By John Keegan and Henry Tran
The back half of this season for "Alcatraz" has featured a good number of returning inmates who have proven intriguing. Add Garrett Stillman to that short list. His complex mind games and unpredictability more than make up for the lack of violence in his crimes. In fact, I think that's what makes him appealing.
He could have easily disposed of the guards, but they aren't essential to his goals so he ties them up instead. He will only resort to lethal violence if it helps his ultimate purpose. Lucy makes her return in this episode, and from the looks of things, the show made a big mistake sidelining her for the bulk of the season. She exudes chemistry with much of the rest of the cast and is mysterious at the same time. Since the team knows that she's a '63, she can answer some of the questions they've had about the experience of jumping through time. The show should have done this much earlier.
Judging by how the two of them interacted in this episode, I think Dr. Soto and Dr. Banerjee would have worked well together. They aren't too comfortable in the field like Madsen and Hauser are, but they did figure out it was Stillman who committed the armored car robbery in question. I would have liked to have seen more of that, although judging by how much of a running joke it was that Soto quickly figures out the '63 of any particular episode, the two of them might get annoying after time. Anyway, the armored car robbery proved to be the first step in a sequence of events that involves both Stillman and those above him going after a reclusive billionaire convict of Alcatraz named Harlan Simmons.
Simmons doesn't make an appearance in person during the length of the episode, but he's key to both past and present timeframes. While in prison, Simmons ran what seemed to be a lucrative contraband hording scheme that Warden James then chose to pass to Stillman if he can eliminate Simmons. In the present day, Simmons is in possession of a key, and Stillman has been tasked by his mysterious handler to acquire that key. That key is tied into the two other mysterious keys that Hauser has in his possession. Apparently, all three keys, which were once in the possession of Warden James, opens a door on Alcatraz that only a few select people knew was there.
The episode tries to make the third key seem really important, but it was all telegraphed setup. I could easily tell through the middle of the episode that Tommy Madsen was pulling all of the strings. That was confirmed by the end sequence, where Stillman delivers Madsen the key, Madsen then kills Stillman, and runs off into the night. Could he have been ordered by Warden James to do all this? That would have to be answered in the season finale episode. Given what happens to Stillman at the end, I think there could have been more uses in the future for the genius convict. He operates on a different level than the other convicts we've seen, and that makes him interesting. Now, we'll never know what could have been with this '63, and I was just starting to like his presence too.
Lucy's return complicates matters for the entire team. They oddly keep Hauser and Lucy separated for much of the episode so it comes down to the conversations she has with other team members to illuminate things. Rebecca probes Lucy's relationship with Hauser back in 1960, and reveals a completely different side of Hauser, one we haven't seen. His closed-off nature could very well be explained by her sudden disappearance in 1963, presuming that they developed their romance in the three years between her arrival at Alcatraz and the time jumping event. In effect, both of them would have had to wait 50 years to be reunited with each other, and that wide of a time gap would have driven a wedge between them.
Her interview with Ernest Cobb was also revealing, as he says that she will be a target for as long as she is alive. The way he says this statement felt to me as if he had been put under orders to kill her, and that there are other convicts out there who might have the same orders. Again, it's difficult to cull much information out of this because the episode doesn't spend that much time on her struggles or interactions with the other convicts. She also proves valuable to the team since she has a lot of psychological information on the inmates from the past. She could also give the team insight into what Warden James was up to back then. This episode and the finale doesn't poke around for that information, unfortunately. It has to go and set up the chase for Tommy Madsen in the finale.John Keegan is Editor-in-Chief for Critical Myth, a partner site of SciFi Vision. Henry Tran is one of Critical Myth's reviewers for Alcatraz.