Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Alcatraz: In the Groove

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

So we're in the true-blue series now, no more heavy-exposition episodes to get us going. We know what's going on, who's involved, and we're working on figuring out why these things are happening, along with Doc and Madsen. Yes, there's still plenty of mystery in it (and much of it will likely remain for quite a while), but at this point viewers can kind of see what the show's going to be about and how the procedural will go. The show lost about a million viewers from the first week to the second, then another 700,000 from last week to this week. It's still about 8M though, so not a big problem. It will likely take a while to see how well the rest of the audience will stay, but this doesn't look like Alcatraz's biggest problem, at least for the moment. In my mind, the show has two problems. First, it's a bit gory for what it is. Yes, I realize that there were dangerous criminals in the script, but if I have to look away more than once an episode on a non-medical show, that's a bad sign in my book. Second, I don't know that the answer to how "all of this" is happening is going to be good enough. Yes, I'm pretty intrigued and wrapped up in the mystery for now, but unless they have something mind-blowing in the making, I don't think I'm going to be impressed, and therefore I'll be left rather angry. Plus, I'm rather impatient with non-comical storylines. I look forward to waiting until the very end to find out who the Mother is on How I Met Your Mother, but I needed to know immediately where things were going with various plots on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Bottomline, I'm not sure how long I'm going to stick with this show. You?

Alcatraz "Cal Sweeny" (S01E04): In Alcatraz, Cal Sweeny worked in the laundry room as a front to deliver contraband through clothes. Sweeney isn't much for material possessions, though he does have a tin box which survived a fire from his childhood. In fact, the fire destroyed his memories and family when he was ten years old, so it has quite the sentimental value. Well, the box goes missing, as an Alcatraz employee wants in on the laundry "operation." Sweeney is determined to get it back, though, so he and his laundry pal work their way into a fancy party by being servers. The warden, doctor, Lucy, and others are all there, and Lucy talks about how the idea that removing traumatic memories could rehabilitate the inmates. [whoa. creepy. but very 60s.] Sweeny corners the guy at the party, demanding his box back, most of the contents, and 50% of his business. But, the guy uses a scalpel to severely injure Sweeny, who is told he'll get thirty days in solitary confinement for doing this. [super sucks!] His compatriot did manage to get back the tin box for him, but claims he'll run everything much better than Sweeny did, and that everyone will forget all about Sweeny. Uber-upset, Sweeny stamps on his box just before he's brought to solitary. The protege, on the other hand, is brought to a secret area of a damp floor, where multiple keys are used to open a very large door - the warden and the protege enter, but we learn nothing about what's inside. [spooky.]

In present-day San Francisco, Cal Sweeny goes to use his safety deposit box... just to make out with the teller in private. [I really have a difficult time understanding people who abuse their privileges like this!] He tranquilizes her after confirming that the security cameras are off. [!!] Then, he begins using a lock-bypass thing to pull certain boxes, removing all of the contents. Hitting just the boxes but not the vault immediately tips off Doc as to Cal Sweeny being the culprit. [all of the instant "it's ___" is getting old] They interview the teller, then decide to talk to the owners of the "hit" safety deposit boxes about what was in the boxes (to then put out a call to the pawn shops in the area). But, Sweeny is already doing that, claiming that he works at the bank and he's filling out insurance claims along. He's out to figure out who owned a sapphire necklace, and how that person met their spouse. [we never find out why he was interested in this information, which I found irritating.] Sweeny kills him, which Madsen and Doc find out when they go to visit, arriving at the same time as the guy's wife.

Madsen and Doc work on the case back at Alcatraz, and find that Sweeny's box has very little in it - just the empty tin box. [...I thought he smashed it?] Then, when looking at videos from the banks, Madsen realizes that the tellers were both given the same flowers, so they go to the floral shop and ask for the order history. [things like this - how does anyone miss it??] The same arrangement also went to a third teller, so they head to that bank, where Sweeny is already in the process of removing safety deposit bank items. He clocks a guard on his way out, but the police have already arrived (he had failed to tranquilize the teller properly and she was able to trigger an alarm before he just knocked her out), so he proceeds to hold everyone hostage. [interesting bank robbery we have here...] Madsen calls Hauser, who shows up but doesn't have a lot of ideas.
CR: Liane Hentscher/FOX
So, Madsen has Doc help her come up with a plan - she can get into the bank by crawling through the air conditioning vents of the adjacent buildings. Just as Sweeny is about to kill a teller, he hears a vent grate fall, and he finds Madsen, unarmed. She tells him that she knows who he is, and that she'll get him out. She has him put on a SWAT uniform, and after the real SWAT team enters the building when gunshots are heard, he escorts her out like the other team members are with other hostages. They take off in her squad car, with Soto following in a mustang with Hauser. We learn that Soto hasn't driven since he was eleven (he also doesn't like dim sum, for the record). Madsen crashes the car in order to knock out Sweeny, who wasn't wearing a seatbelt. [nice.]

Sweeney had a pouch from one of the most recent safety deposit boxes, which contained a key. He didn't know what was in the pouch - he was just told to take it. Hauser knows about it, and Madsen wants in on the secret... too bad Hauser tricks her into handing it over without revealing the truth. Hauser takes the key to some scientists, who do some research - while it looks just like the other key, they're different!

Last, a small bit we learned about Doc's background and why he now works in a comic book shop, despite the fact that he has two doctorates... The academic life pleased his parents, but he got black-listed from the academic community after showcasing a crime theory based on Gotham City. [hmmm. hope this comes into play again!]
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