Tuesday, January 31, 2012

ALCATRAZ Episode 1.04 ("Cal Sweeney") Analysis Delayed

My apologies - I am out of town and have not been able to watch this week's episode of ALCATRAZ yet. I will be posting my in-depth analysis on Friday (2/3). 

Thank you for your patience!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

ALCATRAZ Episode 1.03 ("Kit Nelson"): Thoughts & Theories

Thank you for your patience! As a reminder, this site is spoiler-free, my emphasis is on elaborate speculation rather than episode recap, and all comments will be moderated.

So without further delay, let’s light a bonus match and uncover the truth about Kit Nelson…

302/THE 63’s

By my count, we have now been introduced to 6 of the 302 who vanished from Alcatraz on 3/21/63: 

Lucy Banerjee
Dr. Beauregard 
Ernest Cobb, inmate #2047
Tommy Madsen, inmate #2002
Kit Nelson, inmate #2046 
Jack Sylvane, inmate #2024

Regardless of the fact that Emerson Hauser’s opening narration of the show states that 302 men vanished, Lucy is proof that at least one woman was among them.


In the U.S., a chrysanthemum represents positive reinforcement – primarily given in bunches as get-well or house-warming flowers. However, in many countries such as Austria and Belgium, the chrysanthemum is used as a gravestone memorial and is widely considered to be the flower of death. Kit Nelson clearly chose a more European style; he left chrysanthemums on the beds of his kidnapping victims.


If I’m not mistaken, Dylan was reading the Justice Society of America Volume 3 #41…which I believe features a visit to Alcatraz. 

What? I’m a Comic-Con and Wonder-Con girl, and geek at heart.


We are bound to see a Doc Soto-penned comic book become available to us at some point, but it remains to be seen whether or not the new crime scenes that Doc is drawing will come into play after Hauser has captured more inmates. 

The working relationship and friendship between Doc and Madsen is progressing quite nicely, and I do like how she stands up to Hauser with regard to her partnership with Doc. I must note that I was very impressed and touched by Jorge Garcia’s performance in this episode, and I look forward to more reveals about his character. For a show focused on hard criminals and those in pursuit, it is essential to establish a heart and soul of the series - and they have. His name is Diego Soto.

Although exact details were not shared (yet), we now know that Doc was kidnapped when he was 11 years old. Hauser refers to a state of arrested development brought on by a trauma, and obviously knows exactly what happened to Doc. He also likely knew that Madsen would find him and that they’d team up for his purposes. While I hesitate to call Madsen and Doc mere pawns in Hauser’s game, it seems to me that both of them have joined a team that was pre-determined and meticulously designed… 


Whether it was a purposeful editorial decision or not, something interesting caught my eye during the scenes from “previously on ALCATRAZ.” I noticed that they first showed Emerson patting Lucy’s hand as he instructed her to “watch them” (when he asked her to go with Rebecca and Doc as they looked for Ernest Cobb), and then cut to her being shot by Cobb in the window. It was as if they wanted us to believe that Emerson was complicit in her shooting…as if he knew if was going to happen or even may have been behind it.  In “Kit Nelson,” however, Emerson was unusually demonstrative with his distress about Lucy’s current condition.

With every new episode, we are left to ponder if Lucy chose to come back or was forced to return. 

They seem to be hinting that the relationship between Emerson and Lucy used to be of a romantic nature. The question remains whether or not they dated when he was a young SF police officer and she was a doctor on Alcatraz back in the early 1960’s, or whether it was more recent – upon her “return” to contemporary society. 

Now that Lucy is in a coma, where is the key that Sylvane stole from Flynn? I believe she was the last person to possess it. If it were in fact the key to operate the elevator for access beneath the Secret Spy Lair on Alcatraz…I’d like to think that Hauser knows about it and would be using it already. 


I am particularly amused by the locations they are using on ALCATRAZ, even though I realize that they are filming up in Vancouver. For example, Kit Nelson kidnapped Dylan from a house in Walnut Creek and they went fishing on the Lafayette Reservoir – both of which are quite close to where we actually live. I’m not one to nitpick and compare real locations with where they are filming, but so far none of the Bay Area towns and settings featured on ALCATRAZ have been too far off in terms of realistic surroundings.


The big question at hand is this – does Emerson Hauser NEED the returning 302 to be alive? Does their viability determine or affect his end game? He made the choice to “kill” Nelson rather than merely put a carefully placed, non-lethal bullet in him, as he did with both Sylvane and Cobb. 

