Alcatraz has put off providing answers to the bevy of questions the series has posed from day one. And now it has one episode left to wrap things up and set the stage for a second season. And with the title Tommy Madsen, yo’d think that we’ll finally get some meaningful answers to everything that’s been thrown at us.
But if you’ve been watching the show from the beginning, you will have gleaned the intentions of the producers of the show. Although this series has seemed to be on the surface to be more reminiscent of Fringe, It’s writer seem to want to be writing Lost. The problem? Lost (at least the first couple seasons) took place on a mysterious island in the middle of nowhere. Alcatraz is in the middle of San Franscisco harbour and our characters have access to all the info that the military/police industrial construct can provide.
You see it doesn’t make sense that there has been absolutly no real progression over the shows 13 eps. And, while Lost at least offered deep insight into it’s characters, this shows has offered us cyphers who have practically no existence beyond their tactical responses to their weekly crime solving.
So, can this final ep make up for a season of lost opportunities (or at least the utter wasting of Robert Forster?) let’s see:
The ep begins in media res with Rebecca twisting on a street near an overturned car with a horrendous gut wound. Now, my first impression when I see this sort of thing (say with this season’s Walking Dead ep, 18 Miles out), is think: “Boy, she must have done something stupid.”
I was not to be disappointed (well, actually I was to be disapointed – I’m not a fan of plot progression by stupidity.)
We then skip to, ’36 hours ago’, where Rebecca is taunting her Uncle ray by talking about the death of her ex-partner with her former Police Captain. rather easily, he spills the beans that the man was supposedly on the take. *ding**ding*ding* cliche warning. Is there any genre cop show where a former (or even current) partner isn’t dirty (see: Awake, Fringe, Grimm… at that is just current running series.) Who was he on the take from? Broadway Mutual, Roland Simmons’ company. More questions.
Meanwhile, ‘Ghost’ the character who executed Garrett Stillman for the specail ‘thrid key’ to the vault, has decided to whole up in a private psychiatric facility run by and for Broadway Mutual employees, who apparently ‘Ghost’ or Joe Limerick, who tried to escape Alcatraz, and was declared dead for his trouble, hence his nickname ‘Ghost.’ He spills the beans about his history and is immediately given a room. This whole sequence, and the next, where tommy Madsen hunts him down for the key makes little sense. luckily for our heroes though, Limerick, like Stillman before him, would rather commit suicide than give up the key. And given Diego’s handy knowledge, he gets his hands on the key.
What we are treated to next is what people have called a homage to Bullitt, although anyone old enough to have that show would remember this kind of police chase almost weekly on The Streets of San Franscico. And at the end, which I will admit was somewhat thrilling high speed chase ultimately ends in Rebecca, our experienced cop pulling a Shane and standing way to close to her grandfather, who, like Rick from Walking Dead, shives her in the gut. And later in hospital, she dies on the table.
Otherwise, we learn that the ‘silver’ is also some sort of nanotech tracking device (along with being a supersoldier enhancement formula) which I suspect the show runners will have eventually sourced back to aliens and Area 51 (especially given the dates that are mentioned in the mad scientist – who shows up in this ep.) Hauser does apparently have superior in the military, but still, no accountability that I can detect. And he wants to hide Lucy away (which actually brings some life out of dead-eyed Parminder, who wonders why he doesn’t just put her in a cell in his secret prison?) he also wants to speak to roland Simmons but apparently Simmons ranks higher than even The President (why am I getting a The Event feeling here.)
Oh and we finally get into Warden James’ vault, and discover it was a 60s Alcatraz batcave, with a map on which pins all the inmate’s room numbers are scattered around the US. oh, and they discover that mad scientist I was talking about in a corner who cackles in laughter when he hears it’s 2012.
And as for Warden James, as expected, he has been positioned to be the ringleader of this circus. his motivations, who the hell knows? This ep he decides to play the Lucifer/mr. Morden Card, by offering up Tommy Madesn a ‘faustian deal.’ Yep, while entertaining, he’s now positioned your classic cartoon moustache twirling villain. The only trouble of course is the writers forgot to provide him a motive. And Madsen, he goes to the effort of providing for his family, hangs around his brother and offers longing looks at his granddaughter, then stabs leaves her to bleed out in the street. And yes, he is just one of many characters in the show whos motives and actions havent’ made much sense.
All and all, the ep was kind of a mess. Sometimes overwrought, and blasted out a whole bunch of new questions, without really answering any which were posed over the course of the year. not quite the ridiculous flame out that finished The Event (not burming planes showing up in the sky). And i would almost forgive the show if it hadn’t fallen down repeatedly in offering us nothing but characiture, cyperhs and cliches instead of actual characters to identify with this season. The writers made little effort in engendering the main characters, especially Rebecca Madsen with anything resembling a human existence, preferring to focus on what they though was cool and offering little else to audience but warmed over psychology lessons, minimalist/weak prison crime drama all shoved together.
There was a lot of things wrong with this show and a hell of a lot of truly obvious missed opportunities, much like it’s predecessor, Terra Nova. And unlike TN, it’s season ended at a record low viewership. I really don’t think Alcatraz deserves any more of a second go than TN did.
Rating: 3.0 out of 5 (-0.5 for more death (or near death) by stupidity -0.5 to pilling on the mysteries and questions on a season finale +0.5 for the cool, Bullitt inspired car chase)