Family trees get a lot more complicated with time travel.
Okay, okay, I'll hand it to Alcatraz this week- I was fully engrossed. I even watched the whole episode straight through once before drafting this recap. What can I say, I'm a sucker once familial bloodlines and multi-generational sagas kick in.
[Warning: Alcatraz: "Guy Hastings" spoilers/theories/recaps ahead! GoogleBot, you have been warned about this Alcatraz Review!]
We open on the present-day Rock, in a dilapidated old apartment, with our titular character Guy Hastings shivering as he overlooks the bay. He pries the floor moulding off a wall and finds some vintage photographs, which he reminisces over until a present-day guard interrupts him. Guy beats him up, takes his gun, and flees, stopping only to glance at the pencil marks obviously denoting the growth of a child.
Flashback to Guy in what is obviously the same house in 1960. A lovely woman rolls over in bed and tries to talk him into staying home, but he explains it's training day. To establish what a happy family they all have, a young girl runs in and excitedly shows daddy her new height on the wall. Wifey expresses contentment at their situation, which is never a good idea in the world of television- you're totally going to jinx that shit, wifey! Guy heads out to a very rainy training session, introduces himself, and does role call for the guard recruits. A lot of names I'm not going to bother with are called off, until we reach Ray Archer, whom we might recall is Rebecca's pseudo-uncle. Or is he?! Dun dun dun...
In the present day, Rebecca is enjoying her weird Asian dumpling breakfast with Old Ray, who is showing her a picture of him and Tommy Madsen from when they grew up together. Thus we establish that Ray and Tommy Madsen knew each other as children. Rebecca asks if Tommy really killed her grandmother, and Ray admits that he didn't think so at first, but changed his mind. I have to say, Rebecca is taking this revelation remarkably in stride; she's not upset at Ray for lying to her all her life. At all. Not even a little.
Rebecca goes to headquarters, where Hauser informs her and Soto about the attack on the island. Soto points out that "our first guard" wouldn't be likely to attack another man, and Hauser tells them they need to figure out why he was sent back, and therefore why he would do something so uncharacteristic.
Across the bay, Guy is conspicuously watching Ray enter his bar. Title sequence.
Hauser brings Soto and Madsen to the guard's quarters, where they snoop around trying to deduce his motives. Soto tells us the apartments were $28/mo, which I plugged into an inflation calculator because I'm a nerd and that comes to $212.78/mo in 2011. Not bad, but then, you're living on a prison island. He also gives us some background while Madsen puts on her detective hat. She finds the magazines from the gun, and Soto points out the markings on the wall, and they decide to find Guy's daughter.
They find her without any apparent fuss (except for Soto's hopeless inability to come up with a cover story- though he's getting better at lying). She reveals in her interview that Alcatraz was amazing to live in- because everyone in this world is mildly insane. She also tells us she was told Hastings died in a chemical spill on the island while she was at school one day. Soto and Madsen ask her for his things, so they can try to piece together his life like they have with the prisoners. Rebecca looks sad, no doubt because she lost her own parents at a young age.
Flashback to Guy telling the recruits about the mess hall. Young Ray espies Tommy Madsen, who freaks out and attacks him.
Old Ray, meanwhile, is being what can only be described as "thoughtful." He goes outside with the trash, where Guy promptly holds him up and smacks him on the head.
Flashback to Young Ray getting his past head wound treated by Beauregard. Poor dude might want to get an MRI soon. Tiller and James are outside discussing how odd it is Madsen attacked a new recruit out of nowhere. Tiller is suspicious of Ray's motivations, while James and Hastings seem dubious. They agree to keep him, as he's one of the few people who didn't flee after an attack.
In the present day, Team Alcatraz is going through Hastings' belongings when Rebecca gets a call about Ray's disappearance. Hauser sets out with her, as they have found a picture of Ray and Guy together. Again, a lot of convenient dramatic timing in this episode.
Old Ray wakes up in his apartment, his sight focusing to find Guy tearing through his things. Guy is looking for Tommy Madsen, though Ray denies knowing where he is. Ray seems generally unfazed at Guy's young appearance. Guy decides to go after Tommy's son, and Ray agrees to take him.
Rebecca sets out to find Old Ray. She and Hauser examine his trashed apartment and deduce that Guy is after Tommy, not Ray. Rebecca wonders why they're (where "they"= whatever mysterious entity is in charge of this time travelling) after him, and Hauser says he doesn't know. And he is clearly lying.
Flashback to Guy and Ray, with Ray denying he knows Madsen. Guy explains that Ray needs to establish dominance if that's the case.
