Alcatraz Catch-up and Recap: 1×13 – ‘Tommy Madsen’

Courtesy of FOX

Alcatraz closed its first season last night. For those who don’t know, I started to recap the show and was about five episodes in when I decided I couldn’t take it anymore, and jumped off the Alcatraz ship.

After catching up on all the remaining episodes, (only missed one due some NASCAR mix up – way to go FOX) I thought it would be fitting to discuss how the season played out and take a look at the season finale.

Let’s bitch it out…

Well, after marathoning the latter half of the season, I’m happy I decided to jump ship when I did. As predicted Alcatraz followed a standard formula for pretty much all of its remaining episodes. It is as follows:

  1. Open with one of the ’63s going on an inexplicable, murderous rampage in 2012.
  2. The crew consisting of Rebecca (Sarah Jones), Soto (Jorge Garcia) and miscellaneous helper of the week find out the identity of ’63 before the second commercial break.
  3. Hauser (Sam Neill) finds out intel on the ’63s, furrows his brow and keeps it from Rebecca and Soto.
  4. Flashbacks are inserted of the ’63 playing cat and mouse with the Warden James (Jonny Coyne) and/or Deputy Warden Tiller (Jason Butler Harner).
  5. By the third commercial break, the crew gets the bright idea to look in the box of the inmate’s possessions. Magically these possessions always allow them to find out the ‘63’s location in 2012.
  6. Blatant Ford product placement comes up around 40 minutes into the episode.
  7. Once the ’63 is captured, 9 times out of 10 Hauser will take the prisoner alive to his ‘new Alcatraz’. The other time he will just randomly shoot the inmate dead for no apparent reason.
  8. Rebecca and Soto find out about the intel that Hauser discovered two episodes prior (see point #3), usually presented as a diluted cliffhanger.

We do occasionally get little bits of interesting points advancing the mythology of the show sprinkled throughout, but on the whole these revelations are few and far between. Rather than waste hours of your precious life by watching these episodes, I’ll break down the few points we’ve learned before entering the finale:

  • Hauser was in love with Lucy (Parminder Nagra) way back in the 1960s.
  • “Special” inmates had silver injected in their bloodstream that turns them into Wolverine of X-Men fame: Super-fast healing abilities and apparently a lot of rage (as evidenced by their murderous rampages). Although all inmates disappeared from 1963, not all of them have this silver in their blood stream. This is why many of them were shown in the infirmary in the flashbacks.
  • There’s a stash of gold bars in Warden James’ secret locked room.
  • Lucy is apparently a “target” and someone wants her dead pronto.

Done. Feel free to thank me for giving you the gift of time. Use it wisely.

On to the finale – and yes, I’m aware FOX presented Alcatraz‘s finale as a “two hour special” but that is all just smoke and mirrors. The first hour follows essentially the same formula as above, with the exception that Lucy is finally out of her coma after being given some magic X-Men silver-laced blood. (Side note: I hate when networks try to pass off showing two episodes in a row as a finale or a premiere “event”. It’s just two episodes that happened to be shown sequentially in the same night.) We also find out that ’63 Garrett Stillman (Greg Ellis) is in 2012 to find the Warden’s third and final key.

So that brings us to the last episode of the season, the very cleverly titled “Tommy Madsen”: the ’63 that the show has been dancing around all season long, Rebecca’s grandfather (played by David Hoflin).

We find out from the episode prior that a ’63 with the code name “Ghost” stole the ominous third key from Stillman before putting a bullet in his brain. He hides out in a mental institution (how fitting) to lay low. Madsen is now looking for the key and knows exactly where Ghost is hiding out (convenient and never explained.) The flashbacks we get of Madsen show that he was the first test subject to have the silver injected in his blood and is therefore the Warden’s right hand man. Apparently it’s supposed to be some major reveal that the Warden is behind the entire time traveling whatever, but personally I didn’t find it shocking at all. Who else could it be?

Hauser and crew need the last key to open up the Warden’s huge secret door, which they’ve recently discovered. And just to harp on this stupid key thing – the key looks like something you’d find on a piece of costume jewelry at Forever 21. I don’t buy that they need to go to such great lengths to find this two-prong key to open that door. Not with the kind of technology we have today…

ANYWAYS, Rebecca pieces together that Madsen is headed for the mental hospital and they all high tail it there. Ghost jumps out a window rather than give Tommy the missing key. Since the cops have arrived, Tommy bolts with Rebecca in pursuit while the others stay behind to examine Ghost’s body. Soto finds the third key, but insists on getting Rebecca first so they can all open the door together. Awe, way to go Hurley –erm, I mean Soto!

Courtesy of FOX

Meanwhile Rebecca steals a brand new (wait for it) Ford Mustang (!) and what follows is an elaborate car chase through the streets of San Francisco in pursuit of Tommy. And oddly enough, the Mustang comes through without a SINGLE scratch on it! Boy, does that Mustang ever look shiny! I don’t really see how this is possible considering she clearly clips Tommy’s non-branded Dodge Charger, which ends up rolling several times before crashing. (I will admit, this homage to Bullitt was pretty awesome.)

Rebecca has Tommy at gunpoint, but then he starts to play on her emotions, talking about her absent parents, which gives him just enough time to stab her before she can shoot him. He escapes, leaving Rebecca on the ground grasping her wound (Side Note:I forgot to mention, this image opened the episode as some cheap ploy to get us to keep watching the episode). Soto arrives in the nick of time to take her to the hospital.

Soto decides to stay with Rebecca while Hauser and Lucy go to open the ominous door. We find out that what lies beneath is a retro bat cave (the THIRD the show has presented us with in its ten episode run…). Inside the bat cave there’s a map with a bunch of dots on it with inmate numbers. Turns out the ’63s can be tracked (apparently another huge revelation….yawn) and they’re not just in San Francisco, but all across the US (Gasp? Am I supposed to gasp at that?). From there, the episode ends with two semi-intriguing nuggets.

  1. The mad scientist (Matt Craven) that we saw in flashbacks injecting the silver in Madsen’s blood appears (ageless) on the floor and a bit roughed up, in the retro bat cave. When Hauser tells him its 2012, he laughs manically.
  2. Rebecca flat lines and is pronounced dead.

The End. Do I want to keep watching should the series be picked up again? Will I lose any sleep over the mounting unanswered questions? I think the answer to that is as clear as the sparkle on that Ford Mustang.

So what do you think Alcatraz viewers? Did you stick through the entire season? What are some burning questions you hope will be answered should there be another season? Sound off in the comments below!

Alcatraz wrapped its first season last night. Episodes can be viewed online at FOX’s website in the US or on CityTV’s in Canada.

About tvangie

Angie is a TV addict currently pursuing a PhD in media studies. A freelance researcher and writer on the side – she really misses talking about her favourite shows because none of her friends watch them. Help her out.