5.8

Hostages Review: "Powers of Persuasion" (Episode 1.03)

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<i>Hostages</i> Review: "Powers of Persuasion" (Episode 1.03)

To state the obvious—new shows need to demonstrate steady improvement with each new episode. So it doesn’t bode well that in its third episode, Hostages seems to be spinning its wheels.

The whole hour felt like we were all biding our time. The series made a strategic error putting off the President’s surgery for two weeks. “Powers of Persuasion” was all about both Duncan and Ellen trying to convince the President to keep Ellen as his doctor and not switch his surgery to a doctor at Walter Reed.

Yawn.

While I appreciate the realism that the President would most likely consider changing venues, we all know he’s not going to or the show would end. So, once again, just as we were last week, viewers are faced with an episode where the stakes simply aren’t high enough.

Sure, it was kind of fun watching Ellen play super sleuth with Duncan’s daughter. But the show defies even the most basic logic. Would the school really lead a total stranger right to Sawyer? And even if we accept that as possible (which it really isn’t), wouldn’t Sawyer have told Kramer that one of her father’s friends had already been to her art show? And yes, it was a good twist that Brian confessed his adultery to his wife. But how is it that Duncan and his crew, who are supposed to be monitoring everything, don’t have any bugs in the Sanders’ bedrooms?

I’m all for the willing suspension of disbelief—all TV shows need a dose of it—but Hostages is really pushing it. Viewers’ disbelief isn’t just suspended. It’s parked three states over.

One thing is for sure—Angela is alive. Archer looked too sketchy when Duncan asked him if everything went okay with the nurse. And even the Secret Service agent is dropping hints like “Until we find a body, there’s hope.”

The personalities of Duncan’s crew are emerging, and they are all one-note. Archer is the loyal one. Kramer is the sensitive one. And Sandrine is the suspicious one. They’re just not shaping up to be that interesting.

Nor are the children for that matter. The big reason Morgan is dating her boyfriend in secret is because he’s a high school dropout? In real life that may cause some family drama, but that’s definitely not enough drama for a TV show like Hostages (Parenthood maybe, but not Hostages). Although the scene between Boyd and Duncan did allow for Dylan McDermott to do his trademark angry voice.

A bit of trivia: Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio replaced Kate Burton as the First Lady. As much as I like Burton, she’s already playing the Vice President over on Scandal, so it’s good to have Mastrantonio taking over the role.

Hostages was one of my favorite drama pilots this season. I really want to like the show. But the downward trajectory each episode is showing is very concerning.

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