In “Suspicious Minds,” as Brian and Morgan try to make good their escape, Duncan and Kramer try to track down and rescue Nina and Sawyer from Colonel Blair’s men. Meanwhile, Ellen must convince the First Lady to smuggle the president’s bone marrow out of the hospital. In “Endgame,” Duncan and Ellen’s plans come to fruition as Ellen operates on the president, Archer threatens to unravel the whole caboodle, and an enemy becomes an ally. These episodes aired back-to-back, so get ready for one last, super-sized review of Hostages, after the jump.Watching the final two episodes, I was struck by the difference in quality between when Hostages is working with a purpose and when it’s trying to fill time until the real plot kicks in. The number of threads the show worked into the finale is impressive, and it only reaffirms the notion I’ve expressed several times before here: that the show should have been a 6- or 8-episode miniseries. The writers proved that they could pack a lot of material into a given installment in the finale arc. I can only imagine what they could have done if every moment was dedicated to setting up the endgame instead of stalling.
I also want to take a moment to once again point out the great job Dylan McDermott did on this show. Duncan remained a credible character and a serious threat throughout, even during the silly parts of the season. He brought a lot of emotional weight to Duncan’s actions and it would have been a less bearable show without his presence. To a lesser extent, the same goes for Toni Collette, who always sold Ellen’s quick thinking in tough situations with aplomb. Those were many of my favorite moments – when Ellen showed how clever she could be. Indeed, that was the part of the first few episodes that drew me in the most. In my review of the second episode, I said “I also continue to enjoy the battle of wits between Ellen and Duncan, and really want that to be brought to the fore as the series progresses.” That didn’t end up being the case as much as I would have liked, but the two main rivals teaming up did provide a good switch-up in the later episodes, and it was achieved in a way that didn’t feel super-contrived.
In my review of the pilot, with regard to the show following the family-taken-hostage-for-political-ends formula that 24 perfected, I said that “it’s tough to see how Hostages will put a sufficient spin on that formula in order to distinguish itself.” While the final two episodes proved that the premise could lead to a strong finish, I can’t say as the show has distinguished itself among TV suspense thrillers. Vanilla motivations and ho-hum plans on the part of the conspirators (with the exception of Duncan), overly soapy situations in the middle of the season, forgettable bad guys (with the exception of my personal favorite Quentin Creasy) – this is not a show people are going to look back on as a reinvention of the genre. That’s a shame. CBS and I had high hopes for it. Still, I’ll take this fairly satisfying ending and call it a day.
Some final notes:
- As soon as the First Lady revealed that she had caught Ellen lying to her about the president’s blood and threatened to have the Secret Service arrest her, I expected Ellen to either tell a quick lie and get out of there or confess and plod through the entire backstory, with the First Lady asking for answers we the audience already knew. I’m happy to say that Ellen did confess, but the show spared us a lengthy recap of the situation and instead made us guess at what had transpired to make the First Lady let Ellen proceed with the surgery. I guessed that she had told her the whole story, but I was too happy about the way it was handled to care.
- When a Secret Service agent asks you for a password, I’m pretty sure the correct answer is never “What password?”
- One criticism about the plan to extract the bone marrow: there is no way Ellen would have a long span of time to operate on the president without the Secret Service/military showing up to secure him, even if he’s in surgery. Ellen takes a good couple of minutes after we see the Secret Service remove the impostors as a threat. In real life, every government agent in a mile radius would be heading straight for the operating room and would get there much faster than portrayed. I understand suspension of disbelief is needed here, but there are definitely some logical holes in how the plan plays out. It was entertaining though, so I suppose that’s what counts.
- I like that neither Sandrine nor Duncan nor Kramer addressed the fact that Blair coldclocked Sandrine with a giant frying pan. She had no discernible marks or bruises from a skillet to the face. Go home, Hostages, you’re drunk.
- Speaking of Sandrine, I laughed out loud at her reveal as a waitress at the event where Duncan was targeting Blair. It felt like something out of Ocean’s Eleven or the BBC show Hustle, and a little out of place in this generally straightforward series. It was sort of silly in a good way. Well revealed.
Overall, I cannot say that Hostages was particularly worthy of a casual watch. If you devour all forms of thriller or really like Dylan McDermott and/or Toni Collette, give it a try. Otherwise, it’s safe to steer clear. If you want to see some excellent action suspense, watch NBC’s The Blacklist instead. You’ll be glad you did.