3/27/2012

ALCATRAZ Recap: Stillman & Madsen (Season Finale)*

By Ruthie
 *Or Swansongs


So, Friends, this is it. The end of the line.

It’s a two parter, which means another special, ultra-long recap. So, with the highest of hopes but the lowest of expectations, let’s get to it.
"I could so be playing Words With Friends right now."


Iiiiiit’s Lucy! She’s back, and apparently, instead of spending her post-coma time doing the “thank God I’m alive” things I would be doing in her place, like seeing the world or making sweet, sweet love to Hauser, she’s still in Bizarro Alcatraz, watching intake interviews of everyone they caught while she was out. Including Ernest Cobb, the dude who shot her, which she kind of fixates on, until Hauser interrupts her. He and Beauregard both want to keep her in Bizarro-traz, but she insists on going out without them.

Meanwhile, an angry faced guy beats up a guard in an armored car. A really high-tech armored car. He’s quickly joined by several guys wearing what look like homemade Batman-villain-henchman masks. They steal the car, but leave the guards.

In the past, the angry-faced guy—Garret Stillman—plays chess with the warden. Ah, he’s English. The warden wants him to attend a parole board hearing.

In the batcave, Soto and Madsen welcome Lucy, who apologizes for not tipping them off to the big secret. After some chatter, the computer tips them off about the armored car heist. Lucy tells them a bit about Stillman, including a brief psychological rundown in which she explains that this is probably just a move in a bigger game. It is pretty clear that it was a HUGE waste having Lucy spend the entire season (show) in a coma, given that this little info-nugget just made Stillman and his heist significantly more interesting.

"I've seen this. He's dead the whole movie, y'know..."
Stillman and cronies empty their car. He snags the uniforms and drives off with the armored car—pausing just in time to see the van with all his accomplices and ALL THE MONEY explode into wee bits. Later that night, Soto and Madsen check out the scene. (One of the guys survived.) They figure that he wanted the truck, so they interview one of the drivers and a company rep, who tell them that this is the second car that was stolen. Madsen advises them to change their badge security codes.

In the Batcave, Lucy accuses Hauser of having changed (of course he has), before one of the nameless research guys shows up to tell them that the scanners found something under the lighthouse. Lucy tells them about an old Civil War bulkhead, and Hauser sends the drone to find it.

The criminal that survived the explosion tells Madsen and Soto everything, including the fact that Stillman had some kind of “boss” who provided the weapons—just like everyone else had a hand getting whatever goodies they needed. Stillman, meanwhile, is delivering his armored car to a scrap yard where there is a suh-weet looking Airstream trailer. I’ll have one of those.

At the past, the parole hearing is for Mr. Simmons, who you may remember as the plucky young fellow who stole Cal Sweeney’s smuggling empire out from under him and later got fed to whatever it is that the warden has locked up behind that door. He’s charming, then Tiller is his characteristic dickish self, and parole is denied. The warden tells Stillman that he wants him to steal the board’s recommendation and replace it with a favorable one, because he wants Simmons off the island. He’s got three hours.
Madsen loves a good "Matrix" themed party.

Back in the present, Stillman is chatting with his boss in the Airstream. Anyone who didn’t guess that the “boss” was Granddaddy Madsen, please fetch your dunce cap and put it on right now. That was the most predictable “twist” in the history of plot (or at least, a close tie to “the call was coming from inside the house!”).

In the Batcave, Madsen asks Lucy about her grandfather. In the course of the conversation, she mentions Hauser, and Madsen finally cabbages on to the fact that they used to be sweethearts. There’s another big “reveal” moment where she points out that Hauser’s obsession with Alcatraz and change in personality stems from losing Lucy. Again, this should not be news to anyone smarter than my dachshund. We all figured that out a long time ago, yes? Yes.

