Episode Reviews (6)
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The fact that J.J. Abrams' latest production endeavor pulled 10 million viewers and a 3.3 rating/8 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, which is a 38 percent jump from the network's mid-season premiere of Chicago Code a year ago, making it the highest-rated drama debut for Fox since Lie to Me in January 2009. Or, at least, that's what Tim Kenneally said over at The Wrap, anyway. And he has no reason to lie to me, so I'm taking his facts and figures at their word.
So here we are at Episode 1.3, an hour of television which I had been awaiting with great excitement, giddily theorizing that we'd see Alcatraz begin the process of breaking out of the semi-standard procedural mold offered up in the opening salvo, exploring a bit more of the mysteries of the prison and the residents and employees who disappeared from it back in '63.
Pft. I needn't have bothered. Barring the last five minutes of the proceedings, this was just more of the same stuff we got last week.
Meet your Inmate of the Week: Kit Nelson, a convicted child-killer who's arrived in the present with every intention of continuing the same awful deeds that he did before being incarcerated on the Rock. Fortunately for the crack team of Det. Madsen, Dr. Soto, and Agent Hauser, Nelson's got a standard M.O. which involves kidnapping a child on a Friday night, leaving a white chrysanthemum on their pillow, and returning the child's dead body to his home on Sunday. I say "fortunately" because Soto's gone and gotten himself a police scanner, so he conveniently catches a report over his police scanner about a local boy's kidnapping which details both the age of the child and the type of flower left behind.
The flashbacks to Nelson's days on Alcatraz are, as in the first two installments of the series, far more interesting than 90% of what's going on in the present. For all the lowlifes and malcontents in the prison, there are certain members of the population that simply cannot be tolerated, and child killers definitely qualify as part of that particular crowd. Not only do the guards look away and let Nelson's fellow inmates beat the living s*** out of him, but they do so more or less with the consent of both Warden James and Associate Warden Tillerwhich, come to think of it, really isn't that big of a surprise, given how despicable they've already come across in the series. The best moment of the flashback scenes comes when Warden James forces Nelson to see his father on Visitors Day, resulting in an incredibly tense scene between father and son, whether the latter finally washes his hands of his only surviving son, telling him that he's glad to know that he's behind bars. Ouch.
The case itself wasn't terribly interesting, however. Despite the harsh nature of last week's inmate, a sniper who was shooting people more or less on a whim, I never really believed that Nelson was going to kill Dylan, a.k.a. his kidnap victim. We were supposed to, I dare say, but once it began apparent that Soto had something in his past that mirrored Dylan's kidnapping, telling the lad, "Don't give up," I was convinced from then on that Soto would have a hand in saving the boy's life. Similarly, after Madsen offered the heavy-handed observation that Nelson's brother had died at age 11, just like the other victims, I knew there was a tie-in to be had, so I wasn't exactly blown away to learn that Nelson had actually killed his brother.
The relationship between Madsen, Soto, and Hauser veered between predictable and saccharine. Okay, we get it, Hauser doesn't really want Madsen and Soto on his team, and he's only putting up with them because they offer him something important, be it a relative among the returned inmates or a hell of a lot of information about Alcatraz. But Hauser turning up at just the right moment to take down Nelson may go down as the least surprising reveal on recent TV.
As for Soto, he actually had a nice bit of the spotlight, going out on his own and trying to catch the bad guy while also having a slice of pie. Although things go horribly wrong with that particular effort, he does end up coming through in the end, more or less. We also discover that, as many have been hoping, he does apparently have some sort of hidden past which involves him having been kidnapped at some point. Will this as-yet-unrevealed story tie into everything else? I'm thinking "yes." Either way, it was kind of a nice moment between him and Dylan at the end of the episode.
Ah, but what of Lucy? She's still in the hospital, still in a coma, and her state is really starting to piss Hauser off. Now that we know from last week that she, too, was around back in Alcatraz's heyday, it's apparent that there's a history between her and Hauser, and it's further underlined by the way he walks around her workstation, gently touching her sweater and glasses in a decidedly familiar manner. His explosive reaction at the end of that scene may have been a little over the top, but it does successfully convey his frustration about the situation.
The end of the episode is, inevitably, the part which holds the most curiosity, as it continues to build on the longstanding J.J. Abrams tradition of piling new questions on top of old questions without ever taking the time to answer any of them right away. First and foremost, we learn that Dr. Beauregard is alive and well in the present, which leads us to believe that either he was one of the disappeared or there's another explanation to why he looks as good now as he did back in the day. And the latter may well be possible, since Hauser's comments to Beauregard when he drops off Nelson's body - "I, uh, may need your help with something, depending on how things turn; it's for a friend of mine" - certainly lead one to believe that Beauregard may have a scientific specialty which extends past accepted medical science to stretch beyond the pale. Translation: even if Lucy dies, it seems like Hauser's asking Beauregard to bring her back.
Or maybe that's just me reading something that isn't there. I've been known to do that.
Whatever the case, we made a bit of headway in the final few minutes of the episode, but it was hardly enough to make up for the generally unexciting material that made up the bulk of the proceedings. Still, I find myself saying more or less what I said about the first episode: there's enough going on for me to maintain hope that this show will ease away from the procedural aspects somewhat as it progresses.
Dear God, I certainly hope it does, anyway.moreless
Great episode! Even though I loved the first two, this was the best one yet!
