In the pilot episode of the new CBS drama Hostages
-- aptly titled "Pilot" -- Dr. Ellen Sanders is about to operate on the President of the United States when she and her family are taken hostage. She is told to assassinate the POTUS or her family will be murdered in his place. With so many lives on the line, what will Ellen do? What wouldn't you do to save the people you love? Read on to find out if Hostages
lives up to its high-stakes premise.
Hostages Review: A Political Conspiracy That Reveals Too Much >>>Meet the Players
As the episode opens, we are introduced to FBI Special Agent Duncan Carlisle, a hostage negotiator and family man. Before long, we see this seemingly heroic man take the Sanders family hostage and resort to all sorts of nasty threats to get what he wants. Does this hostage-taking have something to do with Duncan's cancer-stricken wife and her hospital bills? Has Duncan's daughter been threatened? Or is Duncan just a bad guy who loves his family? Hopefully, the next 14 episodes will explain what has driven Duncan to such extremes.
Dr. Ellen Sanders starts her day on a high-note, as she is picked to perform a routine but vital surgery on the POTUS. We can see from this first scene why she was chosen to be the surgeon, as she is cool and collected when answering questions from the press. But one of the biggest questions I had going into the pilot was why anyone would reveal the name of the surgeon operating on the President the day before his surgery takes place.
This ill-fated decision is seemingly made for political reasons, to help the President's standing with the voters, but I think that is a rather flimsy excuse. And why do the Secret Service not have someone watching Ellen and her family prior to the surgery, so something like this could not happen? Are they also involved in this conspiracy?Eyes and Ears Everywhere
Once Duncan and his team take the family hostage, Duncan separates Ellen from the others to explain the situation. He tells her that she will kill the POTUS during his surgery the next morning or his people will kill her family. Duncan gives her a vial of something fatal that will not show up in the autopsy and says that if she does as she is told, she will never see him or his team again.
At one point, Ellen triggers the silent alarm and learns just how dangerous Duncan's people are when the patrol officer who comes to her home turns out to be working for her captors. Duncan and his people are everywhere, as we learn when one of the President's advisers is revealed to be part of the plot to assassinate him. Why do so many people want this man dead? Is it possible that the President is the bad guy and those plotting against him are doing so to protect innocent lives? Or do they just disagree with his politics?
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Throughout the episode, we learn that the Sanders family is full of secrets and secret lives. Ellen's husband, Brian, is cheating on her, their son, Jake, is involved in a shady drug deal and their teenage daughter, Morgan, is hiding her pregnancy. Duncan intends to use these secrets to keep the family in line -- starting with Brian, who stops fighting back against the hostage-takers once Duncan reveals that he knows about Brian's failing business and extramarital affair.
We do not get much information about Duncan's team in the pilot, but it is clear they all have their reasons for going through with this plan. If his team is hiding as many secrets as the Sanders family, this show will have plenty of drama to unfold for weeks to come.Ellen = 1, Hostage-Takers = 0
Though Ellen's family thinks she should cooperate with their captors and go along with their plan, Ellen is not ready to kill a man in cold blood. So it is a good thing she has a trick up her sleeve. Hours before the scheduled surgery, Ellen secretly doses the POTUS with a blood thinner, ensuring that his surgery will be postponed for two weeks. As the White House launches an investigation into how the President was mistakenly dosed with said blood thinner, Ellen gives a press conference and sends a message to the people holding her family hostage: "I don't give up that easily."
So Ellen now has two weeks to come up with a solution that keeps her family safe and does not require her to kill a man. But how will the family cope with being held hostage for another two weeks? And how long will it be before the family's many skeletons are forced out of the closet?
Though this week's episode is a tense, entertaining hour of television, most of the big "twists" were revealed in promos released before the show's debut, thus eliminating the potential shock factor. And while the premiere is full of strong performances from a talented cast, I have yet to form a connection to any of these characters. Yet the show has potential and I am interested to see how the writers take this simple premise and stretch it out over the course of a 15-episode season.
What did you think of the premiere? Why do you think Duncan and his people are going along with this plan? Why are so many people trying to kill the President and who else will be revealed as part of the assassination attempt? Will the Sanders family get closer to their captors over the next few weeks and how will that complicate the situation? Will you be coming back for episode 2? Let us know your thoughts and theories in the comments section.
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