Soto interrupts to point out a connection he’s found. One of the security company’s biggest clients is a company called Broadway Mutual, founded by former Alcatraz inmate Harlan Simmons. (The guy Stillman is trying to get paroled.) He’s now apparently a reclusive, financial genius billionaire.
In the past, Stillman has put together a dream-team of nerdy Alcatraz inmates. He outlines their plan, which involves stealing the carbons from the parole board forms, forging new ones, handing the forged docs off to Stillman who poses as a steward and infiltrates the lunch at the Warden’s house.
At Harlan Simmons’ place, an official looking guy explains that there’s no money really in the vault and he doesn’t know what the security company is moving. It’s a lie, though, because while he warily watches them leave, he sends a request for an immediate pickup of a package. The request is intercepted by Stillman and some new, untoasted cronies in a van. Then he shoots the crony who intercepted the message. Because that’s how he rolls.
"iPad 3... Jealous? Yes. Yes you are."

In the Batcave, our heroes have figured out that Simmons is moving something around to keep it from being in one place too long.

In the past, Stillman pulls off the switch, and gets ratted out to Tiller by his accomplice, for the second time based on what the warden said earlier. No wonder he just offs everyone he works with now.

In the present, Stillman’s badge is invalid, so he pulls a gun on the guard. Moments later, our heroes arrive with lights and sirens blazing. Too late, but the guard tells them where they went. Madsen and Soto follow in the Mustang.

In the past, Tiller tells the Warden that he caught Stillman switching the documents and he promptly switched them back before the board headed home. The Warden escorts Stillman to D-block and lectures him about how disappointed he is. Stillman points to the documents, and sure enough, the warden has the originals—meaning the forgeries went home with the board. Stillman set Tiller up to make the switch. The warden is ecstatic. (He’s still in the hole, though.)

Madsen and Hauser converge on the armored car in a parking garage. In fact, all three missing armored cars are there. Stillman takes the package and leaves in an SUV, which, luckily, Soto found a minute ago and planted his cell phone in. In the Airstream, Stillman tries to force open the box containing the package. And what is it? Why, a key of course!

In the past, the warden tells Simmons farewell. He gives Simmons a phone number for a friend who can get the two of them—Simmons and the warden—in tough when the time arrives. We see that at that moment in the past, the warden had the key.

In the Airstream, Stillman admires his key. Then another guy shows up, demands the key, and shoots him in the head. Stillman calls him “Ghost.” Our heroes find his body shortly thereafter, but when someone else turns up outside—Granddaddy Madsen, of course—they scatter. Back in the Batcave, they’ve located the mysterious door with the locks that we once saw the warden shove Simmons into. Hauser tries to open it, but they’re missing a key (of course).

Lucy interviews Ernest Cobb, who tells her that she is, and will always be, a target.

Soto and Madsen figure out that Granddaddy is the handler. Dunh dun dun!
"A Fruitcake mold?! Damn yoooou!"

And now we begin our final hour of Alcatraz, the episode named for Granddaddy Madsen himself. It begins with a bang—Madsen, bleeding and in pain, clutches her side in front of the burnt out remains of her upside-down Mustang. Wow. That’s the most exciting thing I’ve seen all night.
A day and a half before that, though, we see Madsen chatting with her former captain in Ray’s bar (although she describes the 63s as a crime syndicate). The captain reveals that, when he died, her partner had been under investigation by I.A. for suspicious payments from Broadway Mutual, Harlan Simmons’ company.

In the present, a dodgy looking guy, who I’m pretty sure is the guy who just shot Stillman in the head, shouts his way into a psychiatric hospital where he informs them that he’s an Alcatraz inmate from 1963 and some bad people are chasing him. Well, yeah, that gets him into the hospital. His name is Joe Limerick and he does, in fact, have the key.

In the past, we see Joe shivering and telling his neighbor—Granddaddy Madsen—that he nearly succeeded in escaping, but the riptide kept throwing him back on the beach. Apparently, they had filled out death paperwork on him before he turned up alive. Thus the nickname “Ghost,” I suppose.
The warden takes Madsen, and promises to put his blood back. Some guy we’ve never seen before shows up and begins a transfusion of Madsen’s blood. It looks painful.