I'm watching this show with my mum and sister, and they're both not really enjoying the Alcatraz enigma and not really liking the main plot, and I quite understand why. However, we all agree that the cases so far were absolutely spectacular, and this one was the best yet!
Killing children is a crime like no other, and this was a very suspenseful (and at times terrifying) episode to watch! I really enjoye d the suspense, and the ending was very befitting!
I'm only disappointed by the fact that there was no real mention of the cliffhanger at the end of the last episode, and I hope that is addressed soon! Can't wait to see more!!!moreless
Soto's Character Develops In A Good Way & Hauser Builds The Enigma Which Is Alcatraz Further
In the season's third episode, Kit Nelson, William Ecklund guest stars as a serial child killer Nelson. Ecklund is a rising star within the realm of evil/damaged characters at present and this role is a good fit. Fit though it may be the producers really never achieve the petrifying darkness he is capable of, but damaged with a certain methodical ritual of killing certainly comes through as he goes to lengths to prepare his victim.
Jorge Garcia, as character Diego Soto, steps out front and center this week. Soto's unique encyclopedic knowledge Alcatraz's last inmates modi operandi allows him to instantly know one Kit Nelson is back. Soto presents his case very emotionally to Hauser and Madsen having a noticeably stronger need to move because if they do not find Nelson in three days the boy will be back home, but dead. Soto deducts because Nelson assumed the identity of a local hardware store employee that he should start there and hits pay-dirt when it is revealed the store had a break-in and two fishing poles were stolen. Following that lead he learns he is just behind Nelson. Soto thinks Nelson's ritual of killing first involves a kind of interaction doing things he did as a child with his victim. eTh emotional off-the-chart is driven home when Soto blows over Hauser cancelling the "Amber Alert". Soto storms off as he peels off by himself and sits in a diner thinking cherry pie is, perhaps, a lure or a solstice to his emotional upheaval. Sure enough it's a lure and Nelson and his victim walk in. Soto blows it as Nelson is leaving and Madsen is not quite on the scene yet. He almost gets the victim killed.
Jonny Coyne, as warden James, has one of the best scenes in this week's episode. James has Nelson thrown into a windowless dark claustrophobic metal cell only to surprise Nelson when the door is closed by striking a match. Using the promise of 4 matches as a countdown to total isolation in darkness James, very eerily, extracts a confession only to tell Nelson he's allowing him to keep his clothes. He leaves the matches so Nelson incinerate himself by lighting his clothes, instead Nelson still has the matches when he is holding his present day victim.
The final confrontation occurs when Madsen and Soto figure out the victim is being held in an underground bunker. This time things go a little better as the boy escapes and is being caught by Nelson in open woods. Using his victim as a shield it looks like Madsen is going to have to make a difficult decision of either letting Nelson go in order to prevent him breaking his victims neck or take a chance of shooting him without harming the victim. In a flash a shot is heard and Nelson falls dead...Hauser was also on the scene unknown to Madsen and Soto. This is somewhat different as the other returning criminals have been captured alive. The difference is driven home as Hauser returns to the double top-secret underground later-day Alcatraz with Nelson in a body bag slung over his shoulder. Upon entering the prison, Hauser turns to his right and enters a sort of infirmary/morgue where the presiding doctor is none other than old Alcatraz's doctor Beauregard. Here's a man that loves a cigarette, his work, and, apparently the boogie-woogie blues of Amos Milburn as he cues up "I'm In My Wine" on the old turntable. All-in-all, a good episode allowing Jorge Garcia to develop his character (we find out he had a childhood trauma when Hauser accuses him of "arrested development") and stretch out some while it brings up the need for some answers to the enigma that is Hauser, Dr. Beauregard, and just what the heck is going on down there! We'll stay tuned for now becausemoreless
Only 3 episodes in and we are rewarded with an episode so middling it could be a throwaway mid-third season episode. The writers seem content to create a police procedural, replacing the labs and teamwork with a walking encyclopedia on the subject and his disinterested cop partner... oh and a mastermind who dedicated his life to the subject (and has access to a lab) gives no information or insight of any kind.
On the plus side the acting is solid if not stellar, the story is pergnant with promise and thats about it. The lead villain is a fine actor who was so much more menacing in his star turn on Fringe last season. The leads have very minor character development other than heavy handed origin story mysteries.
The claimed 'worst american criminals', who are usefully appearing in the modern day on a weekly basis, all seem kinda bland and less than modern killers. Give us some history of why they are so bad.. this weeks killer seems to have killed 3 boys after an abusive childhood... and yet at no point do we feel the victim off the week was in any real danger. Similarly we had a main character gunned down in week 2 by an accomplished killer.. who oddly fails this time.. and does anyone believe she won't recover?
Every week we are treated to a "this clue can only come from one place" plot device to accompany a "we leap to this conclusion only to find we were almost right" device.. Yawn. The same 2 tired plots of every crime drama ever.
Fans of LOST will already be wary of the "here is a mystery that no one will discuss on or off camera" plot that's is in full effect. It strains credibility and patience to have a cop who is not interested about her mysterious, murderous, partner killing, time travelling grandfather to ask the man who she spends all her work hours with about... let alone the family who have lied to her about him... or use her cop connections to research him.. or ask her new employer... or look for his belongings and records she has full access to.
Its just stupid and boring.. give us some credit and mysteries are fine and necessary but have good reasoning and real-world sensibilities that don't have us yawning.
My standout moment of this episode was the horribly written father/son chat that was the most clubfooted, exposition rich scene that imparted nothing over what we could have guessed and assumed.moreless