'Hostages' Recap: Ep. 2, 'Invisible Leash'

Duncan begins gaining ground with Ellen while losing his grip on his team.
Jeff Neumann/CBS

Episode Synopsis: The family faces fallout from Ellen's decision to delay the president's surgery. Meanwhile, Duncan juggles being both negotiator and captor, as the Secret Service and his own department start asking questions. 

Episode Highlights: Last week it looked like most of the drama would be coming from within the Sanders family, dealing with hard truths coming out. But this week Hostages showed the cracks forming within Duncan's own task force. Maria questions the mission, Kramer is a former oxy user and Duncan himself is starting to get antsy about how things aren't going according to plan. The fact that the Sanderses aren't being held by criminal masterminds but just people (with their own problems) who are doing a job is a nice touch. 

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Criticism: If the choices for who's going to die are between Tate Donovan and a girl we just met and don't recognize, it's going to be the girl. Even before she came into the picture, it's doubtful Donovan's character would have gotten killed off in the first five minutes of the second episode --although things might have been more interesting if he had (sorry Tate, your character's mistress storyline is not interesting). 

The Tangled Web: As seen last week, Duncan has some kind of (probably kid-related) history with the president and is forming a wary alliance with the chief of staff. Papa Carlisle seems involved somehow as well -- after all, he did get the two together. And isn't it just like a chief of staff to justify himself by saying, "This is larger than one man. This is history."?

"Where's the Black Guy?": It's worth noting that Ellen described Angela as everything but black when she asked if the drunk guy at the bar had seen her yet then walks back into her house and immediately asks, "Where's the black guy?" I'm not sure what it all means, but there you have it. 

House Calls: Missed opportunity for a health care joke about home surgery performed by your mom being part of the new mandate. But hey, there's no time for jokes when you aren't even given an aspirin while being implanted with a GPS chip.

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Moral Compass: Duncan understands that mistresses shouldn't be kept waiting. After all, as Samantha (the girlfriend of two months) complains, it is not easy dating a married man! It's so, like, complicated, especially when the wife is trying to not kill the president, ugh. (Speaking of that, Morgan really does not give a crap about the president, does she? Duncan should recruit her).

Death Toll: R.I.P. Angela. That was a lousy way to go, and Duncan pretty much gave Ellen one shot to make you do a 180 on a decision that could ruin your life versus losing your life -- and you didn't even know! 

Quote of the Night : "Good guys don't lie." -- Maria

Bottom Line: The show is finding more ways to keep the president alive while Ellen tries to keep it all in balance. The tense soundtrack needs to back off a little bit and let us get to know the characters without every moment being life or death. The swirling pace is great for a movie, but they've got to keep this up for awhile. Learning about the captors' backgrounds and their thoughts about this operation is interesting and worth exploring more.