Alcatraz: Watch Your Step (in the Right Direction)

Alcatraz S01E06: "Paxton Petty"

You may have noticed that this Alcatraz write-up is a bit later than usual. It's not one-hundred percent because I'm lazy. Ninety-five, maybe. But the real reason is that, in addition to this sweet-ass Valentine's feature I curated taking up more of my time this week, I've decided to demote Alcatraz to second squad, and promote Being Human to first string. Why? Well, because Alcatraz just isn't that great. Of course, that's my opinion, and yours may differ.

With that paperwork out of the way, let's head back to THE ROCK. This week our returned Alcatraz inmate was REALLY dangerous. I love how the promos promised the return of "one of Alcatraz's most dangerous inmates!" As if there's another option. But when you think about it, this show is supposed to cover what, more than 300 inmates? I guess "one of Alcatraz's most dangerous inmates" sounds a lot better than "the 278th most dangerous inmate from Alcatraz." Though for once, I would love to see a white-collar crook return to cause mayhem in present-day San Francisco with some incredibly volatile tax evasion.

The basis for "Paxton Petty" was that a mad bomber returned to San Francisco to plant landmines all over the city. It was your basic terrorist plot with a wry criminal getting roughed up while a hard-nosed cop screamed, "WHERE IS THE DAMN BOMB?" We've seen this story done a bazillion and two times, but it was an effective storytelling device because you can have the perp in custody and he can still have the upper hand. It's fertile ground for psychological warfare between frustrated detectives and attention-starved nutjobs, and we got something like that in this episode.

"Paxton Petty" actually continued Alcatraz's gradual progress away from utter failure. It's almost as if the writers read my piece from last week, 5 Things Alcatraz Needs to Do To Keep Me Watching, and addressed several of the issues I complained about. First, Rebecca wasn't just a dog playing fetch, which was problem number uno. If you ask me, this was the most badge she's flashed since the series began. Ditto for Hauser, who pulled a Person of Interest's John Reese by shooting the bad guy in the leg just because he was pissed off. Now, that I like. It sort of addressed my second request, which was for Alcatraz to make its central characters more interesting. And hey! We got a look at Lucy in present day, which was a follow-up on a closing reveal/cliffhanger (item number three). I even had "WHAT THE FUDGE IS UP WITH LUCY AND WHY ISN'T ANYONE CONCERNED ABOUT HER BEING IN A COMA?" in my notes. Anyway, back to what I said before, Rebecca did some decent police work for a change, so that covered item number four. And wouldn't you know it, Alcatraz let its hair down a bit this week and actually gave us some insight on the overall story as well—number five.

On top of all that, Paxton Petty himself thankfully asked a ton of questions about how the heck he got to 2012, something that returned prisoners in previous episodes haven't done. Finally, someone did that! That's step one. Step two will be someone answering that question. So congratulations, Alcatraz, you've improved over the last two weeks.

But you're still kind of boring. Paxton Petty (rhymes with Bouncing Betty, a popular type of landmine) went on a landmining rampage, but it's not really clear why. He bombed some kids in Korea and didn't get "recognized" for it, so he started terrorizing innocent Americans? The criminals on Alcatraz are such twats that it really ruins the thrill of hunting for them. And since finding these creeps is the majority of the show, Alcatraz still feels like we're sifting through the sandbox, looking for toys amidst handfuls of cat turds. Until these criminals can actually be tied to the major story in a satisfactory way instead of being pawns, the show will always be like it is now. It's too black-and-white... which is fine for a cop show, but I expected Alcatraz to be more than a cop show. How did I get stuck reviewing a cop show? So mad at myself.

The big loser here is the San Francisco tourism board. Shootings in the streets? A sniper killing people randomly? Bank robberies and hostage situations? Child kidnappers? And now some lunatic planting landmines in public parks and playgrounds? That's a travel agent's nightmare.

Notes:

– That was Mehcad Brooks, who played the character Eggs on True Blood, getting blown up at the end there. Looks like Paxton Petty likes his eggs... scrambled. YEEEEAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

– Oh my god PLEASE stop with all the comic-book crap. We get it, he works at a comic-book store and likes superheroes.

