With Monday’s episode (Nov. 25), “Hostages” is two-thirds of the way through its run.
CBS is committed to finishing the series, and since 15 episodes were planned this is the 10th, we’re 66.66 percent of the way there. In an unusual move, no one is killed this week. And a little more is explained.
For starters, FBI Agent Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott) and Dr. Ellen Sanders (Toni Collette) have more honest conversations with each other than either does with anyone else. She wants to know why no one knows that his terminally ill wife, Nina, is the president’s daughter.
Carlisle tells her, and it’s shown in flashback how President Kincaid (James Naughton) was a young congressman in 1978. A young journalist went to his hotel room to interview him. He raped her, then tried to buy her off. When she could not be bought, Burton Delaney (Larry Pine) helped her leave the country.
The journalist later discovered she was pregnant and supposedly died in childbirth. Burton raised the girl as his own, and Kincaid never knew about her existence. Now Nina, that child, is dying, and it’s possible the president’s bone marrow could save her life.
Were Kincaid to know of Nina’s existence, he would kill her, rather than risk the scandal of the rape becoming public, Carlisle tells Ellen. Ellen, ever-practical, still has problems processing why anyone would go to all of the trouble of killing the leader of the free world when there must be easier ways.
Carlisle’s explanation for having Kincaid dead so he can get his hands on his marrow for the woman he loves: “I needed allies, resources — people inside the White House. I went to Kincaid’s enemies, who were willing to assist, to guarantee his death.”
The entire assassination plot was supposed to leave just one dead, the president. It was never supposed to become this bloody.
But now that it has gone on so long, no one can back out because the president’s enemies will slaughter everyone involved — Carlisle, his family, and the Sanders family as well. So they must stick to the original plan and have the president die on the operating table.
Ellen, of course, has another thought. Perhaps if she scoured Nina’s medical records she, a thoracic surgeon, would find the answer oncologists did not. This is a point of logic that Carlisle raises, but he has Nina’s records sent to Ellen anyway.
She examines bone marrow donor lists, and approaches the woman with the closest match, though it is only a 28 percent match. That woman turns out to be Nina’s mom, who hadn’t died in childbirth, and lives in suburban D.C. under an assumed name.
She, however, is no dope, and immediately suspects Ellen is up to something. She asks why Ellen cares so much about Nina, and Ellen says she understands because she, too, has a family. Not a complete lie, but a pretty weak argument.
Incidentally, her family continues to unravel. as her husband, Brian (Tate Donovan), suspects Ellen is keeping Carlisle’s secrets.
Though the kidnappers warned the family to continue their regular lives — as if a band of armed people were not living in their house, holding them hostage — they don’t seem to be doing so.
Ellen does not seem to be doing any other operations. Brian is not closing any deals. He’s recovering from a gunshot, but no one is supposed to know that. No one eats. The kids, though in high school, never seem to have homework or after-school activities.
Morgan (Quinn Shephard) had a couple of visits from her boyfriend, the last resulting in Sandrine (Sandrine Holt) killing him. (Jake (Mateus Ward) isn’t in this episode.) Still, neither teenager seems to have friends. Most teenagers are in constant touch with their friends, even if strictly on social media. The no eating, no homework, no work and no friends is not normal.
Little is normal as the operatives plan to take down the president and cut Carlisle out of the equation because they no longer trust him. Secret Service Agent Logan (Jim True-Frost) hires a new hit man.
Carlisle assumes the new guy is brought on to whack him. Nope, he is hired to kill the president, who is visiting New York City. The president is scheduled to address the United Nations then make an appearance at the stock exchange.
Burton glances at the published version of the president’s schedule and figures out that one reported meeting, with a union boss, is fake. Kincaid has had the union support forever, and can’t stand this particular boss.
Instead Kincaid will likely worship at a (fictional) church in Manhattan. Somehow, the president does not seem like a genuinely religious man, though he could wind up meeting his maker in church.