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Alcatraz- "Garrett Stillman" and "Tommy Madsen"

Written by Dr. Improbable on Tuesday, March 27 2012 and posted in Reviews

The season finale leaves more questions than answers, surprising exactly no one.

This week the season finale of Alcatraz treats us to another thrilling double feature. Hold up, I can barely contain my excitement.

*Alctraz spoilers to the max*

In the past, we learn the story of Garrett Stillman, a British expat who is an expert heister. Is heister a word? "One who does heists?" It should be. There's probably a better word for it and I just don't know what it is. Stillman is a super genius and sees all his plots like a game of chess- people are predictable and easy to manipulate. Warden James is particularly keen on having Stillman get one Harlan Simmons out of Alcatraz prior to 1965. E. B. Tiller, on the other hand, is not so keen on it. James has Stillman set up a switch for the parole papers, which he does right under the nose of Tiller. Simmons gets his parole and Stillman is sent to D Block, where all our escapees come from.

In the present. Lucy is up and about and ruining Hauser's façade as a tough guy. She essentially tells Rebecca that she and Hauser had a thing, much to the surprise (and possibly horror) of Rebecca. Hauser huffs around while pretty much ignoring Lucy (I guess it's super awkward when the guy you were dating is suddenly the age of your father) while trying to figure out what those keys he confiscated were for. He does this with the help of one of his personal Geek Squad members, whose name I'm pretty sure they change from Art to Warren. He does indeed find a secret passageway under the lighthouse bulkhead, and in that passageway is the Warden's magic room- but unfortunately he doesn't have the third, secret key he needs to get in.

Finally, Rebecca and Soto are busy chasing the respawned Stillman. He has a cockamamie scheme to steal from a security company- Broadway Mutual, which is run by the reclusive Harlan Simmons and is worth boatloads of money. So I guess we know who's funding all these escapees once they return to 2012. Clearly James had the long con in mind. More importantly they track Stillman's (and the other prisoners') handler, which turns out to be... Tommy Madsen! Dun, Dun, Dun! Again, the writers' inability to be subtle means this was painfully obvious to the viewers about twelve episodes ago.

But that does set us up for the next episode, "Tommy Madsen." Which opens with Rebecca on the ground in pain and clutching her side. We then backtrack 36 hours to see how she ended up that way. Come! A journey! We're about to solve a few questions while prompting a bunch more- does this sound familiar?

Back in time, James is finally ready to try his experiment with magical blood transfusion. Some Woody Allen-type doctor is at his side. Where did this guy come from? Madsen is tied down and starts having a reaction to the blood- but wakes up, hale and hearty, in a fancy hotel room. James enters with a delicious feast and Madsen asks if he's in heaven or hell. James says neither, though compares himself to the Faustian devil. That right there is some conceit, man.

In the present, we Joseph Limmerick, who is spouting crazy talk about being from 1963 Alcatraz. Of course, we know he's not crazy (much), but it turns out he's got that third key and he's hiding from Tommy. Meanwhile, Hauser is bustling about trying to get Lucy somewhere safe, since Cobb said that she will always be a target for what she knows. Hauser goes to see a super important army man about both that and a request to meet Harlan Simmons. He's all set to send Lucy to Paraguay, though Hauser remarks that it might be difficult for him to accompany her to Paraguay given a "past situation." What crazy shit did you get up to in South America, Hauser? It's also implied that this army guy is super high up and has all the deets on this Alcatraz situation. He asks Hauser if James is back and Hauser says he doesn't know. I'm glad someone finally addressed this since I've been asking about it for the past three episodes.

On Soto and Madsen's front, they are pursuing Tommy, who has absconded some mystery lady after shooting her husband. Rebecca, by the way, thinks Tommy killed her partner for personal reasons. Her chief confirms that he was under investigation for questionable dealings with Broadway Mutual. Anyway, the victim's daughter escapes and Soto uses the power of comics to get her out of shock so that she can help them find Madsen. Ugh, it's kind of confusing to be writing about both Madsens.