Alcatraz seems to be trying to implant some personality into Rebecca, but if anyone who I hadn't seen yet said to me, "You switch to decaf yet?" I'd probably just keep on walking.

– "I just pictured him in a transparent suit." —Soto. Okay, plus one to you, Jorge Garcia.

– Can someone confirm or deny that rolling a landmine at someone after pressing the detonation switch works? Because I call bullshit.

– WHOA! Lucy and Hauser were more than friends in the old days? That would be interesting if I cared about either one of them.


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

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I don't think this was the best episode so far. the best one was the one last week, Guy Hastings, in which a guard appeared. Because of that some moral ambiguity was introduced to the show. The guard wasn't a criminal like the others, he did some bad things, but he wasn't like the others. Besides we learned more about Ray Archer (that he was Rebecca's real uncle), his relationship with Rebecca and with her grandfather (his brother) Tommy Madsen, whom he was kind of protecting. Unfortunately this week they came back to the old formula of brining baddies doing bad things for not much of a good reason.
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Alcatraz is not bad (like The River) and the reviews are funnier on the bad shows. Kinda like making fun of the mentally challenged kid trying to learn his ABC's. It might be funny but he is trying. I encourage Alcatraz to keep trying and working towards being good and interesting.
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Oh just stop watching and ripping it apart if you don;t like it. FFS Tim! You're getting ridiculous.
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i think this episode is the best so far and i really loled when hauser shot paxton just because "his legs hurt" i think you had way high expectations cuz the show is doing fine. I freaking love Sam Neill
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Man your criticism on this show is way too harsh! I don't know if your expectations were way high for this show or if you just don't like Sam Neill. For one I know you like Fringe and this show has started out a lot better than Fringe did. And two what other sci-fi show is there that is better than this, besides Fringe now? I think this show has a lot of upside and it is starting to show it.
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Agreed!



You also have to recognize that Fringe and Alcatraz have very different way of world building. Fringe was kind of a free spirit. Everything could happen Massive Dynamic makes it possible. From time travel, to ghosts, to people in amber to cybernetic skinwalkers, to several different realities... Fringe delivers.



Alcatraz tries to build a story around 300 people gone missing from the Rock without much impact on the rest of the world. Now we know nothing more. Let's just wait and see if they can enter the "holy shit this is strange" Fringe territory or at least deliver a nice criminal procedural.



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TV doesn't need another nice criminal procedural.

That's what CBS is for.
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and you get to decide that how?
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it's crap to have a comic book artist who owns a comic book store to make comic book references?





m'kay.
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I am amazed at how ungrateful most of you guys are!! Do you have any idea how hard it is to write weekly episodes that appeal to the masses??



Cant make everyone happy!!! this is a brilliant show with an original idea!!
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Just because it's hard to make doesn't mean we should all be happy and grateful for it.

It's hard to be head of state of the U.S... does that mean I have to be grateful for George W. Bush's time as President?

I assume it was hard to make The Hottie & the Nottie or Battlefield Earth, but both are still horrible movies.



You basically argued against your own argument with "Cant make everyone happy!!!" You're right, you can't make everyone happy. You understand that, but then say you can't understand that some of us aren't happy with this show?
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It's not hard, actually. Considering it's a large group of writers done months in advance. Many minds have to get together to agree that an idea is "good." The idea is then passed to the producers, if that hadn't already subjected their own unhealthy opinions into the writers' room. The producers then agree on a direction and the executive (essentially) signs off. A lot of people have their hands in the creative process making the writing easier than the way you describe.



In point of fact, the criminal-of-the-week procedural angle is actually a VERY simple forumla to write for. It's designed to be so. Churn out mediocre episodes more quickly, reduce budget, make more money. It's the exec's mantra. Business 101. But hey, you think it's a brilliant show. I'm not arguing your integrity.



