Alcatraz “Garrett Stillman; Tommy Madsen” Review

Alcatraz returned for possibly the very last time tonight with “Garrett Stillman; Tommy Madsen”. With Alcatraz‘s ratings dipping even lower than the already cancelled Terra Nova, things definitely don’t look good for Soto and Madsen and company. It’s up to the final two episodes of the season to go out with a bang, and give us some possible closure if the series isn’t picked up for renewal.

“Garrett Stillman” started out with the triumphant return of Dr. Lucy. It’s still a little frustrating how in the dark Soto and Madsen are always kept, as they had no idea until last episode that she was a 63, and now Hauser doesn’t even see fit to let them know that she’s woken up! Are you kidding me? It’s one thing to be secretive, but to not tell the people who were there when she was shot is just a jerk move. It didn’t even make sense to keep it a secret! It was a nice scene from Lucy as she recounted what it was like to “Jump”, and how the thing she missed the most is the people from 1963. It was clear that she was talking about Houser, and it really makes you realize how strange it would be to jump 50 years into the future and try to resume a relationship with somebody who has changed so dramatically.

The actual investigation of Garrett Stillman really wasn’t all that important to the episode, and that’s a real shame. Stillman was one of the coolest and smartest inmates we’ve seen on the show yet. He was very cold, calculating, and intelligent, and this great villain was wasted on the penultimate episode of the series finale. It’s hard to care about the guy who comes right before Tommy Madsen, whose story is the one we really care about. Even the final scene of the first episode felt just like the whole episode was a set-up for the next. I just wish we got such a great villain in the middle of the episode, and instead got a whole 2-hour finale focusing on pursuing Madsen.

So once Rebecca finally gets to chasing down her grandpa, we see him kidnap a woman to help him track down another inmate. I wasn’t expecting this episode to introduce yet another 63, but we meet the crazy little Joe Limerick and find out that he’s holding the third and final key to help us get inside our mystery door! I’m not quite sure why Madsen is so hell-bent on getting this key, as it doesn’t look like it’ll do him a lot of good without the first two, but whatever.

Ever since Rebecca found out about her grandpa being a 63, I’ve been wondering what their meeting would be like. I pictured a dramatic confrontation, maybe a shootout, but I did not expect a high-speed car chase through the San Francisco streets. This was one of the best car chases I’ve seen on network television, and even though it felt more like an ad for the Ford Mustang, it was still pretty darn exciting. I really wish we didn’t have that scene in the beginning of the episode, though, that shows us Rebecca on the floor suffering from a deadly wound. It would have made the stabbing so much more surprising!

We go straight from Rebecca being in the hospital to finally finding out what’s behind the big door! As suspected by many, it seems to have been the command center for however the 63s were all sent back in time. Not only were there some high-tech doohickeys and a map of the US tracking 63s all over the country, but the doctor from 1960 is there too and he is ca-raaaaazy!

The last scene of the episode, and quite possibly the last scene of the series, is Rebecca flatlining on her hospital bed. It’s a frustrating cliffhanger to be sure, and hardcore Alcatraz fans will most likely bemoan this ending for years to come. For all of Alcatraz‘s poorly written characters and flaws, I thought the first season was solid and really ended on a high note. I hope that it gets renewed next season not necessarily because I like it, but because I want more shows like this on network TV.

Random Thoughts:

– Why didn’t the security guard also just, you know, look out the window as well as scanning the badge? There was a window right there!

– If you guys saw your grandpa as a 30 something year old guy, wouldn’t you recognize him? I feel like I’ve seen enough pictures of my grandpa to be able to tell who he is, so it’s a bit weird that Madsen didn’t recognize him when he first killed her partner.

– There was another Shawshank Redemption parallel here, with the warden getting the smartest guy in the jail to help him cook his books.

– I know this might make me a bad person, but did anybody else find Sarah Jones’ surprisingly large bosoms distracting in the hospital scenes? Or is it just me being a guy?