In the present, Granddaddy Madsen breaks into a house and takes a man prisoner. He seems to know him, and asks about his wife and kid. Behind Madsen’s back, the kid saw her father being held at gunpoint and makes a run for the neighbors’ house. In Bizarro-Alcatraz, Lucy asks Beauregard why the warden was experimenting on the blood, and, surprisingly, he doesn’t know. Hauser lets us know that they have a possible Madsen sighting.

The little girl didn’t make it to the neighbors’, apparently. A Good Samaritan picked her up wandering on the parkway and brought her to the police. She hasn’t spoken, but they used some kind of composite drawing kit to get a sketch that looks like Granddaddy Madsen. Soto and Madsen win her over with adorable drawings of cats, and she tells them that she saw Daddy and a man fighting.
In the past, Madsen wakes up from his blood ordeal not on the Rock, but in a posh hotel room in San Francisco. Tommy thinks he’s dead. Ha. The warden offers him breakfast, and then tries to enlist him for some sort of devious plan.
"Man, this place needs a coat of paint."

Back at the little girl’s house, the wife comes home. Madsen hasn’t been watching his prisoner very well, and the man has managed to get hold of a gun. A shooting match ensues. Our heroes arrive ten minutes too late, and we find that Madsen kidnapped the wife. Elsewhere, Granddaddy was shot and is making the poor wife sew up his wound.

Hauser boards a jet on a runway, where he chats with a man in fatigues. He asks for access to Simmons, which the man turns down after asking if that means the warden is back. The man in fatigues then gives Hauser an envelope full of documents—fake IDs for Lucy—and orders him to brief his team. Hauser is planning some kind of escape for Lucy.

Back at the Batcave, the research on the wife reveals that she’s a counselor at a psych hospital—probably the one Ghost is in. While they wonder why 63’s are killing each other, Hauser invites them into what Soto dubs the “Batcave behind the Batcave”. He shows them the key and explains that they need the warden’s third key. Elsewhere, Granddaddy has forced his prisoner into the mental hospital where she works, and Lucy has seen it on her magic screens.

In the past, the warden is trying to wine and dine Madsen.

And in the here and now, Granddaddy Tommy forces the woman into Ghost’s room. When Ghost stumbles in, he demands the key. In Bizarro Alcatraz, Beauregard tells Lucy that the silver in her blood is not only a permanent fixture, it’s emitting some kind of signal.

In the past, the warden has moved on from wining and dining, and is showing Granddaddy Madsen his son, Daddy Madsen. Tommy tries to talk to the boy, but the kid doesn’t recognize his father (or maybe he does) and runs inside his house without saying a word. Now Madsen knows what he wants from the warden.

In the present, Granddaddy chases Ghost through the halls. He offers to protect him from Harlan, but Ghost freaks out and throws himself out of a building rather than let Tommy Madsen take him. Hauser and Madsen arrive in time to see Granddaddy standing over the body. There is a chase that concludes with Madsen chasing him onto a busy street, where all the cars are Fords, oddly enough. She appropriates someone’s brand new Mustang to chase him down. Uh-huh. Right. Because that actually happens in real life. Seriously, kids, if anyone ever says “Police, get out I’m taking your car,” they are probably a carjacker. Because that just doesn’t happen.
"International pudding shortage...?"

Back in the past, Tommy lures Ray into a room and hands over a folder with Ray’s termination papers (ending his Alcatraz guard job), and adoption papers for Tommy’s son. He confesses to the murder, claiming that his son got sprayed with his mother’s blood. It is not a cheerful parting.

Our car chase has a brief lull while both cars are stopped by a cable car, then begins the most product-placement rich car chase ever. There’s a lot of engine revving and cars jumping and doing things normally only seen in ads with the subtitle “Professional Driver on a Closed Course; Do Not Attempt.” Soto is surprised to see the body of Joe Limerick, who he believed to be dead, but he manages to find the key sewn into the cuff of his pants. Hauser wants the key, but Soto insists that they first find Rebecca. At that point, Hauser actually PULLS A GUN ON SOTO. For real, y’all. Lucy doesn’t like it. Soto, for his part, handles it like a champ; he gets into the car without turning around, all of his body language clearly saying “Yeah, you gonna shoot me Hauser? Please, little boy. You need me too bad.” In this moment, he is a BAMF.

