Kristina Carroll ’16/ Emertainment Monthly Editor
Sitting on the couch watching a sports game on television…looks like a normal night for the Sanders family. But there’s something wrong; they all look distressed. Why? Because there is a group of masked characters dressed completely in black, holding them hostage in their living room. Welcome to Hostages, the must-watch show of the season.
After witnessing this terrifying intro, we’re taken back in time to 12 hours earlier. Dr. Ellen Sanders (Toni Collette), is giving a press conference with President Paul Kincaid (James Naughton), in which she declares that she is going to perform surgery on the President to remove a mass in his lung.
Meanwhile, a hostage situation has broken out at a Washington DC bank. After convincing the head robber to release a dozen hostages in return for safe transport, the FBI and police prepare for the robber’s exit with the final hostage. When the two step out, FBI Special Agent Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott) shoots and hits the hostage. Everybody rushes toward the unharmed robber, shocked at Carlisle’s fatal mistake. But something even more shocking occurs when Carlisle rips off the robber’s mask: he reveals that the robber purposely switched clothes with the hostage in an attempt to run free. Therefore, Carlisle did not kill the hostage, but in fact killed the robber? How did he know to do this? Because the “hostage’s” boots did not match his suit. And that is the first look at the very mysterious, and extremely terrifying Special Agent Carlisle.
The creepiness factor that begins at this point in the show only increases, as Ellen returns from her press conference. As she is going back into her office at the hospital, she sees an electrician-type worker exiting. From her expression, it appears as if she has never seen him before. When she gets into her office to call her husband Brian (Tate Donovan), she realizes that one of her pictures is missing from her desk. The weird thing, however, is that the frame is still there. Despite her confusion, she decides to forget it and move on with her day. But the audience knows that there is something definitely wrong here. Why? Because she’s being spied on with a camera!
After Carlisle’s heroic actions at the bank, we get a sneak peek into his much calmer personal life. His wife Nina, is comatose in the hospital, and the cause has not yet been revealed—leaving us with something to look forward to in future episodes! He also has an adorable young daughter, who he sends to stay with her grandfather for a short amount of time.
And this is where things get crazy. When the Sanders family returns home, we discover that cameras have been implanted in their house, and they are being spied on. Soon after, the people who implanted the cameras prepare to break in. Their plans are somewhat interrupted when the family dog Barkley notices something strange and begins barking, and Morgan leaves to go talk to her boyfriend. The woman spy is sent to follow and capture Morgan, while the men continue with their planned break in.
Within minutes, the entire family is captured, and we are brought back to the very first scene of the episode—the entire family sitting on the couch. The masked man standing in front of them reveals himself—it’s Carlisle! He demands that they follow his instructions, and promises that if they do what he tells them to, then they will all escape unharmed.
Carlisle brings Ellen upstairs, and explains that his goal in holding her family hostage is to convince her to kill the President tomorrow during his surgery. At first she refuses, exclaiming that there’s no way they won’t be caught, and even if they aren’t she won’t be able to live with the guilt. Carlisle declares that if she fails to comply with his orders, her whole family will die.
Ellen has the brilliant idea to set off the silent house alarm, but unfortunately her plan is not brilliant enough to slip by Carlisle. When the alarm company calls the house to see if everything is OK, Ellen is held at gunpoint and is forced to pretend that there is nothing out of the ordinary going on. The telephone operator explains that a police cruiser is on its way just to make sure. When Ellen answers the door she sees that the officer is the same man who was seen walking out of her office earlier that day. He hands her an envelope, and inside is the picture of her family that was missing off of her desk. This is perhaps the most terrifying moment of the show, because it proves that Carlisle has connections everywhere. It seems at this point that Ellen has no chance…and that she unfortunately must go along with Carlisle’s plan. But wait…it’s not over.
The next morning, Ellen goes to work with a vial of poison hidden in a lipstick vial. She walks into the hospital and has what appears to be her last conversation with the President. We see her nonchalantly switch the vials next to his hospital bed, and minutes later the words “Breaking News” appear on every TV. And here comes the shocker: the news is not reporting that the President has died. Instead, they are exclaiming that the President will not undergo surgery, because he was accidentally given a blood thinner before his procedure. And who was the hero that detected this problem before it unraveled into a deadly mistake? None other than Ellen Sanders herself.
This is just the first episode, and we have already been exposed to several shockers and a handful of mysteries. And as if this conflict with Ellen wasn’t enough, the other members of the Sanders family are suffering with their own serious dilemmas themselves. Ellen’s teenage daughter Morgan (Quinn Shephard) is pregnant, her son Jake (Mateus Ward) is dealing drugs, and her husband Brian is having an affair with another woman.
Hostages is arguably the best show on television right now. It’s jam-packed with action, but also contains a handful of dramatic scenes. There’s something in it for everybody–suspense, emotion, and terror, to name a few. Also, the actors are just incredible. Tate Donovan, Dylan McDermott, and Toni Collette showcase their experience and raw talent throughout the episode, and are sure to continue to impress in the future.
One of the most interesting things about this show is that it’s hard to hate Carlisle. He helps the family avoid utter destruction by keeping everyone’s secrets, and reveals his personal side in scenes with his daughter. But then again, he’s trying to kill the President.
So who’s side should we be on? We’ll just have to keep watching to find out!