With its new mystery entry, Fox is hoping that fans of another island mystery series will want to get "Lost" in "Alcatraz" (Mon., 8 p.m. EST on Fox). But while that series introduced a massive cast of characters in its pilot, "Alcatraz" focused primarily on four. It also quickly established its case-of-the-week format with two distinct capture stories.
The premise is, that 256 inmates and 46 guards vanished from Alcatraz in 1963, though the public was led to believe the island was closed and the prisoners transferred to the mainland. Now, nearly 50 years later, they've started to return. They haven't aged a day, and they're as dangerous now as they were when they went to prison.
As the premiere progressed, the team that's going to capture them came together. Sam Neill plays FBI agent Emerson Hauser. It's revealed that he knows a lot more than he's letting on, and that he's built a sort of Alcatraz clone in the middle of nowhere -- only in garish white everywhere. That's where the captured inmates are going.
In fact, the first inmate captured had a serious reaction upon seeing the second, indicating that the story of each person who disappeared won't necessarily end with their capture and incarceration. There's a lot more going on, as one would expect from a series carrying around J.J. Abrams' name.
The team is rounded out by Det. Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) and Dr. Diego Soto (Jorge Garcia), an author and expert on Alcatraz. Secrets revealed only raised more questions, as when Madsen discovered that the man who killed her partner at the start of the episode was actually her grandfather -- one of the missing from Alcatraz, only an inmate and not a guard as she'd believed. Then, after getting shot and put into a coma, it's revealed that Hauser's right-hand woman Lucy Banerjee (Parminder Nagra) may be a returnee as well. In a flashback, she is shown meeting with the second hour's inmate back in 1960 on The Rock.
As for Hauser, he was a very young guard who was there when the island was discovered suddenly absent its usual residents. He indicated he'd been waiting a long time for whatever is happening now. It involves a lot of keys and bags and strange assignments these returnees may or may not be on. Only time will tell what's going on.
HuffPost TV's Maureen Ryan saw potential in the pilot, but worries it's getting in its own way. "Alcatraz" continues Mondays at 9 p.m. EST on Fox.
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