Israeli Television Series Hinges on Tense Political Intrigue and Danger

Season 1



Hostages Season 1 tells the ten-episode story of the Danon family.  One night, four masked individuals burst in and take the family hostage.  They promise to let the family go after Yael (Ayelet Zurer), the matriarch and brilliant surgeon, is told that she is going to botch the surgery tomorrow which she is scheduled to perform on the current Israeli prime minister.  If she does this, her family will be let go.  If not, they all die.

These hostage-takers are watching her every step, tracking her every move, and have undercover agents everywhere, including the hospital where Yael works.  Will she be able to sacrifice her career and kill their country’s leader for the safety of her family, or will she risk all that she loves to avoid committing murder?

The season moves quickly, always ending on a nail-biting final scene custom made for binge-watching.  Ayelet Zurer, who might be known to American audiences for her brief portrayal of Superman’s biological mother Lara Lor-Van in Man of Steel, or in Steven Spielberg’s Munich, is the centerpiece of this series.  Playing a multi-layered role in which she must function as a strong professional woman where she is both a surgeon as well as a nurturing woman seeking to protect her family- while facing all of the fears that such a situation would entail- Ayelet Zurer is a great choice for the role.  Her awards for this role are more than deserved.

The season moves quickly, always ending on a nail-biting final scene custom made for binge-watching.

Hostages, in terms of its pulse-pounding action, suspense, and the way it weaves intricate political intrigue through the various backstories of each character, functions much like the show 24.  Jonah Lotan (24, The Jacket) also stars as Adam Rubin, an ex-hostage negotiator turned hostage taker, whose story will fuel the series into Season 2. Other stars of Season 1 include Micha Celektar, Dar Zuzovsky, Yoav Rothman, Ido Bartal, Tomer Kapon, Mickey Leon, Hilla Vidor, Nevo Kimchi, Yaakov Daniel, Shmil Ben Ari, Liat Stern, Michal Kalman, Ayelet Margalit, Yoav Levi, Eli Cohen, and Avi Yakir.

The U.S. version was adapted from the Israeli show, but, due to trying to find an Israeli broadcaster to secure the broadcast rights, the U.S. version actually debuted before the Israeli series it was adapted from.  The U.S. version suffered from poor ratings, whereas this original version spawned a second season.

The Hostages Season 1 DVD has no special features beyond a series trailer, and subtitles in English, as the series is in Hebrew.

Season 2



Season 2 picks up immediately where Season 1 left off.  It shifts its attention away from the Danon family, and squarely on ex-Hostage Negotiator Adam Rubin (Jonah Lotan) as he works to save his wife’s life by taking the Israeli Prime Minister hostage- involving plot details that would giveaway too much to those who have yet to see the first season of the show.

Needless to say, Adam has gone out of the frying pan and into the fire, all in the very first episode of the second season.  This season also looks more at the political backstory driving the motivations of everyone involved, going back to the initial hostage-taking of the Danon family in Season 1.

As with any sequel, it suddenly gets bigger, as in two extra episodes, as well as in scope.  For this season, we get to see the movers and shakers willing to take down a sitting head of state, as well as some bad guys that even Adam Rubin isn’t quite ready for.

This season also looks more at the political backstory driving the motivations of everyone involved, going back to the initial hostage-taking of the Danon family in Season 1.

Several cast members are added for this second season with each playing a pivotal role in everything that is happening both behind the scenes as well as at the Yeshiva, where Adam and his gang are holed up and surrounded by the very hostage negotiation team, snipers, and police force that he led just one week earlier prior to his retirement and the events of Season 1.  These new cast members include  Reymonde Amsallem, Alona Tal, Itay Tiran, Kim Bodnia, Soraya Torrens, Nathan Avitz, and Sharon Tal.

While things get bigger, with the stakes being raised, it also means that some plot threads won’t fully be answered.  There are, though, enough hints peppered throughout to kind of give an idea of how things might be resolved.  There is a definite conclusion to the series by the end of Season 2, one in which may affect whether or not Season 3 is ever green-lit.  As of right now, Hostages looks to be a two season series with twenty-two total forty-five minute episodes, for over sixteen hours of viewing.  Fortunately, the series is worth the time invested.

Kino Lorber has released both Seasons 1 and 2 of Hostages on DVD.  The series is primarily in Hebrew, with occasional English, German, and Arabic (all mostly in Season 2), and there are optional English subtitles.  There are no real extras provided other than the trailer for each season.