'Hostages' Recap: Pilot


Stars: Toni Collette, Dylan McDermott, Tate Donovan, Rhys Coiro, Billy Brown, Sandrine Holt, Mateus Ward, Quinn Shephard, James Naughton
Team: Jeffrey Nachmanoff, Jerry Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman, Omri Givon, Rotem Shamir, Rick Eid (showrunner), KristieAnne Reed, Alon Aranya

Hostages follows Ellen (Toni Collette), a Washington, D.C. surgeon who is thrown into a political conspiracy after being chosen to operate on the president of the United States. Her family is taken hostage, and it's her responsibility to save their lives. It is based on an Israeli format by Alon Aranya, Rotem Shamir and Chayim Sharir that was never produced.

Episode Synopsis: Rogue ("What if you had been wrong?" "I wasn't") FBI Agent Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott) holds surgeon Ellen Sanders (Toni Collette) and her family hostage as part of a plan to get her to kill the president of the United States during an operation.

Episode Highlights: A strong inaugural episode sets up the "will she kill the president to save her family" question, creates one delay to her decision, and reveals the secrets existing within the Sanders family. Ellen's husband, Brian (Tate Donovan), is a philandering business failure, daughter Morgan (Quinn Shephard) is pregnant thanks to her "bit of rough," and son Jake (Mateus Ward) is selling drugs. 

As the family is continually kept under close guard, with their lives on the line, that melodrama will undoubtedly start to unfold (not only for them, but also for their captors -- so far we know part of Duncan's backstory, but hopefully the others' will get fleshed out as well). However, the question of whether the show can sustain this 24-esque setup for 15 episodes, let alone another season, still looms large.

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The Tangled Web: Duncan's wife is in a coma. Any bets on whether he somehow blames the president for this? The idea of the president's chief of staff being in on the operation is an interesting puzzle piece, though.

Trope Watch: It was mildly disappointing that Duncan didn't actually say, "I don't play by the rules, I play to win." Or, "I don't need a stinkin' badge to uphold the law in my town." Not even a "My operation. My rules." Regardless, the subtext was there ...

The Kids Are All Right: Morgan has shades of Homeland's Dana to her, but let's hope she gets better material. Some series are deft at handling the younger generation (like Showtime's Ray Donovan and Cinemax's Banshee), so there is a chance. Hostages is at least off to a good start by acknowledging that kids are always using phones, laptops and MP3 players.

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TV REVIEW: Hostages

Take It to the Limit, One More Time: The Jerry Bruckhemier-produced series will be airing its 15 episodes without typical network breaks, suggesting to some that this will be a limited series (meaning it will wrap things up in one go). Viewers of Under the Dome know better than to trust that.

Moral Compass: It didn't take long for the rest of the Sanders family to completely capitulate to the captors' wishes once their secrets were revealed in one-on-one talks, did it? "Yes, please just kill the president of the United States, whatever, I can't possibly let you know I'm pregnant/selling weed/having an affair."

Rhetorical Question: Did Brian really need to zoom in on the pictures of his affair? Was he just admiring himself?

Missed Crossover Opportunity: In addition to Collette and McDermott, Hostages has a fantastic cast, many of whom have appeared on other great series (House of Cards, Sons of Anarchy, yes, even Entourage). But were any Scandal fans surprised to see Sally Langston (Kate Burton) having moved from vice president to first lady? Scandal should have worked that in … Fitz marries Sally as the ultimate power ticket! (Just kidding. Kind of. You know Cyrus has thought about it.)

Quote of the Night: "Sometimes you have to do a bad thing for a good reason" -- Walter White. Duncan Carlisle

Bottom Line: Let's see more of what this "lady doctor" has up her sleeve. (What a noxious quote, by the way). Lost pinkies not an option.