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Series / Crisis (2014)

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Crisis is a dramatic series which aired on NBC as part of the 2013-14 TV season in the United States, starring Rachael Taylor and Gillian Anderson. The show is created by Rand Ravich.

The children of some of America's wealthiest, most powerful families are taken hostage by armed terrorists, and none of the government agencies seem to be able to catch up. FBI Agent Susie Dunn gets involved as the agent in charge of the hostage rescue operation. During the operation she finds out that her niece is among the children who have been kidnapped. What should be a simple Open-and-Shut Case of the federal offense of kidnapping turns out to have far deeper undercurrents than anyone suspects.

NBC has announced that Crisis will not be renewed after the season ends.

This is not to be confused with the Japanese TV show broadcasted in 2017 or the couple fanfics of the same name.

Note: This tropes page, due to the format of the TV series, will spoil plot twists that are revealed in the pilot, so exercise caution if you have not seen the show.

Crisis provides examples of:

  • Adopted to the House: Megan Fitch insists on taking in Sharlene Wirth after the poor girl's mother is arrested in a phony bomb scare while her father is killed by a sniper.
  • Amoral Afrikaner: Jakob Vries is a relatively mild example. He's the head of a South African mercenary company, and he's prepared to attack a Secret Service agent, but only to rescue his daughter. He would clearly rather be going after the kidnappers.
    Jakob Vries: (in Afrikaans, after getting off the phone with Gibson) Watter soort man gebruik kinders?note  (What kind of man uses children?)
  • Anti-Villain: Francis was screwed over by the CIA and made to take the blame for an operation gone wrong, under threat of his daughter being killed. Revenge for this appears to be his motivation for being involved in the kidnapping.
    • On the Sliding Scale of Anti-Villains he's between a Type II and Type III. He's got a huge bone to pick with Widener and is willing to do just about anything to settle that score. He does have one iron rule: a parent who completes a mission for him gets their child back.
  • Avenging the Villain: One of the kidnappers, Koz, wants to kill Finley in revenge for the latter killing his brother, who was involved in the hostage-taking. Of course, this becomes an aborted arc later on and Koz eventually manipulates Finley and Dunn into killing him after he is mortally wounded
  • Badass and Child Duo: Finley and Anton, in the first episode.
  • Badass Boast: Agent Finley gives one to the kidnappers, calling their leader "a bug" for kidnapping children and adding "You're my problem and now I'm yours" (in response to one of them asking what his problem was.)
    • Francis Gibson gives him one back in kind:
    Francis: Yes, I am a bug. I've always known that about myself. But today, the bug is king.
  • Big Bad: Francis Gibson. The CIA chief Widener and his Evil Minions are running a close second, though.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Beth Ann's father Francis is first shown as a somewhat nervous man who just wants his daughter's love. Until he is shown to be the one who kidnapped the children and is using them to leverage their parents into doing whatever he wants them to.
    • He later just becomes an asshole when the kids are rescued and he's manipulated everything so that by taking a bullet to save the President's son, that no one will listen to Dunn's and Finley's accusations of him being the mastermind behind the plot
  • Bittersweet Ending: Gibson is foiled and arrested but not for the kidnapping plot but for killing Meg's bodyguard (although his hostage-taking of Beth Ann and his Villainous Breakdown could, if she's found competent to testify, get the kidnapping charges added on), his daughter now hates him even moreso than before, Widener is about to face trial for his crimes with no hope of getting a presidential pardon to avoid culpability for his crimes, but one of the hostages is dead, the First Lady is dead, Amber is a traumatized wreck, the cyber attack has brought America to the brink of war with China and Russia, and Meg's been shot, plus will have to face kidnapping charges of her own.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Subverted. Finley gets shot about five minutes in, but survives and becomes a main character.
  • Break the Cutie: Amber, who by the end has completely lost her mind due to the traumatic experiences of the kidnapping
  • California Doubling: The filming of the show was done in Chicago.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Anton Roth's photographic memory and knowledge in certain areas like science was mentioned by his father, which allowed the FBI to find evidence of the kidnapper's involvement in conducting surveillance before the mass abductions.
  • Contrast Montage: Gibson starts talking about all the names and pictures he sees on the Big Board in the self-storage room that Koz took pictures of. Then, Dunn and Finley come across the same thing and start talking about it. The scenes flip back and forth as both the kidnapper and his pursuers arrive at essentially the same conclusion: The CIA chief has suborned a program intended to create super-soldiers to create his own domestic hit squad.