Present day and Hauser picks up his red phone ("What's the deal with that phone, he picks it up and someone's there?" -Soto) and demands everyone show up in The Room, so he can track down Hastings. Madsen and Soto decide to find Hastings themselves using the old photos. They try to find the old house both their childhood and teenaged photos were taken in front of.
Old Ray and Guy are at the cemetery where Rebecca's parents are buried. Ray tries to figure out why they're looking for Tommy. We re-establish that he was being experimented on. Guy, however, isn't an idiot, and figures out that Rebecca must be Tommy's granddaughter. Ray tried to save Rebecca by taking Guy to Tommy instead.
Meanwhile, Soto's teenaged protégé does computer magic to pinpoint the location of the house. Between his hax0r skillz and Soto's knowledge of maps (?), they figure it out. At the same time, Hauser is trying to find a link between Tommy Madsen's jump and all the other released inmates and guards.
Soto and Rebecca go through some archives (that took a spectacularly short time to produce) to find a street with both a Madsen and an Archer on it. They find Madsens, but no Archers. However, what's this? When they read the household members they find not only Tommy Madsen (son) but also... Ray Madsen (son)! Ray has been Rebecca's real uncle this whole time! Oh, snap. Again, she takes the news with remarkable grace.
Flashback to a brutal scene where Guy has Ray beat up Tommy in order to establish the whole "dominance" thing. You know, I got in the middle of an actual dog fight last week, where one lost an ear (true story) and even that wasn't as bad as the beating Tommy gets. Tough break, man, especially since we know now that Ray is your brother.
Present day, with Ray and Guy at the childhood home of the Madsens. Tommy isn't there, and Guy insists Ray lied. Rebecca and Soto are on their way out there when Hauser calls them to figure out where they're going. So we find out he's tracking them, which is a shock to Soto but doesn't really surprise anyone else.
Guy and Ray are waiting for... something. I guess Tommy. Ray attempts an appeal to Guy's emotions, and asks him where he's been. He answers that he hasn't "been" anywhere- the stars went black, he was told his family was gone and that he was contaminated, and then... "It wasn't 1963 anymore."
Rebecca shows up, but Guy grabs her first. Rebecca tells Guy his family is still alive and kicking, which he is disbelieving of. Hauser barges in and threatens to shoot Hastings in the head (which he totally would have), but Rebecca pulls some slick moves and instead just shoots him in the kneecap. Ray meanwhile looks...depressed?
Flashback to Ray talking to a very beat up Tommy. Ray declares that he is here to help Tommy, but whether he means by escape or just emotional support isn't totally clear. Tommy grabs his hand, apparently forgiving him for the abuse.
Hauser takes Guy to see (and only see) his family. He tells Guy that he was only a casualty, and didn't deserve for this to happen. I'm dubious of Sam Neill whenever he's being compassionate, but I do feel like he's being genuine right now. What's less clear is where exactly Guy will go, since it's not like he can guard Alcatraz 2.0. But perhaps he'll just get tossed into a cell, furthering his status as "casualty."
Rebecca, being that she is actually a decent detective, confronts Hauser about the whole situation. She's figured out that Ray wasn't startled about the fact that his old boss showed up un-aged. Rather than assuming "suspended disbelief" is a family trait (since it's not like she ever seemed particularly shocked about anything she's seen), she realises Hauser had previously contacted Ray about finding Tommy- and indeed, he had, 16 years ago. She knows Hauser needs a Madsen to find Tommy, since he's crucial to this whole wibbily-wobbily timey-wimey thing. This gives her the upper hand I guess. Even though the only way she's really useful is as bait, which doesn't seem like "upper hand" at all to me.
Finally, Ray is closing up his bar when Tommy shows up. We learn that Ray has, indeed, been protecting Tommy all this time, but that he cares about protecting Rebecca more than protecting his brother- which isn't surprising, as Tommy's kind of a creepy dick. Ray threatens to kill Tommy if he puts Rebecca in harm's way again. And he looks like he means it.
So episode five wraps up with us learning a lot more about all sorts of things relating to the Madsens. Like I said, there's something a lot more compelling about this episode. In the previous episodes we learn about the motivations of the killers- it's interesting, I suppose, but if I wanted to hear about what drives a criminal I'd watch CSI or Law and Order. Learning about Ray and Tommy's past is interesting because it might actually have an effect on the overarching plot- and indeed, it does, when we find out Ray's been protecting Tommy since the 60s. The writing is still lacking, but the acting makes up for a lot of it (except for the rushed and unnecessary explanation of Ray's watch by Rebecca, which really bothered me). Of course, there's a lot more to find out, but if the show can maintain suspense with the recurring characters, I may not totally hate it by the end of this first season.
Written or Contributed by: DrImprobable, Outhouse Contributor