Given the very hi-tech equipment installed at New Alcatraz, we can’t rule out the possibility that Hauser and his team have a type of revival/restoration system in place. Not only did Hauser bring Dr. Beauregard the dead body of Kit Nelson, he mentioned that he might need him to help a friend. The obvious guess is that Hauser would like the dancing doctor to save Lucy’s life, and that he has some way of bringing Nelson back as well. Perhaps my Crazy Theory of the Week in the last post isn’t too far off.

Speaking of modern technology...I have to also wonder if New Alcatraz is where the returning prisoners are actually being dispersed from. Hauser is working beneath old Alcatraz and New Alcatraz is clearly within driving distance of San Francisco (my guess: Marin County). We have only seen one or two levels of and rooms in the facility - the inmate cells, Dr. Beauregard's infirmary and the lie detector room. It is entirely possible that there is yet another Secret Spy Lair, and that the re-animation process takes place there below New Alcatraz.

IF in fact Hauser is actually responsible for what is happening and is bringing the inmates back to life in New Alcatraz, then I would suggest that the mysterious key (retrieved courtesy of Jack Sylvane) will play a role in uncovering/thwarting Hauser's plans in future episodes. Logistically speaking, the newly revived inmates may not recognize New Alcatraz when they are captured and brought back there because they might have been brainwashed. Or their implanted chips were swiped clean of any memories from their time in suspension, from 1963-2011...


Whomever/whatever is assigning the returning inmates their mission is dooming them to repeat the past and get captured. They MUST be aware of Hauser’s efforts and New Alcatraz by now, or at least that he has assembled a team to secure the collective evil before they destroy more lives across a wider swath than just the Bay Area.

One commonality among the first three prisoners we’ve seen thus far is that all of them were put in solitary confinement. Yes, that was a frequent action on Alcatraz and prisons everywhere – but we must consider if it is also a hint or a pattern that relates to their future disappearance. For all we know, there are brainwashing messages and/or chemical releases being dispersed secretly within those cells.  


A few days before this episode, I was tinkering around with anagrams using episode titles (as I did often when I covered LOST), discovered one for Kit Nelson that seemed apt and turned out to be spot on (Stolen Kin), and then posted it on Twitter. Keep an eye on inmate and other character names in future episodes…

I don’t know about you, but I laughed when Dylan’s little brother said that Nelson had given him ROCK candy. Nice touch.

It struck me as odd that Warden James left the remaining matches with Nelson in solitary, and it would be very interesting to learn that the matches Nelson had when he returned were the very same.  Were they frozen in time along with Nelson, or were they placed in his coat pocket as part of his mission and memory retrieval upon re-entry?  


We have now seen Rebecca’s grandfather getting blood taken in the Alcatraz infirmary twice in 1960. He must have been of particular interest to whomever was running those tests. To me, the same party responsible for taking extraordinarily large amounts of blood from the inmates was also responsible for the abduction in 1963. 

When Madsen told Nelson that, “they didn’t beat you for what you did, they beat you for what you are,” it offered up a potentially fascinating take on the morality of those who managed to make 302 people disappear. The inmates may have been chosen for experimentation because of their horrible dispositions and disposability, but what about the guards and medical staff who vanished alongside of them? Either they were collateral damage or each had a dark past that we’ve yet to witness...


Both Warden James and Deputy Warden Tiller conveniently left their posts on Alcatraz before the 302 vanished on 3/21/63. If they were warned, we have to question by whom and why. They were both aware of the blood being taken from the inmates in their infirmary, and also took great pleasure in the mental and physical anguish of the inmates….

So Warden James was a phillumenist! Seriously, I love that the man responsible for overseeing the worst criminals on earth collected matchboxes and matchbooks for fun. Was he a pyromaniac, or just a fan of incendiary products? The phillumenist, the lover of light, was certainly working in the darkest of offices…

Warden James is fast becoming one of the most interesting and compelling characters on ALCATRAZ, and Jonny Coyne is delivering the perfect mixture of mystery and maliciousness. Mark my words - Coyne is poised to become the breakout star of this show, and he deserves the accolades. Although I must admit that I am far more creeped out by Deputy Warden Tiller, and love how Jason Butler Harner is playing him with a seemingly deliberate stillness and control (despite what lies beneath).

I was not able to capture the brand of matches that James used with Nelson, but I did catch that they were from the civil war area. That only caught my attention because we know that Doc has a PhD in civil war history...


