The more I watch Alcatraz, the more invested I become in the series: So far I've found the characters inviting, the tone convincing and the pacing top-notch. Which makes it doubly frustrating that the last few “reveals” haven't been the most bone-chilling twists.
Spoiler Alert: Last night we found out that Tommy Madsen—Det. Rebecca Madsen’s former-inmate grandfather—had a brother in Alcatraz with him who was a guard. And brace yourselves, that guard was Rebecca’s Uncle Ray. So what did this change? Well, up until now, Rebecca thought Ray Archer was her legal guardian, but not a blood relative—a surrogate uncle. But now she’s knows that the “Uncle” Ray who raised her is actually Uncle Ray, no quotation marks. Wow, right? That changes... nothing.
I’m not saying each episode has to feature a game-changing reveal, but it would be nice to learn a bit more about the overall conspiracy, even if it’s information that leads to more questions.
That being said, last night’s episode was still very enjoyable, focusing on a time-traveling guard instead of an inmate. The former guard was rummaging through his abandoned apartment on the Rock, looking for a hidden gun and some family photos. A present-day Alcatraz patrolman stumbled upon the guard from 1963, but instead of swapping cross-generational stories, the time-traveling guard just mercilessly whaled on his successor.
Later in the Batcave, Emerson Hauser showed Madsen and Dr. Soto on-camera footage of the latest ‘63 on the loose. Soto correctly identified the objective of the week as Guy Hastings, one of the guards, which made Madsen wonder why a guard would be just as violent as the inmates they've encountered thus far.
"The guards were good men,” Hauser assured her (though given his amorality, it’s hard to put too much salt in that assertion). “Someone put him up to it,” Hauser concluded, implying that the man wasn’t operating entirely under his own willpower, much like the returning criminals.
The best part of this episode just might have been the atmospheric jail drama that took place in the flashbacks. We watched Ray Archer—who raised Rebecca and runs that bar in the present day—endure his first day as a guard on Alcatraz, where "training day" resembled military boot camp more than orientation.
Furthermore, Ray knew one of the inmates from his childhood—and not just any inmate, but Rebecca’s grandfather, Tommy Madsen (the same bad dude who killed her police partner in the pilot).
The complicated connection between Ray and Tommy was established when Tommy used his lunch tray to flatten Ray’s face, telling him “he shouldn’t have come.”
When we jumped ahead to the present day, the still young and virile Guy Hastings had abducted the wrinkled and aged Ray, who looked surprised to see his former fellow Alcatraz guard suddenly reappear un-aged, but hardly as surprised as you might think...
Madsen and Soto, meanwhile, were wasting their time interviewing Hastings’ still-living daughter, who told them that her father died in Alcatraz in a shady, not-fully-explained contamination accident. After reopening the middle-aged woman’s traumatic childhood wounds, they left her to wallow in sorrow and soon learned that Ray had disappeared.
NEXT: Hastings' eerie, vague description of what happened when the guards and inmates disappeared