Things to Do

WashingTelevision: Hostages, Season One, Episode Six, “Sister’s Keeper”

Plot lines, plot lines, everywhere, but not a one makes sense.

Meet Ellen’s sister, Lauren—but don’t get too attached. Photograph by Jeff Neumann for CBS.

Apparently we’ve reached the point in Hostages where instead of focusing on character development or any sort of cohesive storytelling the show is going to chuck approximately 700 plot points out there like marbles and then scramble around nipping at them like Hungry Hungry Hippos. This episode included, among other things, a cockamamie plan to rob a high-stakes poker game; accusations of child abuse; even more possible inappropriate sexual tension; yet another Sanders family plot to escape that goes terribly awry; a possible pill addiction; and a new character who’s introduced, given a minimal backstory that only exists to serve the plot, and then immediately dispatched. I can’t even with this, so let’s go to the recap.

After last week’s near brush with escape, Ellen has decided the family needs to cooperate with the Ski Mask Crew. Morgan, who is rapidly revealing herself as the only sane person on the show, asks how Ellen knows they won’t all be killed as soon as the situation is over. “Because I trust them,” Ellen says. Um, what? Meanwhile Duncan “Let’s Kick This Up to Mach 3” Carlisle has his own problems, namely that Sandrine needs $50,000 immediately or she’ll walk. Ever-helpful Kramer asks if Carlisle needs help getting the money together, but Carlisle says he’ll take care of it. Does Kramer listen? No—instead he tells Sandrine his ex-girlfriend used to deal at a poker game for rich people, and if Sandrine hacks into her e-mail she can pose as the dealer and they can steal the money. He tells her to dress up and look hot; she flirts that it won’t be a problem. This, by the way, also involves Kramer taking Jake as an “insurance policy,” tying him to a banister in a random house, and putting on an iPod so he doesn’t get bored, because he’s the nice kidnapper. So Kramer and Sandrine knock over this makeshift casino, but then some dude follows them out to the car, and Kramer pistol whips him before they drive off—although not before the guy presumably gets a good look at both their faces. The pile of bodies the Ski Mask Crew are leaving in their wake is just ridiculous. Anyway, Kramer tells Carlisle he got Sandrine her money, Carlisle tells him he did a good job, and Kramer wags his tail.

Also happening in this episode: Ellen’s sister, Lauren (Nina Arianda), shows up unannounced at Chez Sanders. She’s fresh out of a mental institution in Baltimore for undisclosed reasons, and is rewarded for her friendly visit by a faceful of Carlisle’s cold steel (his GUN, you guys). Ellen lies that he’s Secret Service detail assigned to her because she’s performing surgery on the President. Carlisle tells Ellen to get rid of her.

Meanwhile Agent Hoffman calls him in to observe an interview . . . with Ellen. He questions her again about Angela’s disappearance, and Carlisle takes over, giving her enough chance to make up a semi-credible excuse for why she didn’t tell them about knowing Angela left with a guy. Hoffman finds security cam footage of said guy, Archer, and Carlisle falsifies travel documents to make it look like Archer was out of the country. But Hoffman finds out Carlisle and Archer used to work together, so Carlisle says Archer is working for him as an undercover FBI agent—and that he’s currently in jail because the operation is so risky (or something). Hoffman is pretty dumb.

Morgan is at the doctor getting the news that she is, indeed, pregnant. The doctor sees the bruise on her arm from Sandrine and finds the cut on her back from removing the GPS chip. Morgan lies about cheerleading/bathtub accidents, but as soon as she leaves the doctor calls to report a possible abuse case. Also the Sanders parents are bizarrely calm and accepting of their teenage daughter’s pregnancy. I guess they have bigger things going on, but it does lead to the one realistic moment of the episode: when Morgan tearfully asks Ellen if she’s mad at her for getting knocked up.

Ellen and Brian/Jimmy Cooper have also given up on their plan to cooperate and instead have decided to try to kill Carlisle, so Ellen uses her spare key to the neighbors’ house and steals their gun. But then Lauren finds it in her purse and starts waving it around asking why she has it as Carlisle comes in. He ties Lauren to a chair, then takes Ellen out to the backyard and forces her to shoot a tree. Why do the neighbors have a gun with a silencer on it? “I don’t want to kill you, but that doesn’t mean I won’t,” he says. He tells her he’s going to get rid of Lauren—but he’s doing to do it his way, which means untying her and then hiding and having Ellen call Lauren’s shrink and say she’s having paranoid delusions and needs to go back to the hospital. As she’s carted off, Carlisle says, “You did the right thing.” Ellen gives him a look of death and says, “You’re a monster.”

So many thoughts:

WHAT was this episode? It’s never been more obvious that the writers painted themselves into a corner with the whole concept of this show and are now trying frantically to find ways to fill 15 episodes.

Apparently Sandrine needs $50,000 for legal fees for . . . a custody battle, I guess? It’s never really made clear (or interesting).

Seriously, whose house does Kramer take Jake to? Why does he put on an iPod for him before he leaves and then threaten to kill him when he gets back? I do love that ever since the writers decided he and Carlisle are related somehow, the actor has just started aping all of Dylan McDermott’s mannerisms.

Why is Hoffman, who’s presumably a pretty high-ranking Secret Service agent, not more skeptical of Carlisle’s BS story? Presumably it’d be easy enough to fact-check—but instead he just accepts when Carlisle says, “You’re Secret Service; I’m FBI. We think differently.”

I counted at least two shots of Brian/Jimmy Cooper scarfing pain pills, so I predict an addiction plotline. Maybe he can take some tips from Kramer.

What did you think of last night’s Hostages? Let us know in the comments.