TV Review: Hostages Season 1 Episode 4 "2:45 PM"

You and your significant other are being held hostage. You are supposed to kill the President, but instead your significant other decides to try to escape.

As you two are discussing how to escape, your significant other says that they are having an affair. How would you handle it? What would you say?

Well, at the beginning of 2:45 PM, this is how Hostages decides to handle it:

Brian: "I'm not doing this [sacrificing himself] because of the affair."

Ellen: "I don't want to talk about that now."

Brian: "I'm doing this because I love my family. Because I love you."

Yikes.

There's a lot to not like in this episode. There were 3 flashbacks - first time Brian and Ellen looked to purchase their current home, Ellen telling nurse Angela she wants her on her surgical team to operate on the president, and Ellen telling Brian about the operation. The biggest rule about flashbacks is if they don't reveal anything about the characters/story, they are both A) boring and B) useless. The second rule is if the flashback reveals something new, it has to be critical to the show. The first flashback we learned that Ellen really wanted that house - so flashback 1 fails the test. The second flashback we learned Angela was really excited about operating on the president.

New, but very obvious - flashback 2 fails. Perhaps it would have been better if we still don't know Angela isn't dead (more on that later). The last flashback we learn that Brian wasn't completely happy with Ellen's decision to operate on the president.

New, but could very easily be guessed. And certainly not essential. Flashback 3 fails. If this show is already resorting to uneventful flashbacks, they might as well put another nail in their coffin.

Back to the Angela problem. Since they telegraphed the twist of her not being dead so early, it deflates all potentially cool scenes surrounding her. Last episode, the head of the secret service told Ellen that Angela's body hasn't been found. This episode it comes full circle when they have Duncan be recruited by the same guy, to look into the fact that Angela's body has yet to be recovered.

Now, the idea that Duncan (who is also the antagonist kidnapper) is being brought in on an assignment by the head of the secret service who he needs to be careful around is interesting. But like I said, it deflates rapidly when they make it painstakingly obvious that this twist of Angela being alive is coming.

The shows attempt to further throw me off the scent by introducing Angela's crying mother was laughable.

The only somewhat interesting angle out of it is the fact that they have a sketch of Archer, the goon who was supposed to kill Angela in the beginning.

Duncan's reaction to Archer is the only unknown thing the audience has to lookout for.

Last thing that was just plain bad was Duncan's conversation with his dying wife Nina, who wants to quit chemotherapy. Duncan tries to convince her by saying he knows a "doctor who specializes in experimental therapies." I've covered this before, so I'll be brief.

Hostages is being this vague because the show doesn't know the details either. Otherwise, why would Duncan not give the details of this "experimental therapy"? He is the least convincing husband ever.

It wasn't all bad, though. The plot for the episode involved the Sanders family plotting their escape. It wasn't perfect, but it was pretty exhilarating to watch.

The kids seemed resourceful for once by cutting out their own GPS trackers and throwing off one of the goons to escape.

Jake showed a little fight in him by calling in favors for a bomb threat to act as a diversion as they slipped the trackers into other backpacks.

The show did a good job of throwing some wrenches into Brian and Ellen's final plans to gather their resources. Duncan froze Brian's bank accounts early. Overlooking the fact it's odd Brian didn't withdraw money two weeks before this, it helped give Duncan some credibility when it comes to his smartest person in the room characteristic. It forced Ellen to sell her wedding ring, and for Brian to be more creative. Archer making Ellen check in with him every fifteen minutes provided the window for a car chase, which let Ellen slip away and meet up with the kids. Brian, who said earlier he wanted to be the diversion, got his wish. He called Duncan's bluff. Unfortunately for him, Duncan shoots him in the stomach while on video chat with Ellen.

Now she must decide. This was the intense moment the show needed in the second episode. Is Brian going to die here? No, because if he does there's nothing keeping Ellen from leaving. He'll be bleeding out, and Duncan will use that (and maybe the promise of more torture) to lure Ellen and the kids back.

Now that Ellen is backed into a corner with an impossible situation, it's time to step up. It's time to see Ellen make a move like she did by giving the President a blood thinner to delay his surgery.

She's gotta be a proactive protagonist, otherwise she's going to be reduced to a wide-eyed scared character that's hard to root for when you don't see her helping her situation at all. We will see.

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