'Hostages' Season 1, Episode 11: 'Off the Record' is on the money

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For those who have stuck with "Hostages," Monday's (Dec. 2) episode pays offs. Big time.

Giving new meaning to the Stockholm Syndrome, FBI Agent Duncan Carlisle and Dr. Ellen Sanders ( Dylan McDermott, Toni Collette) finally share a deep kiss. That's the penultimate scene of this episode.

The last scene has the kidnapper kidnapped. Carlisle is hogtied, duct tape slapped over his mouth and tossed in a van.

Before we get there, much happens to advance the plot, and five couples are highlighted.

Ellen has resigned herself to having the president die on her operating table. Carlisle explains to his co-conspirators, Archer, Kramer and Sandrine ( Billy Brown, Rhys Coiro and Sandrine Holt) that they must take out the new team of hit men gunning for the president. He knows it's kill or be killed.

Carlisle also explains to Ellen's husband, Brian ( Tate Donovan), that he needs Brian's contacts as a real estate developer to get the floor plans on three Manhattan skyscrapers. Carlisle figured out where the hit men would go. Brian refuses. 

Brian is trying to be a better person, and role model for his kids, Morgan and Jake ( Quinn Shephard, Mateus Ward). "Cooperate, yeah, but not collaborate," he says. "When this is over I want you to be able to look at yourself in the mirror."

Colonel Thomas Blair ( Brian White), who appears to be running the assassination plot and now the counter-assassination plot, tells his minion Secret Service Agent Logan ( Jim True-Frost) that the Sanders family must die. Logan is to make it look like a murder-suicide.

Though Brian refused Carlisle the information, Ellen tells Carlisle that she can get it. She meets with her husband's mistress, Samantha ( Hilarie Burton). 

Ellen has become an excellent liar during the series. She tells Samantha that the real estate business is in financial straits and Brian borrowed money from dangerous people who are going to kill his family. He needs these massive books, detailing the skyscrapers for a potential deal.

Samantha apologizes to Ellen for having an affair with her husband, and says, "He told me your marriage was a lie, but clearly it isn't and I am so, so sorry."

The shadows that cross Ellen's face warn that she is in no way done with dealing with this, but she's pretty good at prioritizing and compartmentalizing. Her husband's infidelity can wait.

Ellen calls Carlisle and reads him the info he needs, such as the exact angle of a building's foundation. Quantico really does a masterful job of training if FBI agents can decipher and use arcane architectural data.

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As the hit team descends on Manhattan, in pursuit of the new hit team, a question nags at viewers: 

How is it remotely possible that the president can travel through New York City unnoticed? He's en route to a church, in a motorcade. Granted four or five black SVUs traveling in tandem are not uncommon in Manhattan, but when the president gets out of a car wouldn't someone recognize him?

Other episodes have shown trysts, but this one raises a bunch of issues about couples:

* Sandrine and Kramer. Her first allegiance is to her son, for whom she needs money and why she's involved in the first place. Does she feel as strongly about him as he does about her?

* Vanessa (Joanne Kelly) and Colonel Blair. He thinks she's going to use her power and wiles to promote him for being on the next presidential ticket. Wise up, man! She manages to finagle herself onto it, after chatting with the veep. Will she even keep the colonel around?


* Ellen and Brian. She is so weary of him. If they survive this, will she be able to stand him?

* Samantha and Brian. Samantha has now told Ellen how much she respects her, and she is extremely sorry about the affair. Even if the hostage situation ended tomorrow, and Brian showed up for work, would this affair stand a chance of being rekindled?

* Ellen and Carlisle. They now know and understand each other better than anyone else. If they survive, which are unlikely odds, Carlisle will soon be a widow and Ellen will soon be separated. Would these two have a future?
Photo/Video credit: CBS