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Containment postmortem: Kristen Gutoskie talks Katie's death

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Justin Stephens/The CW

Spoiler alert: This post contains details from the July 5 episode of Containment. Read at your own risk.

For 11 episodes, Jake and Katie’s love story blossomed on The CW’s Containment … until a heroic act found Katie in a deadly situation. In an attempt to save one of her students, she contracted the virus, and in last night’s episode, she took her final breath. 

EW spoke with Kristen Gutoskie about saying goodbye to Katie.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you find out Katie was going to die?

KRISTEN GUTOSKIE: When I got the pilot they told me that in the original series Katie passed away, and then they said they were deciding whether or not they were going to do it. But then when we actually got picked up to series, I found out before we shot the rest of the episodes. They gave me a nice courtesy call. [Laughs.] So I knew pretty well in advance before we shot anything really.

You spent a lot of time coughing up blood in this episode…

[Laughs.] It was like a minty cough syrup, if I can compare it to anything. I believe they make it out of corn syrup, but they add mint to it to make it taste a little bit better. It wasn’t horrible. It wasn’t enjoyable having it all over my neck and face for hours on end. I was sticking to everything, so that was a challenge while eating and having my hair done. [Laughs.]

How did you prepare for that final minute. Did you research hemorrhaging?

I didn’t do hemorrhaging research actually. I did a lot of sensory work with what being sick feels like so that it can kind of run in the background as opposed to implicating that I’m sick. But in terms of the last scene, I just kind of did my own thing with it. Because it was a new virus created in the show, the death could be its own entity rather than looking up other diseases. I just used my intuition on that one. I also did end up choking on the blood in one take and I’m pretty sure that’s the one they used because I was lying on my back. I was choking and I was like, “Okay, this is going to be really authentic.” [Laughs.]

You went super method!

Yeah, I went super method. [Laughs.]

That entire hour was so taxing. What was the most difficult scene to film?

It was definitely really hard to do the scene with Quentin because Zachary Unger, who plays Quentin, it was so heartbreakingly truthful. It was really emotional. It was really hard for me not to cry in that scene, and I tried so hard not to because I felt it was important to keep it together for him. But it was so hard because he was so truthful and beautiful and real. 

When Jake holds her…

Brutal, isn’t it?

Yes, it’s so violent but also very beautiful…

That’s the Julie Plec formula. She knows how to break your heart while making it stunningly beautiful at the same time, so I can’t take a lot of credit for that. I just kind of spasmed a little. [Laughs.] It was kind of a mixed emotion moment. You feel really dark, but at the same time, a lot of love, too. I think that’s the point of scenes like that: It makes you feel really emotional, but at the same time then you might want to go hug a loved one.

Was your interpretation of that final moment that Katie was imagining the kiss in her head?

I think it would be the equivalent of going to the white light when you pass away. I think it was her little dream manifesting itself. I think that was probably the moment where, as she’s passing, the pain’s gone away and she can go to a happy place. So I think that was essentially her happy place. 

That’s so lovely.

Yeah, had it had a few more seconds I’m sure Quentin would, well, maybe not jumped in — that would’ve been inappropriate, that would’ve been weird. “Quentin, get out.” [Laughs.] But maybe it would’ve transitioned into some sort of cute family picnic. 

How awkward was it to film the original shower kiss through the plastic curtain?

It was interesting because they originally had a really thick shower curtain, and I was like, “Guys, we need to let them get a little closer.” So they went and replaced it with a less opaque shower curtain. Love scenes are often very awkward, shower curtain or not. And the shower curtain, it’s like a full body condom barrier. [Laughs.]

I was impressed you could even find each other’s lips!

[Laughs.] It took a few hit and misses. There was some trial and error while shooting. It’s like, “Oh, what’s that? That’s your ear? I’m so sorry Chris, let’s try that again.”

Why do you feel it was important for Katie to have this love story before she died?

Katie was always a girl who didn’t have the dreams come true. Quentin was a dream come true for her. Any child is going to be a gift to your life, but in terms of the little girl’s dreams of maybe making music and falling in love — I don’t think she ever really got that. Her relationship with Quentin’s dad was very turbulent and they got involved with drugs and she had instability with her mental health. She never really had anything for herself. I think it was so important for her to get that opportunity. It’s important for her to have that to realize she was lovable and could love somebody else again and someone who would treat her well. She grew so much throughout the season. Whether it was falling in love or being a hero and putting herself first, she learned a lot about herself. When you’re busy being a mom and a teacher, you don’t really have the time to focus on those things. 

Containment airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.