‘Hostages’ 1.04 Recap: “I Told You Not to Test Me”

We’re now about a month or so into the new television season, and while I’m still not a huge fan of ‘Hostages’, I will say that it’s one of the few new shows on this season that I still don’t mind sitting through. Already gone from my DVR playlist are ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’, ‘The Crazy Ones’ and ‘The Michael J. Fox Show’. So, even though I still think ‘Hostages’ can be rather silly, it’s a better show than any of those three.

This week’s episode involves the escape that Brian Sanders hinted at in last week’s episode, as he engages in a plan for the family to flee their captors. We’ll get to some of the problems with the plan as this recap progresses, but from the start, viewers should know that this idea isn’t going to work. Why? Because it’s only the fourth episode! This plot would have worked much better if saved for later in the season, since we might actually think the Sanders could get away then. Having it happen this week, however, is like watching a first-season episode of ‘Gilligan’s Island’ where the Professor says he has an idea to get rescued.

What’s Brian’s brilliant plan? Well, he and the family will get some money, get their passports and take a bus to Canada. That’s right, TV viewers, Mr. Sanders has devised an escape plan that involves the slowest-moving and easiest-to-spot vehicle involved in highway travel. The fact that the plan gets as far as it does has more to do with sheer luck than any well-thought-out idea.

Let’s take, for starters, how Ellen obtains a scalpel that will prove absolutely vital in removing the tracking microchips that Duncan had implanted in their backs. She (intentionally?) burns her hand baking muffins, and Duncan gets out a first aid kid to bandage her up. When he’s not looking, she takes the scalpel from the kit. Of course, Duncan – despite already shown to be a brilliant FBI agent – turns his back just long enough for her to swipe the scalpel, and Duncan never checks to make sure nothing is missing, although one would suspect he knows the exact contents of the kit.

Ellen gives the scalpel to her daughter, Morgan, who will take it to school on the day of the escape and, along with her brother Jake, remove the chips and then make their way to the bus terminal where their parents will meet them. The female of Duncan’s crew, whose name I still don’t know at this point (IMDb lists her as “Sandrine,” but that’s also the actress’ first name, so I’m not sure we’ve even heard the character’s name on the show), is assigned to watch the kids. She sits across the road from the school in her car and looks at the signals from the microchips on her electronic tablet. Even though there’s a point where the chips are outside the school (Morgan and Jake go into one of the athletic department’s storage facilities next to the football field) and stationary for a long stretch of time, she never becomes suspicious of (A) why the kids aren’t in the school building, or (B) why they’re in the same spot when they aren’t even in the same grade. Fortunately, the kids are smarter than their two parents, and put the removed chips into the backpacks of two other kids before they leave the school.

When Brian goes to the bank to get some money for the bus tickets (and to get everyone’s passports out of a safety deposit box), he discovers that all his bank accounts have been frozen. So he goes to his mistress, Samantha, for the money. Yes, when I’m planning to flee the country with my wife and family, my mistress is the first person I’d go to as well. Of course, this is simply TV’s “Law of Available Characters.” If this were reality, Brian would have a dozen co-workers or friends he could borrow money from… but since there’s no time to introduce an actor or actress we’ve never seen before, Brian has to go to the only other person we’ve seen him in a scene with.

Brian asks Samantha to take the money and the passports (although she doesn’t yet know what’s in the envelope he hands her) to another office location and put them in a drawer for him. Ellen goes there to pick up the envelope, but when she gets there, the drawer is empty. This is because Samantha has taken a peek inside and now confronts Ellen about what’s going on. Ellen doesn’t give up any information and also tells Samantha that she knows about the affair. Ellen then makes her way to the bus terminal.

Of course, you didn’t really think this family was getting away, did you? At the terminal, Ellen gets a call from who she first thinks is Brian, but it’s actually Duncan, who has found Brian and tied him up. Telling Ellen he’s warned her time and time again, he points a gun at Brian and shoots him point blank. Ellen must now decide whether to flee with her children or return to the house and save her dying husband.

In addition to the main storyline above, Duncan also visits his wife Nina at the hospital this week. She’s actually up and around and has made the decision to deny any further chemotherapy (we learn that she’s dying from leukemia) and wants to go home to be with her daughter and family. We also learn that Duncan seems to have been promised a cure for her if he carries out his assassination plot. He talks Nina into staying in the hospital, hinting that he might have a new treatment for her, but it’s dependent on her continuing her chemo treatments. This is the first real scene between Duncan and Nina, and the actors have absolutely zero chemistry with one another – so little that I first I thought we’d been misled about Nina actually being Duncan’s wife, and that maybe she was a relative or something. But no, the two are married, although you sure wouldn’t know it from watching their interaction in this episode. We also learn that Duncan’s henchman Kramer may be some relation to Nina (her brother, perhaps?), since he asks Duncan to “Tell her I love her” when Duncan tells him that he’s heading to the hospital for a visit.

Another plot development this week is that Duncan has been assigned to investigate the vanishing and apparent suicide of Ellen’s hospital friend, whose disappearance Duncan was actually responsible for a couple of episodes back. The fact that her body has never been found once again leaves me to believe that Duncan didn’t actually have her killed, but is keeping her hostage at another location. It also really makes Duncan’s shooting of Brian at episode’s end a real head-scratcher. Up until now, Duncan seems to have gone out of his way to make sure no one is seriously injured in this operation (other than, you know, the President himself!), but now he puts a bullet in one of his hostages. I have no doubt that Brian will recover (heck, he’ll probably be walking around like nothing happened in two or three episodes), but now the character of Duncan is much less likable than before, and he’s guaranteed that he’ll get an attempted murder charge (and a hefty jail sentence) when this is all over – even if he can prove everything else he did was the result of blackmail.

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