Hostages (CBS), Mondays 10pm ET/9C, starring Toni Collette, Dylan McDermott, Tate Donovan, and James Naughton
With a clever premise and an outstanding cast, one would hope that CBS's new, highly serialized thriller Hostages will be Emmy gold one year from now. However, the outcome of the latest high-concept show to hit the small screen is far from settled. The show's central mystery revolves around a terrorist group that is attempting to convince Dr. Ellen Sanders (Toni Collette) to kill the President of the United States when she operates on him. The doctor is supposed to go along with the cockamamie plot (unbeknownst to her) to save her philandering husband and two teenaged children. But why these criminals are attempting to take out the president remains to be seen.
The pilot certainly does its job in setting up not only the premise, but the dynamics between the different characters. Brian Sanders (Tate Donovan) is supposed to be a high-powered businessman and doting husband and father, but is really a cheater and a loser. The Sanders' son, Jake (Mateus Ward), is dealing marijuana and owes some thug $1200, while their daughter, Morgan (Quinn Shephard) is pregnant by her boyfriend, a guy she has never introduced to the family. The show's "villain," Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott), appears to be a confident, cocky FBI special agent ready to take out a hostage whenever necessary, but is clearly a broken man whose wife is dying from cancer and young daughter is seemingly lost without her mother.
The point seems to be that we are all hostages in our own lives; we are slaves to our actions, and our actions' consequences. Every situation is more complicated than at first glance, as is every person, and that is what draws the viewer in. Why does this FBI agent want the president dead? Why is someone named Quentin from inside the White House in on the scheme? And most of all, will Dr. Sanders go through with the murder with her family's safety at stake?
Will the Show, and President, Survive?
The questions left lingering are intriguing, and will likely draw viewers back for another outing or two. What's even more interesting, though, is that the show is being produced as a limited series. While we know it's not the same as with a mini-series -- a self-contained, single season television event -- it's been left ambiguous by the powers that be what "limited" means. For now, we know to expect a 15-episode season that will run consistently without repeats (other than a short holiday hiatus in December). It's likely that the highly-touted drama will not be cancelled before the end of its first season, both because of the hype, and the competition: the show is only up against fellow freshman drama, Blacklist (NBC), and one established drama, Castle (ABC).
Coming Up Next
The pilot ends with Ellen delaying the surgery by two weeks after "accidentally" administering a blood thinner into the president's blood stream, and warning her captors via television press conference that she won't back down so easily. Will her captors go through with the threats of harming her family? It's hard to say. But the bigger question at hand is what the show's timeline will be, and whether the finale ends with Ellen's decision, or if viewers will get the payoff of having an answer to the central question sooner.
Agent Duncan Carlisle justifying why he shot a criminal who furtively swapped clothing with a hostage: "His boots didnt match his suit."
Duncan to Dr. Ellen Sanders: "Youre going to kill the President of the United States, Ellen."
Dr. Sanders addressing the press on being responsible for the president's life: "His life is no more important that that of any of my other patients, which is to say that it's the most important thing in the world."
Dr. Sanders delivering a subliminal message to Duncan via the press: "I dont give up that easily."
The President of the United States to Dr. Sanders before surgery: "The idea of surrendering complete control to someone else for the next few hours is kind of a relief."