ADDENDUM: I re-read your post, you continued by saying it's hard to write "for the masses." That COULD be true. And I should have deleted my post, but then my brain remembered Jersey Shore and its constituents and realized...writing for the masses is retarded easy.
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I really hope Fringe and Alcatraz stick around. Terra Nova can go; one of the worst shows I've ever seen in my life, and that's saying a lot. Almost as bad as The Cape. lol
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this show isn't getting better when the best it's been was *new.* once the wonder of something new wore of it was painfully obvious how bad the show was and ...it continues to be that bad up through the last episode. I laughed uncontrollably, through the first half of the latest episode, out of pure discomfort for everyone involved. if i had the patience to sit through the whole thing giving it my full attention i'd take notes of everything that screams *CANCEL ME NOW!* but i can't. of course it's a fox show and with a track record of shows like prison break (not the worst thing to ever be watched, but fall well underneath the bar of what should) i shouldn't be surprised this show's still airing for the time being. actors alone can't redeem shows ...though you wouldn't know it from the way lost lasted...
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A FOX show....with a track record with shows like "Fringe"? Mmh or like "Arrested Development"? Both shows could have been canceled a long time before they were or will...because they had such bad numbers that it was hardly to justify to keeping them alive as long as they were.



Fox and their FX Network with "terrible shows" like Sons of Anarchy, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Shield, Terriers, Archer and so on....uhhh they are the Devil!



Good god, I am defending a mediocre show. But sometimes I just don't understand people. You said you didn't have patience for paying attention and laughed uncontrollably for 20+ min? Maybe you need to seek some medical attention. I guess exaggerating is the new internet comment style to drive an half assed point home y'all!



Btw. Lost was on ABC.
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I have a problem with this review. Not this episode, just in general.



It's ok that you don't like the show and I can absolutely see your point. I also think this show isn't great, but it is, on the other hand, not THAT bad. Maybe I 'like' it because I am a Sam Neil fan (In the Mouth of Madness /Event Horizon = Lifetime pass) and don't mind that Jorge Garcias' Hurley impression keeps my interest.



Sure it's not a breakout hit like Lost was. But do you remember Fringe... the first few episodes? Do you? .... Sure?



I do! The first episodes were at best "interesting"... case of the week, medicore interesting characters (not inc. John Noble who is always great) and a larger mystery behind close curtains, which are pulled back very, very slowly. Oh and also sloppy writing in the result of story arcs which seemed important in the pilot and following episodes, which died a painless death in memory hospital.



I agree with everything you wrote about Terra Nova, The Event and Flash Forward. But here I have a feeling, that all this show need is a head-slap Gibbs' style to wake up and be great.



Maybe you just don't like the premise. I couldn't bring myself to watch Falling Skies....but then, I also don't review Shows.
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Lost may have been a breakout hit, but you'd probably agree that story arcs and a lot of the writing broke down as the show hit its second season stride (you can argue, a little later.) Personally, the show was only truly good for the first season, and it started that way. Fringe (yes, John Noble is terrific) started slow and honestly never picked up. I guess I just don't buy in to the "mystery drives the interest" mantra.



To Alcatraz, Sam Neil made me watch it the first few episodes, but Garcia's continued terrible acting (as well as the others) really turns me off. I don't see this show lasting, but I didn't see Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory lasting either. Quality doesn't matter.
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It's still a little early to say whether Alcatraz will get a renewal. The most recent ratings were okay but not great. If it does get renewed then it's going to be replacing Fringe on Fridays.
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I gave up on this show... I was all for it the first couple of episodes, but by episode four, I was so bored, I stopped it halfway through and deleted it. I wanted to believe this would be a good show but it's just become a procedural with a supernatural twist. But I'm glad Being Human made the cut! It's definitely one of the best supernatural shows in rotation, thanks to the superb cast and Jeremy Carver.
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Did he just use the word "twats" in this article.

Wow are you 12 years old?
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It is still doing nothing for me.

I thought it would find it's feet but the show is still looking.

And why am I still watching it to be honest I don't know I suppose I keep hoping that somewhere along the line it will get better but to me it's a weaker copy of "The 4400".

