Hostages 101: Here's What Happened All Season to Prep You For the Finale

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Dylan McDermott, Toni Collette | Photo Credits: Jeff Neumann/CBS

Were you one of those people who tuned in for the Hostages premiere and promptly tuned out? Well, the season finaleis Monday and you may be among those who are curious to find out what happened, but are afraid you won't understand a darn thing. Lucky for you, we've got a refresher course that will catch you up. Let's start from the beginning:

Ellen Sanders (Toni Collette) has been hand-picked to perform surgery on the President of the United States (James Naughton). However, a group led by Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott) takes her family hostage, threatening to kill the lot of them if she doesn't murder the president during the procedure. Instead, Ellen slips POTUS some blood thinner, which postpones the surgery. It turns out, Duncan is an FBI agent, who is just one cog in a bigger conspiracy to kill President Kincaid. His team is made up of his brother-in-law Kramer Delaney (Rhys Coiro), Archer Petit (Billy Brown) and Sandrine Holt (Sandrine Gonzales).

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So what happened after that? The Secret Service investigates how Kincaid was "accidentally" dosed with blood thinner, so Duncan & Co. decide to point the finger at Nurse Angela (Toni Trucks), whom Archer then kills to cover for Ellen. Ellen then successfully convinces the First Lady and the prez not to change surgeons, and the next surgery is planned for two weeks later.

Since the hostage-takers plan to stay with the family until the surgery, Ellen decides to dig into Duncan's life, discovering that he has a daughter, Sawyer. Ellen and husband Brian (Tate Donovan) decide the family needs to escape via a bus to Canada. When the plan goes awry, Brian - feeling guilty over having an affair - decides to stay behind to throw Duncan and the team off. But while on a call with Ellen, Duncan shoots Brian, so she rushes back to save his life, and the kids are picked up shortly thereafter by Sandrine.

When Duncan learns that Archer killed the nurse, he tips off the police to get him arrested. But Archer's arrest is part of a plan to kill the man who witnessed him murder Angela. With the Secret Service looking into Angela's death, and Chief of Staff Quentin Creasy (Jeremy Bobb) wavering in his role in the conspiracy, Duncan and his team are enlisted to kill Secret Service Agent Hoffman (Paul Calderon) before Creasy reveals the truth to him. However, both Creasy and Hoffman are killed by others when the team morally decides not to act.

There was also some drama with Ellen's crazy sister arriving and discovering the family was being held hostage, but the Sanders all teamed up to get her committed so no one would discover the truth. It's the catalyst for Ellen to decide that they need to kill Duncan, but they don't know how! Ellen says she'll talk to her father's fixer friend, who helped her after she decidedly killed a rapist years prior. But when she visits the fixer, whose named is Burton (Larry Pine), Duncan's daughter appears, calling him Grandpa. That's right: Burton is in on the conspiracy to kill the president. And if Ellen doesn't go through with it, both of their families will be killed. She rushes home to see Brian plunge the syringe with poison meant for the president into Duncan's chest, but she saves Duncan's life.

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Meanwhile, Duncan's cancer-ridden wife Nina (Francie Swift) has woken up and says she doesn't want any more chemotherapy. He convinces her that he's found someone who does an experimental procedure that will cure her. After Ellen tracks Nina down, Duncan prevents her from killing his wife. He orders Ellen to place a vial of liquid in her locker to be used during the surgery. Ellen gets a sample of the liquid analyzed and learns that the president is actually Nina's father, who raped her mother and doesn't actually know she exists. In a side story, Nina's mother also wants to meet her daughter face-to-face or she'll expose the truth about Kincaid. So, the whole reason Duncan is in on the conspiracy: They need Kincaid's bone marrow to do a transplant to save Nina's life.

Oh yeah, there's another side family story about the daughter Morgan (Quinn Shephard) being pregnant. Her baby daddy thinks she's being abused by her dad, whom he mistakenly thinks is Duncan. He shows up with a gun to take Morgan away, but Sandrine kills him. Sandrine, who is doing this to get money so she can give her kid a better life, and Kramer also have a quasi-relationship. He even kills a guy to save her during a botched robbery, and they have to use the Sanders' son Jake (Mateus Ward) as his alibi. Since Creasy was killed, Duncan's new contact is Agent Logan (Jim True-Frost), who enlists Sandrine to be his spy and also kill the whole team after the president is dead.

Finally, around the end of Episode 8, the big guns behind the conspiracy are revealed: The First Lady's sister Vanessa Moore (Joanne Kelly) and Col. Tom Blair (Brian White) came up with the plan to prevent the president from exposing a government surveillance program. Vanessa is also mad that her former senator brother Peter was slated to be president, but, after having differing views from Kincaid, was suddenly killed, paving the way for Kincaid to marry his biggest competitor's sister and use the family funding to get to the White House.

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With Kincaid out of the way, Col. Blair can get on the right ticket to become vice president and eventually president. The higher-ups decide they don't want to wait anymore and enlist some snipers to take the president out, but Duncan and his team stop them since, without a job to do, they would all likely be killed next. Ellen, now knowing the truth about what kind of man Kincaid is, actually helps Duncan out and then later kisses him.

When Brian goes to expose everything to the police, Burton arrives in the nick of time, showing him a photo of Duncan and Ellen kissing. Now, no one will believe that she was forced to kill the president. Instead, Brian decides to expose the whole thing to Nina, who tries to flee with Sawyer, but Col. Blair, who has been somewhat screwed over by Vanessa after she is eyed to be the veep in his stead, picks them up at the airport.

Meanwhile, Ellen decides she just can't go through with the morality issues of killing Kincaid, but promises Duncan she will get the bone marrow to save Nina if he protects her children. Duncan agrees, but to keep up the charade in front of his team, he pretends to shoot and kill Jake, who will actually spend the remaining days until the assassination in a cabin outside of D.C.

So that's where the penultimate episode capped off, with the two-hour season (let's be honest, series) finale ramping up for the big surgery that will decide the fates of pretty much everyone on the show.

The season finale of Hostages airs Monday at 9/8c on CBS. Will you be watching?

Check out a sneak peek of the finale:

(Full disclosure: is owned by CBS.)

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