Almost all of the returning 63’s appear to be motivated by the resolution of family matters, from the guilt of lost spouses, siblings and opportunities. Sylvane: ex-wife and brother. Cobb: half-sister. Nelson: brother. It is possible that Lucy Banerjee returned for Emerson Hauser. And don’t forget that the ageless Dr. Beauregard is wearing a wedding ring in New Alcatraz, so don’t be surprised to see his origin story emerge as one of love lost…or found. 

In addition, Warden James was hell bent on making sure that Nelson both faced his father and confessed to killing his brother – so it appears he may have a very strong interest or stake in the families of the inmates. At times, James comes across like a pastor or priest, yet far too interested in their criminal techniques. Perhaps James is taking it upon himself to play God with his incarcerated subjects, with Tiller as his Right Hand. Under that context, consider when Nelson’s father said, “I thank God for Alcatraz.”

Overall, I felt that there was a strong X-Files and Fringe vibe to this episode of ALCATRAZ, which is fantastic. Once again, I am thrilled that I was not at all reminded me of LOST (and no, the bomb shelter was not a hatch). The criminals are appropriately frightening, the wardens are deliciously suspicious, the three leads are intelligent and resourceful, the story and overarching mythology are accelerating, and the cast chemistry is building at just the right pace.

Fun side note: Hauser said that it takes about 10,000 hours for someone to become an expert on a subject, so I calculated the amount of time I spent over 6 years watching, re-watching and writing about LOST…and estimated about 30,000 hours. Do with that what you will.  

I am so appreciative for your interest and comments, and that many of you have already shared this site with your social networks. If you like what you read, whether you think I'm way off base or possibly on to something, please spread the word! And stay tuned for giveaways, from InsideAlcatraz magnets to souvenirs from Alcatraz itself to swag from the ALCATRAZ premiere party!

As always, I love and encourage comments, but ask that you please be constructive and polite. 

Alas, I will be out of town next Monday and unable to watch or write about ALCATRAZ until Friday of next week (2/3/12). Thank you in advance for your patience…again!


Monday, January 23, 2012

ALCATRAZ Episode 1.03 ("Kit Nelson") Analysis Delayed

I am sorry to report that I am under the weather and therefore unable to post episode analysis tonight after "Kit Nelson" airs. My plan is to post my thoughts and theories late tomorrow night (Tuesday) instead. In the meantime, I will be avoiding Twitter, Facebook and Alcatraz sites and podcasts to avoid spoilers and until after I have the opportunity to share my own analysis.

Thank you for your patience! 


Monday, January 16, 2012

ALCATRAZ Episode 1.01 ("Pilot") & 1.02 ("Ernest Cobb"): Thoughts & Theories

** Warning: This post contains plot and character details from the first 2 episodes of ALCATRAZ - if you have not watched them yet, please read at your own risk! **

Welcome to ALCATRAZ! This is the very first installment of my weekly episode analysis, where I plan to kick open doors that the writers have pushed ajar, with the power of crazy theories and conspiratorial speculation. Because I had the opportunity to view both episodes, I also had the luxury of time to create a lengthy article in advance. Normally, my post-episode thoughts will appear in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, and may not be as long. 

Before we begin, a few important housekeeping items...
  • There are many sites that offer episode recaps; this is not one of them. My emphasis will always be in-depth analysis. You've seen the show, so rather than read a play-by-play, my hope is that you'll return here after each episode to engage in further thought and conversation. 
  • By no means am I an expert or authority on television analysis or Alcatraz itself; my specialty is elaborate speculation. I have been a freelance writer for several years, and have access to screeners of episodes in advance on occasion. But I know as much as you do about ALCATRAZ, and prefer it that way. Living a spoiler-free life makes television a much more enjoyable experience.
  • I truly appreciate feedback, and encourage you to leave Comments below (which will be moderated, as my policy is to provide a space for constructive criticism and discussion rather than personal attacks on me or other readers). 
  • Because this site is 100% spoiler-free, I will not post any information about future episodes, nor will I publish any comments that do. The same is true for my InsideAlcatraz Twitter account.
  • Future episode posts will hopefully include official photos from FOX and screen captures, but right now I don't have many to offer. However I will include photos taken when I visited Alcatraz while they were filming the Pilot last March.
  • Due to the fact that they aired two episodes in a row, this particular post will include analysis of both, combined. 
  • Keep in mind that I am human - there will be mistakes and/or discrepancies every once in a while! Also, as was the case with LOST, the majority of my theories will be debunked within a few episodes. The fun is in the reach and stretch to explore possibilities! 

