After a strong opening premiere night last week Alcatraz returns with a little less excitement for it's third episode. That's not to say this week's episode didn't have its fair share of mystery. Former Fringe guest star Michael Eklund joins the Alcatraz cast as this week's newest returning prisoner in "Kit Nelson".
Alcatraz's trio of investigators are back together after Soto makes a connection between the abduction of an eleven year boy and a chrysanthemum flower calling card left at the scene. Fitting the description of former Alcatraz inmate Kit Nelson, Soto spearheads the investigation, with or without agent Hauser's help, in a race to save the child before their 48 hour window closes. Meanwhile back in 1960's Alcatraz Nelson is shown the predictably rough jailhouse welcome of a child killer by his fellow inmates and Warden James.
A third episode for any season in their freshmen year is a tough episode to pull off well. Much like a music album where the first two tracks usually pump you up for the rest to the record, the third kind of takes things down a notch after a strong opening. I'm not saying this week's "Kit Nelson" wasn't a good episode I'm just saying it wasn't anything special. Instead of focusing on the negative I'll point out a few of the positives I saw.
So far I have to credit Alcatraz for balancing their present day mystery with their 1960's flashbacks. Since there is only so much the audience can learn about these escaped time traveling convicts when they are on the run in the present day, the 60's flashbacks help fill in the necessary gaps. In "Kit Nelson" the show probably spends about a third of the episode or more back the 1960's. Every time the show winds the clock back 50 years it gives an interesting look at how the prison dynamic between the Warden and that particular inmate for that episode. In this episode instead of physically punishing Nelson, like the other inmates in the yard had already done, the Warden beats Nelson down psychologically and pretty much breaks him.
While tracking down Nelson in the present day we begin to learn a little more about Jorge Garcia's character. Its later revealed in the episode that the reason Soto's character was so driven to rescue that eleven year old child from Nelson was because he too was abducted back when he was the same age by someone. Not much else is given away about Soto's past but I like that it does start to show Alcatraz forming him into a more multi-dimensional character than just the go-to history geek.
Lastly it's time to highlight some of this episode's mystery moments. First, back in one of the episode's early flashbacks, they finally reveal who the unknown man behind the curtain in Alcatraz's hospital wing is in Madsen's grandfather, Tommy. Like in the last two episodes they showed doctors and orderlies drawing large amounts of blood from him again, for reasons that are still unknown. Why exactly? Who knows. Second, again, comes at the end of the episode showing that the same doctor from 1960's Alcatraz is somehow alive in the present day; much like Lucy seems to be. We get to meet the doctor again when Hauser brings back Nelson's body to the secret prison in the woods.
I was a little surprised to see the doctor un-aged in the present day but probably more surprised Hauser actually killed Nelson instead of bringing him back to his prison alive like the last two reappearing Alcatraz inmates. Sam Neill's agent Hauser is still a character I can't put my finger on yet. He didn't have a lot of screen time this episode and when he did he didn't seem too concerned about anything anymore. It could be because of Lucy in the hospital or something else they haven't gone into yet.
Side Note: the camera seemed to focus on a ring Agent Hauser was wearing for a short period of time. It had an obscure symbol on it and might mean something in future episodes.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.