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Hostages: our verdict on the new thriller

We deliver our verdict on Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott’s new series.


Hostages premiered on Channel 4 in the UK tonight just days after the show finished its 15 episode run in the US.

Based on the Israeli series of the same name created by Omri Givon and Rotem Shamir, the show tells the story of top thoracic surgeon Dr Ellen Sanders (Toni Collette) who is due to operate on the President of the United States Paul Kincaid (James Naughton). The night before she’s due to perform the surgery, Ellen and her family are taken hostage by rogue FBI Agent Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott) and his team of criminal accomplices Archer (Billy Brown), Sandrine (Sandrine Holt) and Kramer (Rhys Cairo).

Duncan and his team tell Ellen that she has to kill the President whilst he’s on the operating table otherwise they will kill her, her husband Brian (Tate Donovan) and their two children Morgan (Quinn Shephard) and Jake (Mateus Ward). In an added twist Duncan announces that his team will be monitoring their every move and making themselves at home in the family’s house to ensure that they don’t do anything stupid.


Credit: CBS

It’s clear from the outset of the pilot that Hostages isn’t going to be as straightforward as its plot at first suggests. The episode opens with the ‘baddie’ Duncan diffusing a hostage situation is his day job as a by-the-rules FBI agent so there’s his double-life to be addressed at some point in the series. There’s also the question mark hovering over his sick wife Nina (Francie Swift) and how she plays into the overall storyline.

In terms of the Sanders family their illusion of being the perfect US family is quickly shattered when it’s revealed that Brian has a mistress, Morgan is pregnant and Jake is a pot smoking schoolboy in trouble with the local dealer. These secrets are the thing that Duncan and his team get their teeth into and use as leverage to get the family to do what they want them to.

Once you’ve adjusted to the revelations about the Sanders, it quickly becomes apparent that Duncan may not be running the show when people close to the President, including his Chief of Staff, are indicated in the assassination plot. What could be the driving force behind the plot? Well you’ll have to keep watching won’t you?

As far as the opening episode there’s plenty to make sure you tune in next week. The tension of the hostage situation along with the impossible situation that Ellen and her family are put in immediately hits the right notes and we’d go as far as to say the pilot is one of the most exciting we’ve seen. Pitting Toni Collette’s powerful Ellen against the sinister and emotionless Duncan played by McDermott is likely going to be the central focus of the series with the rest of the characters providing support, distractions and sub-plots.


Credit: CBS

The pilot leaves a lot of questions unanswered as you’d expect but each week the show promises to reveal a little bit more meaning you are going to have to watch all 15 episodes to get the full picture. One thing seems certain though, it’s going to be an exciting ride with plenty of ups and downs. Will Ellen go through with killing the President or will her morals prevent her from saving her own family?

At this point in time it’s unclear if the show is a limited series or whether it is supposed to run over multiple seasons. This something that US network CBS and the stars of the show don’t seem to be able to agree on so we guess time will tell. We hope the show does continue but its modest ratings in the US mean that it could easily go either way.

Regardless there’s another 14 episodes for UK viewers to enjoy so make sure you tune in next Saturday for the next instalment of the gripping series.


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