Alcatraz is swirling with mysteries at this point: How are the ’63s jumping? What’s the endgame of their return? Why do they want Lucy dead? What’s the importance of Tommy Madsen? And perhaps the most important question of all — including the shocking finale ending — is whether the show itself will return for a second season.
I have to agree with my colleague Darren Franich that the revelations which capped this two-hour finale weren’t all that revelatory, but I’m still invested enough in the show that I’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t return for season two. The mix of mythology/conspiracy and episodic procedural doesn’t necessarily hit the right tone each week, but Alcatraz is a solid show with plenty of room to blossom in a second season.
The season finale began with Dr. Lucy Banerjee/Sengupta (wearing a gorgeous red dress, like so many recovering coma victims) reviewing interview tapes of the inmates captured since she went into a coma. She told Hauser it was about time he let Dr. Soto and Detective Madsen know that she was one of the time-jumpers — which they’d figured out last week — and he gave her that surly, John Wayne, “I’ll do it but I won’t like it” face.
Joining Soto and Madsen on the Rock, Lucy acknowledged that she’d come from the past, but that months-old info was pretty much all they (and thus we) got out of her. Instead, Lucy talked about being sad that a lot of the people she knew were dead or different. Yeah, that happens when you jump forward 50 earth years. I can’t say I’m looking forward to that when I do my jump.
Later on, while Madsen rummaged through old newspapers (Fab Four!), Lucy approached her and offered to answer questions as best she could. Sweet, time to get some answers! Only that’s not what happened. Not at all…
Instead of clearing up the nagging question of how people are “jumping,” or at least pressing Lucy for an explanation of what it felt like, Madsen zeroed in on what Lucy knew about her grandfather, Tommy Madsen. Lucy said he was charming but ruthless, like many other inmates. Rebecca also sniffed out Lucy and Emerson’s May-March turned May-December romance, and Lucy said Hauser used to be real cute when he wasn’t a grouchy old man who shoots everyone.
The inmate of the first hour was Garrett Stillman, a British dude with a crazy-high IQ (he plays chess!) who thinks like a military strategist. Warden Edwin James set his sights on Stillman as a pawn in his game, which in this episode meant granting another inmate — Harlan Simmons — an early parole in spite of Deputy Warden E.B. Tiller’s desires.
We first met Stillman 2012 in a scene that was like the beginning of The Dark Knight meets the start of Heat — he held up an armored car, blew up his associates in their getaway van and toodled away in said armored car with a uniform as his bounty. He did let the guards live, though, so that was nice.
As we learned over the course of the first hour, Stillman was stealing multiple armored cars as part of an elaborate (perhaps overly so) smokescreen for his real goal — stealing one of Warden Edwin James’ mysterious keys, which apparently has been moving between locked-down locations for decades now.
Back in the 1960s, the scene where Stillman swapped Simmons’ “parole denied” papers for “parole granted” leafs was pretty ingenious, and showed off some crafty planning on the writers’ part. Using a well-known prison snitch and playing off Tiller’s expectations, Stillman got the deputy warden to inadvertently plant the incorrect papers in a sealed briefcase. Warden James: 10. Deputy Warden Tiller: 0. Maybe Tiller gets one point for that kickin’ jazz combo he oversees.
NEXT: Lucy faces her sniper and how Warden James fits into 2012