So grab your scratchy prison-issue blanket and settle in for a while; this is going to be a long yet entertaining read and ride...


Let's address the elephant on the island right away, shall we? I have seen every episode of LOST at least 4 times, and wrote about the show extensively for years. So I am more than qualified to assert that ALCATRAZ is in no way trying to be the next LOST. While there are visual J.J. Abrams tinges to the series, this is a very different island with an entirely new story, set of characters and mysteries. Personally, I was thrilled and somewhat relieved that I did not think about comparisons to LOST at all while watching the first two episodes of ALCATRAZ. The only true commonalities are former LOST cast and crew, including Abrams, series co-creator Elizabeth Sarnoff (who has departed the show), director/executive producer Jack Bender, actor Jorge Garcia, composer Michael Giacchino and production designer Zack Grobler. That being said, of course watching and analyzing six years of LOST will come into play while watching any new show in the same genre. Particular numbers, names and key words will always remind us of elements from LOST. In the case of ALCATRAZ, however, I honestly believe that they are coincidental rather than homage. 

* Side note: Giacchino was the composer of note for the first episode of ALCATRAZ, but Andrea Datzman took over starting with episode 1.02 and will be the series composer. She is also the orchestrator for the upcoming John Carter, as she was on Cars 2Super 8 and Let Me In (among many others). 

MARCH 21, 1963
"On March 21, 1963, Alcatraz officially closed due to rising costs and decrepit facilities. All prisoners were transferred off the island...only that's not what happened. Not at all."
The Alcatraz Federal Prison did actually close on March 21, 1963, after 29 years and not a single successful prisoner escape. The order was placed by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and prisoners were relocated to other prisons. What an incredible premise to work from and with...


When the 302 prisoners and guards (referred to as the 63's) disappeared from Alcatraz on 3/21/63, all of their clothing and personal items were left behind. Everyone literally vanished, and clearly they had no warning or time to prepare. They were taken from exactly where they were situated at that very moment. Whatever, or whomever, took them - it was a surprise and it happened in an instant. The abductors had no interest in who the 302 were (thus, leaving all inmate files and information) - only who they COULD become. If we stop to ponder the sheer number of men and power it would take to snatch up and corral hundreds of the world's most dangerous criminals...the possibilities are mind-boggling. 

Logistically speaking, such a bold takeover of the Rock would have required more than a few subs or boats to transfer 302 people. But the 302 were taken without detection of any kind, and the conspiracy to cover up their disappearance reached far and wide. Documents were fabricated and wardens from other prisons like San Quentin were in on it (as noted by Detective Rebecca Madsen while looking at former inmate Jack Sylvane's paperwork). 

You might be asking why no one figured out that 302 people who were allegedly transferred were nowhere to be found after 3/21/63, even though official paperwork noted their new locations. I trust that the writers will address it, moving forward. In Sylvane's case, his ex-wife and brother likely never visited after his "transfer" and their marriage, only to be told later that he died in his new prison. 


I find it very interesting that they named Deputy Warden E.B. Tiller after a character in Asimov's Robot novels - Elijah Bailey. In Asimov's world, E.B. is a homicide detective in the future, heavily featured in flashbacks (as E.B. will be on ALCATRAZ, now that we've seen his present day murder). What is even more fascinating is that Asimov's E.B. suffered from a serious case of agoraphobia. Given that the E.B. we've met on ALCATRAZ works in a very confined and private environment on the Rock - it is quite fitting. 

After being placed back in contemporary society in San Francisco, both Jack Sylvane and Ernest Cobb displayed robotic-like determination with regard to their kill missions - not unlike a T2 (or Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 Series 800 Version 2.4 Infiltration-Combat Unit, in nerd-speak). 

But Sylvane's demeanor and emotional state changed significantly when he sought out both Tiller and his brother. He admitted to killing E.B. Tiller out of hate, but that "I only did what THEY told me" - referring to his murder of Barclay Flynn. It seems likely that each prisoner was implanted with a memory chip rather than brainwashed; a chip that is activated from afar at very specific moments, but one that does not have complete control of all brain capacity outside of doling out mission-specific details. 