Again everyone is different but with all the hype about the show you think it would get better.
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agreed, but i'll still be checking it out.
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tho this show pisses me off from start to finish....and I honestly have NO IDEA why I watch it week in and week out....but the fact is... I do so I guess the writers are doing something right
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In order for you to review this show you first have to watch it. Torture enough, but then you have to justify it, which is also torture since it is impossible. Luckily for me , I have to do neither, just read your review which is way better than this awful show. The only criticism I have is your review is too long as "Still sucks", would suffice and free up your day...
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and then there is we, those who suffer to read a total nonsense comment written by someone who does not even watch the show (yet can still hate it for whatever reasons).. what kind of a torture is that for us?
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Extremely sloppy writing, and lot of impausible things concerning the explosives. It's time to cut this one loose.
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I dont understand why you whine about reviewing a cop show, yet you love Person of Interest, abit of a conflict of LOGIC there mr Surette ! :)
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Did POI all of a sudden become a cop show?
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Well, kind of. It follows the case of the week structure, which is what kinda drags it down from being potentially awesome. At the moment it just hangs around in the limbo of being a sci fi version of CBS cop shows.



But I guess it has something to do with CBS always playing it safe (just look at their sitcoms, ugh), and procedural is certainly the safe way over serialized shows.
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Actually your logic escapes me as POI is great and Alcacrap isn't...
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Better, but still pretty bad. The premise of the show and the premise of each episode is still very creative and interesting. The execution is blah.



I can continue to watch Alcatraz despite the slow developing mystery because I understand it's part of the format of a mystery series to move slow. But if that's the case, then the writers need to give me something else to be interested in until the mystery starts to evolve or reveal itself. So far, very little else interests me.



What's the focus of the writers for each episode? It's obviously not the big mystery, considering almost nothing significant about it is really revealed. So if not that, their focus should be on characterization... unfortunately, they do very little of that, as well. Not one character on this show interests me; they're all so lazily written. The writers' focus right now seems to be solely on the case-of-the-week... but if I don't care about the characters, I really don't care about the situations they're put in. The writers have their priorities mixed up.
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Alcatraz gets more and more laughable as each episode airs. It's amazing how the main characters are super sleuths and quickly discover clues. And Rebecca spotting Petty, before realizing he is the 'escapee/bomber', not even 5 minutes into the show.
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omg thank god I thought I was the only one annoyed by her robot/terminator vision which can find clues in 2.3 seconds flat every time but wait...there's more not only does she find every clue in record time... she immediately makes the connection and saves the day
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Yes to both of you! Thought that was extremely lame how she saw Paxton so early and JUST KNEW it was him. Hate that stuff in shows.
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Alcatraz is oat meal. Its bland, uninteresting and you only use it when your out of good things to eat/watch.



honestly how predictable is that show. The second blonndie big boobs greeted eggs you knew he was going to die.

All the inmates are real wusses and the storytelling is just not compelling.

still it is great to watch while i plan my next day. because you know even if you dont watch it closely you wont miss a single important thing.
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Haha. I agree with all of your points.



I also immediately assumed when Tanner was introduced that he was going to die during the episode.



Considering these are supposed to be some of the "baddest" criminals, none of them actually seem like it. I'm sure they seem bad on paper (setting off bombs in public places is a very serious crime), but on screen, they all seem quite weak.
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"I've decided to demote Alcatraz to second squad, and promote Being Human to first string"

....LOL!... and you are?
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This show had such a promising premise but the writing is sloppy, the characters paperthin (the good guys are boring and the bad guys so bad they are laughable...) and the procedural format is killing it... So far ... so uninteresting....



I am not bothered about landmines exploding or not like grenades but Hauser's tackling of the suspect on the beach was beyond stupid... come on... And the bomb expert getting blown up??? That was unnecessary...
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I have the same commitment issues with Fox shows that I do with relationships; you never know if (or when) they're going to pull the plug on something good. I like Alcatraz but won't love it until I know it has a future.
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this week I fastforwarded all the present day stuff and just watched the flashbacks. You don't miss anything relevant and it only takes about 15 minutes to watch an episode.
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I think this episode could have improved with Heather Mills guest starring and stepping on a lind mine... but that's just me.
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Well judging from the rest of the mines at the park, rolling a mine at Rebecca should have been suicide.
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I started out not liking this show, but from the 4th episode, its just getting better and better. I really hope Alcatraz gets a season 2 order. But if it comes down to Alcatraz or Terra Nova or Fringe, I'd pick Fringe first and then Alcatraz! Don't be stupid FOX. Listen to the fans and pick up Fringe for a final season!
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Seems you got a few facts mixed up, but I hesitate to say that because... well... I could well be wrong. Oops. I did say it.



