By the end of the eighth episode of "Hostages" Monday (Nov. 11), just what constitutes a "good reason" is anybody's guess.
Are there good reasons why a colonel, the president's chief of staff and the scorned sister of the first lady want the president dead? It's unlikely they share the same motivations, outside of a mad power grab.
Col. Thomas Blair ( Brian White) believes that the government should continue to spy on citizens. Since he is in charge of Operation Total Information, he wants it to continue. President Kincaid ( James Naughton) wants to stop the spying.
"When the American people find out the extent to which this government has been secretly spying on its own citizens -- surveillance devices in cars, in computers -- they are going to demand my head on a stake," the president says to the colonel and Quentin Creasy ( Jeremy Bobb), his chief of staff, who are involved in the assassination plot.
Vanessa ( Joanne Kelly), recently introduced as an ambassador who had an affair with the president, is also involved. Making matters messier, she is the first lady's sister and in on the assassination attempt. They are the powerbrokers, but could very well be answering to a higher authority.
FBI Agent Duncan Carlisle ( Dylan McDermott) and his band of three are doing the dirty work. Carlisle begins this episode with his life resting in the hands Dr. Ellen Sanders ( Toni Collette). At the conclusion of the last episode, Ellen's husband, Brian ( Tate Donovan), had stabbed Carlisle with a hypodermic needle containing the poison intended to kill the president.
Ellen saves Carlisle's life, and she now believes saving him means saving her family. She had to act fast and convince Brian to help, though he didn't want to. Let's see, Carlisle and his three goons break into Sanders' home, hold his family hostage, terrorize his kids and shoot him and he doesn't want to save his life? Go figure.
This weird existence continues. The next morning, it's business as usual -- the woman held hostage having her morning coffee with the kidnappers.
Carlisle warns Ellen to stay away from his family because she had visited his daughter at school. Of course he may as well have sent her an engraved invitation to meddle.
Ellen soon figures out a clever way to ditch her minder, Archer ( Billy Brown), and says that she has to go on a medevac to assist on an operation. She boards the helicopter, which takes her to the hospital where Carlisle's wife, Nina ( Francie Swift), is dying from leukemia.
Carlisle had gotten involved in the assassination plot so he could pay for an experimental treatment for his wife. She has already made peace with her death and agreed, for him, to undergo one more round of chemo. Then she wants to go home, be with their little girl and face death.
Though the Sanders house has a tremendous amount of surveillance, Boyd, Morgan's ( Quinn Shephard) boyfriend, manages to break in. His heart is in the right place. He, like the social worker who went to Morgan's school, thinks her dad is physically abusing her. Of course Boyd also thinks Carlisle is her dad, since he has said he was and is in their home.
Boyd makes the mistake of pulling a gun on Carlisle. Sandrine ( Sandrine Holt), one of the band of kidnappers, winds up getting shot. Boyd is killed.
After his dogged investigation, Secret Service Agent Hoffman ( Paul Calderon) has finally put together some pieces and confronts Brian. Hoffman knows the Sanderses are in trouble, but Brian does not know whom he can trust.
Carlisle confronts Ellen in his wife's hospital room. Ellen holds 20 cc of morphine behind her back and warns Carlisle she can pump it into his wife's IV, and that would be it.
"Don't," Carlisle says. "She's innocent."
"So is my family," Ellen says.
The episode ends with Carlisle asking her, "What do you want?"
Oh, how about the last week of her life?
Photo/Video credit: CBS