True fans don’t have to be reminded, unfortunately, of TV series that loaded up on their own mythology only to disappoint fans before the end.
How bizarre was it that “The X-Files” — once one of my favorites shows — spent several seasons establishing that FBI agent Mulder’s sister had been taken by aliens … only to throw all that out the window with a late-in-the-series revelation that Samantha Mulder was kidnapped by a plain old human killer?
How inexplicable was it that “Lost” — once one of my favorite shows — spent several seasons laying out what seemed to be an intricate backstory for the island and its occupants … only to ignore most of it, explain the rest away and, most mind-bogglingly of all, prove its early Internet critics right by declaring in the final episode that the characters we had grown to love had been hanging out in limbo after all.
So upon watching “Alcatraz” tonight, I found myself hoping that the series’ makers really do have the key to the mystery they’re developing.
If you haven’t watched this show, which aired its fourth installment in three weeks tonight, the basic plot is that more than 300 prisoners and guards disappeared from the island prison of Alcatraz in 1963. They’re reappearing in modern-day San Francisco, they haven’t aged a day and most seem to be on some kind of quest. Not to mention that they’ve returned to their old habits of bank robbery, kidnapping and murder.
Tonight’s episode, “Cal Sweeney,” introduced a bank robber whose objective seems to be an old-fashioned key. It’s the second of these keys that have shown up. Now they’re in the hands of federal investigator Hauser (Sam Neill) running the inmate recovery project.
I’m really hoping there’s some meaning to the keys, just like I’m hoping there’s some meaning to investigator Rebecca Madsen’s (Sarah Jones) discovery that her grandfather was a convict and is now roaming the present.
As for researcher Diego Soto (played by lovable “Lost” grad Jorge Garcia)? I’m just enjoying his amiable presence.
The show is teasing us with several little mysteries, including characters who seem to be represented in both time periods.
But if those keys mean something now … they damn well better mean something later.
Or Samantha Mulder’s ghost just might step out of that flying saucer and open up a can of suspension of disbelief.