At last ALCATRAZ gave us a little more information about Rebecca’s odd background, including her criminal grandfather and the real deal behind “Uncle” Ray Archer. And we got to learn a bit about what happened to the guards when the 63 got disappeared.
Guy Hastings (Jim Parrack) was the head of guard training on The Rock, and one of the men he taught the craft was a young Ray Archer (Robbie Amell). On his first day at Alcatraz, Ray was attacked and beaten senseless by inmate Tommy Madsen (David Hoflin). Guy appears in the present and goes gunning for the aged Ray (Robert Forster), not to kill him, but to force him to lead the way to Tommy. Guy claims that “They” told him hunt down Tommy — but shares nothing else about his mission.
However, a few explanations were revealed this week, as viewers learned that Ray is not just an honorary uncle to Rebecca (Sarah Jones), he really is related to her grandfather, Tommy — they’re brothers! Tommy attacked Ray when he realized that his brother had changed his name in order to take a job at The Rock and watch over his sibling. What’s more, Ray has had contact with Tommy in the present, but not good contact. He went so far as to threaten to kill Tommy if he shows his face around the bar again. Sarah learned the truth about Tommy, but she also seems intent on bringing her grandfather to justice for the murder of her partner.
Hauser (Sam Neill) admitted that he tried to recruit Ray for his task force 16 years ago, but Ray refused. And so Sarah realized that Ray’s reticence and Hauser’s persistence means he needs her more than she needs him.
Guy hinted at how the guards were transported when everyone disappeared in 1963. Apparently a bunch of guards were gassed and told that their families had been wiped out in a chemical spill. The guards were kept in a hospital ward, and then transported to the future — without any knowledge of how the transition was made, or any memory of being anywhere else. This suggests the guards may have been kept drugged until they were ready for transport. Once the timeshift was made, the guards came directly to the present — unless they spent time somewhere/somewhen else and then their memories were erased.
I’m not satisfied by Guy’s explanation for apparently wanting to kill Tommy. As Doc Soto (Jorge Garcia) pointed out, Guy was one of the good guys. So why did he severely beat a park ranger? Why was he willing to threaten Ray and even Sarah with a gun? (As a man from the early 1960s, he would have had a more gallant attitude toward women.) Who told him to go after Tommy? Why? Did Guy just happen to have a gun hidden in his quarters, or was it specially placed there for this specific mission?
The identity of those responsible for the mass disappearance continues to puzzle, as they seem to be more powerful each week. They were able to fake the deaths of an unspecified number of guards (presumably including burials) at a federal prison, so was the government hoodwinked as well? Or is the government involved? And why take an entire prison population, guards and all? Perhaps it wasn’t intentional? But then why the fakery…
While I’m asking, what is Tommy up to? Why is Ray so mad at him? Why is Ray lying to Rebecca about her grandfather’s whereabouts if he’s so mad at his brother? (I can’t remember if Rebecca has come clean to Ray about exactly what her job is. I don’t think so.)
It was nice to get a glimpse into Rebecca’s background, but it really was just that — a peek. We already knew that Ray was important to her as the man who raised her, but we don’t yet know how she’s going to react once the realization that he lied about being a blood relation sinks in. She remains a mystery. This episode was really more about Ray than Rebecca.
Doc didn’t have much to do, but I just had to laugh when he saw the surveillance tape and matter-of-factly blurted out, “Is that Guy Hastings?” as if anybody would recognize a prison guard who disappeared almost 50 years ago. (Well, perhaps Hauser might…) Makes sense that Doc would utilize the hacking skills of the teens who hang around his comic shop; good thinking.
We also know now that Hauser has had his task force for at least 16 years. (So that’s what he meant back in the pilot when he said he’d been waiting for the 63s for a very long time.)
I really enjoyed this episode, because by focusing on the guards, it opened up the premise a bit and showed the potential for different types of stories if the series is given some breathing room — in the form of a second season…