Although he's barely been seen since the pilot, Robert Forster (Jackie Brown) finally comes front and center in the newest episode of Alcatraz: 'Guy Hastings' – and Forster's involvement helps make it arguably the best episode we've seen so far.
The episode kicks off in the present, and on the island prison, where the titular guard Guy Hastings (True Blood's Jim Parrack) is scrounging around his former value-priced apartment in search of a few family photos and a handgun that was stashed away behind a loose baseboard. An Alcatraz Park Ranger, who is promptly beaten to a pulp by the former guard, interrupts Hastings' trip down memory lane, thus alerting the task force to his presence.
The episode could have easily been called 'Madsen Family Values,' as certain aspects of Rebecca Madsen's (Sarah Jones) familial ties to the island (and the larger mystery of the missing '63s) are revealed through some flashbacks involving her grandfather Tommy Madsen and "uncle" Ray Archer (Forster), which are nicely woven into the backstory of the tragically displaced Hastings.
We meet up with Madsen once again enjoying a breakfast of steamed buns while discussing with Archer the reason Tommy was in Alcatraz in the first place – a crime Archer initially thought Tommy was innocent of, but then later came to think differently about. Through the Hastings flashback, we learn that Archer sought employment on Alcatraz as a means to break Tommy out of prison, but by the way Tommy smacked Archer upside the head with a mess hall tray, it's safe to assume this plan was not discussed in advance.
The cafeteria fracas gives Deputy Warden E.B. Tiller (Jason Butler Harner) some cause for concern that the guard and inmate know one another, but his theory is pooh-poohed by Warden James (Jonny Coyne), and utterly dismissed after Hastings puts in a good word for the young Archer. Naturally, now that Hastings is back in the present, the first person he goes gunning for is Archer – whom he believes will lead him to Tommy – and promptly takes him hostage.
The personal circumstances force Madsen and Soto (Jorge Garcia) to do some actual detective work, and not rely solely on Soto's encyclopedic knowledge of the inmates and guards of the island prison to get from point A to point B in tracking Hastings down. The ensuing bits of their investigation reveal to the characters that Archer actually is related to Rebecca, and Tommy Madsen's involvement in the overall mystery is actually as a central figure, not a mere coincidence.
On the other side of things, we learn that the blood-related experiments on the vanished inmates weren't necessarily performed on the missing guards – as detailed in Hastings' account of his final day at Alcatraz, and where he's been since.
The episode leaves us with Archer warning Timeless Tommy Madsen to stay away from his own granddaughter, or else. Meanwhile Rebecca finally understands her importance to the task force, and to Hauser (Sam Neill), which she may likely use as leverage since, as she puts it: he needs her more than she needs him.
Finally, with Hauser's continued use of the brain trust in "The Room," it stands to reason they'll begin to play a larger role once the overall mystery begins to reveal itself more fully. After last week's 'Cal Sweeney' episode turned out a handful of much-needed clues, and 'Guy Hastings' offered plenty of set up, it seems only right to surmise the larger picture is set to be exposed very soon.
Alcatraz airs Monday nights @9pm on FOX.