Seasons 2 of web series, like sequels, can be dicey. But happily, as with "Four More Shots Please" in the social comedy genre, and unlike "Breathe," "Hostages" Season 2 is streets ahead of Season 1 in the plotting as well as execution. Halfway through the 12 episodes, though each is over 30 minutes, we badly want to know what happens in the end.

The end is almost happy, and the unhappy part is quite logical. Go figure that out, unless the makers are wanting to turn even that on its head and head for Season 3.

At the beginning, we thus have retired cop Prithvi Singh (Ronit Bose Roy), having successfully kidnapped chief minister Handa (Dalip Tahil) so that Handa's illegitimate daughter Saba (Shriswara Dubey), also Prithvi's wife, gets a bone-marrow transplant from him to save her life. The idea is to fly to Nepal even as another body lies in the morgue as supposedly Handa's—whose funeral will be held with full State honors as he has been "killed" by his kidnappers in Season 1.

His chief of security, Subramaniam (Mohan Kapur) who is involved in the plot to assassinate him, gets to know of this and meanwhile, Handa escapes froim Prithvi's clutches for a while. The result of all this is that Prithvi, his wife, two para-medics dedicated to Prithvi, Handa and Subramaniam are all trapped in a derelict abandoned mansion as the police come there after they hear gun-shots.

And so now, the hostage-takers are themselves trapped as the cops suspect terrorist activity. Leading the cops, who lay siege outside are the commissioner Karnail Singh (Kanwaljeet Singh) and Prithvi's replacement Dutt (Sachin Khurana). Then there is their trained negotiator, Ayesha Khan (Divya Dutta).

But things are not so simple. There is a plot to assassinate a foreign dignitary, a multi-million dollar scam in which a ruthless criminal, Ranbir (Dino Morea), is involved, an intrepid journalist (Shweta Basu Prasad) ill-treated by her superiors, politics in the Intelligence Bureau and so on. And, of course, Prithvi's identity has to be hidden from his former colleagues, the police.

The action (not always fights) is spectacularly done and the twists follow at rapid intervals. There are sudden surprises, shocks and turnarounds in store, apart from almost Enid Blyton-esque trysts with secret underground passages. And a surgeon named Asghar Nabi (Asif Basra) from Bangladesh, who is serving time as a suspected terrorist, has to be freed so that he can now do the marrow transplant within the dilapidated house! Then, of course, there are the emotional upheavals and breakdowns within the trapped inmates of the house.

Technically brilliant, the series boasts of crisply economical dialogues and fine background music. Strong performances by almost all the key characters lift the series further, and Ronit Bose Roy as Prithvi, Arif Basra as Asghar, Dino Morea as the cold-blooded Ranbir, Divya Dutta as Ayesha, Faezah Jalali as Sarah, Amit Sial as her husband Peter and finally Shweta Basu Prasad as the journalist, who tower among them all.

This is one Season 2 that is strongly recommended.

Rating: ****

Created by: Omri Givon, Yezira Ivrit & Rotem Shamir

Produced by: Sameer Nair, Rishi Negi, Deepak Dhar & Deepak Segal

Directed by: Sachin Krishn & Sudhir Mishra (Series Director)

Music: Karel Antonin

Written by: Nisarg Mehta & Cine Raas Writing Team

Starring: Ronit Bose Roy, Divya Dutta, Dino Morea, Mohan Kapur, Dalip Tahil, Anangsha Biswas, Shriswara Dubey, Sachin Khurana, Amit Sial, Faezah Jalali, Kanwaljeet Singh, Shweta Basu Prasad, Shibani Dandekar, Himashi Choudhary, Danish Sood, Surya Sharma, Asif Basra, Danish Husain, Anaya Mishra, Mahesh Balraj & others

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