TV Review: Hostages Season 1 Episode 3 "Power of Persuasion"

Hostages has officially given up.

If you've been reading my past reviews of the new CBS show Hostages, you've noticed it's rapid decline.

If the pilot was promising but flawed, and episode 2 was the dam building up, episode 3 is the dam breaking. There's no hope left.

The issue I have with this episode is that they telegraphed every story they used. The episode opens with Duncan talking to his daughter and telling her to have a good time at her art exhibit.

Ellen overhears. Cool - now she's going to find a way to track her down right?

Little did we know she not only would go to Sawyer's (Duncan's daughter) school.

She was able to slip the team watching her (okay), enter the school as Sawyer's aunt (okay), go into the classroom and tell Sawyer she's a family friend after Sawyer says loudly in front of adults "who are you?" (...What?).

Not only that, she's allowed to stay there two thirds of the episode, because Duncan's goon squad probably thinks she's in surgery for six hours, right? They definitely wouldn't have a copy of her surgery schedule, right?


So, because the goon squad is worse than literally any bad guy team in the history of television, Ellen is able to find out from Duncan's daughter that Duncan is in the FBI, and that their mom is very very sick.

Which again only angers me that they're ripping off Breaking Bad.

Walter White's decision to *deletes words*

Nope. I can't. I'd love to be theory heavy and really describe to you why the plot device of cancer used in Breaking Bad with Walter White is infinitely better than what is being done here in Hostages.

But I can't.

Because Hostage's use of it is equal to a cheap parlor trick, and it's so bad I can't stomach myself to compare the two. And frankly, if you can't tell why yourself, I can't do much for you.

I used so much snark there I'll sum up Duncan's activity in this episode as it was presented. Duncan gets a text from what he believes is the Chief of Staff, to meet in a park. Only when he gets there, a sniper shoots at him. Duncan realizes he's being terminated because the President is going to use a different doctor instead of Ellen. Duncan surprises the Chief of Staff in his car, and threatens his wife.

He makes him call off the hit. He makes the Chief of Staff sit down with a reporter and leak the story that the President is going to switch to the Walter Reed Hospital and use a different doctor.

Duncan did this because he knew the President would change his mind and tell the Chief of Staff to say that switching hospitals and doctors was never an option because of his (the President's) strong opinion on the health care system.

Which is what happens. The Chief of Staff then congratulates Duncan in this chess game of theirs, and says he should get into politics.

Yeah. I'll just leave that there. The next part, I cannot comment on without snark:

The president changes his mind again, and Duncan this time can't find a way to fix it despite being a kidnapper/FBI hostage negotiator. He tips off Ellen that she's going into a meeting with the president, and asks her to change his mind. Which she does. Despite, you know having the president to talk to - one on one.

Where any logical writer would have her A) ask the president for help or B) DO NOTHING AND LET THE PRESIDENT SWITCH DOCTORS SO DUNCAN HAS NOTHING ON HER AND HER FAMILY. Sorry, had to use caps for emphasis.

But hey, logic went out the window a long time ago I guess. Sigh.

Oh yeah - the Chief of Staff tells Duncan his kill order came from someone "higher up" - which is ambiguous. But the writers definitely know who it is.

They definitely wouldn't give some non-answer for something because they didn't know themselves how to explain this plot point. Definitely not.

There's also the insanely bad few scenes with Morgan telling her boyfriend she's pregnant and then the boyfriend going to her house and confusing Duncan for her dad. Duncan then intimidates him.

Subtlety is not something Hostages knows how to do.

Hostages also apparently doesn't know how to do character development either. Maria, one of the goons, talks to Archer about who Duncan really is.

After Archer vomits exposition about something irrelevant, Maria complains about how the job is so dangerous, yet they haven't gotten paid.

She's pretty upset by it. You know, someone who doesn't really care about the job, and is only in it for the money.

Fast forward to her and some goon named Kramer (because that's hilarious, right?) sitting in a car watching the son Jake get beat up by the drug dealer.

As the Dad comes over to help, this line of dialog comes out of Maria's mouth:

Maria: "Too little too late pops. Forget lacrosse; your son needs boxing lessons. I mean, he didn't even get one punch in. He just stood there like a dumb-ass. What was he expecting? A kiss?"

So from someone who is in it for the paycheck to someone who is almost getting off on watching a kid get beat up while spewing horrible dialog. Okay.

Going into that story, I thought it was just going to end in proving Brian is not only a horrible husband, but dad as well. Boy was I wrong.

The biggest telegraph comes from Archer coming in from (presumably) killing the nurse. Duncan approaches him in the beginning of the episode and asks if everything went okay, because he didn't hear from Archer.

Archer says it went fine, and then the camera lingers on Archer's face for so long he might as well have been saying "OR DID IT??!?!" Because they think their audience is still too dumb to get the obvious tip-off that he didn't kill the nurse, Hostages has the head secret service guy inform Ellen that they haven't found her body yet.

Because this show is terrible.

To add insult to injury, Hostages attempts a horrible cliffhanger.

After the husband Brian tells Ellen they should all escape, Ellen blabbers some Stockholm Syndrome-y dialog that would make Elizabeth Smart go "Ellen, go escape you idiot." Brian then has the idea to blurt out that he should be a decoy, because he loves Ellen and also he's having an affair.

I can't...I just can't.

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