TV Review: ALCATRAZ 1.06 “Paxton Petty”

This week we get another TRUE BLOOD guest star and a bomb-happy time traveling inmate. 

No Robert Forster this week! So that sucks, I'll be honest. However, we gained a bit more insight into Haircut's personal life with the introduction of an old bomb squad friend she calls "Psycho," played by the gorgeous Mehcad Brooks (Eggs from True Blood), and a hot geeky forensic pathologist who also appears to be friends with Haircut. Doc Hurley admires her golden age Sandman shirt and tries to lure her to his comics lair; however, I rather got the impression that the hot geeky scientist might be Haircut's girlfriend! I hope Haircut's gay. It would first of all be an interesting, brave choice for a network to make the main character gay on a show that's not about her being gay. It would also be a nice nod to the San Francisco setting. And finally, it would make Haircut more interesting. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself. This week's time traveling inmate is the utterly blah Paxton Petty, a Korean war vet lugging around a backpack full of land mines and a vacuum where his personality should be. He feels robbed because he wasn't awarded a Silver Star after the war, so he blows up a bunch of shit and gets the drop on crotchety old Sam Neill. Haircut rescues him, thereby furthering their relationship and securing his respect for her investigative prowess. The A-plot is booooring, but really doesn't take up much time, as most of the episode is devoted to flashbacks and the development of Lucy and Hauser's relationship. Hauser is crotchety old Sam Neill, in case you didn't know. I'm only reminding you because I've spent so much time calling him crotchety old Sam Neill that when Lucy flirted with an Alcatraz officer named Hauser in the flashback, it took me several minutes to realize that it was a not so crotchety young Sam Neill. I am therefore retiring the nickname, because it's confusing. Emerson Hauser it is! This show must be growing on me if I'm calling the characters by their real names, although fear not: Haircut will always be Haircut. 

We are reminded that Lucy's specialty in the '60s is to Eternal Sunshine the evil out of the inmates, and she starts on Petty; she extracts some important intel that helps the officers locate some of Petty's bombs. She goes to Grandpa Haircut (Tommy Madsen) asking him to elucidate the information she received from Petty, and she learns that Grandpa Haircut has spent an inordinate amount of time in the infirmary. She begins to look into the unorthodox methods used by the Alcatraz doctor, who warns her away. In the present day, Hauser removes comatose Lucy from the hospital and takes her to the infirmary at Alcatraz, where he orders the old Alcatraz doctor who has also traveled from the past to fix her. I hope he does, because the time we spent with Lucy in flashbacks this week reminded me that she is a brilliant, saucy, strong character played very well by the lovely Parminder Nagra. 

Doc Hurley doesn't do much of anything week except flirt ineffectually with Haircut's potential girlfriend, but he is typically adorable. The Big Bald Warden shows up at the beginning of the episode to deliver another one of his patented ostentatious monologues. Mehcad Brooks works on the bomb squad of an episode about a crazy bomber, so you can imagine how things turn out for that handsome visage. Splattily. 

Not much happened this week, but that's because it's an episode that focused a little on character development over plot advancement, and I appreciate that. I like all of the characters more this week, including Robert Forster because absence makes the heart grow fonder. The writing continues to be okay but not great, but the mystery is unraveling at a very comfortable pace. I feel like the reveals on this show are timed really well, with just enough each week to keep me intrigued. The writers continue to assume we're all morons by doing things like having the characters speak aloud while they're on the computer in case we don't understand what they're searching for, or by flashing back to something that happened earlier in the episode in case we were in the bathroom. But frankly, I've decided that I just downright like this show. I don't love it, but I like it a hell of a lot more than The River; it's competently made, well cast, beautifully shot and admirably paced. The ratings keep slipping with a quickness so I don't anticipate that it will last the season, but I will continue to review it as long as it's around. You can catch up on the rest of my reviews for this season here

I'm going to shake up the format a bit, answering the following questions every week to conclude each review:

What was Hurley's GeekSpeak For Dummies moment this week?

"Someone's helping these guys. Maybe unfreezing them. It's like when Captain America was trapped in the Antartic ice...But there's always a facilitator. I mean, Lex Luthor. Case in point."

How did Hauser injure an unarmed inmate already in custody this week?

He shot a handcuffed Paxton Petty in the kneecap. It was solidly badass. 

How did Haircut put herself in harm's way by approaching an armed inmate this week?

She pointed her gun at a man with a backpack of landmines. Predictably, she got herself mildly blown up.

What's the current time travel theory this week?

"I think it's a quantum thing. Imagine a waterbug on the surface of a pond, and he sees this twig sticking out of the water. When it rains, the water level is rising. He thinks the twig is moving, when in reality, the one dimension he's capable of perceiving is moving, not the twig." This from a cutely clueless Doc Hurley.

What piece of mytharc information did we learn from the inmate this week?

He went to sleep "a week ago" in Alcatraz and woke up on the floor of a tomb, surrounded by his bombs.