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Julie Plec Is Not Afraid of Containment's Syrian Controversy

It's not controversy; it's mystery

Megan Vick

Julie Plec's upcoming thriller Containment kicks off when a Syrian refugee Sayid Nassir (Ronny Mathew) arrives in an Atlanta hospital with severe cold symptoms. Within hours he's designated as Patient Zero of a global pandemic that kills its victims within 48 hours. Sayid's country of origin makes whispers of bioterrorism and Islamaphobia spread as quickly as the pathogens.

Containment is based on a Belgian show, so Plec made certain casting changes to reflect the diversity of its new Atlanta setting. She also changed the ethnicity of Patient Zero from Afghan to Syrian, anticipating that Syria would continue to dominate world headlines. She's not afraid of the potential for controversy. "I don't think that it is actually controversial," Plec said. "It's more of a mystery. It's more as we as Americans are quick to jump to conclusions and play on fears before we have all of the information," she said at the Television Critics Association winter previews.

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The characters will reflect that need for immediate answers, as well as the search to find the truth. "There's a lot of finger-pointing that starts happening about where it came from and why it has arrived. It's not just that someone points a finger, but there are voices of reason on the show," says Chris Wood, who plays Officer Jake Riley, the cop forced to take control of a quarantined area of the city once he's trapped inside. "If anything, there are more people asking the questions and trying to solve the puzzle of why and how is this here."

Plec is adamant that the characters will be involved and react to situations that feel organic to the show rather than using newsbait to draw an audience. "It's funny that it wasn't a cultural conversation at all when I started writing it. Right around the time I was finishing my first draft the Ebola thing happened and it was exactly the conversation," Plec said. "You feel this obligation to not aggrandize it and to not exploit it otherwise you feel icky "ripped from the headlines."

Containment premieres later in 2016 on The CW.

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