  • Conveniently Placed Sharp Thing: In the aftermath of stacking the money, Beth Ann just happens to find a sharp metal object she can use to cut herself in the bathroom.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Gibson. He has plots within plots that ensure that no matter how things go, he'll end up coming out smelling like roses. It works until he realizes Beth Ann has discovered his true involvement in the kidnapping.
  • The Determinator: Agent Finley, in the pilot. Anton even evokes the trope when the two are running for their lives in the woods.
  • Disappeared Dad: Amber's biological father was not mentioned until "Here He Comes" with his name revealed to be Joel Schearing.
  • The Dragon: Koz, the leader of the mercenaries, to Gibson.
  • Driven to Suicide: After getting what he wanted from General Osborn, Francis goads the poor bastard into suicide.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Francis is NOT happy when one of the goons smacks a boy in the chest with his rifle, causing the kid an injury that puts him in a coma. Also, as noted above, he has one rule he has not yet broken: If a mission is completed, parents get their child back, provided he doesn't need them to do another one.
    • Koz didn't like how Operation Lennox was being conducted, saying that there was a clear lack of oversight from the military. He also doesn't like backstabbing on promises on revealing a hostage's location.
    • One of the parents, Jakob Vries, runs a South African mercenary organization, and is willing to use force and violence, but even he says that the kidnapper's usage of children to blackmail parents is despicably low.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: When discussing Amber Fitch with a friend, Beth Ann confides that even she finds Amber kind of hot.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: Variant. Instead of The Reveal that a character is being led to believe that their mother is their older sister, the mother of Amber gives the child to her sister, and there is no evidence that Amber even knows of her biological mother's existence.
  • Fighting Fingerprint: The mercenaries were revealed to be ex-commandos after Finley fought one of them, making the said comment.
  • First-Episode Twist: Francis is The Mole from the perspective of the kidnapped group, and the Big Bad from the perspective of the kidnappers, as he masterminded the whole thing.
  • Hidden Agenda Villain:
    • Aside from Francis, the motives of the kidnappers are largely unknown, with the exception of Koz: he's in it for the money (he mentions a Swiss bank account he doesn't have full access to yet), but it does become personal as well since Finley killed his brother. As it turns out Koz's girlfriend is the police officer Alicia Dutton who is the tech expert among the kidnappers. So both of them are known to be in it for the money.
    • In the second episode, it's revealed that Hurst is working with the kidnappers because they have his daughter.
  • Holding Hands: Amber holds Beth Ann's hand to comfort her after the latter watches her dad get his finger cut off.
  • Hyper-Awareness: Francis exhibits at least traces of this when he notes that one of the box cutters used for unpacking and repacking the money is missing a blade.
  • Jerk Jock: Luke. He nearly beats Beth Ann up over a shirt and calls her "food stamps". He's also stealing meds from his classmates, either for his own use or to sell them to the classmates.
  • Jurisdiction Friction:
    • The FBI is understandably not too keen on letting the Secret Service near the investigation, given that it appears the Secret Service agents guarding the President's son may have been suborned by the kidnappers.
    • A more sinister one comes up as the FBI and Secret Service start to realize the kidnappers are specifically taking aim at the CIA, to which the CIA would take quite a bit of exception.
  • Never My Fault: When Congressman Wirth dies from a fatal gunshot wound, Francis send outs a comminique to the public to tell them his death was the fault of CIA Security Protective Service officers. Francis in general has a huge case of this. When he kills Jin Liao he tells the poor kid that his parents "made him[me] do it!" refusing to admit any responsibility in the act. The only one who can call him on his bullshit when he uses this line is his daughter.
  • Nice Gal: Amber Fitch is from a wealthy family and certainly looks the part of a classic Alpha Bitch, but is actually nice, as shown when she comforts Beth Ann after Francis has his finger cut off in front of the group.
  • Oh, Crap!: The look on Beth Ann's and Ian's faces when they realize the "drone" was a trap concocted by the kidnappers to see who would disobey orders.
    • When Special Agents Dunn & Finley realize that the kidnappings may have something to do with the CIA, the FBI orders them not to openly communicate about it since doing so can get people killed or be forced to retire.
