Musing Review: Alcatraz – Paxton Petty (S1, Ep6) – VIDEO
This past week’s Alcatraz brought us back to following the team track down another prisoner, Paxton Petty. As I expected, the overall storyline was worse than last week’s episode (Guy Hastings), a very good one which followed the return of a guard. It was again formulaic in the search but the writers did give us some more insight into the backstory, mysterious plot elements, and character development. Overall the episode was decent and they’ve got me hooked on too much of the mystery to stop now. Here’s what happened.
This week’s prisoner, Paxton Petty was convicted murderer who planted landmines in San Francisco (SF). He was caught and brought to Alcatraz in the 60s but now he has returned and continued his methods in present day. The episode opens up with a gruesome landmine explosion in a SF park. We quickly learn who the prisoner is (courtesy of Diego) and learn that he was an Marine combat engineer is Korea and was convicted of killing Korean children with landmines (important to his backstory). In a kind of nice change of pace Rebecca and Diego actually confronted Paxton within the first couple minutes of the episode but he proved difficult to catch when he threw a landmine at Rebecca. They start their manhunt this time with the help of SFPD bomb squad expert (and Rebecca’s friend) Matt Tanner.
Though they ended up making it look easy Paxton was indeed hard to catch. They had to track down where he was getting his bomb materials. They had to decode songs in order to find out where his next targets are. At one point Paxton got the edge on Hauser and left him for hours on a land mine. Rebecca caught him at another bombing site. The chase didn’t end until they had to diffuse the landmine Hauser was standing on. In an unexpected (at least to me) plot point Tanner lost his life saving Hausers. I’ll give credit to the writers here, I thought they’d just leave us with an everybody lives happy ending. Yeah, that was the basic chase story.
What was better about this episode was the backstory, a very integrated backstory. I’ll start with Hauser first. I guess I missed this point but Hauser was not an Alcatraz guard that escaped his colleague’s disappearing fate but he was an SFPD Police Officer. He was instrumental in capturing Paxton in the first place and personally brought him over to Alcatraz in the 1960s. Hauser and the SFPD caught Paxton after three landmine attacks but there was a fourth location that they never figured out and it became a lifelong search for Hauser. As Hauser dropped off Paxton on the island he was greeted by Dr. Sangupta (Lucy Banerjee in present day – more to come on that). You could see an immediate connection form and Hauser was a complete gentleman.
The Warden was also there to greet Paxton and he was very intent on finding out where the fourth landmine site was. He used many means at his disposal. He was water tortured by Dr. Beauregard then handed over to Dr. Sangupta for a little bit nicer form of interrogation. At first I was a bit shocked by that. The idea of torturing someone during an interrogation doesn’t sit well with me. I realize the need to get information but where’s the line. Think of the debates of torture in the show “24″ that you may have had when it was on the air. It made me think the warden was kind of a bad man. He always seemed a bit creepy for my taste and purposely portrayed like that. When I saw him in this episode’s light my feelings toward him turned a bit. Yes, his methods may be harsh (or even cruel) but he really cared about other human life and just wanted to save people.
Another interesting connection was the fact that Tommy Madsen was instrumental in helping figure out Paxton’s code. He was used by Dr. Sangupta to figure out Paxton’s code. In that course we found out that Madsen spent more time in the infirmary then on work detail. He was being tested on by Dr. Beauregard and we don’t yet know why. This’ll surely be a thread they keep going for a while. My guess is that it’ll tie into why he’s seemingly rogue and why Rebecca is so important to Hauser in the present. When Dr. Sangupta confronts Dr. Beauregard he tells her to not question things she doesn’t know about. Before that scene ends we are told explicitly that they’re interested in Tommy’s blood. Again grounded in some sort of science and that would explain why they’d be interested in Rebecca (as a descendant) as well.
Back in the present we learn that not even Diego knew about a female doctor being on Alcatraz. Why was this hidden? What was she really doing there? Of course the bigger question is how is she also both in the past and the present? Did she escape much earlier, is she part of the conspiracy? Is the “technology” that grabbed the people off the island used by both “good” and “bad” sides? So many questions, so few answers.
We also learn an interesting fact about how the prisoners return. Paxton showed up in the present in a crypt in the presidio cemetery. Seemingly the people who are controlling the ’63s have the power to manipulate where they return. We already knew that the controlling people were helping the returnees but we know they have the power to really stock them with lots of materials in the present. They even have the power to get vintage equipment, in this case vintage land mines that Paxton would know how to use. They are a seemingly powerful group.
So Hauser and Sangupta / Lucy have seemingly had an ongoing relationship for 50 some odd years and Hauser seems to owe her some sort of debt. As the episode ends he tells Lucy (in the present) that he found the final fourth Paxton landmine site and that this work is complete. He then proceeds to disconnect her from all the machinery, takes her out of the hospital back to weird underground present day Alcatraz. He puts her down on a table, says to Dr. Bauregard “Do you know her methods? Fix her.” and then the episode ends. Wow! We just really don’t know what they know.
After that end I really do want to watch more. I hope they break the mold with the baddie of the week chase and I hope they continue these integrated backstories. They are making the show for me. What did you think?
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