concludes with two back-to-back episodes Monday (Jan. 6), much the way the season has unwound. It requires leaps of faith from viewers as operatives triple-cross each other. Many die, and even those who are supposed to live happily ever after probably won't.
In "Suspicious Minds," Col. Thomas Blair (
Brian White), a leader of plot to assassinate the president, kidnaps FBI Agent Duncan Carlisle's (
Dylan McDermott) wife and daughter.
Ah, karma. Carlisle, of course, is the leader of a band of kidnappers who have been holding surgeon Ellen Sanders (
Toni Collette) and her family hostage, demanding she kill the president during surgery.
Carlisle wanted in on the plot so he could harvest the president's bone marrow to save his wife, who is dying from leukemia. Nina (
Francie Swift) is the daughter the president (
James Naughton), fathered when he raped a reporter in 1978.
Carlisle has proven to be a decent man, and he regrets the carnage from this bizarre undertaking. It's the night before the operation, and once it's over, the Sanders family is supposed to start a new life, with new identities, the way people do in witness protection.
Not so fast, Ellen says. She's not all that keen on staying with Brian (
Tate Donovan) since learning he was cheating on her with a young blonde from work.
As the family is falling apart, so is the band of kidnappers. Archer's (
Billy Brown) suspicions were proven right that Sandrine (
Sandrine Holt) has turned on them, and plans to kill her cohorts. Archer is about to kill Sandrine when a last-second phone call from Carlisle saves her.
Carlisle needs Sandrine to lead him to his family. He has Sandrine deliver Nina's medicine, and plants a tracker in with the pills so he can rescue his wife and daughter. Never mind that Blair took Nina as she was boarding a plane to London and likely would have had her medicine.
Nina and her daughter were being held hostage at Vanessa's (
Joanne Kelly) house. Vanessa is an ambassador, the first lady's sister and a former lover of the president -- and was Blair's lover until she double-crossed him.
Carlisle holds a gun on Vanessa and they strike a deal to go after Blair.
Archer, aware that a lot is going on without him, decides to go back to basics by sticking true to the hostage plan. Archer has the Sanders' son, Jake (
Mateus Ward). Brian shows up with Morgan (
Quinn Shephard) -- after a bizarre side trip during which a man tried to kill Morgan but Brian fatally shot him -- and tries to leave with his kids. But Archer says, "You guys ain't going anywhere until the president is dead."
The last episode, "Endgame," squeezes in the action to tie up loose ends.
There's a barrage of shooting during the president's operation, and devices are put in the hospital vents. It's supposed to be a biochemical attack and issues lots of smoke, but for toxic fumes they seem rather ineffectual since no one keels over.
The president does, indeed, survive, though he may wish he hadn't.
The surgery had been going well until a nurse made a mistake and put the president in danger of bleeding out. This happens while smoke starts billowing into the operating room and shots are ringing out.
While everyone else panics, Ellen never breaks concentration.
Logan, the turncoat secret service agent observing the operation, tells Ellen, "We are alone now. Make sure he's dead."
Ellen does what everyone watching has wanted to do -- she stabs Logan in the neck with a needle and he goes down.
Ellen winds up alone with the president and singlehandedly keeps him alive. She also extracts a lot of blood from him, transfers it to a bag and sneaks it into the first lady's purse so the first lady can carry it out. Ellen would have been stopped, but no one will search the first lady.
At a state function, Vanessa tricks Blair into following her to talk with the vice president. Carlisle lays in wait, and at gunpoint persuades Blair to free his wife and daughter. They fight. Duncan kills Blair.
One of the kidnappers, Kramer (
Rhys Coiro), picks up Carlisle's wife and daughter and drives them away. At the Sanders' house, just as the ordeal draws to an end, Archer confronts Carlisle
"All I ever gave you was my loyalty," Archer says. He knows he's been used and takes aim at Carlisle. When the gun fires, it turns out to be Kramer just behind Archer, killing him.
As Ellen finally exits the hospital, no reporters wait for her, though the attack was international news. She's getting into her car when a stranger approaches with a gift-wrapped box from the first lady. It contains the bag of blood, which Ellen delivers to Nina. Nina apologizes for her husband ruining the lives of Ellen and her family.
Ellen says goodbye to Carlisle.
The president comes to from the anesthesia, and his wife tells him she knows about the rape, and that he had killed her brother. Vanessa stands next to her sister, and they promise the president he will pay for his crimes.
Sandrine and Kramer drive off together, Kramer being the every forgiving sort since she was going to kill him.
Ellen descends the stairs in her house and as she's taking in her home one last time, her family bursts in and they have a group hug while meaningful music plays.
Finally, Carlisle marches himself into the D.C. Metro Police Department, where he hands over his gun and shield and surrenders.
And with that, the show ends. CBS is still calling it the season finale, not the series end. Given that the Sanders family and Carlisle survive, it's conceivable their stories could continue.
What did you think? Was it a satisfying conclusion? Do you want to see a second season of "Hostages"?