Normally, this is where I would posit a potentially crazy theory of the week, including conjecture about how the 302 who disappeared from Alcatraz were taken for the purpose of creating their robotic doppelgangers to return in the future for revenge. However, Asimov created and followed the Three Laws of Robotics - the specifications of which are contrary to the behavior we've seen exhibited by both Sylane and Cobb:
  • A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  • A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  • A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
So although it would be fun to visualize a giant spaceship with long tentacles reaching down to grab up the 302 on the Rock below, I don't feel as though ALCATRAZ is heading in the direction of Close EncountersSuper 8V or I, Robot

KELVIN [Easter Egg Alert]

You may have noticed that the boat arriving with young Emerson Hauser on Alcatraz was called Warden Kelvin. Fans of J.J. Abrams' shows and films (Fringe, LOST, MI: 3, Star Trek) already likely know that Kelvin was the name of his grandfather. For what it's worth, Lord Kelvin (William Thomson) was also the name of a famous physicist and engineer who specialized in thermodynamics. 

* Update: Many fans also kindly pointed out that there was a brief shot of a Kelvin Fish Cannery building during one of Ernest Cobb's shooting sprees.

On ALCATRAZ, we have met both Deputy Warden Tiller and Warden James, so at some point in the future I imagine we may actually be introduced to a former Warden Kelvin...


Jack Sylvane and Ernest Cobb were placed back in San Francisco not only with their avenge/revenge missions intact (via memory chip or other unknown method), but also with the supplies necessary to kick off their journeys. Cash, ferry tickets and keys were placed in their jacket pockets, even though they had no idea how they'd arrived or where those items came from. It seems to me that whomever is responsible for their abduction and re-entry...there is at least one stationed in San Francisco or surrounding area, monitoring the missions and supplies. That being said, they haven't made a move (yet) toward New Alcatraz, where Hauser is locking away the returned prisoners.


New Alcatraz, deep in the forests of Vancouver (standing in for a very lush section of the Bay Area - Marin, perhaps?), is my favorite aspect of ALCATRAZ thus far. A wee bit like Endor from the outside, sans Ewoks. It was a nice surprise and reveal, and offers up myriad possibilities about its creation, use and Hauser's involvement in the larger conspiracy. I love the hi-tech lie detector table and overall modern look of New Alcatraz, and I'm sure we'll see even more geeky gadgets put to use there.  


The young man working the desk at the YMCA/gym, where Sylvane retrieved the gun from the locker, was reading a Stephen King book. My guess is that it was Different Seasons (a novella with four stories, including the most memorable prison tale of all - Shawshank Redemption), a nice nod to Stephen King. I suspect that Deputy Warden Tiller's mention of an inmate named Red was another Shawshank shout-out...



Ladies and gentleman, the KEY to this series. Dr. Lucille Sengupta was the same age in 1960 on Alcatraz that Lucy Banerjee is in current day San Francisco. We are told that 302 MEN disappeared from the Rock on 3/21/63, but no women. Those men (at least the three we've seen so far that have returned) have not aged. Neither has Lucy. So either the former Dr. Sengupta was on Alcatraz when they vanished, or she worked with whomever was responsible for making them disappear. In New Alcatraz, she did have the key that Sylvane retrieved from Flynn, so it isn't out of the realm of possibility that she herself programmed his mission and needs that key for something that will be revealed in an upcoming episode.

Doc Soto mentioned that a special key is needed to access three buttons on an elevator in the Secret Spy lair beneath Alcatraz - the logical guess is that the horrible area referred to by inmate Tommy Madsen is accessible through that elevator...

Hauser appears to be unaware that Lucy is who she is, but they have a history. Whether it was of a father/daughter or romantic nature, we shall soon find out. We have to. 

We do know that Hauser has been waiting for the 63's to reappear "for a very, very long time." It is possible that Lucy was specifically chosen by her people to return and work for Hauser, for the sole purpose of misguiding his objectives. 

But IF Lucy somehow escaped from wherever the 63's were being held, that could explain why Cobb was programmed to kill her. The attack on her seemed much more personal than his other seemingly random shootings, and the only pending murder with a warning: the "I can see you" sign and target on the window. It was as if Cobb knew he shouldn't kill her, or didn't want to, but the mission was programmed in and the last sliver of humanity left in his cold heart wanted to warn her. 

As for the current condition of the lovely Lucy, they're not going to kill off Parminder Nagra. They wouldn't have gone to the trouble of introducing her as Dr. Sengupta in the flashbacks. But it was certainly startling to see her get shot in the second episode of the series. A bold move. I like it. However...it is also possible that she can't die. Look, the woman is ageless. Who's to say she's mortal?

"I run a special division in charge of criminals who hold a particular allure for our government."