One is that he wasn't upset at not being recognized because he bombed Korean kids, rather he bombed the Korean kids after not being recognized for clearing away pretty much an entire icy mine field by himself, while under fire (and when HE cleared the way for US troops to cross the field and engage the enemy, many of THEM were given the silver star while his efforts were passed over). It was THEN that he put the mines on the path to the school or where have you. True, later in prison he wrote umpteen requests to be recognized, which were of course rejected, but still.



The other thing is that I do believe other criminals have stated that they had no idea how they got to the present day, namely the 'first' criminal, in the series premiere. It's not mentioned enough, though, I agree... but if you think about it that could also mean some are in on whatever conspiracy it seems exist (that was hinted at in the sniper episode, no?).



Anyway, while not a stellar episode in and of itself, I agree that the show is slowly becoming the way it should have been from the start. We saw some personal character development with Hauser and whom we now know was a sort of 'lady-friend' (and yes, it was nice to see him knee-cap the punk-arse bomber!), and the best was when they let us in on the bigger picture at the end, with her counter-part doctor obviously also having come back and having Hauser tell him to fix her. The only character that's still truly going nowhere is Hurley... err... Garcia's character.



Anyway, getting better, and I'll still tune in, but I agree it's not all that great.
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So Paxton just woke up in the future, was given no instructions by any ominous Third Parties, and immediately goes about planting more mines as though nothing had happened? Determined little bugger, isn't he? - So far, there was the option that the 63s were given some sort of future orientation course, if only to cope with smartphones. Paxton says he knows nothing. I'm waiting for an explanation.
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Yeah, I didn't quite get that part either. Up until now, I assumed the inmates resorted back to their crimes because they were told to do so. But the way Paxton made it sound, he didn't know anything about anything. He just woke up in a cemetery and decided to blow people up again.



I guess the explanation will have something to do with "programming"... while they were "asleep" maybe someone "programmed" it in their heads that they do what they were put in prison for.
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It appeared that those land mines were rigged like grenades which have a few seconds before they go off. But who would carry a land mine in their arms out in the open on the street where anyone could see you?



And as for defusing the mine on the beach, one would think that as soon as everyone was clear they would have used some sort of robot or remote trigger to set it off, especially when the bomb tech knew it was Gerry-rigged. It was also unprofessional for the bomb tech not to treat the bomb as still being able to go off even after it was suppose to be defused.



It also seemed clear that all that protective padding did absolutely no good.



Did anyone else notice that the bomb looked grey-green and not sandstone as it was suppose to have been painted?
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Agreed. The fact that he slowly rolled a landmine down the street towards Rebecca was odd, given that he wasn't holding one (at least I don't think so) when he was running from her, and I didn't see one in his hands when he was standing at the back of the crowd). Did he just whip one out of his backpack? If so, when? And wouldn't it be a little dangerous having a landmine like that in your backpack in the first place? Definite holes in that part.
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He took it out of his backpack. He was running with the bag on his back, but for the less-than-a-second they showed Rebecca running, he apparently took it off, got the bomb out, and walked with it in his hands.



It's a little unreasonable, just because he apparently took it out from his bag in less than a second, but it's mostly reasonable considering this show isn't supposed to be in real-time.
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Love the episode and love the show. To me, a lot happened in this episode that will be a prelude of great things to come. Nuff said!
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dis rocks!!!
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Considering the way the show is going, I wish they'd actually just switch full-time to the 1960's, and have flash-forwards to present time so we could spend more time with that awesome Warden.
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I second that. Warden is far more interesting than Hauser.
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Have to disagree. I think this show is very good and has a lot of potential. I'm really enjoying it so far.
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does anyone else disappointed that the woman from the morgue didn't come to soto's comic-book?
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While her policing might have improved in some areas, why didn't Rebecca just shot him (and then duck) when he rolled a mine at her? Would have saved a lot of effort and been a 'righteous shoot' (as the cop shows tell me it's called).
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And why didn't Hauser, on the beach when he found Paxton burying more mines, just tell Paxton to come to him? Hauser, the guy's busy burying land mines! Think about it!
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yes he could have done that, but then eggs would not have died, and they totally needed to show that blondie big boobs is a real character who has real friends, that were never mentioned before.



