No time is wasted between cases as the newly formed unorthodox task force has another deadly Alcatraz inmate reappear. The second half of Alcatraz's back-to-back premiere night continues with "Ernest Cobb".
Still wrapping their head's around the time travel bombshell Hauser and Lucy dropped at the end of the "Pilot", Madsen & Soto jump right back into the crazy world of Alcatraz. "Ernest Cobb" starts with a flashback introduction of the episode titled prisoner and his relationship with the Warden. Cobb seems to enjoy the quietness of prison so much so he attacked a guard so he could be transferred to Alcatraz to have his own private cell back in the 1960's. When Cobb reappears in present day he resumes his sniper killing spree in threes, claiming three seemingly random victims. Since Cobb's M O is to go on three killing sprees before going underground Madsen, Soto, Hauser, and Lucy have to work quickly when the first pile of bodies start to mound up.
"Ernest Cobb" works as the good continuation episode piggy banking off of energy of the "Pilot". The episode takes place only a day after the last. Madsen seems both relaxed and conflicted about learning her grandfather wasn't actually a guard on Alcatraz but an inmate; as well as be responsible for her partner's death. When Cobb kills his first three victims Madsen and Soto take to the Alcatraz Batcave (what Garcia's character had previous name it), located below the basement level, to gather more intel to where Cobb might strike next.
Here I have a minor continuity issue with Madsen and Soto using the Alcatraz Batcave (ya I'm going to keep calling it that because it just sounds cooler) between being there and in the field. Alcatraz is on an island, that's no secret, so having characters bounce back and forth from there to the mainland every time they need to look for something or look some prisoner's file up might get a little ridiculous. Like I said its just a minor issue and it doesn't affect me liking the show any less. I'm a huge Fringe fan and I've learned to ignore them going from Boston to New York between scenes like they're just across the street from one another so this is no big deal.
Alcatraz uses this second part of the premiere night to give more backstory to both Alcatraz in the 1960's and the new facility, location still unknown, where Hauser and Lucy have begun housing the captured reappeared inmates. The early flashback stuff is pretty standard Warden vs. inmate mind games. As we see Cobb tests the limits of Warden James' patients and get to see more of the kind of authority Alcatraz inside had back then. As for the new facility it appears to be a high-tech mock up Alcatraz with Jack Sylvane as the sole inmate. Cobb later joins Sylvane at the end of the episode and the two look equally surprised to see each other.
Some very interesting questions get raised just before "Ernest Cobb" ends. First the key Sylvane was ordered to steal in the "Pilot" looks to be a key for somewhere inside Alcatraz itself after seeing similar keys in the flashbacks. So what does it open? Because Sylvane doesn't know why or who he had to get it for. Second big question has to do with the tease about Lucy at the end of the episode. Lucy drops a bit of hint about her relationship with Hauser about midway into the episode before she gets shot. So when Lucy is revealed in the final shot in the flashback to be from the 1960's it begs the question: is she one of the 46 non-criminals that disappeared back in 1963? And if so was Lucy and Hauser romantically linked back then?
After one night Alcatraz has already provided two solid episodes while still leaving this new audience member wanting more. With the sheer amount of former Alcatraz inmates still to reappear, not to mention the good number of guards/non-criminals to arrive in the present day, Alcatraz doesn't look like they will be struggling to look for material anytime soon. It might be too soon to say after one night of great TV but it looks like 'Bad Robot' and company have delivered yet another solid product in Alcatraz.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.