It is not entirely clear which branch of the government that Hauser and Lucy Banerjee work for, or even if they do. We have to question WHO financed the construction and maintenance of New Alcatraz, and if we'll ever meet Hauser's employer. Although...someone called Lucy down in the Batcave (their Secret Spy Lair beneath the prison on Alcatraz ). The jury is out whether the HIM that Lucy refers to when whispering to Hauser is in fact their boss or Madsen's grandfather Tommy.

Rebecca Madsen will discover New Alcatraz at some point, or Hauser will reveal it to her after he has collected more returned prisoners. Either way, it's going to be one hell of a revelation to her.  

At the end of the Pilot, Hauser told Sylvane that E.B. Tiller was his friend. When we were first introduced to young Hauser on Alcatraz, it is unclear whether he had met the Deputy Warden on the Rock during previous visits or after the 302 men disappeared and Tiller was a Fed. By the way, young Emerson Hauser was a police officer, and not a prison guard (thank you to executive producers/writers Bryan Wynbrandt & Steven Lilien for clarifying that with me at the premiere!); he was on Alcatraz to assist with a prisoner transfer. I certainly look forward to learning more about the relationship between Hauser and Tiller (and possibly Warden James)...especially if any of them were involved with the disappearance of the 63's together.


Any conspiracy theorist worth their salt would tell you that Detective Madsen's introduction to Doc Soto, Emerson Hauser and Lucy Banerjee was a set-up from the beginning. It was a very specific choice to place her grandfather, former Alcatraz inmate Tommy Madsen, back in San Francisco where his granddaughter was a detective. His mission likely included getting her involved with the chase that ultimately led to her partner's death. 

Hauser whispered to Lucy that "this is a mistake" after they gassed Madsen and Soto, so perhaps we are to believe that it was not his idea to involve her. Lucy responded with, "she found us, and she won't stop until she finds him. We need her." Whoever THEY are, they also need Madsen, and led her to Hauser and Banerjee. At this point it really is not clear if the vague THEY and HIM are indeed a different group that Hauser's.  

I feel as though we were told about the death of Madsen's parents because it will come into play on future episodes. If I had to guess, her parents died at the hands of either an Alcatraz prisoner or someone closely involved with the 63's. 


Archer isn't really Rebecca Madsen's uncle, although he did raise her after her parents died. I'd love to know exactly how he came to be her guardian and the reasons behind it. He knew that her grandfather Tommy Madsen was a prisoner rather than a guard, withheld that key piece of information from her, and obviously knows a great deal more regarding what happened on 3/21/63. Case in point: Archer was quick to discourage Rebecca from following her instincts to investigate Sylvane. 

At this point, it seems too obvious to assume that Archer is involved with those behind the 1963 disappearance, but one thing is certain - he and Emerson Hauser are not on the same side/team. Archer mentioned that "someone finally nailed E.B." but E.B. was a friend of Hauser's. And Archer was a guard when Deputy Warden E.B. Tiller was on the Rock, so it is possible that Hauser and Tiller have known each other since that time. Hauser specifically warned Madsen that if she joined his team, she could not tell Archer. Game on!


I hope they release Doc's comic books for us to purchase. Given that he named one of his characters after Ray Archer, perhaps they will contain clues for future episodes. 

They wanted us to know that Doc's parents are not only still alive, but they live in the Bay Area. So of course I assume that they too are somehow connected to Alcatraz or its former occupants., and that we will meet them. 

I would not be at all surprised to discover that there is far more than meets the eye with Doc Soto. Not only is he an Alcatraz expert and published author, but the man has 2 PhD's (criminal justice and civil war history); surely his background in all areas will come in handy as he investigates the 63's with Madsen. 
"You have to double up. Double up's are key."
The friendship that is forming between Soto and Madsen is a highlight for me; I like that she chose him as her partner for the mysterious road ahead. This unlikely duo may just prove to outwit and outsmart Hauser and Banerjee.

It is probably nothing, but I have to question whether or not Doc's non-alcoholic order at Ray's bar means anything (or will down the line). Again, this is what I do...overanalyze even the most minute detail. 


256 prisoners disappeared from Alcatraz on 3/21/623, along with 46 guards. Three have already returned...that we know about at this point. Rebecca's grandfather was the first, followed by Sylvane and Cobb. I noticed that we only saw Sylvane's point of re-entry, and not Cobb's or Madsen's - and if that is significant. I doubt that they are all just dropped back onto Alcatraz.

