Dr. Ellen Sanders (Toni Collette) had a gut-wrenching choice to make during last week’s Hostages premiere: she could save her family by killing the President of the United States as he lay on the operating table, or she could put country above everything, sacrificing her loved ones in the process. Eventually, she chose a middle option (naturally), drugging the President to put the kibosh on the procedure in an effort to buy herself some time.

This week on Hostages, we witnessed the varying and predictable consequences that followed Ellen’s act of defiance.

At the hospital, the secret service is investigating how the President nearly died as a result of an accidental overdose of blood thinner, questioning the entire staff. We sense that Ellen is about to tip the lead investigator onto something, but then another agent whispers in her ear, and it becomes clear that her kidnappers have agents everywhere.

At home, as Ellen walks through the door, she is confronted with an eerie calmness as Duncan (Dylan McDermott), the lead wolf on the kidnap team, sits at her table beside the family dog. He is disappointed and she is concerned that her family is nowhere in sight.

Last week, we had a hard time reading a real sense of fear off of Dr. Sanders, but as she’s lead down to the basement to find her husband, teenage son and daughter on their knees, supposedly in preparation for their executions, we feel a real sense of jeopardy. Duncan is not to be trifled with as he puts a gun in Ellen’s hand and orders her to kill Brian, but (surprise!) Ellen turns the gun on Duncan and (surprise!) it’s not loaded.

A scene where Ellen is forced to surgically implant GPS receivers in her children follows, but the action slows from that point on as the focus turns not just on the secrets and lies of the Sanders family, but also the kidnappers, who are not all on the same page.

Almost lost in the shuffle is a meeting between Duncan, his father (whose role is still not known), and the President’s slimy adviser who is clearly the point man. Obviously, the show can’t dish out too much info on the shadowy conspiracy that is powering this campaign against the President, but they’ve got to do more than one brief, vague scene per episode cause it is cramping the progression of the story.

Overall, the second episode of Hostages was a step in the right direction, but the show is still having a hard time living up to the “thriller” badge. With that said, they did close off last night’s episode with a wonderfully dark turn of events involving one of Ellen’s coworkers who was made to be a scapegoat for the drugging of the President. Again, it’s a predictable outcome, as is Dr. Sanders’ response and Duncan’s attempt to paint her as the responsible party as a result of her actions, but this could help instill a bit of fire into Sanders going forward, so perhaps we’re not suffering through predictability in vain.

Hostages airs on CBS @10 PM on Monday nights.


Photos: Jeff Neumann/CBS