In the new FOX series “Alcatraz,” 302 of the prison’s most notorious inmates and the men who guarded them start reappearing 50 years after they disappeared from the rock. It is a mystery that Detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones), Dr. Diego Soto (Jorge Garcia) and FBI agent Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill) are attempting to unravel with much difficulty.
“Hauser has been looking for them since they disappeared,” explains executive producer Jennifer Johnson. “But he never knew where they were. He never gave up looking. He was just as shocked when they all started returning at the same age they were in 1963 as they were.”
Despite the fact that Hauser has enlisted the aid of Madsen and Soto to help him solve the puzzle, he is still keeping secrets. But executive producer Daniel Pyne promises that by the end of the season we will know what Hauser knows.
On Monday night’s episode, the story continues to play out as Madsen learns more about her grandfather Tommy Madsen (David Hoflin), who was one of the inmates who disappeared.
Pyne and Johnson reveal to XfinityTV.com that the key to the mystery is in the blood — and since it was Tommy who was being held in the Alcatraz infirmary for blood work, he may play a big part in the disappearance.
“For us the big things are what’s behind the [secret] door and Rebecca and Tommy coming face to face,” says Johnson.
Read on to find out just what other secrets from “Alcatraz” the exec producers reveal.
What was the inspiration for the series?
Dan Pyne: The creators of this show, Bryan Wynbrandt and Steven Lilien, visited Alcatraz and one of them had a dream. He dreamed this idea.
Jennifer Johnson: Steven dreamed that he was on Alcatraz and all the prisoners were gone and he said to his writing partner, “Well, where did they go?” And his writing partner, said, “So, where did they go?” Steven said, “I don’t know. I just dreamed it last night.” They sort of noodled on it and figured they came back to 2011. It was very much that. Then Elizabeth Sarnoff brought a big piece of the puzzle to the script, so she became a creator as well.
The guys who come back don’t seem to know what has happened to them, which was made very clear in Monday night’s episode, but does Hauser know since he has been waiting for their return?
Dan Pyne: No. That is what he is trying to find out and that is what he is doing in the room inside of the annex where he keeps all the super geeks. They are trying to find out how this phenomenon happened. None of the people who come back can remember that period of time. It is like a fog.
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At first I thought this might be like “Taken,” when the people returned from the future, but those people knew where they had been and why they were back. Is it anything like that?
Dan Pyne: No.
Jennifer Johnson: We will start to get deeper into that because for some of them it might be and for some of them it might not be.
Dan Pyne: Some of them may have known it was coming.
Jennifer Johnson: And some of the inmates may be involved in what the bigger plan is for present day. Some of them are just casualties in the jump. Some of them are back here with no purpose or understanding what happened to them. We are going to see more of what happens to their blood and how that affects them present day.
Hauser has aged, but not Drs. Banjeree (Parminder Nagra) and Beauregard (Leon Rippy), and Hauser brought Banejree back to Alcatraz for Beauregard to heal her. So would it be safe to say that there is some kind of medical experiment? Are there two things going on?
Jennifer Johnson: Hauser aged because he wasn’t on the island on the night that everybody disappeared and Lucy and Dr. Beauregard were.
Dan Pyne: Maybe yes, there may be a medical experiment involved. It is all related.
Jennifer Johnson: It is all related to their blood and understanding what happened to their blood and we will understand why Tommy Madsen was important by the end of the season.
So did Drs. Banjeree and Beauregard just not age?
Jennifer Johnson: They both disappeared and have since reunited with Hauser. That is part of the story that we are slowly revealing. You will get hints of it, even in episode 10, which we are locking right now. With shading you will better understand how they came together in the present day.
Our flashbacks are largely in 1960 and right now we are playing them as a kind of narrative of 1960 to the jump. We may jump around within those three years, but right now we are playing them as a progression. We know that Dr. Sengupta [now Dr. Banjeree] and Dr. Beauregard didn’t get along but they do in present day. We try to build mysteries between the time periods. What could have happened to bring those two together? What could have made them join forces? How did they resolve their conflict between then and now?
Madsen discovered that Ray (Robert Forster) is actually her biological uncle, not just a friend of the family, so what other family secrets are coming up? The tease for Monday night’s episode says that we will learn more about her grandfather.
Jennifer Johnson: Madsen will find out a little more by speaking to another inmate who is now back. She will see Jack Sylvane (Jeffrey Pierce) in present day. Hauser will arrange for them to see each other. He will be able to tell her a little more.
So Ray is not going to tell her anything?
Dan Pyne: Ray has his own secrets.
Will we get any answers this season by the finale?
Dan Pyne: Absolutely. We think of this first 13 as kind of a collection of short stories, organized by the concept of Tommy Madsen and Rebecca’s pursuit of that riddle and everything that relates to it. At the end of this cycle, we will understand a lot about that. We will see what is behind the secret door and open it. We will know what Hauser knows.
On Monday night’s episode, Doc was flirting with the medical examiner. I know this show is not about relationships, but could there be romance in his future?
Dan Pyne: Definitely. They have a lot in common. You will see a little progression to it. It’s tough — as you pointed out — with everything else we are doing narratively to do that. But we see it in little bits and pieces, but definitely next season.
Jennifer Johnson: Even if we don’t go to after hours with them, we would probably get a sense of it from their interaction on cases.
“Alcatraz” airs Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.