Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Alcatraz: Two Episodes = FOUR 63s!

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

I found these episodes to be the most horrifying yet. While I think that it's good to have a thriller drama on television, if I need to look away more than once, I tend to not want to watch anymore of that program. So, let's hope that this was more of an isolated incident (maybe that's part of the reason that they aired these two back-to-back?). I was surprised that the first episode had THREE of the 63s featured... what's the rush? Or did we just want to see that the guards and the inmates can be on the same team now? Either way, I think I like fewer bad guys per hour. I also found it interesting that the events in "The Ames Brothers" took place over just a few hours... I bet we won't see that happen again! It probably was a lower-budget episode, though... everything on the island and no outdoor scenes. It did open up a new can of worms, however, about the warden!

Alcatraz "The Ames Brothers" (S01E09): One of Hauser's men has been conducting some type of experiment at night, and since Hauser isn't there, Soto goes to see what's going on. [cool. I'm interested to learn what Hauser's secret crew does!] Unfortunately, Pinky Ames has bludgeoned the guy so it's only moments before Soto is caught as well. They Ames brothers demand that Soto figure out their antiquated map and lead them through the tunnels... but they don't actually want him with them, so the lock him in a cell. Madsen calls Soto after ten minutes but gets his voicemail. She notices the experiment on the monitors has been abandoned, so she goes to investigate. Soon after she leaves, Hauser arrives and watches some surveillance tapes to figure out what's going on. [good. glad those cameras are coming in handy. though we're almost dragging out that point now.] Madsen
CR: Liane Hentscher/FOX
discovers Donovan, a Ranger who was also an Alcatraz officer in the 60s. She doesn't know him, so she asks him some questions, he makes up answers, and she soon realizes that he is "from the past." At that point, however, the Ames brothers have found them. [why was Donovan separated from the brothers in the first place? and what were these guys doing for a MONTH?] Shots are fired and Madsen gets Herman... luckily, Hauser arrives when Pinky is about to knock her over the head. He gets shot, though, so they start running, losing their enemies when they pass through a card-reading door.

In his cell, Soto calls his buddy at the Comic Shop to ask him to find out if the cells were retrofitted with lock releases. [I'm a bit baffled he was able to make a call, both because I assumed the guys would take his phone AND because he wouldn't have service. Also, odd Twilight blackmail.] By the time Soto gets out, however, Pinky and Donovan return. They want to make Madsen and Hauser "pay" for killing Herman, so Pinky kicks Soto a few times, but Donovan tells him to leave the guy alive. They decide to hold Soto hostage, in an attempt to lure out Madsen. [poor Soto... I don't think he signed up for all of this!]

Meanwhile, Hauser and Madsen learn that the Ames brothers were bank robbers and had spent some time looking for gold underneath Alcatraz years ago. Since Hauser is injured, the plan is for Madsen to get Donovan to deliver Soto to Hauser, while she deals with Pinky. Madsen meets with Donovan and Soto, and Pinky sneaks up behind her. She is able to hurt him instead, then she's on the run while Donovan takes Soto to the card-reader door. Hauser programs the door to open, while Madsen drops a bench on Pinky. [are he and Herman both dead? or just knocked out?] Soon after Soto and Donovan are through the door, the old officer beats our beloved PhD. [:(] Madsen gets there, thanks Doc for saving her life, then takes off in pursuit of Donovan, who found "the door" and blows it open with dynamite. Hauser also arrives, but he doesn't really help. We see Donovan entering the space and searching around to find nothing, then Madsen comes in and arrests him.

[old Alcatraz] The brothers have lunch together and demand a spoon from another inmate. Pinky lifts a key and gets some soap from Donovan, who turns the other way as the brothers imprint the key, melt the spoon, and fill the mold. [viewers will recognize it as a key similar to the ones seen earlier in the season.] Unfortunately, there's a shift change and the boys need more time, so they use a bandsaw to sever another inmate's finger. Later, Pinky and Herman are taken to the hole after Herman acts drunk during chapel and Pinky (who is an usher of sorts) is blamed for giving him wine. Donovan escorts them alone, and they beat him up and throw him in the hole. [though viewers know it's really a fake beating.] In the tunnels, they get to a large door and try their keys... but they don't fit the locks. They're caught, and Ray was with the warden. In order to keep Ray quiet about the gold, the warden offers him a commendation and a dinner invite. Ray tells Tommy (who is still in the infirmary for whatever reason) about it all. [interesting that we'd get Ray involved here...] We see the warden in the locked room, looking at some gold bricks. [ooooohhhh....]

At the end of the episode, Hauser learns that the big keys belonged to the warden. He asks Donovan, who is hooked up to what looks like a torture device, for more information, but we don't see Donovan's response. 

