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Alcatraz: Girlfriend in a Coma

Alcatraz S01E11: "Webb Porter"


I had one major revelation while watching last night's episode of Alcatraz, "Webb Porter": Parminder Nagra, who plays comatose prison-behavior specialist Lucy, looks like Snooki. And now I can't unsee it. Proof:

Sorry about that. I hope the thought doesn't invade your nightmares. Aside from Lucy's resemblance to the pregnant Jersey Shore star, there was a bunch of surface-level stuff about "Webb Porter" that differentiated it from other episodes of Alcatraz. Most noticeably, it was by far the best-looking and well put together episode of the season, and a lot of that credit goes to director Jack Bender. He's the man who shot a lot of Lost's most important episodes, and he's already directed a handful of episodes for Alcatraz. But there was a certain flair to "Webb Porter," particularly noticeable in the scenes where the convict-of-the-week played his violin and the various P.O.V. shots, that lent an air of competence to the series.

Unfortunately, Bender didn't write the episode, too. The new look of "Webb Porter" couldn't mask the Alcatraz's ineptitude with regard to developing quality case-of-the-week stories or justifying the false bravado of each episode's final moments.

This week a '63 returned to present day to play his violin and hold ladies hostage so he could snip off their hair and use that hair to string his bow. And in a something-that-I-can't-believe-I'm-calling-a-twist twist that should have happened several episodes ago, Webb Porter wasn't immediately identified by so-called Alcatraz expert Soto, forcing the A-Team to actually figure out who he was.

Eventually the team figured out that the violin people were hearing at the crime scenes was that of the killer and not the victims (great detective work!) so Rebecca and Soto went to the perfectly preserved Alcatraz music room and found a violin there with Webb Porter's name etched into it the same way a third-grader would have marked his instrument. Then the team caught him alive, because Emerson thought his magical and healing colloidal-silver-laced blood was a match for comatose Lucy. It was a pretty easy case to solve, even by Alcatraz standards.

Meanwhile, in flashbacks, an uncomatose Lucy was working with Webb by introducing him to music to help him deal with tinnitus, an annoying ringing in the ears. He took to the fiddle like Soto does to a Hot Pocket, and it wasn't not long before he was playing Inmate Concerto #5 for the rest of the cell block. We also saw flashbacks of young Emerson and Lucy's budding romance, but without any sense of chemistry. Seriously, it was like spying on a Match.com first date between two people so desperate they'd kiss a doorknob.

In the final scene, Webb's blood was transfused into Lucy, who woke up. Finally. She's been in a coma since Episode 2. I know of a little boy on another TV series who was pushed off a castle tower and fell into a coma for just one episode, and that worked out well. Soto and 'Becca did see old footage of Lucy looking the same age back in 1963, so there'd better be some sort of confrontation with Emerson in next week's two-hour finale or I'll kill someone.

Again, there was a sense of "who the F cares" with regard to the episode's bad guy. Alcatraz doesn't have the guts to make its villains downright heinous or totally compassionate. Maybe this is by design, but until we understand why, it's just bad characterization. Every convict is doing horrible things today but has a sad backstory in the past that's intended to explain their actions and lay the blame on someone else. So are we supposed to feel bad for Webb Porter because his mom tried to drown him, or are we supposed to hate the guy because he drowned women in the present day? Alcatraz is flirting with the whole idea of cause and effect, especially recently with Lucy's behavioral studies, but the flirting has to give way to heavy petting because it's already too little too late.

And that's what strikes me about Alcatraz. The series has NO THEME. It's all plot. There's no story behind the stories, it's only a series of good guys catching bad guys and end-of-episode "reveals." There's no sense of destiny or fate that's usually present in J.J. Abrams' projects. If the show can break the ice and talk more about nature versus nurture with its criminals, that'd be something to grow on. But 11 episodes into Season 1, theme—which is just as important to a show as its story—is locked up in a hole somewhere.

There are only two hours left of Alcatraz, and we're not much closer to learning the series' secrets than we were when the show started. But the finale is sure to answer some of the questions (like who is behind everything and what's behind the door) before leaving us with a cliffhanger that will never be resolved, because the show is unlikely to get a second season.


Prison Sentences

– Soto knows everything about Alcatraz and its inmates, but he doesn't know that Alcatraz once housed a musical savant? The man was one of the most interesting cases in the prison. And wouldn't Soto have known about Lucy?

– How about that convenient switching of hair color for his bows that Webb used? He went from brunette to blonde to redhead, which helped the A-Team crack the case. My favorite part was when Soto was looking up faces from the Philharmonic (now that's a powerful computer), came up with two redheads, and said, "It must be the girl with the long hair." Rebecca then said DMV photos could be out-of-date, so Soto discovered that the one with short hair had just FourSquared in Union Square, which meant the one he originally picked was the right one. I wish he had flashed Rebecca a look that said, "Thanks for wasting our time." I don't understand why procedurals stall like that. Proof should be needed to disprove hunches, not support them. It totally undermined the need for logical police work.

