In tonight’s farce of an episode, “Hail Mary,” we loyal viewers of Hostages are subjected to a plot to murder Duncan Carlisle, who himself is trying to kill the president, who himself is a big dick, basically. (If there is anything to be learned from this show, it is simply this: Everyone’s a dick.) The president’s wife is trying to kill him, and her sister and the chief of staff are involved, and poor Kramer has the worst night of his life, and Ellen Saunders continues to be the most boring heroine in the whole world. She’s so boring her children are pulled aside at school by social services. (“Where did that bruise come from, Morgan? Are you so bored that you’re hitting yourself repeatedly? Running into walls?”) Oh, and Jimmy Cooper stabs a guy in the heart with an injection of poison meant for the president, and Ellen discovers that her “friend” who could help her with a “gun” is in fact Duncan’s father (or father-in-law).
Plot twists: They’re so twisty!
“Hail Mary” throws a pass out into the middle of nowhere, but no one is standing around to catch it, and half of the spectators in the stands are asleep. The stakes in this show essentially don’t exist anymore, because repetition of the same basic conflict has stagnated the plot. Look: No one is ever going to kill Duncan Carlisle. He’s Dylan McDermott. Tate “expendable” Donovan’s character Brian is more likely to die four times over than Duncan just the one time. Ellen and Brian’s efforts to kill him are obviously futile, so it’s frustrating to be dragged through the paces. Also? Their methods are terrible. “Let’s find a gun and put it in a purse in the kitchen!” “Let’s call that one guy we know, when we didn’t trust the Secret Service!” “Let’s not take the bus to Toronto!”
Given the Saunders family’s track record, it’s amazing that Brian manages to follow through on his highly stupid plan of stabbing Duncan with a syringe full of poison. The lead up to the stabbing is an incredibly tedious interchange of banal ideas about power and masculinity from two of television’s least compelling characters. It doesn’t really go anywhere interesting, but we do learn that Brian knows how to patch drywall. Insert “watching paint dry” joke here.
Ellen, meanwhile, has more capers on her end. She visits the president and gets “accidentally” involved in a suspiciously expository scene between the president, his wife, and his ambassador to somewhere, who is also his sister-in-law. There is some garble about a guy named Peter who is their deceased brother and blah blah basically one of these women is bad news, and they look really similar, so I don’t know which one. Some knowing looks are exchanged.
I am about to tell you about the dumbest twist of tonight’s episode, but let me say quickly that the fact that the president’s wife is trying to kill him is legitimately pretty interesting, if the show does anything with it (unlikely). That alone saves this episode from F-bombing into the sub-basement with the ice weasels. It never occurred to me before, but the show Hostages is most trying to be like is Scandal. Government conspiracy, female-centric, internecine betrayal mixing with political machinations. But the show has none of Scandal’s warmth or courage.
Instead, it produces an extraordinarily dumb plot device in which Ellen invents a person she needs to go see and then shows up, only to discover that he is Duncan’s father. This whole plot where Ellen is being subtly groomed to be hit-man-like doesn’t sit well with me, because who would go through this type of effort? Just for a largely incompetent assassin with anger management issues and a cheating husband? This show is really confusing.
- Hostages is enthusiastically going the route of giving us so many reasons to hate the president that we won’t care if he’s dead. It’s managed to string together a few of these beads, but so far, we have NO reasons to hate the president, so this is falling flat. Just invent a genocide or something, show!
- There’s a bunch of stupid stuff with Archer in a prison written by a bunch of people who know nothing about prison.
- Sandrine and Kramer kiss. Then Kramer is arrested. Previously, he fell off the wagon sort of almost. It wasn’t a good day for Kramer, who is rapidly becoming my favorite non-character. His vapid emotional torture! His solemn, despondent gazes at bottles of alcohol!
- Hide your kids, hide your wife: Social Services is out to steal your mild-manner kidnapped children.