In Alcatraz’s premiere, we were given a look at how Rebecca Madsen’s life seemed to be intertwined with the inhabitants of Alcatraz. Her grandfather Tommy was imprisoned for killing her grandmother, and the man that played a sort of adopted uncle to her, Ray, was a guard at the prison. We haven’t seen these two men in the present since the first episode, but in “Guy Hastings,” we are given a deeper look at how Madsen’s family tree links to the mystery of people from the past showing up in the future.
When we first meet this episode’s mystery man, Guy Hastings, he is visiting an old house we soon learn is his old home on Alcatraz. His reminiscing over an old hidden photograph is interrupted by a security guard, whom Hastings soon knocks out, grabbing a gun and disappearing. In the past, we see that Hastings was a guard and not a criminal, a first for the show. He is in charge of training new guards for the prison, one of which is Ray. When Ray first steps foot in the mess hall, named “The Gas Chamber,” prisoner Tommy clobbers him over the head with a tray. The incident brings up the question of why Tommy specifically did that to Ray. Ray denies knowing Tommy, but is told to prove it, leaving Ray forced to beat the living crap out of Tommy. We later see that Ray visits Tommy in the infirmary, telling him that he won’t have to serve out his sentence alone, while Guy watches them from a distance.
In the present, Madsen and Soto go to Hastings’ daughter’s house to learn about his whereabouts. We get a nice scene about a little girl, who never knew her father, whom she believes died in a chemical spill with other guards. Madsen soon thereafter receives a phone call from a man who works with Ray and says that he went missing. Hastings, who is trying to find Tommy, kidnapped Ray. Ray shows Hastings that Tommy died, but Hastings won’t take that as a good answer, and they head off to Tommy’s childhood home. While trying to figure out where Hastings and Tommy have gone, Madsen and Soto figure out that her fake uncle is actually her real uncle and that Ray and Tommy were actually brothers. The two plots combine at Tommy’s childhood home, where Hauser takes Hastings into custody.
The episode’s final minutes once again give us the greatest glimpse of the show’s mythology though, as we learn that Ray has met with Tommy since he has been back, but now wants him to stay away because it could mean trouble for Madsen. We also learn that Hauser tried to hire Ray years ago, but he was determined to take care of Madsen, leaving her to realize that Hauser needs her more than she needs him.
After episodes featuring bird snipers and bank robbers, it’s good to see Alcatraz taking a more sympathetic tone with “Guy Hastings.” He’s a character that would be nice to see again, especially since he gives us the most interesting aspects of the episode. He also believed that his family was killed in a chemical spill, and that after the guards were told of the accident they would not be allowed to leave the island. They also realized it was no longer the 1960s. These little tips are basically the most exciting part of any episode, but Hastings’ innocence, especially compared to the criminals, could give us some insight into what is happening.
Speaking of insight, it seems like the show is trying to integrate Hauser’s group of investigators into the mix. They seem to be a group of experts trying to help Hauser make sense of all the weirdness going on. I maintain it is kind of a relief to know that Hauser doesn’t have all the answers and is hiding what he knows from Madsen and Soto. Hauser’s questioning of seismic activity on the island though seems like a hint at the show’s future direction.
Alcatraz seems on the verge of giving larger clues into the mystery, but being only a third through the first season, and considering that this is a Bad Robot production, I don’t expect the show to give up its secrets that easily. But “Guy Hastings” does what a good episode of Alcatraz does: interesting case of the week, deeper insight to the pasts of our main characters and a deeper understanding into what is going on in the larger mysteries. Or at least enough to keep us tuned in for another week.