Last week, a rain-delayed Daytona 500 race preempted FOX’s “Alcatraz“ episode, which complicated the scheduling of this week’s two-hour event. Instead of airing the missed episode tonight, FOX has decided to hold off and air it on March 12. Executive producers Jennifer Johnson and Daniel Pyne tell us the shuffled episode schedule is “not going to be a problem. A little post-production magic, and the ongoing storylines remain the same as originally planned.”
Don’t let that give you the impression that the two back-to-back episodes airing tonight (March 5) are easily skippable. In fact, they’re two of the series’ strongest episodes thus far, albeit for very different reasons.
The first, “Ames Brothers,” finds the Alcatraz task force stuck on the island during a brutal storm — just one of many reasons that having their official headquarters on Alcatraz is wildly impractical. This is the first time that the gang has faced two ’63s at once — the titular Ames, fraternal twins who had a surprising agenda while serving time in the ’60s, and have decided to continue their quest today.
By trapping the task force in the prison itself, the episode raises the stakes, particularly for Doc, whose knowledge of Alcatraz is tested when the Brothers abduct him and use him as collateral. In typical fashion, the flashbacks also give us further insight into some familiar faces — in this case, we’ll learn a little bit more about Warden James.
It’s the second hour, titled “Sonny Burnett,” that you really don’t want to miss. First of all, the ’63 of the week is played by “Sons of Anarchy” favorite Theo Rossi, who so brilliantly embodied the twisted, broken Sonny Burnett that we completely forgot about his lovable oaf character on “Veronica Mars.” Burnett was a career kidnapper, holding wealthy victims hostage for exorbitant ransoms until he was apprehended and tossed into Alcatraz.
Despite the violent nature of his crimes, Burnett always returned his victims unharmed. It’s only when he arrives at Alcatraz and meets the perpetually repellent Deputy Warden E.B. Tiller that we see how dark Burnett can be. By the time Burnett arrives in 2012, he’s a wrecked, hysterical, maniacal version of himself, seeking vengeance for a betrayal that is long buried in the present day but still fresh for Burnett.
In addition to a fantastic ’63 story, this hour gives us fresh insight into the deeper mythology of the time jump. The audience will finally get some answers about the blood drawn from the patients in Alcatraz and how it connects to Hauser and Lucy today. As the executive producers promised us last week, we’ll also explore Rebecca’s family a little more as she begins to suspect that her Uncle Ray isn’t being completely up front about Tommy. Meanwhile, Tommy is getting closer to her, leading us into that inevitable meeting that we’ll finally see in the finale.