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WashingTelevision: Hostages Recap, Season One, Episode Seven, “Hail Mary”

More new characters are introduced, and the bodies continue to pile up.

This week on Hostages, Duncan does his best impression of Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction. Photograph by Giovanni Rufino for Warner Bros.

While watching the multitude of insane plot machinations unfold on last night’s Hostages, I found myself thinking about another show I watch: the CW’s Vampire Diaries. (Go ahead and judge me if you must—it’s actually highly entertaining.) Like Hostages, VD packs a jaw-dropping amount of story and twists into each episode—but characters have clearly defined motivations, and the emotional stakes are high. With Hostages, on the other hand, all I keep thinking is why? Why are these people doing what they’re doing? What are they trying to achieve? We know there are eight more episodes in the season, and while things keep happening, it all feels like so much wheel-spinning to delay the inevitable. Every episode introduces multiple new facets of the story but spends about two seconds on each before moving on to the next, and despite all that I’m not sure what we’re actually supposed to take away from it all. Anyway, I’m going to skip the obvious joke re: the title of this episode and the progression of this show, and get to the recap.

Duncan “It’s 5 O’Clock Shadow Somewhere” Carlisle is at his father’s house (although I thought he was the father-in-law, and CBS agrees with me), which I now recognize as where Kramer tied Jake to the banister in the last episode. Also the writers have decided that Kramer and Carlisle are brothers after all. Daddy Carlisle—okay, his name is Burton—is worried about Kramer, but Duncan says he’s doing better than expected, seeing as he solved Carlisle’s little Sandrine problem last episode. Burton expounds that if things don’t work out as planned, Carlisle’s daughter, Sawyer, will be fine—she’ll stay with “Aunt Leslie” and be taken care of. “We still have eight days,” Carlisle points out. (Me: “Nooooooo.”) Carlisle’s new plan is to lean on Brian/Jimmy Cooper, because despite him being a cheating, business-fraudy jerk Ellen still looks up to him. “If I can turn Brian into an ally, I can turn Ellen into a killer,” he says.

Meanwhile, Archer is still in jail, where his job is to get rid of Malik, who helped him hide Angela’s body after he murdered her. Sandrine visits Archer posing as his lawyer, and tells him to hurry up because if Malik talks their whole plan could go up in flames. But there happens to be a guard who’s friends with Malik’s cousin and keeps Archer away, so Archer pays some guy to start a fight in the courtyard and in the ensuing melée strangles Malik.

At the house, BJC is watching Ellen get ready and tells her once they get out of their current situation he’s going to be a better husband and partner to her. He again mentions the idea of killing Carlisle. “We’re not killers,” Ellen says. “Says who?” he asks. She says they need “professional help” and that she might know someone who has a hit man or two on speed dial. But BJC has a different idea: Use that undetectable, untraceable, deadly poison meant for the President on Carlisle instead.

Speaking of the President, Ellen is giving him a pre-surgery checkup while the First Lady watches. As she’s taking his blood pressure a woman barges in and demands to know why the President isn’t coming to the benefit for her dead brother. This is Vanessa, the First Lady’s sister, and she calls the President a coward. Vanessa and the President leave the room, and the First Lady gets real on Ellen. “I told the President to fire you,” she says, and tells Ellen if there’s one more “innocent mistake” about the surgery she’ll hold Ellen personally responsible. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio does some weird upper-crusty accent in this scene. I miss Kate Burton.

In another room, Vanessa continues to harangue the President about the benefit. Apparently her brother was the “youngest senator in the history of Virginia” and didn’t agree with the President’s politics. He says the brother was his friend and a talented man, and would have been President someday. “He would have been President now,” she snaps. He tells her she’s a beautiful woman, and she says, “What happened was a mistake,” so I guess they slept together.

After Ellen leaves the White House, with Sandrine following her, she makes a “house call.” This I didn’t see coming: The guy she thought could find her a hit man is Burton. She tells him the whole story and he promises to help her, but she says she wants Carlisle dead. Then Sawyer comes downstairs and calls Burton “Grandpa.” Ellen’s face freezes. Sawyer recognizes Ellen, and Ellen tries to play it off, but Sawyer’s like, Lady, you’re a terrible liar. So instead Ellen asks Burton why he is torturing her family. He says it’s not the why that’s important, but the what if: What if she doesn’t do what Carlisle says? We’re treated to a flashback to when Ellen was a nurse and stabbed her rapist patient. Burton was her lawyer and told her exactly what to say so she didn’t suffer any consequences. Burton was the one who first approached the President’s chief of staff and told him to convince the President to hire her as his surgeon. Burton tells Ellen they’re both cogs in a much bigger machine, and if Carlisle fails the higher-ups will cut their losses and just kill everyone, so yeah, killing Carlisle is a terrible idea.

Kramer is struggling with guilt because he finds out the guy he clocked after last episode’s robbery has died. His guilt drives him first to confession and then to a bar, where he orders a shot of bourbon. But Sandrine finds him, and they make out, and I throw things at my TV. They leave the bar together and find a detective waiting outside, who says he wants to talk to Kramer about the dead guy. Why me? Kramer asks. “We can talk about it downtown,” the detective reads from page six of Writing Cop Dialogue for Dummies.

At Chez Sanders, Carlisle is making BJC repair a bullet hole in the wall (why? I have no idea) while trying to convince BJC to convince Ellen to kill the President. BJC asks Carlisle a bunch of questions about the poison she’s supposed to use, because he’s planning to use it on Carlisle, you see? He manages to fill a syringe with the poison and hide it in his pocket, and as Carlisle is cleaning up the carpentry supplies BJC sees an opportunity. Ellen comes in and sees him with the syringe in his hand, and while she shouts, “No!” he stabs Carlisle in the chest with it. Carlisle staggers and falls.

Some thoughts:

Morgan and Jake both have to meet with a Child Protective Services agent, and Jake tells her Morgan’s boyfriend beats her. Poor Boyd—he’s about the only person I have any sympathy for on this show.

The President finally gets some character development, kind of—he slept with his wife’s sister and may or may not have killed her brother (who is not also the wife’s brother? I was unclear on that). Also he married his cold and calculating wife for her money and influence. Is this supposed to make Carlisle’s cause seem more worthwhile?

Does anyone think Carlisle is actually dead?

It’s midway through the season, so let’s count up the casualties of the Ski Mask Crew’s plan thus far: Angela. The limo driver. Malik. Ellen’s relationship with her sister. My Monday nights.

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