Tommy Madsen: Inmate 2002
Jack Sylvane: Inmate 2024
Ernest Cobb: Inmate 2047

It will be interesting to see how they re-introduce the guards in current day San Francisco, and how their experiences and/or missions will differ from the prisoners (if at all).

If/when they decide to introduce the crazy chatty inmate who drove Cobb crazy, I think we're in for a treat.

Rebecca Madsen brought up an excellent point: why now? Why are the prisoners being reincorporated into society at this very moment? Why was Tiller killed today, when he was very likely atop the hit list of almost every prisoner under his watch during his time as Deputy Warden on the Rock - and when previously returning inmates like Tommy Madsen arrived back in SF before Sylvane. 


Lee Harvey Oswald vibe, anyone?

In 1960, we see Ernest Cobb witness Sylvane's reaction to his wife's request for a divorce on Alcatraz. They both seem quite stunned to see one another in New Alcatraz after both are caught by Hauser. Lucy had earlier questioned Sylvane about Cobb, but it could be that he never actually knew his name (but rather recognized his face upon arrival at New Alcatraz). Were the prisoners being returned to contemporary society kept apart during the many years they were held captive or were they all aware of what was going on?

Soto noted that Cobb "spent more time in solitary confinement than any inmate on record." Or did he? Fellow inmate Tommy Madsen tried to warn Jack Sylvane about a mysterious area below the Hole (solitary confinement) in 1960, so perhaps Cobb was in fact being subjected to testing or other psychological experiments when everyone else assumed he was in the Hole. Cobb specifically requested to be put in solitary and went out of his way to ensure that he did wind up there, which could indicate that he knew what was going on and was a voluntary participant. In the end, we see Cobb in a straight jacket, meeting Dr. Sengupta - and they may or may not have met before...


Rebecca's grandfather was Inmate 2002, the man who warned Sylvane in the infirmary that "something terrible's going to happen here." He made reference to an area below the Hole, which is where I can only assume preparations were already underway for the 1963 abduction. At that time, Ray Archer was a guard on the Rock and Hauser was a police officer in SF. It is possible that Archer was warned about the terrible pending event by Madsen, with whom he was obviously close...as close as an inmate and a guard can be. Add it to the long list of significant details that Archer is keeping from Madsen's granddaughter Rebecca. 

Tommy was sentenced to life without parole, for murdering his wife. Assuming this is the first that Rebecca learns about that fact (given that she previously thought he was a guard)...what had she been told happened to her grandmother? And what type of revenge is the newly returned, youthful Tommy seeking in SF? If I were Rebecca, I'd send any family members in the area away for a while...


They go out of their way to point out that Sylvane was NOT a murderer ("he was a thief, not a killer"), that an unlucky circumstance of his robbery attempt landed him in jail originally. He did kill a fellow inmate in self defense at Leavenworth Federal Prison, which led to his transfer to Alcatraz. We have to question whether that was a set-up, whether Sylvane was specifically chosen at an earlier date to be one of the 63's. Whomever is responsible for taking the 302 men from Alcatraz on 3/21/63 may have been monitoring them or selecting them based on a set of criteria that we may not be privy to...yet. One might argue that Sylvane was vulnerable and susceptible, making him a prime target for future experimentation. 

When Hauser brought Sylvane to New Alcatraz, Sylvane said "I know you." Even though Hauser has aged and Sylvane hasn't, it is possible that he recognizes Hauser. Which would indicate that Officer Hauser had indeed been to Alcatraz before that transfer on the night of 3/21/63...

Hauser said that Jack's brother "won't be a problem" in the future. Sylvane is now secured in New Alcatraz, but what exactly did Hauser do to his brother Alan? I doubt he would have killed him (and his son, for that matter), so perhaps they were silenced with money, or relocated.

Why would Sylvane's fingerprints still be in the system if great lengths were taken to cover up the events of 3/21/63 on Alcatraz? Of course file access was restricted, but I was surprised to see any information about him available at all. 

Is is safe to assume that the Dr. Beauregard that Hauser referred to in New Alcatraz (to scare Sylvane) is the same prison doctor who took his blood back in 1960? If so, add prison medical staff to the list of those who vanished from Alcatraz on 3/21/63...


Right now, Barclay Flynn is just collateral damage - a chess piece that someone needed Sylvane to play and then discard. We don't know who he was, why he had that key or why the person who programmed Sylvane wanted him dead. As Emerson Hauser so kindly points out for us, "even if Jack Sylvane didn't know Flynn, it doesn't mean there weren't people who wanted him dead." Hauser also instructed Madsen to "forget about Barclay Flynn; we need to worry about our next victim."


