Friday, February 24, 2012

Review: Alcatraz "Johnny McKee"

Non Spoiler Review:
Johnny McKee is another point by point Alcatraz episode, so to recap: Alcatraz prisoner Johnny Mckee blah blah blah poisonous gas blah blah blah Diego, Hauser and Rebecca blah blah blah attempts to commit mass murder. No surprises here. Along the way, there are further clues (and some innuendos) about the conspiracy in the flashbacks, but I can't really say any of this rose above the usual Alcatraz pattern.

I'm bored with the series. Not that the backstory isn't interesting, but to watch an otherwise uninspired hour for a few minutes of clues is starting to feel like a chore. The writers need to ramp things up significantly and break this mold.

Spoilers Now!
Beauregard muses that modern technology is still lacking in some areas, given Lucy remains unresponsive to his treatments. But he can tell that she's dreaming and suggests Hauser read to her to draw her out and perhaps give her a reason to recover. Hauser poo poos that and walks out.

Johnny McKee is this week's criminal, currently tending bar at a nightclub, and spikes the drinks of some unruly patrons who abruptly drop dead. The scene gets put on YouTube and immediately spotted and identified by Diego. Johnny was a chemist who killed over 70 people in 1958. Cyanide was his drug of choice and he even murdered his high school class at their reunion, though most of his victims are usually men.

The gang get Johnny's address from the club owner. Johnny is currently being interviewed as a swimming pool maintenance man. Diego realizes the address number is actually a reference to his cell number, and he was Jack Sylvane's neighbour. Rebecca doesn't know where Sylvane is being held, so Hauser says he'll bring him to her to interview.

Rebecca interviews Sylvane in the presence of several guards and Hauser. He wonders if he doesn't answer her questions will Hauser give him to Beauregard again? Rebecca offers to give back a photo of his wife in exchange for cooperation, so Sylvane recounts how Johnny told him he once had a girl named Jenny. Johnny also used nightshade as a poison, a plant that's found all over the island. Rebecca turns the questions to her grandfather and learns he was in the infirmary a lot, and talked about the hole beneath the hole. Hauser ends the questions and takes Sylvane away.

Johnny poisons the water system as soon as he starts work and kills everyone in the pool. When word comes about those murders, Rebecca wonders if he'll tackle the city water supply next. The gang trace McKee's attempts to acquire nightshade, but arrive too late at his last base of operations but do find out he was cooking up a phosphorus chemical. They find the quote Future is Now on the blackboard, and a newspaper clipping referencing that term with the new subway. Johnny has already taken over a car and prepares to flood it with poison gas.

The gang gets to the stopped subway car and save the passengers while Johnny makes a break for it. Rebecca and Hauser hunt him down and capture him. Diego finds out his girl Jenny was injured when acid dye exploded in her face.

Back at neo-Alcatraz, Sylvane has asked to see Hauser and returns the photograph given he's done with the past that he can never reclaim. He wants to know what's going to happen to them, but Hauser only tells him he was a prisoner then and is one now. Sylvane admits he doesn't dream anymore. Hauser returns to the infirmary to sit with Lucy and read to her.

The flashback to 1960 deals with Johnny being cornered by a big wig prisoner, Cullen, to murder another felon. He has no choice in the matter, so Johnny sets about finding a suitable weapon and poison. Johnny is brought to see Lucy, who asks why the majority of his victims are men. He's uncooperative with her, but when he finally strikes, it's to kill Cullen, rather than the initial target, given he hates a bully.

In a second session, Lucy confronts Johnny about what really happened with Jenny—that he was discovered having sex with her by the football team who tormented him and threw fire crackers, and he lost his testicles as a result, leading him to seek revenge on bullies the rest of his life. Johnny admits to burning Jenny with acid. Now that he's told the truth she says she can help him.

The Verdict:
I'll skip over the entire Johnny McKee crime spree, given there was nothing at all new there. But it was interesting that Rebecca has never followed up with where the other prisoners are until now. Wouldn't there be questions about how Hauser explained them away? Why wouldn't Hauser just interrogate Sylvane himself rather than risk Rebecca and all her additional questions about her grandfather?

Finally, there seemed to be a few casual throwaway lines that could relate to the overall mystery. Why doesn't Sylvane dream? Is there any connection to how many days the prisoners have been back and where they returned? And the other secret chamber under Alcatraz is referenced again.

What is the point of all the prisoners' backstories and how they relate to Lucy's psychoanalysis. I'm at a loss to how this all gets tied together with the larger time travel arc, or is it just fluff to fill out the hour? There needs to be a significant divergence from the tired writers' to do list or I won't be sticking with this one for much longer.

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