With less than a handful of episodes remaining in the show’s first (and only) season, I’ve been really trying to enjoy Hostages as being so bad it’s good. But “The Cost of Living” was so bad, it’s bad.
Let’s take a look at this week’s most preposterous plot points ranked in order of ridiculousness.
• Ellen’s constant flip-flopping. From the start, a major concern about the viability of Hostages was how the show could sustain its premise for 15 episodes. Last week after kissing (!!) Duncan, Ellen told him she would kill the President. This week, she saves a criminal on the operating table and suddenly remembers her Hippocratic Oath. If Hostages were a different show, it might have been able to offer a nuanced exploration of Stockholm syndrome. But Hostages is not that show. It is a show chock-full of plot developments but a serious lack of actual character development. The scenes between Duncan and Ellen are straight out of a soap opera.
• The show is still trying to convince us Duncan is a good guy doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. Um, I don’t have Stockholm syndrome. Duncan is not a good guy. He may be desperate, but he is not decent. The only sane person on the show is Brian, who sees this clearly and tries pretty much everything to save his family.
• Brian walks out of the police station sans questioning. Brian goes to police station and is stopped by Burton, who informs him that his wife will be viewed as a criminal given all the illegal things she’s already done. When the detective comes in, Brian basically says “Just kidding. I don’t have anything to tell you,” and waltzes right out of there.
• Everyone is a traitor. Sandrine. Vanessa. At this point in the series, someone being loyal is more shocking. And what’s Sandrine’s end game here? If I were Sandrine, I would assume Logan is going to kill me too.
• Everyone also seems to think killing someone is the only solution to any problem. Last week Burton was going to kill Nina’s mother. This week Logan is plotting to take out Duncan, Kramer and Archer. Wouldn’t all this killing lead to more investigation?
• The fake cliffhangers. Last week, in the episode’s final moments, Duncan was kidnapped. But minutes into the episode, Colonel Blair decided to let Duncan continue on with his plan to kill the President. THIS MAKES NO SENSE. Duncan has failed before, and he thwarted a perfectly good assassination attempt. Why would Blair continue to use him?
Brian makes his smartest move yet when he calls Nina and tells her of Duncan’s plan. Sure, Nina didn’t seem too shocked to learn the President is her father. And it’s strange that Nina didn’t recognize Ellen from the news. And yes, it does seem like a mean thing to do to a woman dying of cancer. But I’m with Brian, Nina is probably the only person who can shut this thing down. “If my family dies, it’s on you,” Brian tells her. That does seem a little harsh. But Nina should have realized a while ago that her husband was up to something.
In the episode’s final moments, Ellen tells her children, “We’re going to make sure you’re safe.” At this point, it might be better if Ellen told them, “We’re going to make sure we’ve saved enough money for your therapy bills.”