Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Alcatraz finale asks more questions than it answers

FOX's Alcatraz brings season one to a close this week with "Tommy Madsen." The second of two new hours, "Tommy Madsen" finds the gang closing in on the elusive man thought to be pivotal to the main plot arc. But the closer they get, the more mysteries spring up. And Rebecca (Sarah Jones) finally catches up to Tommy, who happens to be her grandfather (David Hoflin), only to have him stab her.

Those expecting the answers to a few questions in the season finale of Alcatraz will be disappointed. Yes, a handful of clues are given as to who is behind the appearance of the '63s in 2012, as well as how they got here. But the purpose behind such an experiment is still completely unknown, as is the science responsible for the feat. A new character may shed a little light, as he appears in a hidden room that Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill) finally unlocks with a trio of keys, but he does not get the chance to spill anything before the episode comes to a close.

Similarly, Lucy's (Parminder Nagra) romance with Emerson is brought into the open, and his deep feelings, which keep him faithful for fifty years, are mentioned. But there is not any background given as to how Emerson built and funded the task force investigating Alcatraz, nor the circumstances around Lucy coming back. Or why Lucy is wanted dead by the bad guys, more so than the rest of the team. Sure, guesses can be hazarded, but confirmation is nice, too.

A major development in "Tommy Madsen" is that Emerson and company discover that the '63s are popping up all across the country, not just in San Francisco. Why only in the U.S.? Well, that isn't explained. This sets the stage for a broader story, and perhaps even a less procedural plot, going forward. This is welcome, as the case of the week focus, prevalent through much of this season, drags the story down. New cases should be integrated, not stand alone. Thankfully, as time goes on, each individual begins to play into a larger whole, making the entire thing more cohesive. And now the scale of this series has just blown up a to be much, much larger.

Oh, and Rebecca dies.

Rebecca can't be dead. She is too important to Alcatraz, and while main characters can sometimes be killed off, this one cannot, at least, not yet. The question is not, what happens now that she's dead, but instead, how can they bring her back to life? The Alcatraz docs have been shown doing some pretty crazy medicine. Surely there is a solution to this problem related to the '63s. Or Walter Bishop could lend them a hand.

Which means that Alcatraz needs a second season. Currently on the bubble, it isn't fair to the fans who have invested thirteen hours of their lives if none of the major questions get a satisfying answer. Clearly, the vision the writers have for this series is only just getting started, and there would be no good way to bring things to a close in a single season. So give them another couple years to really lay out their plan, and then judge them as to whether it works or not. The early signs are good, and getting better every week, much like the first season of Fringe, a show of which some of the Alcatraz creative team are alumni. Allow them a second chance to prove themselves. Please.

Alcatraz also stars the fantastic Jorge Garcia, and airs on FOX.

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