From the purveyor of mystery series that keep audiences scratching their heads — Alias and Rambaldi, Lost and the island, Felicity and her hair — J.J. Abrams has debuted another mystifying series, Alcatraz.
The new show focuses on the notorious San Francisco prison. It's 1963, and more than 300 guards and prisoners vanish into thin air. In each episode, one of these hardened criminals, called "the '63s," will reappear in 2012 without having aged. San Francisco cop Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones), Diego Soto (Lost alum Jorge Garcia) — an academic who's an expert on The Rock — federal Agent Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill) and his mysterious associate Lucy Banerjee (Parminder Nagra) team up to find them before they can enact their anachronistic justice.
Along the way, Alcatraz will raise questions. Namely, where did they disappear to, and who's pulling the strings behind their reappearance? To keep track of the questions and attempt to find insight into what could be the answers, we've compiled a list of the big mysteries Alcatraz introduced in the two-hour series premiere.
Where did the '63s go when they disappeared?
Some 302 criminals and guards mysteriously disappeared on March 21, 1963, forcing Alcatraz to close its doors as a maximum-security prison and U.S. government (in Alcatraz's fictional world) to create a huge cover-up by falsifying transfer papers, and eventually death certificates, for each of the missing people. Now, after nearly 50 years, they're seemingly returning to the present with a mission.
Who is behind their disappearance and what is their ultimate goal?
Upon their return, the criminals — at least the first one, Jack Sylvane (Jeffrey Pierce) — were given the tools needed to assimilate to the real world. Not only did Jack seek his own form of revenge by murdering E.B. Tiller (Jason Butler Harner) — the long-ago deputy warden of Alcatraz who kept him from seeing his wife on visitor's day, which lead to their divorce — but, under their orders, he tracked down a peculiar key, which looked similar to the key that unlocked the prison to the yard in the second hour.
Why don't the '63s remember where they were for a half century?
In the premiere's second hour, Banerjee questions Sylvane on his whereabouts during those missing years. He says he doesn't know. It seems like he's telling the truth — not just because the lie-detector machine says so, but because we come to discover that Lucy is also one of the '63s and even she seems to be unaware of where they had been.
How did Dr. Lucy Banerjee come to work with Emerson Hauser?
Once a psychiatrist on Alcatraz, Lucy now helps Hauser track down the reappearing criminals, one of which shot her in the second hour and left her in a coma. Did Lucy know Hauser when they worked on the island? Or did they meet after she reappeared? The pair shared a moment before her shooting that may indicate a former relationship — he was especially distressed when she was shot.
Why are the '63s after Lucy?
Before the two-hour series premiere ended, she was already in a coma, shot by Ernest Cobb (Joe Egender), a '63 who was a former sniper. Is her compliance with Hauser the reason she's a target? Or is she withholding information about the 63s that we'll come to learn later? Or did Cobb just want to kill her because he was forced to be treated by her in the '60s?
How did Emerson Hauser know that the '63s would return?
While the obvious answer could be that when Lucy returned she told Hauser the rest of the '63s would eventually reappear, Alcatraz doesn't seem like a series that would be predictable. Plus, Hauser is so insistent on keeping pertinent information from Madsen and Soto that could help them in their quest to track down the '63s, so he's obviously hiding something.
Why were the Alcatraz doctors stockpiling the prisoners' blood, and how did Madsen's grandfather know there was something terrible going to happen on the island?
After the prison's doctor drained several pints of blood from Jack, a mysterious prisoner, known then as Inmate 2002, mentioned that things are much worse "downstairs." It turns out, the man who foresaw their fate is actually Detective Madsen's grandfather, Thomas Madsen (David Hoflin), whom she had unknowingly chased earlier in the premiere, leading to her partner's death.
Where are the guards who also disappeared in 1963?
So far, we've only seen prisoners. Are they keeping the guards from returning to the present? Or did they already kill them off because the guards were unlikely to help in their mission?
Why does Hauser have a duplicate Alcatraz prison in the middle of the forest to hold the '63s?
Obviously, they can't let these prisoners assimilate into present-day prisons, but it seems as though Hauser is getting his own form of revenge by locking them up together. Is Hauser just angry over losing his co-workers or did the '63s do something else to him?
What burning questions do you have about Alcatraz? And will you be tuning in to find out the answers?
Alcatraz airs Mondays at 9/8c on Fox.