Well, the season (or is it series?) finale of Alcatraz aired last night, to a resounding round of audience indifference.
I had high hopes for this series when it first started. It had a really cool premise-- Alcatraz inmates from 1963 vanish and start reappearing in the present day. It featured some of my favorite TV stars (Jorge Garcia, Parminder Nagra, Robert Forster) and it was produced by J.J. Abrams, one of the creators of LOST. With a pedigree like that, how could it miss?
It found a way.
I enjoyed the first two episodes, but then I worried that the series might suffer from repetition. Looks like I was right. Every week it's the same damn plot: Dangerous inmate reappears in the present day, wreaks havoc for a while and is killed or caught, while the mystery of what happened in 1963 is slowly and maddeningly revealed one tiny piece at a time.
I'd hoped that the producers of Alcatraz learned from their mistakes on LOST and wouldn't drag the mysteries out for too long this time. They have given us a few answers, but they haven't been all that interesting and just as they did on LOST, for every answer we get, another ten questions pop up. It also suffers from the same "Don't Give Anyone A Straight Answer So We Can Prolong The Mystery" syndrome that plagued LOST. Several times this season Madsen and Soto asked their boss Hauser to tell them what the heck was going on, and rather than simply tell them, each time he'd tilt his head, grimace like he was constipated and silently walk offscreen. Maddening!
Last nights's finale jealously doled out a couple of answers to us before ending on the requisite cliffhanger. To be honest, the whole thing was just plain dull. I hate to say it but I'm starting to lose interest in whatever the heck's going on and am very close to giving up on this show.
Some thoughts about the finale and the season as a whole:
• We finally get to see what's behind the Warden's mysterious door in the basement of the prison. So what's inside? Pretty much a whole lot of nothing. Just a map showing us that the Sixty Threes are popping up all over the country, not just in San Francisco. Oh, and some scientist guy we never saw until now, whose appearance was apparently significant somehow.
• Several characters find out that Lucy is a Sixty Three in the finale, something the audience has known since the second episode. Yawn. Nothing more exciting than watching people find out something you already know.
• Lucy tells Madsen and Soto to ask her anything and she'll answer them honestly. Instead of the logical question, "How the hell did you jump forward in time fifty years" all they want to know is if her boyfriend Hauser was a sweetie when he was younger. Oy gevalt!
• Did the writers do the math before they started this show? Hauser is the head of the project that's rounding up the Sixty Threes, but he was also a guard who was present the night the inmates disappeared 50 years ago. That means Hauser has to be well over 70 years old. And we're supposed to believe he's still running around, kicking down doors and punching out time-traveling criminals?
• Hauser and Lucy were in love 50 years ago, before she disappeared. They've finally been reunited, but she's probably 29 or so and he's 75. Ew.
• Tommy Madsen, Alcatraz inmate and Rebecca Madsen's grandpaw, has some kind of magic colloidal silver blood that heals wounds and apparently somehow causes you to jump through time. Colloidal silver is a real thing, and I'm pretty sure it has no inherent time travel properties. Couldn't they have made up some kind of anti-matter blood or something? Some kind of substance that sounds like it could exist but doesn't?
• As I've stated before, it's very considerate of the Sixty Threes to show up in the present one at a time, once per week.
• There's apparently some kind of Mastermind behind the reappearance of the Sixty Threes who is orchestrating their return and activities in the present. Gee, who could it possibly be? Surely not creepy old Warden James, who no one's seen since 1963? If the Warden doesn't turn out to be behind the whole thing, I'll eat my hat.
• I've always liked actor Robert Forster, but I wish he'd just admit to himself that he's bald. I don't know what's up with that hair-like substance on top of his head, but it's very distracting. You're bald, Robert. It's OK. We'll still love you.
• Doc Soto is apparently very efficient at managing his time. He not only runs a comic shop, but also draws a (monthly?) comic book, in addition to following Rebecca around on cases 18 hours per day.
• Rebecca finally corners her still-young grandpa, Tommy Madsen. Before she can get any answers out of him, he stabs her in the side and escapes. This incident could probably have been avoided if she hadn't been standing literally 6 inches away from him the entire time. A gun is a long-range weapon, Rebecca. You don't need to touch the barrel to a suspect's chest in order for it to work.
• As soon as Tommy stabbed Rebecca and scampered off, I let out a weary groan. Not due to any concern about Rebecca's health, but because I knew it meant that it'd be months, maybe even years before we finally find out the truth about Tommy. I think maybe I'm losing patience with these long-term mystery shows.
• So Rebecca is dead, huh? Wow, what a shocking cliffhanger. I wouldn't worry too much about her though. Given the fact that half the people on the show have magic silver blood and she's the star of the series, I think she'll probably get better.