The car chase continues (San Francisco: Apparently everyone either drives a Ford or a Volkswagen Beetle). I love how they’re framing these shots so as to get as many glimpses of the new Mustang’s logos as possible. Granddaddy’s car flips and catches fire; she pulls him to safety, then pulls a gun on him. He pleads with her, calling her his granddaughter. He tells her that he killed her partner because he was being paid to watch Madsen. Apparently, Harlan Simmons was trying to track down the 63s because he “broke a promise” to the Warden. Then he asks her if she knows how her parents really died, and while she’s still reeling—he stabs her. Stabs her in the side and steals the Mustang.
The new MUSTANG goes from zero to donuts in 0.01 seconds.

What a jerk.

Soto, still a BAMF, arrives just in time to save her.

(Apparently, you can go to legendsofalcatraz.com to see more of this chase scene. You know, in case you really like Mustangs and want to see more strategically placed logo-shots of one. If you want to see a good chase scene, I recommend you skip this one and go rent the Bourne Identity or something. Because… yeah. This is not a scene. It’s a commercial in disguise.)

Madsen is rushed into a hospital. Well, this is a switch. Now Lucy is okay and Madsen is a prop. There’s a sweet moment where Lucy assures Hauser that if a time jump and a near death experience couldn’t come between them, nothing else will, and she refuses to go with him on whatever trip he has planned to hide her away.

Ray shows up, shouts at Hauser, and recognizes Lucy. Lucy and Hauser leave, and Soto hands them the key on the way out. Hauser offers to let Soto see what’s behind the door, but he declines. “Whatever’s behind that door isn’t as important as this,” he says. Aw. I really, really love Soto, you know?

Lucy and Hauser head straight for the door. It opens only grudgingly, and on the other side they find a large empty room that looks to be almost a cave. There are two large control panels with a very NASA circa 1960 look about them, a US map with a number of lights shining on it—and revealing that the inmates are not just returning in San Francisco, but all over the US.
The day Grandpa slipped and fell.

In the past, the Warden and the guy who transfused Madsen’s blood have discovered that they can track him. This excites them. They proposition Madsen, asking him to be their advance man in exchange for his freedom in three years. Apparently, they’ve been watching him since long before he ended up in Alcatraz, since he was in the Army in Korea.

In the present, a noise alerts Lucy and Hauser to the presence of someone else, and they find the Warden’s scientist, the transfusion guy, lying on the floor in the midst of a pile of tin cans and other mess, his suit rumpled. He’s expecting Madsen, but he’s delighted at the news that it’s 2012.

And then… Rebecca Madsen dies.

Her heart flatlines, the doctors note the time, and just like that, she is gone. Murdered by her own grandfather. As the monitors whine out their warning, the screen fades to black, and she’s gone for good.

Oh, it’s entirely possible that the producers intended to bring her back or something, but, since this show is almost certainly going to be cancelled, this is how we end. A handful of answers, a fistful of questions, and a dead lead. It’s a sad, melancholy, unsatisfying ending to the series, which is almost fitting since the series itself was a study in squandered potential. But that’s all we get, so let us make the best of it. Goodbye, Alcatraz. It was a swell run. (Sometimes.) As for me, I’ll miss seeing Jorge, Sam, and Parminder in particular; hopefully they’ll all turn up again soon in something else.

But what does this mean for us? Will this be your last recap from your friend Ruthie? Take heart, my darlings! There are more recaps to come! I’ll be taking a short break, but I’ll be back soon with lots of television goodness—and hopefully, better, more satisfying shows. In the meantime, as always, keep checking out the many excellent offerings here on the site, the many excellent offerings available on Facebook, and give us your thoughts in the comments. Until next time, I bid you a very fond farewell.
Look happy people, the shows over...

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