In the book about Alcatraz Inmates on the ferry, Jack Sylvane looked up his former Wardens, Tiller and James. He discovered that E.B. Tiller received a Medal of Valor (which I hope they explore/show in a future episode). The book also notes that two attempts were made on Tiller's life. Whether they took place on Alcatraz or during his stint later as a Fed - I have a strong feeling that we'll witness both. 

Deputy Warden Tiller told Jack Sylvane that "things can always get worse" on Alcatraz. If they were hinting at Tiller's involvement with the 1963 disappearance...memo received and processed.

From what we've seen so far from Warden Edwin James, he appears to be a very interesting character. Slightly less obvious in his evil intentions than Deputy Warden Tiller, he nonetheless gives off a chilly air of maniacal power and control that will no doubt be unleashed on screen soon.

"The worst criminals this country has ever known are coming back and no one's going to be able to find them, because they don't exist."
Setting aside the logistics of the who and how behind the event on 3/21/63 (and Doc's "wormhole" theories), I can't help but wonder about the possibility of cryonics - a technique intended to extend one's lifespan. Those who took the 302 may have had a successful formula for the use of cryonics, and stopped their physical decay by cooling and then preserving them in liquid nitrogen.

Perhaps the "bad guys" starting resuscitating the 302 in 2011, restoring them to good health in preparation for their assignments, meticulously returning each on a specific date with their missions programmed and pockets full. 

The oldest cryonics society still in existence is, conveniently, the Bay Area Cryonics Society (BACS). Dr. Paul Segall developed blood substitutes for use in cryonic suspension. Why is this significant? Think about the pints of blood that the prison doctor took from Sylvane in 1960, which we can assume was done to all prisoners. Perhaps it was preparation for the 1963 abduction, or perhaps it was to run tests on the blood of those who would likely undergo a cryonic procedure - suspending them in time until their services were needed again. 

A few final thoughts:
  • I appreciated some of the smaller, more subtle details in the first two episodes, including Cobb's use of the same style checkered picnic table cloth that Warden James dined on. In addition, Cobb repeated "47 slots in picket fence" before shooting his victims, which I interpreted as a nod to the Star Trek franchise. Star Trek: The Next Generation and the other spin-offs frequently incorporated the use of 47, and it has also been used in similar fashion in J.J. Abrams' 2009 reboot film, as well as on Alias and Fringe
  • I love that there is not an immediate focus on any love connections. I'm much more likely to focus on and enjoy an overarching mystery than a romantic relationship on this type of show. 
  • It is rather genius to have 302 men disappear in 1963, only to reappear now - because it allows for series longevity and new characters along the way. The mythology will grow, but people will be able to tune in without having watched previous episodes and understand the basic premise of returning prisoners. They appear to be positioning ALCATRAZ as a palatable, accessible and enticing series that both hard-core fans and casual viewers will enjoy equally. 
  • That Hauser is amassing the newly returned inmates in New Alcatraz really sets up a potentially fantastic finale and future seasons where the prisoners interact as a group both in current time and via flashbacks to 1963 and during the "lost years" before 2011. 
  • My recap of the official ALCATRAZ premiere on Alcatraz from last week is posted, if you're interested. It was an incredibly cool experience to ride the ferry over to the party and stand in front of the boat with Jeffrey Pierce, Jorge Garcia and Sarah Jones - because a few of their scenes in the Pilot were filmed in that exact location. 

I strongly believe that ALCATRAZ has the potential to be a hit and success for the long run. I didn't have to like it, and my opinion wasn't predetermined just because of Abrams and Bad Robot - but truth be told, I love it. Emotional resonance with the lead characters has been established and the primary mystery at hand is tremendously intriguing. Any show that I actually think about for hours and days after it has aired earns my respect and interest for the duration. In my eyes, this is the first series since LOST to fit that description, and I must reiterate how much I appreciate the fact that ALCATRAZ is refreshingly different from LOST. I realize how many of you will disagree and point out nods and Easter Eggs, but I am not going to focus on comparisons to any other show. ALCATRAZ deserves time to develop on its own, and the patience of both the network and fans to do so.

Thank you SO much for taking the time to scroll through this very long list of thoughts and theories! I am genuinely grateful for your interest and really look forward to both your comments and feedback. And if you do like what you've read so far, feel free to spread the word in your social networks - share a link on Twitter, FB, through email, etc. I will respond to your comments and will meet you back here next week!