Alcatraz: 113 “Tommy Madsen” Review (Finale)
Tommy Madsen (Season 1 | Episode 13 – Season Finale)
WARNING – FULL SPOILERS
A car chase in San Francisco – they just couldn’t resist it could they? I wonder how entertaining it would have been if Rebecca had taken a car from one of the thousands of hybrid Toyota Prius owners in San Francisco? Wouldn’t have been quite as Bullitt-like I suppose.
Anyway, as for the finale episode, well I think the season was done justice with an all-together fun and action packed episode that broke far enough away from the usual blueprint to make it much more engaging. When I first saw the opening shot followed by the “36 Hours Earlier” title, I was both intrigued and apprehensive. Whenever a TV show starts with a chaotic, climactic scene and then cuts back to “X” amount of hours earlier it usually feels like a ploy to keep us following the action.
Sometimes this works fantastically (take the Breaking Bad pilot for example) and then sometimes fails miserably (the ill-fated, Christian Slater drama My Own Worst Enemy exploited this often and unsuccessfully). So when this was the path that Alcatraz had chosen as a last attempt to break from the mold, I kind of felt like the show was placing it’s final bet on black or red at the roulette table. Thankfully, the wheel of misfortune didn’t land on the show’s colour this time, as the episode played out quite well with a consistent balance of drama, tension and excitement that will keep the majority of fans wanting to see a second series.
The big reveal then was that the “jump” was caused by a geothermal event, which looks to have coincided seismic activity – huh, go figure. Soto and Rebecca finally got to go behind the curtain and explore the “bat cave” for themselves. I’m so glad Soto remains our voice in all of this, asking the right questions at the right time, otherwise we’d be pretty neglected and frustrated.
As well as this we also found out that the 63’s aren’t local, they’re spread all over the US. The addition of NCIS’ Matt Craven will hopefully shed some role on this in the next season (if we get one), there’s no indication of who this character really is so I’m just going to call him the ‘blood guy’ for now.
Whatever he’s been doing to the blood it seems he and The Warden had chosen Tommy Madsen to be their patient 0. Lacing the vital fluid with silver just made me think of Tommy as some sort of Wolverine. He can heal and he’s probably magnetic, all we need now is a couple of adamantium claws and it’s berserker time. It sounds ridiculous but you never know if the show might go down the Heroes route with all the inmates gaining superpowers – wouldn’t that be something.
The final episode made sure it spent every penny of it’s budget, the car chase in particular had every element of a good action movie you want, complete with a climactic explosion. Slightly cheesy but who cares, it was a fun moment.
Ending the season with Rebecca flat-lining like that can only mean one thing, it’s time for a Beauregard transfusion. If the writer’s really wanted to shake things up for a second season they could simply leave Madsen for dead and move forward with just Soto and Hauser.
Seeing more of Hauser is always welcomed and the way the two interact together would make for some witty dialogue and rigid camaraderie. Rebecca for me has been the hardest character to engage with and has been portrayed as simply just a female badass with a police badge. Part of me doesn’t really care that much whether she wakes up or not. I strongly believe that she will as there’s too much of the story centered around her to kill her off at this stage, it is possible that the writers will take into account fans feedback but I doubt they’ll eliminate her.
In summary, Alcatraz started off poorly and it’s no surprise that the ratings in America dropped rapidly, beyond those of the recently cancelled Terra Nova in fact, which is a very disturbing statistic for fans. The decision hasn’t been made yet as to whether this will share the same fate as the flawed dino-drama. There is hope in the fact that ratings have remained consistent in the final few episodes and the show’s budget is nowhere near that of the Spielberg produced series.
If Alcatraz is to continue, which I think it will, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board in terms of plot and character development. If they stick with the format it’s not going to win over any 50/50 fans and it’s only a matter of time before regulars get bored. I hope it will continue, it’s a great idea for a show that’s just not found the right way (yet!) of dealing with it’s complex plot.
Scene of the Episode | Mustang Rebecca – If you didn’t know it already, this girl got skills. The chase was an unchecked box on the series’ list of uses for the San Francisco setting that just couldn’t go without being ticked. Steve McQueen did it, Nicholas Cage did it and now Sarah Jones has done it, welcome to the club sister. When will those poor San Franciscan’s ever get any peace and quiet from all those screeching tires?
Reviewed by Rich Jepson, cult TV enthusiast and author of 24: Terrorism Through Television.