Saturday, February 18, 2012

Alcatraz: Guy Hastings and Paxton Petty

A couple of weeks ago I wrote up a blog post with a menu of what I'd like to see in the next couple of weeks on Alcatraz. And oh so happily, that very same night the writers delivered with the fantastic "Guy Hastings" episode, about a guard from Alcatraz (played by Hoyt Fortenberry!) who lived right on the island with his wife and beloved daughter, and comes back to life and wants to know why the hell he's back. It was a stunner of an episode, and my favourite up to that point. The backstory began to be filled in. Earlier we'd seen Ray Archer (played by Robert Forster), the man who had raised Rebecca because she'd lost her parents, and in this episode we see when he went to Alcatraz to become a guard. But the more interesting twist was that he did so because his BROTHER, Madsen, had been thrown in prison and he refused to let him rot in there alone. Which means... her "uncle" was actually her uncle, for Madsen is her grandfather. (OK, great-uncle if you want to get technical.) Hastings was the guard charged with training Ray, and he suspected there was something going on between the two of them, but couldn't put his finger on it.

I'd mentioned in my previous post that I was tired of them always telling us that we're now in ALCATRAZ, 1960, and happily, in this episode they only did it a couple of times, and assumed we could tell the difference the rest of the time. Also, by pulling Tommy Madsen and Archer's stories back in, we're linking this flashback to the earlier ones, and beginning to create some continuity, which was EXACTLY what I was hoping for. And... I finally learned Rebecca's name. ;)

I'm noticing JJ Abram's lucky number 47 is beginning to pop up a lot more in this. It was the key number in Alias (the number of Rambaldi artefacts she had to find) and it's interesting to find it here. I remember pointing it out in the pilot, and it popped up again in this episode as the address on Ray's bar. What will become of Madsen now that Ray's kicked him out? And if Hauser actually asked Ray to come on board 16 years ago, what does that say about how much he's known all this time?

This week's episode was "Paxton Petty," a unibomber who, suffering from PTSD after returning from Korea, began planting landmines around San Francisco. The episode opens with a landmine slaughter in a public park that is horrific and shocking, and Doc and Rebecca have to get to the bottom of things. But in a twist, Hauser, who is increasingly frustrated and melancholy over what's happened to Lucy, the former Alcatraz psychiatrist and what surprisingly appears to have been his girlfriend, tracks down Petty at a beach... and steps on a landmine. Luckily they're able to get him off it, only just before it blows up the head of the bomb squad. (Unfortunately, his demise was rather predictable. As soon as we met someone from Rebecca's past who was loveable and friendly, I said to my husband, "He's toast.")

Again, a great episode that once again reached into the backstory and didn't just give us a one-off backstory about the inmate-of-the-week, but one that involved Lucy, deepened her character arc and also pulled Hauser into it, making him a far richer and more meaningful character in the past. Oh, that and lots of Billie Holiday. ♥♥♥

This episode finally made some of our questions going forward a little clearer, things that we can watch out for and begin building the pieces of the new mysteries:

- What force brought these people back? Why? How?
- Why do some of them repeat their crimes, while others perpetrate new ones? Who is controlling them?
- Can the Alcatraz doc that Hauser has in his bunker actually reanimate dead people? He brought his third inmate, child killer Kit Nelson (whom they'd accidentally killed) to the doctor, and now he brings Lucy to him, demanding that he fix her. What does that mean?
- Paxton doesn't seem to know why he's here. Do any of them?
- We know that Cobb woke up on Alcatraz, and Paxton woke up in a tomb. Where did the rest of them wake up? Do they awake with the knowledge of what they're expected to do, or do they have some instruction? Or are they just going on instinct?
- Why, in 1960, was the doctor taking so much of Madsen's blood? Did his blood have something to do with all of them disappearing and time traveling?
- How much did I love that Hauser kept talking about the landmine "lickations"? ;) (Oh, how I love when that Kiwi accent sneaks through, Sam Neill.)

I think a few people misread my meaning in my last blog post, thinking I'd somehow given up on the show. Not at all; quite the opposite, in fact. It was because of how much I liked this show that I was demanding more from it, mostly because I knew it was in the hands of people who were capable of delivering it. And, in the last two weeks, deliver it they have. This has become must-see TV in my house, week after week.


Series de Bolsillo said...

Hello! Alcatraz is getting better every week, except for Cal Sweeney's episode. So boring!! I like how they are using one episode to tell us more than one story. The procedural story line is just a back drop for the main mysteries.

I think you oversaw the exact words Hauser use when he delivered Lucy's body to Dr. Beauregard "You now her methods, fix her"

Her methods? hmmmm?!?!

Greetings from Madrid,

The Question Mark said...

Nikki, I'm 100% in agreement with you about how cool it is to start seeing all of the Alcatraz backstories starting to string together into some form of jigsaw-puzzle continuity. It's really helping string the show along at a good pace.

My biggest question so far is: who or what was behind that door that the warden opened with those keys a couple of week's back? It had a very "Jacob's cabin" feel to it.

I can't remember how many inmates/guards Hauser has on his wall there, but I'm pretty sure it was over 100. Now, from the looks of things, we're gonna see more of people like Cobb and Jack Sylvane, so I'm curious as to just how BIG this cast of characters is going to get.

And one last thing: I have an enormous crush on Lucy. All I could think of during the last episode was, I wish she would strap me to a chair and interrogate ME! :)