In the past, Tommy and James are on a lovely date in the restaurant where Tommy met his wife. The Warden takes him to see his kid (Rebecca's dad), but the boy runs inside, terrified. Later he talks to Ray and confesses that he killed his wife. I mean, I'm pretty sure he's lying because he just wants Ray to leave, but at least we know now why Ray thought he was innocent and then changed his mind.

Meanwhile, present-day Tommy and Rebecca's paths start to merge. Tommy has used that wife he kidnapped to get into Limmerick's safe house. Limmerick, however, decides he'd rather not be captured by Tommy, and throws himself out a window. Conveniently (Hollywood timing!) Madsen is driving up just then. She pursues her grandfather in a Mustang she appropriated from a random passerby (yeah, Ford totally sponsors this show by the way). At the scene, Soto takes the key from Limmerick's person (can you still have a "person" if you're splattered on the ground like a pancake?) and drives off to find Rebecca. Hauser is displeased and holds a gun out, but Lucy (and perhaps his conscience- but mostly Lucy) keeps him from shooting. All this time, Rebecca has been chasing Tommy in an advert for Ford Mustang. Once she reaches him, he tries to appeal to her sensitive side. When that doesn't work, he asks if Ray told her how her parents actually died and then he stabs her. Hence we've returned to the opening scene.

Everyone winds up at the hospital with Rebecca. Lucy and Hauser have a moment and Ray barges in, yelling at Hauser for getting her into this mess. Soto gives up the key. Hauser invites him along for the big unveiling, but Soto says that staying with Rebecca is more important because he's not a ruthless psychopath.

Inside the warden's door, they find a map of the United States with all the inmate's numbers on it. The flashback explains that with the silver in the inmate's blood, they can track them. And also presumably predict where they go. (Not surprisingly there are like four of them in Chicago. Figures. I wish one was Al Capone because I would watch the hell out of that episode.) Back in the present, Hauser finds the Woody Allen doctor lying on the floor of that room, very disoriented. When he tells him it's 2012, the man starts cackling. Meanwhile, Rebecca dies.

So there you have it. One season of Alcatraz complete. The latest ratings indicated it'd probably be cancelled, and IMDB has no info on a season 2. Seems like people don't really care about this show too much. I also feel like the writers and producers of this show had to have realised that, so they shouldn't have set up so many cliffhangers in this finale. The worst part is, the cliffhangers were all pretty good- predictable, maybe, but good. The thing about Rebecca's parents, Warden James' ultimate plan, the inmates all over the country, the high-up army official being involved, whether or not they use the magic silver blood to somehow fix Rebecca (can they even do that?)- I admit to being curious about all of these things. But alas, it seems unlikely I'll get any resolution on any of them. I know they set up kind of a lot, and not everything could be resolved, but why leave so many new threads dangling? It does a disservice to people who are actually fans.

The TL;DR review for the whole season is: don't bother. Maybe if it actually gets picked up for a second, it'll come into its own as a good show. But the end as it is now is unsatisfying and frustrating. There are other shows starting up around now you should focus on instead. Mad Men if you're really interested in the 60s; Game of Thrones if you need your blood and gore and impossibly complicated familial relationships; and the first trailer for Doctor Who was just released, so hopefully that'll be out soon for those of you who need a time travelling fix. I'm sure there are others. Post your thoughts and feelings in the comments.

Written or Contributed by: Dr. Improbable

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About the Author - DrImprobable

Before you ask, no, Dr. Improbable is not that kind of doctor, and will not be diagnosing your genital warts today. Seriously, put it away. The doc does more of the "mad science" brand of doctoring, though one day hopes to be that "time and space traveling" kind of doctor. In the meantime, Doc passes time cloning things, memorizing acronyms, and using large magnets. When not plotting all the terrible ways to destroy the human race (particularly those found on public transportation), the doc kills time by watching television and making sarcastic commentary on it.


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