Entertainment Magazine

Review #3245: Alcatraz 1.3: “Kit Nelson”

Posted on the 25 January 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: J.M.

This episode bucked the trend of strong procedural elements with weak mytharc elements, and instead just gave us viewers a weak forty minutes. While the writing continued to be sophomoric and contain many basic logic holes, the allure of the show is evident in the final scenes: Hauser, exhorting Doc to bring his adult game, and again with body thrown over his shoulder, walking into the prison and slamming it onto the table. The inherent mystery of Hauser’s character and the presence of underground recreation of Alcatraz and the return of the inmates are what make the show shine. Regrettably, it appears that these areas are the least developed of show so far.

Review #3245: Alcatraz 1.3: “Kit Nelson”

The show begins with the kidnapping of the young boy by notorious child murder from the 60s, Kit Carson. We get to see an uneven portrayal of Doc Soto’s effectiveness. He immediately recognized the MO of an Alcatraz resident, but together him and Madsen were extremely poor detectives, were barely able to work with local law enforcement, seemingly had no resources at their disposal, and were devoid of a working relationship with Hauser. While all of these could be turned into plot points without much effort, the writers just drop them in and barely able to string together two words together in realistic dialog.

Seeing Hauser’s weakness in the wake of Lucy’s shooting and the end of episode reveal of Dr. Beauregard, together with the seemingly haphazard nature of Hauser’s ‘organization,’ begs the question: just who exactly does Hauser work for? How does he manage to bring back at least two individuals from Alcatraz and yet be completely unable to build a functioning team to track and detain these individuals coming back? How does he seem to know so much about these individuals yet need an expert who wrote books about Alcatraz to fill out the details? All of these plot-hole related questions and issues are not swept up in the quality of the show; good procedural elements should be able to mask these issues. But because of the weakness of the “63′er of the week”, all of these questions are painfully in the front of the viewer’s mind.

For example, it would be one thing if there were an established support structure in Lucy that has a moderating effect on Hauser’s paranoia and prickly nature, but because Lucy was taken out in the second episode, that effect needs to be inferred by the viewer. It goes back to my criticism of the pilot; the writers tell too much about the characters, and what they do tell you isn’t what the viewer needs to be told. When they do try and show something, there isn’t enough context for it to be effective at all. A perfect example is the development they try and do with Soto this episode, connecting him with the victims by having him experience a similar tragedy at the same age as the victims. It sounds like something that worked really well in the writer’s room but when it was transferred to the screen it lost all its emotional power.

Which is all the more ironic considering Hauser’s pointed speech to Soto; it was perfectly pitched to demonstrate both Hauser’s tougher methods and their effectiveness while simultaneously elevating Soto’s character from his fears and his childishness. It was a scene that hinted at the potential for the show and the huge potential for the character dynamics of all involved. If only they could bring themselves to bring the dynamism and mystery that the writers give the flashback scenes into the present day, then the show would certainly be one to watch. But as it stands now, “Alcatraz” is quickly becoming another example of a poorly executed premise skating by on the Abrams name.

Rating: 5/10

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