An island with a mysterious history, a beautiful ass-kicking lady cop, a conspiracy involving time-travel and assassinations ... Yes, it is the new attempt to emulate Lost . But unlike other pretenders ( Flash Forward, The Event ) this one is actually produced by JJ Abrams himself. Since he is also running TWO blockbuster movie franchises ( Mission: Impossible, Star Trek ) when does he find time to sleep? Maybe HE is part of a real-life time-travel conspiracy!
The lady cop ( Sarah Jones ) is introduced in a rooftop chase of a mysterious bad guy. Does it end badly? Ever seen Vertigo ? And why is it relevant? The villain is not identified at the time, his crimes are not explained. But the lone cop needs Dirty Harry motivation ... You killed my partner, he was only 3 days away from retirement!
The lady cop gets shut out of an investigation into an Alcatraz-related murder. She decides to launch her own investigation, and recruits an Alcatraz Expert (Hurley from Lost ). They walk into a conspiracy led by mysterious FBI goon Hauser (Sam Neill - Event Horizon ) and his scientist sidekick, Dr Lucy ( Parminder Nagra ).
Basically, Alcatraz was shut when the entire population, guards and inmates alike, disappeared in 1963. It turns out they were time-travelled, presumably by a sinister conspiracy with a shadowy agenda. They are called The 63s after the year they disappeared in, like The 37s in Star Trek: Voyager . Every week a convicted murderer will try to assassinate people, on the orders of the Conspiracy, while the Feds try to get one step ahead. But will Hauser be a Jack Bristow or an Arvin Sloane?
A sniper is going on a shooting spree. Only our heroes know that they are hunting an Alcatraz escapee, so their knowledge of his MO means they are one step ahead of the cops. Unfortunately, the shooter is one step ahead of them.
We actually get some background on the gunman. He is quite a sympathetic character, if you look beyond his murderous tendencies. He was victimised by the oppressive and sadistic regime in the prison, and Hauser (Sam Neill - Event Horizon ) still employs the old-school bully-boy tactics.
A young boy is abducted. Soto (Jorge Garcia - Lost ) recognises this as the work of an Alcatraz escapee.
Yet again, the flashbacks portray the prison as a far more anarchic environment than it really was. But we get more of the key scenes from the prison hospital. The prison doctor, Dr. Milton Beauregard (Leon Rippy - The Visitor ), knows a lot more than he reveals. Also, the mysterious voice from behind the curtain is revealed.
A bank-robber (Eric Johnston - Smallville ) is on the loose, hitting safety deposit boxes. He used to be non-violent, but now he is a serial-killer who seems to have watched No Country For Old Men. However, he is after a particular plot device, a key matching one used in the pilot ep.
His flashbacks are the most extensive so far, with a lot more implied corruption among the not-so-historically-accurate Wardens. Dr Lucy ( Parminder Nagra ) is involved in experiments on the inmates. And the Warden is keeping someone in a secret cell in the basement. With three locks ...
The team have to stop their target getting arrested by City Cops. They cannot risk losing control. Even if it means breaking the robber out of custody.
Hoyt from True Blood returns to Alcatraz. This is a good thing, because it kick-starts the plot arc. You see, Hoyt was a guard ...
Hoyt wants revenge on Tommy Madsen, Rebecca's grandfather. And he assumes that Uncle Ray (the under-used Robert Forster - Black Hole, Supernova ) knows where to find him.
A mad bomber is planting landmines in city parks. Back in 1963 he was delivered to Alcatraz by SF PD cop Hauser (Sam Neill - Event Horizon ), who apparently did not do his own interrogations back then. The suspect was tortured by Doctor Beauregard (Leon Rippy - The Visitor ) and then interrogated expertly by Dr Lucy ( Parminder Nagra ) . She has quite a lot to do this time - she returned Hauser's social interest, and had no knowledge of why Doctor Beauregard (Leon Rippy - The Visitor ) was taking Tommy's blood ...
In 2012, Hauser (Sam Neill - Event Horizon ) still has his old-school tactics for dealing with perps. He is on edge because Lucy is still in hospital, comatose. This might explain the shoddy field-work procedures he uses. He goes off alone, without telling Blondie where to find him. And while she has a partner, it is Soto (Jorge Garcia - Lost ) - a civilian, therefore unarmed. So neither of them has a chance if something goes wrong. What are the chances of that happening?
The SFPD bomb disposal squad is led by an old friend of Blondie's. He is the token black guy. What is his life expectancy?
A poisoner is on the loose. He loves to attack people he perceives as bullies, Terminating them with extreme prejudice. He deliberately picks customer-service jobs, so he can provoke arguments with customers and thus find more victims for his rage. However, he is being set up as a pawn. Whoever is behind him wants him to create a terrorist outrage.
