Alcatraz: 105 “Guy Hastings” Review
“Guy Hastings” (Season 1, Episode 5)
WARNING: FULL SPOILERS
With a strong focus on Madsen’s past, some huge reveals and a great individual narrative this was without a doubt the strongest episode Alcatraz so far. Guy Hastings (Jim Parrack, True Blood) was a fantastic character with a compound history, which intertwined with Madsen’s family – most notably her grandfather and Uncle Ray. Having Robert Forster playing the part of Ray was always going to mean that this character would be a significant person in the show and now we know why. As revealed he is the brother of Madsen’s grandfather, Tommy, and also a former guard of Alcatraz, under the supervision of Hastings.
By focusing on a guard rather than a prisoner this episode managed to centre itself on explaining what happened on the island. Hastings told Ray about a fog that surrounded the island and that it was then quarantined before it became “not 1963 anymore”. He also said that he was told that his family had died and the family were told the same thing about him, so what happened? Hauser’s room of techno geeks also talked about seismic activity and, ironically, being “lost”. So does this point to time-travel? Were the inmates and guards gassed and/or died before being cloned? Or Frozen? It could still be any number of explanations and after what happened on LOST I’m not going to put my money on one just yet, this episode has simply added more fuel to the fire.
Besides this, what I liked most about this episode was that it had a huge focus on Madsen. As one of the lead characters in the show it’s important for us to know as much as we can in order for us to relate to her, there hasn’t been an episode focussed directly on her background until now. Soto was the focal point of “Kit Nelson” and that’s what made that episode so great, as well as telling the story of an inmate we found out more about Soto, which made him more dramatic and relatable. Madsen had previously been just a tough cop with great detective skills, now we know more of her history it’s going to make her a lot more accessible to empathise with.
It seems now that the show has truly established itself and is avoiding the mistakes that LOST often made in the way it sustains mystery. In LOST too often did something happen that was extraordinary and then it was never referenced again until at a point when it would make the most impact. The characters wouldn’t ask the questions that we were dying to find out the answer too, a prime example of the story dictating the character’s actions rather than the other way round. Alcatraz seems to have taken this onboard and now at least we see characters like Ray asking Hastings, “Where have you been?” and what’s great about this is that they aren’t interrupted straight away, Hastings gives us something.
So what happened to Hastings? What will Tommy do now that Ray has threatened him? That’s two more questions to mull over until next week’s edition. All in all, Alcatraz has really raised the bar this week and continues to solidify itself as one of the best new shows of 2012.
Scene of the Episode – Hastings and Ray at Tommy’s house – a fantastic exchange of dialogue between a seasoned actor, Forster and rising star, Parrack. With some key hints to the story arc this was a defining moment in the show and both actors executed this flawlessly. Hauser’s hostage-negotiation skills were the icing on the cake – “On the count of three I’m going to shoot you in the head”, brash, ballsy and deadly effective.
Reviewed by Rich Jepson, cult TV enthusiast and author of 24: Terrorism Through Television.