Alcatraz "Sonny Burnett" (S01E10): Two guys are driving along when they see a guy in the road. They swerve and slam on the brakes, only for the guy, Sonny, to kill one and kidnap the other. [spooky opener!] Hauser, Madsen, and Soto talk to the wife (Helen) of the kidnapped man (David), and it turns out that she was kidnapped by Sonny in the 50s. [I was surprised that Soto didn't recognize this sooner until we learned her name was never in the paper because she was only 14.] Helen talks about how she was a partner in crime for Sonny, and that it took her three months to "escape" from him. [I was interested to hear how she managed - that wasn't revealed.] It turns out that Sonny is holding Helen's husband at Berkeley Downs, and is asking for $100,000 - this is notable because it's the same place he kept Helen, and the same sum he asked for. But, Madsen discovers that David has already been killed, and that Sonny killed two policemen and threatened Helen during the time of the "drop." [it made me sad that the police didn't see him coming any better than that.] Hauser and Madsen go back to Helen, and she realizes that they knew it was Sonny. [I was really shocked that she didn't ask more questions about how he was "alive."] Helen tells them that Sonny wants revenge on her because she dug up a money box of his years ago. [love the idea that Hauser tells them to keep all of the 63s alive from here on out, and Doc says to Madsen that Hauser is the only one who shoots the guys... but we saw Madsen shoot Herman, right?]

Soto cross-checks cars on the surveillance tapes near the drop site with stolen cars in the area AND the tire tread marks found when Pierce was kidnapped and finds two possibilities. The first one is it, as a passerby identifies Sonny as living in a house with a guy named Willie. In the house, Madsen realizes that Sonny has Helen's daughter, Danielle's, flight information. [Madsen wanted security places on everyone close to Helen... why was Danielle unescorted while flying?] Next, we see Sonny as a chauffeur at the airport. [I fly fairly often and never pay attention to the folks holding name signs because I know nobody is picking me up. Since Danielle wasn't planning on being picked up randomly, why would she notice the signs?] Soto and Madsen use a partial serial number on the saw at the drop site to find the store where it was sold. They talk to the guy who helped with Sonny's purchases, and figure out that he must be building a human-sized box. [omg guys. super freaky!] The screen cuts immediately to Danielle being trapped in a box while Sonny buries it. [ahhhh!] Hauser finds out the stolen towncar has a lo-jack, so he heads toward Danville, though Madsen ad Soto beat him there. They tail Sonny, and a police blockade stops him. Tons of workers arrive and they walk a line in the field, miraculously finding Danielle. [okay... I feel like this case really got out of control... is Hauser really able to keep all of the identities of these criminals a secret from other law enforcement officials and the media?? They better address this soon...]

[Now, Sonny's backstory...] When Sonny first arrived at Alcatraz, he went to Hicks, wanting to buy "lifetime protection." He has a box of money buried in a field, but it wasn't there when Hicks' outside men went looking for it, so he stabs Sonny repeatedly. Sonny spends a few days in the infirmary, but then is sent to "the hole" for thirty days. He uses this time to bulk up, and starts a fight nearly as soon as he's back in the yard. Back to confinement he goes. When he returns, he starts yet another fight, this time going as far as gouging out Hick's eyes. [so the guy really started out as a coward and became a brutal guy... how frightening!]

[off the story of this episode's 63, let's look at the drama...] Hauser goes to see the Alcatraz doctor about his bullet wound and learns that the 63s are in tip-top shape... possibly because their blood has silver in it. [hmmm....] They consider giving some to Lucy, but they'll have to wait until someone has the right blood type anyway. [who's paying to keep her alive?] Sonny's blood is the right type, but it doesn't have the colloidal silver component. [so not everyone has the healing powers anyway? and are we really in a scenario where the only person skilled enough to save Lucy is Lucy? Like in Friends' version of Days of Our Lives, Dr. Drake Ramoray was the only one who could have saved himself??]

Ray tells Hauser that he wants Rebecca off the project, but Hauser questions why Ray cares all of a sudden... after all it's been a few months now. Ray then tells Rebecca that Tommy is a bad guy. So, in turn, Madsen tells Hauser that Ray thinks he's being watched, and she wants to be the first call if Tommy is spotted. She fills in Soto about the whole thing as well. [if you're having nightmares about something, is talking to multiple people about the enemy in those dreams the best idea?]

*Please note that "Clarence Montgomery" (S01E08) was preempted last week and will air next week, March 12th. You may have noticed that the "scenes from the next" were familiar - they aired after "Johnny McKee" a few weeks ago.
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