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ALCATRAZ Bombs?

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Season 1, episode 6: “Paxton Petty”

[Photos: Liane Hentscher/FOX]

This may be the episode that loses me. It definitely had a few “uhm, what?” moments. So, that being said, let’s dive in.

SPOILERS ABOUND

So, in this episode, our 63 of the week is Paxton Petty, a veteran of the Korean War who’s slightly annoyed that he never got a Silver Star for all the great work he did working with mines during his service. Something about land mines and kids..? Or something.

Anyway, Petty comes back and is setting land mines around San Francisco, and he’s adding his own special blend of shrapnel to go in them: cut up Silver Stars. Because he’s bitter, see.

Our intrepid heroes figure out he has a pattern, and Hauser already knows it because he was chasing Petty way back in 1960 – with the added bonus of catching the eye of fair maiden Lucy, who spent the episode using electroshock therapy to get Petty to open up about his bomb fetish. Lucy, of course, is still in a coma in present day, and we don’t really get to see much of Petty’s time in Alcatraz. Rather, more time is spent on Lucy’s work to decrypt the song he sings – a Korean lullaby that holds the key to where he placed his bombs.

In present day, Detective Madsen and Dr. Soto figure out that Petty woke up in the Presidio mausoleum where he stored his land mines while on guard duty over the Presidio cemetery. OK… he woke up in the exact place where he kept bombs, which had been hidden and untouched for fifty years and still work?

Come on.

We also have bomb squad hot shot Tanner the Red Shirt, who’s introduced in this episode with a wink and a banter with Madsen. The writers are trying really hard to get us to like Tanner. He’s good folk. And he’s friends with our lead character. That’s a plus, right? We’re automatically going to be emotionally invested in a brand-new character with obviously-telegraphing overly-written likeability?

That’s why I call him Tanner the Red Shirt. Because he’s expendable.

So far, there’s no emotional core to this story. I really want to care about Madsen. There’s obviously something going on with her family as it relates to Alcatraz and the mystery of the 63s. And I really like Soto, and I want to like Hauser. Mainly because Sam Neill is always fun to watch, especially when he’s chewing scenery.

But …

But…

I’m really having a hard time getting into this show. For instance, Hauser takes Lucy to Beauregard at the end of the show and says “fix her” like… what? Wait. You mean, a shady federal agent can just carry a comatose body (because she’s been shot in the heart, mind you) out of a hospital, dump her (with no life support) in the black SUV and take her to the Shiny White Prison – which is how far away from the city? – and just dump her on the table and tell a 60-something doc to “fix her”?

Why didn’t he take her straight to Beauregard in the first place, if he can “fix her”?

Writers? Hello?

How many more episodes do I give it before it becomes another “Terra Nova”?

[Official Show Site on FOX]   [Previous recap: “Cal Sweeny” (because I missed one)]

Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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