I review a whole season rather than individual episodes, so there is a chance of spoilers. If you haven’t watched the whole season yet, stop reading now!
The appeal of Cordon is how frighteningly real the show is. Not necessarily the story, although the show does well to have a vein of truth running through the whole series, but the reaction to the events. The characters react in quite disturbing but very human ways.
The actual story-lines involved in the series as whole are not necessarily groundbreaking. This is a series about a quarantine zone in the middle of the city, hastily organised so no-one inside can get themselves prepared or escape. There are conspiracies, attempts at vaccines and desperate measures by the central cast but nothing that hasn’t been done many times before in similar stories.
The difference is how graphic and ultimately real Cordon is. It doesn’t shy away from showing the effects of the nasty disease which is causing the quarantine, adding an element of horror to the show. The real horror though, is the actions of the people caught inside. Society breaks down, people become violent, the black market takes control and the cordon becomes an area to fear rather than a safe haven.
This is what makes Cordon constantly compelling. Like any decent drama, there is no “main character” so anyone can succumb to the disease, or any other threat that the cordon brings. This means that any character is at risk and the audience is left constantly on the edge of their seat. It is also the kind of show that doesn’t necessarily reward the good behaviour and punish the bad, with more than one “hero” dying and at least one “villain” getting away.
Not that the show is ever that black and white. There are constant changes in the dynamics of the characters, of which there are many. Koen DeSutter’s Gryspeerts is a slimy, obnoxious reporter to begin with but the show starts to unravel his personality and motives well. The same for level-headed Tom Dewispelaere, who plays heroic cop Lex. He begins as the central focus and seeming hero of the tale but his motives becomes questionable as the events begin to pull at his sanity.
There are so many moments and story-lines exactly like this that it is a wonder Cordon juggles them so effectively but it is done well. Nobody feels surplus and even characters who felt minor to begin with get to play a central role as some point in the proceedings.
The series doesn’t resolve all the story-lines either. Not everyone’s tale is told and not just because the series is hinting at a second run. This is a situation and show which doesn’t get resolved neatly and it would cheapen the series to try. It is just another example of how scarily real the series can be.
Overall, Cordon is drama at it’s best. It is tense, focused and perfectly written, with a sprawling cast covering every story imaginable in a quarantine. It also doesn’t shy away from the horror this situation would cause, from the disease itself to the violent way society would inevitably breakdown.
Best Episode – Episode 5: This is the episode which shows the beginning of the social breakdown and a scene in the local shop is tense and terrifying.
Best performance – Wouter Hendrickx as Jokke
Should there be another season? – Yes, this could be a mini-series but there is so much to explore and develop.
Season Rating – 5!
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)