Quick Take: Alcatraz, “Pilot”
Welcome to Alcatraz.
Review: Alcatraz, “Pilot”
(S0101) J.J. Abrams has a defined style of storytelling: lots of intrigue, lots of action, and more lens flare than the both combined. Not that I’m complaining – Abrams has satisfied the uncomfortable cerebral pulsing left by the incessant spout of “reality” television that is forcing failure upon quality shows such as Community, or Abrams’ other sci-fi love-child, Fringe.
Many fans are still reeling from the Lost finale – whether you loved it or hated it (I try not to associate with the latter), you enjoyed the journey. Alcatraz seems primed to offer the same sort of mesmerizing journey through layers of mystery that will require a bit of patience. If that’s not your cup of tea, but you still want to check out the Abrams-hype for yourself, I recommend Person of Interest.
Alcatraz begins with a slight retelling of the story of the infamous island-prison. When the Rock was shut down in 1963, the world was told that all of the inmates were transferred out – except that’s not what happened. One dark night, two prison guards arrive to find the entire island bereft of life – everyone simply disappeared. From personal experience, however, I can tell you that vanishing on command is not physically possible.
Flash-forward fifty years – to what turns out to be a flashback – where we catch up with Detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) at the precise moment when her partner slips out of her reach and to his death. With a bit of background established, Madsen is called to a murder, only to be pushed out by Emerson Hauser (Jurrasic Park alum Sam Neill) and his team of F.B.I. Clearly an intrepid and unyielding detective who is the rising star of her generation, Rebecca starts to poke her nose in places it doesn’t belong, and recruits the dual-Ph.D expertise of Dr. Diego Soto (Jorge Garcia).
Moving past the whimsical casting of Lost’s Hurley as an expert in the field of mysterious islands, we are also introduced to Jack Sylvane (Jeffrey Pierce), a prisoner in 1960’s Alcatraz. Before he was an inmate, he was a prisoner of circumstance; after being caught stealing from a place that also sold postal stamps – thus incurring the wrath of the federal government – Sylvane finds himself being forced to drop the soap by a fellow inmate, earning his trip to the Rock by killing his assailant.
So Madsen and Soto get caught snooping around by Hauser, who is strangely open to revealing the bizarre nature of his team’s assigned task despite being ready to kill others to protect the same secret. Following the disappearance at Alcatraz fifty years earlier, Hauser is relatively up to speed on the mysterious disappearance and reappearance of Jack Sylvane, if not others.
Sylvane, after waking up in his cell having not aged a day since his disappearance, finds himself equipped to take a ferry off the island unrecognized, and proceeds to go on a murder-spree, recovering a gun and black pouch with a key before confronting his brother. Soto, Madsen, and Hauser and his team catch up with Jack at his wife’s grave, where he antagonizes a shot to the leg from a nearby sharpshooter, remanding him to Hauser’s custody.
Hauser, who has set up his Batcave beneath the Alcatraz prison, has been waiting for fifty years for the reappearance of the two-hundred-fifty-six convicts that he discovered missing on that fateful night. One of those escaped convicts also happens to be Madsen’s grandfather, and the man responsible for her partner’s death– a discovery that prompts her request to be transferred to the bizarre case, inviting Soto along to be her partner. With the team assembled, Hauser escorts Sylvane back to his cell in Alcatraz, promising him company quite soon.