Plec says of her ensemble. However, she does have a favorite. "The character that I really love and we just touched the tip of the iceberg with him is Leo [Trevor St. John], the reporter. You think he's so slimy and so obnoxious but he's got such a deep moral code and deep journalistic integrity. He just wants to get the real truth out. I like to put him in situations where people clearly hate him."

While Plec is having fun torturing the characters, the audience will get a glimpse into these people's lives in the hours before the virus goes wide so they'll have a bond with the potential victims as everything goes south. It makes the first thirty minutes of the show the most important because it is what will drive the viewers to commit to seeing how Jana, Katie, Jake and more make it out.

To keep that audience invested, the show has to maintain a rapid pace with constant obstacles that put the characters in peril. Plec explains that the art of that actually stems from the characters themselves.

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"Before we knew [the characters], we based them on choices that we might make. Once we knew them we started to guess, 'Would they take this left or take this right?' Everything that we do for plot is born out of the character [having] to make a decision and respond in this moment," she says.

At each turn there's an opportunity for another disaster that will either devastate their chances of making it out or create an entirely new set of problems. "At any moment a figurative grenade can drop in a character's space and change everything. It's actually quite easy to keep coming up with incident and conflict." Plec says. "What can happen now? They're hungry. What happens if someone tries to get them food? Who is going to disrupt that? Who is going to steal it? Is there going to be a riot? Every little thing like how do we get food, how do we contact our loved ones, how do we avoid touching even though we think we're falling in love, becomes a problem."

Containment premieres Tuesday at 9/8c on The CW.

Are you going to watch?

(Full disclosure: is owned by CBS, one of the CW's parent companies)