Detective Madsen ( Sarah Jones ) interrogates the shooter from the pilot episode. He is not much help to anyone.
This is like Cold Case, where the blonde lady cop investigates historical crimes. There are a couple of differences, however. Firstly, Cold Case is a Police Procedural, where the police follow correct procedures and work like a team of experts. Secondly, as a mitigating factor in defence of Alcatraz , the escapees actually pose a clear and present danger to human life. Cold Case is just a PR stunt for cops to get some publicity and boosting their clean-up rate. There's lies, damn lies and statistics as the saying goes.
Detective Madsen ( Sarah Jones ) and Professor Soto (Jorge Garcia - Lost ) are hanging out in the disused prison. Yes, their HQ is on an unguarded island that is the one place GUARANTEED to attract attention from time-travelling murderers. Just the place to go wandering, alone and unarmed, when there is a thunderstorm and power cut.
The Ames brothers were a pair of violent armed robbers, who had a plan to infiltrate the tunnels under the prison. Does Donovan the Guard (Frank Whaley - Luke Cage ) have a clue what they are after?
The dynamic duo go after a shotgun-toting kidnapper named Sonny Burnett (Theo Rossi - Luke Cage ), the mixed-race biker from Sons of Anarchy. He was relatively non-violent before he was imprisoned. But his incarceration in the OTT prison-movie-cliché Alcatraz turned him into a violent man. He is obsessed with revenge.
Doctor Beauregard (Leon Rippy - The Visitor ) tells Hauser (Sam Neill - Event Horizon ) that he was harvesting colloidal silver from Tommy Madsen's blood. It was then injected into the other '63s, apparently to boost their healing factor. What the Warden's secret plan was, we are not told. But the newest perp has the same blood group as Dr Lucy ( Parminder Nagra ), so his blood could help her heal.
Detective Madsen ( Sarah Jones ) is still having nightmares about Tommy Madsen. Is he stalking her?
The 1950s African-American guy from The 4400 is back, once again with a history of being oppressed because of his interracial relationships with white women. But while he claimed innocence of his original crime, he seems to be killing new victims.
Apparently Alcatraz was segregated, despite being a Federal facility in a non-slavery State. And race riots were common-place there, according to this show. The Warden tries to teach the inmates racial harmony, but they would rather fight each other.
The Warden is not the only one conducting illegal experiments on the prisoners. Doctor Beauregard (Leon Rippy - The Visitor ) is helping the CIA's MK-Ultra programme to brainwash people into becoming murderers. This is the opposite of Lucy's plans, to cure the convicts' evil urges through mental therapy. But despite working on the Warden's blood transfusions, the Doctor does not know the details.
Detective Madsen ( Sarah Jones ) tags along with a friend who is investigating an unrelated murder. But the killer's blood-stain is contaminated with colloidal silver - which means he is one of the '63s.
Soto (Jorge Garcia - Lost ) tries to keep Hauser (Sam Neill - Event Horizon ) under surveillance. This is a bad idea for a number of reasons - an average man might avoid getting spotted by an old pro like Hauser, but Hurley sort of stands out. Hauser is pre-occupied with Dr Lucy ( Parminder Nagra ).
The flashbacks are of Lucy curing the freak-of-the-week. The poor fellow had obvious mental problems, but was put in gen-pop instead of an asylum. Perhaps for the best, because even Doctor Beauregard (Leon Rippy - The Visitor ) does not give ECT as standard therapy. And Lucy cures the killer with music - well, she does not stop him from being a killer.
The climax is somewhat cliched, with jeopardy shoe-horned in. If the '63 dies, Hauser loses his best chance of saving Lucy.
A bank robber stages a series of audacious heists. It turns out he is one of the 63s. He was a chess player, ex-SAS like Sean Connery in The Rock. He also did special work for the Warden. And this time he has a secret backer.
Dr Lucy ( Parminder Nagra ) is out and about. She starts re-interviewing the re-captured inmates. No word about the fate of the rogue guard, though he does rate a mention. Specifically because he was after Tommy Madsen. This implies there are two factions of 63s - Madsen's and someone else's. But whose side is the robber on?
The Warden's plan in 1963 is to gain control of the contraband business in Alcatraz. But it seems he is playing a long game.
Hauser's men discover there is an unmapped tunnel under the lighthouse. But what else is down there?
Tommy Madsen goes after the key-stealer. But his grand-daughter is still after him. They have a car chase that is straight out of Bullitt.
Hauser (Sam Neill - Event Horizon ) and Dr Lucy ( Parminder Nagra ) get to see behind the door. Yes, the show-runners learned from the unsuccessful cliff-hanger at the end of Lost: Season One . We meet the man in the basement. But what the Warden wanted, and why Tommy fell out with him, is not explained.