Sunday, February 12, 2012

Review: Alcatraz "Guy Hastings"

Non Spoiler Review:
Alcatraz offers up its first time displaced guard, and one just as troubled as the prisoners. Rebecca consults with Ray about her grandfather, but he's also involved in the plot, given he was trained by Guy Hastings in the 60s and there are some revelations about just how connected he is to everything. 

Guy Hastings was one of the more enjoyable episodes to date. Given that Hastings wasn't an inmate, the mystery surrounding his motivations and appearance was much more intriguing than the criminal of the week. Nor did we have to suffer through some boring crimes. There was more on Tommy Madsen, tying in with Hastings and the other secrets. Rebecca also seemed to grow a bit, too given her family is getting fleshed out. A very good one this time around.

Spoilers Now!
Guy Hastings rummages through an old building at Alcatraz, finding some old photos before he's discovered by a ranger, who he then beats up. Back in the 60s he was a guard at Alcatraz with a happy family life. He trained many of the new guards, one of whom is Rebecca's uncle, Ray. In the present, she's having coffee with him, asking of her grandfather and who he was before he was at Alcatraz. Ray has very little to offer her questions.

She's summoned away on the Hastings case, given he was picked up on surveillance. Diego recognizes him immediately, and Hauser figures someone must have put him up to attacking a ranger—whoever took the prisoners through time. The official story was he died in a chemical spill in 1963. Diego suggests they find his daughter to get some insight, and they borrow a box of his personal items from her.

When Hastings was training his new guards, Ray spies Tommy, but instead of a happy reunion, Tommy punches him with a food tray and tells him he shouldn't have come there. Beauregard patches him up and Tiller muses it's odd Tommy Madsen took after Ray, suspicious of a possible prison break in the making. Hastings wants to give him a shot rather than send him home, but later Ray lies to him about knowing Tommy. Hastings tests his loyalty, so forces him into a confrontation to pay back Tommy for the fight. He beats him up and makes his point.

In the present, Hastings confronts Ray, who is (of course) shocked. Rebecca gets a call that Ray's missing (just as Diego finds a photo of the two of them in Hasting's things). Hastings has taken Ray back to his place, finding another picture of him and Tommy together. He wants answers, and figures Tommy is back, as well. Rebecca and Hauser (of course) show up after they've gone. She finds Ray's watch (which Rebecca assumes is him trying to tell her something). Hauser finds the same Tommy/Ray photo and deduces Hastings is looking for him.

Back at Alcatraz, Diego's found the old training logs which detail Ray's fight with Tommy on his first day. Rebecca recognizes the house from the Tommy/Ray photo, the house where Tommy grew up. They eventually trace its address, and their investigation reveals Tommy and Ray are actually brothers, and Ray's her real uncle.

Ray takes Hasting to the cemetery to show him where Tommy's son is buried. Hastings questions why he left Alcatraz, and Ray explains to raise Tommy's son. Hastings realizes the girl in the pictures is Rebecca, his granddaughter, and she might know where Tommy is. Ray takes him to the house they grew up in. As they wait, Ray wants to know what happened. Hastings explains he hasn't been anywhere at all—he woke in the infirmary with other guards. They were told there was an accident,  that their families were dead, they were contaminated, and couldn't leave. Then it wasn't 1963 anymore. 

Rebecca and Diego head to the house in question, but learn Hauser is tracking them and demanding to know why they're there. Rebecca walks in but Hastings grabs her before Ray can warn her. Rebecca explains his daughter is still alive and he was lied to about everything. Hauser shows up to disarm him. Rebecca convinces Hastings his daughter has great memories of him. Hauser takes him to her house where they watch from a distance, but he won't let him talk to them. Sadly, he's a casualty in this and didn't deserve what happened. 

Ray has a flashback to the infirmary where he visited Tommy after he beat him up. He tells him he won't leave him alone to rot in that hell hole. But Hastings watches and confirms they know one another.

Rebecca realizes Ray wasn't freaking out about Hastings showing up because he already knew. Hauser offered Ray a job 16 years ago but turned him down to raise Rebecca. He wanted someone with ties to Tommy. Her grandfather is more important than she ever imagined and Hauser needs her more than she needs him. 

None other than the elusive Tommy visits Ray as he closes the bar. Ray warned him never to come back, because he puts Rebecca in harm's way by his very presence. So he'll kill him the next time he sees him.

The Verdict:
Alcatraz definitely needs more guards and less felons. Hastings' appearance provided a heck of a lot of questions and intrigue without us suffering through the usual string of crimes. And now that Tommy's figuring prominently, more answers might be on forthcoming.

It's good to see Ray wasn't a throwaway character and actually has some relevance. Plus he's not even a fake uncle anymore! What does he know? Rebecca's character benefited from all the focus on her family, too. Now if only Hauser will show more than two emotions—surly and ornery.

The story continues to be very plot driven—the usual box of clues that provide the right amount of revelations to allow characters to arrive at just the right moment. But it wasn't as noticeable this time around given the strength of the episode.

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