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WashingTelevision: Hostages Recap, Season One, Episode 11, “Off the Record”

Our kidnappers take a little field trip to New York.

This is a thing that happened on last night’s episode. Photograph by Giovanni Rufino for Warner Bros.

So let me get this straight: For 11 episodes, Hostages has been selling me the idea that the whole scenario on which the show is based came about because a) the President is a very bad man, and b) Duncan Carlisle is a desperate man who loves his wife so much he’ll do anything to save her—including assassinate the leader of the free world. But in this episode he not only assists in the death of three people to save the President’s life, he also ohhh you know, MAKES OUT WITH ANOTHER WOMAN. I’m no expert on the human condition, but cheating on your terminally ill wife, no matter how mildly, doesn’t exactly scream “devoted ’til death do us part.” Also CBS spoiled that particular plot development in the promos from last week, which robbed the moment of any shock value it might have had. Anyway, let’s talk about what else happened this week!

Carlisle informs the Ski Mask Crew that they’re taking a trip to New York. “I want to see the Empire State Building!” Archer says. “I’m gonna eat seven hot dogs!” yells Kramer. But no, Carlisle explains, they actually have to go because some dudes are planning to do exactly what they themselves have been planning to do for nearly 11 hours of my life—kill the President—just not when and where they want it to happen. So they round up the Sanders family and lock them in a room so nobody pees on the floor while they’re gone, interrupting Brian/Jimmy Cooper’s earnest discussion with his kids about how they really shouldn’t be helping the people who have been holding them hostage. “When this is over I want you to be able to look at yourselves in the mirror,” he says, as Morgan delivers a pitch-perfect teenage eye roll.

Carlisle figures out there are three buildings the sniper could shoot from based on the President’s route, so he asks BJC to get him the blueprints for all three buildings from his firm. BJC, trying to make a point to his children, says he can’t help (“Can’t or won’t?” asks Carlisle in a possible Archer reference, but that’s probably giving this show too much credit). Anyway, ever-helpful Ellen offers to get the blueprints, and Carlisle gives her the key to the room her family is in and tells her if things go badly in New York she should run. For some reason Ellen doesn’t let them out immediately. Instead she goes to BJC’s long-unseen mistress, Samantha, and tells her BJC ran into a little money trouble and needs her help. Samantha gets Ellen the blueprints and then tells her she admires her for standing by BJC. “I only got together with Brian because of how things were between you,” she says. Apparently BJC told ol’ Sammy that their marriage was a lie.

Ellen isn’t thrilled with her husband, but she has other things to deal with, namely helping the people holding her family hostage kill some other people by going through the building plans while standing in a public park. Meanwhile Colonel Blair and Vanessa continue to plot how to get Blair into the Oval Office—their plan apparently involves getting Blair on the ticket with the VP, with whom Vanessa has some sway because she used to work on his staff. She meets with him and lays out all the qualities he needs in a running mate, but instead of suggesting her boyfriend, he’s like, “So do you want to run?” which is kind of great. Blair’s job is to make sure the President gets shot, which will be blamed on a “foreign terrorist cell” (seriously, the writers couldn’t even pick a specific country?), and also that the Ski Mask Crew and the entire Sanders family are taken care of too.

In New York, Carlisle and Archer find the spotter in a hotel and shoot him, but the actual sniper is on the ground, and Sandrine tracks him to a van. She has a last-second crisis of conscience because Logan offered to smuggle her son and her out of the country if she spies on Carlisle for him, but then for some reason she decides to shoot the snipers anyway. Also she and Kramer have a whole conversation about how when “this is all over” they want to go to the big homecoming dance together, and then they make out.

Carlisle’s wife’s mother goes to see Burton and tells him she’s tired of staying silent and wants to expose President Kincaid as the bad, bad person he is. Burton tells her their deal was that she was supposed to move on with her life, which I’m sure living 30 minutes away from her daughter in Virginia really helps with. He shares memories of Nina’s childhood and tries to get Kate to reconsider, but she insists, so he says he’ll go get a tape recorder. Instead he discreetly gets a gun out of his desk and points it at her from behind his laptop. He tells her, with his finger on the trigger, that he could take her to see Nina if she’ll reconsider, so she’s like, Okay, I’ll hold off, and he puts the gun back in his desk.

Carlisle makes it back to the house and thanks Ellen for coming through for him. He goes to release her family, and BJC is upset that Ellen helped them once again. He asks her where she got the plans, and she acidly tells him, “I got them from Samantha. She says hi.” Later Ellen goes to see Carlisle and tells him she’s ready to kill the President. “Thank you,” he says, and hugs her. They hold each other for a while, and she closes her eyes. They pull back and gaze smolderingly at each other, and then they start making out. Brains splatter my screen as my head explodes. They stare at each other some more as dramatic plinky piano music plays. He touches her face. Then she turns and walks out of the room.

Some thoughts:

The making out thing is just . . . I can’t. Poor Hilarie Burton is probably wishing she’d stuck around One Tree Hill for a bit longer.

Burton was going to take Sawyer to Barcelona, but then all she gets is ice cream. Don’t stand for that, Sawyer—I can tell you where Grandpa keeps his gun.

With Ellen’s new extracurricular activities and BJC’s plea to the kids that they stick together, are the writers setting up some sort of Ellen vs. her family standoff?

How does Vanessa plan to get Blair from the VP slot to President? Are they going to kill the next President too?

Got thoughts about last night’s Hostages? Sound off in the comments.