– Rebecca seriously needs to make some friends outside of work. Scratch that, Rebecca seriously needs to make some friends. Does this chick have a personal life? Does she have any interests? What happened to her fiancee?

– Have you ever seen a show where the main characters become less and less important as the series progresses, as is happening with Alcatraz?


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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Finally caught up with this episode..loved it!



Something about the Warden tells me i would have ''like" d him on "peoplebook" .That smug baldie is the best thing about this show..(not sorry Hurley!!). I really hope they fix this show and give it another season. it cant be that expensive to make (a rock is a rock not an ankylosaurus!!)....



Maybe a substantial stay for the shows writers at the 'writer's retreat".. there is a room for improvement. This show is not a total failure,it just have holes in the plot line, unlike that prehistoric megafauna show.
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I was really excited about this show when it first began..but I seem to be slowly finding myself not really caring anymore..I Just have two questions1.Apart from the sparingly appearing Tommy Madison why cant another 63 get away?and 2.Why dont they bring one of the 63's onto the task force like say Jack Sullven
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tim, you have a wonderful sense of humour and your comments of this show are pretty funny, so why you cannot mix these things together and treat this superhilarious series with humour? from the 1st epizode i saw that it was going to be stupid, but the script was rather interesting and the dialogues were veeeeeeeeeery funny, so i decided to watch this show as some "naked gun" (or any movie with harrison ford))) why you (of all people!) take this show so seriously?! IT IS NOT FRINGE, NOR LOST, AND IT NEVER WILL BE, TAKE IT! as for me, i hope with all my heart for the 2nd season, to laugh every monday for the whole hour!
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Well, this is not an Abrams show, his name is there because Bad Robot is one of the producers and Fox thinks his face can grab more viewers. This current Alcatraz is the result of Fox kicking Sarnoff (Abrams person into the show) out of the show and rebuilding it into something they think people will like. Same thing they did with Terra Nova, which is now gone for good. Someone get Abrams actually INTO this show so he can do what he knows Alcatraz needs, give it a full season order, and it'll work. Otherwise, forget it.
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I am still at a loss, I have no idea why I am still watching this show.

There isn't one character I particularly like, not one one plot line that has captured my attention and every one of the "reveals" just piss me off.

I've become one of those annoying haters who watch every episode and then call each one terrible but I just can't stop.
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Warden! I perk up every time he's on.
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I love this show. So it will probably either be canceled soon or it will be revealed that everyone is already dead, even in the present time, and it's all a magical dream that is really happening, I guess in outer space somewhere.
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Eh, it's standard JJ Abrams stuff.



Lost - seasons 1 and 2 we got small drops of stuff going on... rarely and none of it made sense or connected. Seriously, in Season 1 how much did we really know besides the Island curing Locke's paralysis?



Fringe - season 1, how much did we learn about stuff? Not a whole lot, just that ZFT was preparing for a Doomsday, there was an alternate world, and Walter was evasive about Peter's illness. We know that Peter was dead, but didn't get confirmation that he was from the alternate universe until later seasons.



etc
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I only have one question...What the hell is a Snooki and who really cares? I've watched Parminder since her days on ER and hope that now that she's awake we'll get more of her (hopefully in a second season.)
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Thanks for the recap TIm, although I don't know why I'm still watching this show. Do you know what would be a great Throwdown? Which is the worse show - Terra Nova or Alcatraz, it's getting harder for me to pick a favourite.
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I'd never seen what Snooki looked like before reading this. Really enriched my life (!) Thanks for that. :@
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Really?
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Oh, is this still on, my my...

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I think you wanted us to permanently see Snooki, Tim. Very cruel!
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At first I thought maybe some were being too rough on this show. That i might take a few episodes to geta rhythm going story wise. However, it seems to be getting worse with every episode and frankly at this point not sure I care to watch it any more.



Odd really. I wasn't really sold on Fringe wither in the beginning but ventually I really got into the show, stories, and characters. I was hoping that is what would happen here. However the opposite has been true. Bummer because I really like Sam Neill as an actor but looks like he is going to have the misfortune of being on two canceled shows ina row.
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This is so dead
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It's serious.
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This was a good episode to me. Definitely had a "Silence of the Lambs" feel to it. Despite the lack of blood, this 63 creeped the hell out of me. Finally, Lucy wakes up, plus, Madsen and Soto know she's one of the original 63's!



I'm definitely looking forward to the season finale. Looks like its going to answer quite a few questions.
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"It's all plot" ? So Alcatraz actually has a plot? Definitely no themes though, that's for sure.
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Had the same Snooki revelation last night, and now it's frustratingly impossible to look at Parminder Nagra and NOT see Snooki. Awful.



Also, this show is garbage, but I agree that this was one of the most well-shot episodes despite it having a typically horrendous plot.



Not looking forward to the 2-hr finale at all next week; doubt I'll be able to sit though the entire thing without pausing at least once to throw my head into a wall.
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