“Is anyone else’s head exploding right now?”
Once again, Jorge Garcia, as Alcatraz expert Dr. Diego Soto, asks the question on every viewer’s mind. No, this isn’t Lost and there aren’t any smoke monsters (yet), but some of the similarities are rather uncanny. Before you write this off as a preemptive disappointment, though, read on through to see some recap, commentary, and predictions. As thrilling as these two back-to-back episodes were last night, I can only imagine that JJ Abrams, Jack Bender and the rest of the team have so much more in store for us.
The show is based around the mystery that in 1963, all of the inmates in Alcatraz were transferred out; however, the canon is that when the transfer guards showed up, the entire prison was empty of inmates and staff. In the present day, Det. Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) finds herself pulled into the mystery by FBI agent Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill) and his assistant Lucy Banerjee (Parminder Nagra), bringing with her Alcatraz expert Dr. Diego Soto (Jorge Garcia). As we learn near the end of the pilot, Hauser was one of the two original guards who found the empty island, and he’s built a New Alcatraz with which to contain all of the original inmates upon capture.
Alcatraz has followed suit on one of Lost‘s most famous fall-backs: the flashback. Both episodes flip back and forth between 1960, to introduce us to the characters as they enter and live on the Rock, and present day, where they resurface and our heroes have to track them down before they repeat their crimes. In such capable hands, the flashback is once again an incredibly effective tool, especially since it connects the inmates’ pasts and presents with startling clarity. While they haven’t aged, they do appear to have changed in a few ways, but we’ll find out more about that later.
Curious? Click through to A Big Picture Window to read my recaps of the first two episodes along with some end commentary.