TV Review: Hostages Season 1 Episode 8 "The Good Reason"

So "The Good Reason" picks up right at the cliffhanger of last week's episode. And completely messes it up. Let's get into it.

As Ellen stumbled into the room, she immediately pleaded with her husband Brian that Duncan needed to stay alive because of what her old lawyer/Kramer's father said: if Duncan dies, they all die. Now is this a vague, borderline hack move to make Ellen be sympathetic to Duncan's cause? Absolutely. But let's face it: at least she's not mulling around with whatever Hostages thinks passes as Stockholm Syndrome and crying her eyes out every time Duncan says something threatening or pulls out a gun. Instead we now get Ellen telling Duncan "I can see the full picture now, we are all in this together.

Which is why I'm willing to cooperate." One bad habit Hostages continues to suffer from is terrible false tension with their cold opens. Look - any intelligent TV viewer would understand that Hostages wasn't going to let the husband Brian (especially him) stab Duncan fully and kill him with that needle.

However Hostages could have done a little better job than stab - cut out with knife - ice bath - title cards - and then cutting to Duncan in a conversation with Ellen in the kitchen.

They could have done a lot better, actually.

Because now we have Ellen telling Brian (who hilariously sounds like the only sane character 'you're believing the lawyer?! He's in on it!') "Open your eyes Brian: the secret service, the FBI - this is much bigger than any one man." Which is Hostage-speak for "Guys, we still don't have an actual reason for Ellen to be on Duncan's side, but keep watching." You're asking a lot Hostages.

Hostages does give us some answers. Notice I said answers - they're not actually good ones. It's progress, though. It turns out the Chief of Staff and some NSA guy paired with the first lady's sister and Duncan to kill the President over a program called OTI. Sounds intriguing right? Well it turns out OTI stands for Operation Total Information (F- for creativity there, Hostages), which is a program that apparently spies on civilians through their cars and laptops. The President says it's unconstitutional, evasive, etc. You see what's going on here.

Hostages wants to be topical, so they are going for topics in the culture today - like government surveillance. They're trying to be meta, and they're trying to be as complex as ABC's Scandal. One of the main differences where you can tell those two shows will never be the same: on Scandal President Fitzgerald Grant is having an ongoing affair with the main protagonist Olivia Pope. On Hostages, the President makes an off-handed comment about having slept with his wife's sister, then apologizes for it the next day.

This whole OTI (seriously, you couldn't think of a better name?) is a real bad reasoning behind this whole "big conspiracy". Remember me praying that Duncan wasn't doing all of this because of his wife's cancer? I kinda wish it just ended there.

If they couldn't come up with a reasoning that was more complex and tension filled than "President wants to kill a program, we want it alive", they should have stopped while they were still way behind.

This only makes it worse.

I do give credit where credit is due, though. Hostages had a sequence where Morgan's boyfriend Boyd breaks into the house with a gun. After threatening to confront who he thinks her father is (Duncan) about what he thinks is abuse, Morgan agrees to escape with him. As Duncan catches Morgan, Boyd pulls his gun. During the stand-off Morgan's real father Brian leaves a voice-mail beginning with "Morgan, it's your father[...]" This was a bold move. Since Hostages seemed to forget the child services person calling in Morgan's bruises, I'm glad they had another outside character get into the house and figure everything out. Was it perfect? No. They're the worst kidnappers in the world for leaving an unguarded (and unlocked) window open. Yes, the boyfriend died in a shootout with Sandrine who stupidly gets shot as well while wearing a vest.

Yes, there is some horrible "duh" dialogue from Duncan afterwards: "You're wearing a vest. Good." But this is major progress. Killing off the boyfriend quickly resets everything, but it has lasting qualities as well. Morgan just watched her boyfriend get shot before her eyes - that happened.

Killing the boyfriend is not the same as before when Duncan had Ellen's sister convinced she had a mental break and needed to be recommitted. That was making like it never happened.

This tension here with the boyfriend was a permanent change in the story from here on out. Which is the best thing the show has done for itself so far.

The same can't be said for Kramer's murder plot. Last episode, Kramer is called in for questioning regarding the man he killed to save Sandrine. They have traffic cam footage with his photo.

His mysterious lawyer-dad comes to the rescue and together they give Jake and Brian the same "if we die, you die" nonsense and convince Jake into lying (horribly) about how Kramer was actually teaching Jake how to do a "kick-flip" on a skateboard across town.

Remember how I said the boyfriend story was good because it didn't reset as if "nothing happened?" Well Kramer gets released just like it never happened. Yeah.

Ellen's story this week involved lying to Archer that she was going to fly on the helicopter to a different hospital hours away to assist on a surgery. Now Archer being the horrible kidnapper watcher that he is, doesn't report this news to Duncan. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt. Probably had bad cell service or something. Ellen slips by and manages to get into Duncan's sick wife's room. After promising one more round of chemo, the wife wakes up and starts asking her questions thinking Ellen is the experimental treatment doctor Duncan found. Instead of being like she intended and saying something like "Actually, your husband and some goons are holding all of my family hostage, do you think you could tell him to let us go?" She instead goes along with the assumption of the wife. For once, I'm almost lost for words.

I'd make some sarcastic comment about how horrible this is (it is), but I can't. Because it makes no logical sense. Normally when Hostages runs up against a scene that calls for something to happen, they have some terrible out. Duncan being stabbed with a poisonous needle then being saved by Ellen because "if he dies, we all die" certainly qualifies as one.

However with this, Ellen just goes with the wife's delusions. Duncan's wife finding out could end it all.

Ellen telling her could have been the ultimate cliffhanger - Duncan wouldn't be able to kill his way out of that mess.

Instead we're left with Ellen taking the safety valve off the wife's morphine as Duncan confronts Ellen - who is threatening to kill his wife with a lethal amount of meds.

Right, because we are supposed to believe a character who couldn't stop crying long enough to shoot a TREE will murder an innocent woman to save her family. That's okay, though.

Next episode Duncan is just going to tell Ellen that if she kills his wife all the higher ups will kill all of them. It'll be like nothing ever happened.

photo credit: http://uverseonline.att.net/tv/show/hostages