  • Out-Gambitted: In the end, its Meg who brings Gibson's plot crashing down.
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • In order to get their kids back, Frank Beckwith and Clark Froy are forced to tie up and torture a general. It's especially traumatic for Froy, who was himself a survivor of the same torture methods that they use on the general.
    • In order to free their daughter, the Wirths are forced to enter the CIA headquarters. One of them is supposed to don a suicide vest and threaten to blow themselves up, while the other makes use of the ensuing distraction to slip out of the building and send a confidential file to the kidnappers. They both know that their actions could result in their deaths, but they also know that if they fail to act, their daughter will die.
    • The President was forced to decide on giving up a CIA mole working in the Chinese government in return for Chinese assistance in locating a MSS network in Washington D.C. or just prepare for a shooting war alongside the Russians. The former was eventually done and it paid off to seize the cyberattack.
  • Sequel Hook: The very last scene in the series finale is a screen that says "SENDING TEXT". Given that Gibson's been taken into custody for good, what one last thing has he caused to happen that might yet prove a Xanatos Gambit?
  • Softer and Slower Cover: Listen closely to the song that plays at the end of the Pilot. Does it sound familiar? It's "Nothing Else Matters" by Metallica, as sung by a choir. Granted, that song is already pretty soft and slow to begin with, but this version is barely recognizable at first listen.
  • The Mole: Agent Hurst is a Secret Service agent who also happens to be working for the bad guys. Which is why the FBI doesn't want to cooperate with the Secret Service for fear that the terrorists could have more moles embedded within the service. Also, Agent Dunn's sister, Meg Fitch, has been coerced into becoming one at Francis's behest. We also learn that one of Francis's mooks is a D.C. cop and has finagled her way into the FBI command post.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: There seems to be something going on between Amber and her teacher Mr. Nash.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Suzie Dunn, the FBI agent on the case, is Amber's real mother, who would have given birth to her at the same age that Amber is now.
  • The Needs of the Many: The President is willing to let his only son die if it means to protect the country from terrorist threats. It's subverted when he tells Special Agents Dunn and Finley that they need to rescue the kids before he's forced to do it.
  • The Scapegoat: Francis wants to use Hurst to frame him as the mastermind behind the kidnapping to protect his identity from being revealed as the real mastermind.
  • Undercover as Lovers: Xia Liao is a Chinese spy who has been posing as the housewife of a consulate attache for the past 20 years.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Anton's father is blackmailed into jamming the rescue drone trying to locate the villains' location, ensuring that the conflict would not be over in the first episode, with the promise of seeing his son again. In a cruel irony, Anton was the only one of the students to escape the kidnapping.
  • Villainous Breakdown: After spending the entire series as a calm Magnificent Bastard, Gibson finally loses it when his daughter discovers he was the mastermind of the kidnapping and subsequently turns on him.
  • Western Terrorists: The kidnappers, who are joined by at least one man from the CIA. They even dress like the paramilitary Right Wing Militia Fanatics from The '90s.
  • Wham Episode: "Best Laid Plans". Gibson finally achieves his goal of destroying Widener in front of the entire world, by forcing Widener to implicitly acknowledge the death squad he created (even as he tried to deny it to the very end), and in a Batman Gambit regarding threatening to kill the President's son, manages to make himself look like a hero to the media and even half-convinces Finley that he had a last-minute change of heart.
  • White Mask of Doom: The kidnappers wear white masks that cover their whole faces whenever they deal with the kids. Ian and Amber go into the store that very likely supplied Gibson's kidnap squad and accidentally spot the masks, and a traumatized Amber uses the mask to prepare herself mentally to kill the store owner.
  • With Us or Against Us: Francis tells this to Jonas when the latter protests him poisoning the President's son.
    You're either with me, or you're dead.
  • Worthy Opponent: Francis acknowledges that Kyle's gambit of setting a fire to attract attention would have worked if he'd thought it through.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The terrorists are willing to do this, such as smacking them on their faces or rendering one unconscious by using the SMG's buttstock to whack their chest.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Francis allows one of the bad guys to cut off one of his fingers in front of the hostages so that his daughter won't suspect that he's actually in on the kidnapping.
  • You Have Failed Me: Gibson kills a hostage when his mother fails.