Apparently the only character on “Hostages” with a finely honed sense of survival is the president.
Though James Naughton is not in Monday’s (Oct. 21) episode, it was an assassination attempt on him, by lethal operation, which kicked off the series. He’s managed to stay unscathed while the family taken hostage suffers — and the kidnappers themselves aren’t doing too well — in “Truth and Consequences.”
When we last saw the Sanders family, Ellen (Toni Collette) was outside the depot, about to join her children and board a bus to Canada. She was walking into the station when she exhibits an unusual lapse of judgment by answering her cell phone only to watch Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott) shoot her husband, Brian (Tate Donovan).
This episode picks up with her kids, Morgan and Jake (Quinn Shephard and Mateus Ward) uncertain of whether to board the bus. They decide to wait. A little later, they answer a page at the info desk — come on, you’re fleeing the country from a dangerous gang that has terrorized your family and you go to the information desk?
A bus agent hands them the envelope with their passports and cash, which Ellen had left for them. Even putting aside the question of whether they should wait for their parents, how could they have planned to disembark in Canada without their passports or cash?
Ellen pops home to save Brian, whom Carlisle and Kramer (Rhys Coiro) have propped up on a table. They try to staunch the bleeding. Ellen walks in as Sandrine (Sandrine Holt) sadistically pokes her finger into the wound, trying to get Brian to say where the kids went.
Duncan knew Ellen would return to help her husband, and she jumps into full doctor mode. Though she apologizes for not having general anesthesia, she does have local anesthesia, a defibrillator and an IV bag — because what doctor doesn’t carry them? Yes, she is a thoracic surgeon, but still.
Ellen operates on her husband and while doing so, Carlisle orders his minions to find the kids. Their crackerjack surveillance has them monitoring airports and checking for stolen cars near the high school. Eventually Sandrine locates them on a security camera at the bus station and goes after them.
Sandrine tries bribing the bus agent, who doesn’t succumb, and just as she’s walking away, a man stops her. He’s working for Mitch, some gangster who’s not explained. Just as she’s about to shoot this guy, his partner stops her, and they take Sandrine for a ride.
She’s restrained and Mitch beats her until his hand is tired and she begs for another chance to get the $50,000 she owes him. His shipment — it is not explained if it’s drugs, guns or other contraband — was seized at the border.
Back at the Sanders’ house/hostage headquarters/makeshift hospital, Boyd (Tyler Elliot Burke), the older boyfriend who impregnated Morgan, bangs on the door, demanding to see Morgan. Ellen’s pretty busy, with her hands inside her husband’s torso, trying to extract the bullet, but she deals with Boyd. She’s her usual skillful self and gets rid of Boyd, but while they talk, she realizes that Carlisle posed as her husband yesterday when Carlisle told Boyd to get lost.
The look of disgust on Collette’s face is pretty wonderful.
But no one is too smart in this episode. Ellen comes home, unsure if she can save Brian. Jake calls his parents from the road, allowing him and his sister to be traced. Carlisle gives a tip to police that Archer (Billy Brown) has a stash of guns and gets him arrested. Sandrine demands $50,000 from Carlisle so she can pay off Mitch, and Carlisle has given no indication that he has such money available.
No one seems to be operating at full mental abilities, though it’s likely there will be explanations for much of this. What “Hostages” does very well, though, is capture the complexities of a long-term marriage.
After Ellen manages to miraculously operate on her husband, they are talking quietly. She explains that she could not hate him after he confessed the affair he’s having with Samantha (Hilarie Burton). As they are talking, Duncan seizes Ellen, tosses her into a trunk and drives to a desolate spot.
In the woods, he forces her to dig a shallow grave and holds a gun to her head. Duncan also reveals why he picked Ellen in the first place: As a young ER resident she let a rapist bleed out. Duncan knows she could kill someone.
Ellen begs Duncan to just pull the trigger already, but instead he dumps Angela’s body in front of her and orders Ellen to bury her. Angela was Ellen’s friend and an OR nurse, who was blamed for the president getting the wrong medicine. That mistake, which saved the president’s life, was Ellen’s doing.
A little earlier in this episode, Archer had told Carlisle that he killed Angela. Carlisle was furious, which explains why he ratted out Archer to the local police. Carlisle is trying to tie up loose ends, but they are unraveling as fast as he can stitch them.