The CW series brought us its first shocking death... Or did it?
Credit: Guy D'Alema/The CW

Um, wait. Hold on. Did that really just happen? Is that even allowed?

To be entertained is to suspend disbelief, but usually we only have to do that when it comes to characters’ ages or apartment sizes or when TV shows pretend the main characters’ lives are in jeopardy when we know those characters will never die. Like, come on. We read the trades, that actor isn’t going anywhere. But now here’s Containment. And guys? I think Containment just killed off its leading lady.

Or did it? Katie certainly looked dead when the episode cut to its somber credits. But without the helpful drone of a flatline or a character manually lowering her eyelids, who can be sure? I hate to say it, but I’m actually hoping Containment had the bravery to kill off one of its romantic leads during its first season. But did it really do so in Episode 11? Killing off a main character is a season-finale move!

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After Katie’s ominously bloody cough last week, many of us expected the rest of Containment‘s episodes to be concerned with the race for a cure or treatment that would not only prolong her life, but also provide hope for the story moving forward. But while Dr. Cannerts certainly put in about 15 good minutes of effort, the Grim Reaper still came running. Katie’s death was one of the more unpleasant and disgusting things to air on The CW since the last iHeartRadio festival. We’re talking nightmares about melting flesh, children falling into buckets of blood, bloody eyeballs. That Katie’s messy, bloody end came as she lay in Jake’s arms was sliiightly heartwarming, sure, but it’s never fun to see a nice lady dissolve into a puddle of goo.

Or did she? I wouldn’t put it past this show to suddenly unveil a twist where she kinda-sorta survived and will be back to looking cute a few hours later. Take the subplot about Grandpa Bert. We last saw him lying in the street with a broken leg as the National Guard opened fire at civilians. As it turned out, he’d spent the past three (?) days asleep in a wet car and was now fine again. (Well, after devising a cardboard splint, anyway.) His journey home to bring his injured wife medical treatment became the episode’s redeeming note of positivity, especially when he crossed paths with Jana, who gave him food and her own shopping cart out of the kindness of her heart. Just when things had been bleakest in the cordon, Grandpa Bert still made it, mostly due to the kindness of others. Maybe Katie will receive surprising, life-saving help as well?

NEXT: Escape…for the right price

One thing “Nothing Gold Can Stay” did to make us think Katie really is gone is how carefully and thoughtfully it set the stage for her death. Multiple scenes of emotional goodbyes happened between her and Quentin, her and Jake, even her and Dr. Cannerts, whom she successfully shamed into going public with his role in the outbreak. Even when shows do decide to kill off leads, it’s usually not without some kind of lasting impact on the other characters. Jake got to tell Quentin what it was like to lose his mom, and Katie even got in a last-ditch bit of mothering before she departed, imploring Quentin to show more empathy toward his buddy Thomas. Also, you know, the sentimental music playing the entire time was about as foreboding as things get on shows like this. At this point, “Nothing Gold Can Stay” was so good about emotionally preparing us for Katie’s demise that it’ll be borderline offensive if she survives. You know?

The rest of the episode concerned Lex’s dismay at Dr. Sabine’s refusal to resign (wow, never saw that coming) and his attempts to appeal to higher-ups in order to expose her true role in the outbreak. She’d successfully framed Dr. Cannerts for being the source of the virus, and Lex would not abide this. Yet, whoops! Turns out her bosses would rather keep her in place than listen to a slightly useless police captain rant about truth and justice. Those things are important, sure, but there’s also the deadly outbreak to contend with, and in my opinion, Dr. Sabine seems better able to deal with it than Lex does. Maybe worry about this stuff later?

Meanwhile, Jana received a tip from that police-defector guy that someone’s spiriting citizens out of the cordon for $5,000 a head. Will she and rooftop hunk cash in their savings accounts and get out of dodge? I’d say no, if only because they couldn’t really be characters on the show anymore. But that kind of TV savviness didn’t help me when it came to predicting Katie’s fate, and perhaps that’s why Containment killed her: Anything is possible now.

“Nothing Gold Can Stay” was a pretty wonderful episode, particularly if you’re a junkie for pathos and crying actual tears on your sofa. While the Katie-and-Jake flirtation has whiplashed between contrived and soulful throughout the season, it was hard not to look at her wheezing in his arms and not feel something. Then when the episode flashed back to the time they took a shower on different sides of a vinyl curtain, before allowing Katie the pre-death hallucination that there’d been no curtain between them? Genuinely beautiful and moving. Sometimes a show really needs to do something shocking to get us feeling emotional, and I have to give credit where credit’s due: Containment finally did. (Maybe? Maybe.)

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

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