It makes her character so much mor real and likeable when we see her suffe rbecuase of her good freinds death.
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I think the show keeps getting better. Some of the Alcatraz personnel are totally in on whatever is going on here, and I like that. The main Warden guy is a great villain in my book. So, does anyone else think they will be giving Soto a romantic interest soon? I would love it, but it pains me to say, most Red-Blooded Americans don't want to see a romance on television with a man of Jorge Garcia's size. I hate it, but it is true. Libby didn't last long with Hurley, and they only had 2 soft kisses. Anyway, too tired to discuss more, but I loved your 'twats' comment!!
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You think THIS show is boring, but you LOVE Person of Interest??? Talk about a frikkin snooze fest. You make no sense.
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Oh, and since we're calling bullshit and "lazing" writing, how about a little research? A quick little jaunt over to Wikipedia shows that, with some WW2 mines "the time between triggering and ignition of the propelling charge varied between 3.9 and 4.5 seconds". And oh hey, look! From triggering the mine to the mine exploding took.......anyone want to guess? OMFG, it took 4 seconds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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I didn't think it got any better. Her paltry detective skills were kind of invalidated by her yet again failing to shoot the man with an explosive device that just injured and potentially killed several individuals. She still kind of stumbles into things and doesn't have to work hard for clues and such.



The crook of the week, was kind of one dimensional, I feel that he was simply presented as an answer to very few of the things people have be critical of. It was a little two convenient that after 5 episodes they still have answered very few questions. And then this dude comes along and just has the same questions, he just asked them.



I agree stop with the comic book crap. And the idea of him getting a girlfriend in the coroner is kind of silly. I agree that it is trying to give both Rebecca and Soto some personality but it is almost too little too late they have had 5 episodes to set up something in the way of personality and background to them and they chose not to.



The episode was a step in the right direction but it is a very small step and I am not sure that it isn't overshadowed by the previous episodes lack of anything.



And I am totally shocked that my prediction a couple weeks ago that the smoking doc is going to somehow fix Lucy. So shocked. And the Houser Lucy thing was predictable, he seemed too attached to her room initially to not be.



As for the AP mine, it would really depend on the mine. If it was a delayed time mine then yea conceivably he could of depressed the plunger and started the time delay and rolled it at her.(she still should have shot him, first). But if it was that they Houser could have just ran off the mine and it wouldn't have injured him. But Petty was a AP mine expert and could alter the mechanism to do what it wanted as he did with the EOD officer that disarmed it and it still detonated. So though in respect to the story I call BS. But conceivably depending on the type mine it could happen.



The most interesting "reveal" of the episode is that Soto had no idea that Lucy was also a Doc at Alcatraz. That seemed like a pretty big miss for a double Phd.
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Unless Lucy is actually from the future. Why not? We don't know nothing yet!
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Very true. She could very well be an alien. With have about as much depth in the characters as a mud puddle.
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what if shes an alien within a werewolf within a dream?



but then it turns out shes actually dead?



SIGNED: M NIGHT SHAMA...SHAMABUBALON?
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Wow, it's almost like they have some sort of play to gradually reveal things! Maybe they were correct in not revealing every single interesting plot point and every character's relationship with every other character in the first episode!
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I definitely think the show has the slowest slope of development. Maybe by episode 13, we will be clamoring for a season 2. There's no reason for the truly boring episodes early on.



Any new show should KNOW that you have to start fast and keep it going that way to survive (inb4 that's what she said).
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I hated how all the landmines started going off at the same time. Like everyone just happened to start stepping on them all at once. Not to mention the idea that you can trigger a landmine and roll it at someone, they aren't grenades and don't have a delay when going off. This show reeks of lazing writing and it's clear Elizabeth Sarnoff made the right decision leaving. I hope this gets canceled so I can be freed of it.
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I'm not sure about the rest of your comment, but I agree with your first statement.



I really disliked that opening present day scene where all the land mines went off at about the same time. They showed the little park to be very busy -- there were a lot of people around there -- but the way the mines went off, it was as if all the people came at the exact same time.
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How about you just be an adult and stop watching it instead of asking for it to be cancelled since you're not strong enough a person to make the decision on your own. Talk about being "lazing".
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haters will be haters
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What? You can't find anything else to do and are required to watch a show you like?
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