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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Mar 30, 2020


SOME MONTHS ago, the cable network National Geographic aired the mini-series, “The Hot Zone”, a real life account of an outbreak of the Ebola virus.

It is very opportune at this time and has six episodes  featuring the story of how a real life doctor, Nancy Jaxx (Juliana Margulies), discovers that the virus has come to U.S. soil. The disgusting hemorrhaging of our internal organs that the virus induces in its victims will surely make you cringe.

The first few episodes of “The Hot Zone” center on the secure laboratory in Maryland where Dr. Nancy Jaxx works. It shows the meticulous testing procedures, safety protocols and airtight protective suits that they employ to rank the world’s deadliest viruses locked inside their lab’s most dangerous section, which is called the Hot Zone.

We also get to meet Nancy’s husband, Jerry (Noah Emmerich), and their family, plus the people she works with in the lab, specially a young virologist who keeps on opposing her, Dr. Peter Jahrling (Topher Grace.)

When they are sent some tissue samples from another research lab, Jahrling quickly dismisses it as something that affects only monkeys and not humans.  But Nancy rightfully suspects that it might be something deadlier.

Since the show concerns mostly their scientific procedures in the lab, they have to bring the characters out so the action would not just be limited within the lab’s close confines.

Thus, we see Nancy getting infected monkeys from a lab and she has to hurry back to the lab while the thawing frozen monkeys are dripping in the streets their liquids that might be contagious. But Nancy, as a frontliner, also has to deal with her responsibilities as wife and mother.

‘The Hot Zone’ is not really your typical thriller as it centers more about the dynamics and politics inside its medical setting, with Nancy perennially opposed by Jahrling and a meddlesome colonel (Robert Wisdom.)

To spice things up, there’s also a back story set in Africa concerning Nancy’s former boss and mentor, Wade Carter (Liam Cunningham) and his assistant, Trevor Rhodes (James Darcy), which shows how quickly the virus can spread and the havoc it brings to human life.

Juliana Margulies is oustanding as a lawyer in that drama series we truly loved, “The Good Wife”. She’s now also superb as the courageous research doctor. The subplots in her personal life concerning her sick father, and how her quiet husband becomes a confirmed partner in the fight against the virus, are both very engaging.

Topher Grace is effectively annoying as Dr. Jahrling and he somehow gets the punishment he deserves when he suspects that he himself has been infected but cannot resort to conventional blood testing as it might spark panic in their midst.

In one scene, he reflects: “Do you think people know when they’re sick? Deep down, on some level?” We’re sure a lot of us are now asking those questions ourselves, what with that underlying feeling of fear currently gripping us, admit it or not.

When he testified before the U.S. Congress, Jahrling says: “There will be a next time. Everyone understands that, don’t they?”

Such prophetic words. With the contagion paranoia enveloping us now because of the dreaded corona virus, this show is surely very opportune. In the end, they get to lick the virus and we hope that, just like in the show, we in real life will also have a similarly happy ending.

To offer some hope, we want to think that the show works best as a demonstration of what it takes to defeat a virus outbreak. And with our Lord’s grace, life mercifully goes on.