Alcatraz: Cal Sweeney

Posted by: Andrew Burns  //  February 1, 2012 @ 11:51am

Filed under: TV Recaps/Reviews 

Meet a nice girl at the local supermarket, take her to dinner, send her flowers, and then visit her work with a small sedative and a captive bolt pistol to show her you care. What? They don't do that in the 21st Century anymore? Well, no one told Cal Sweeney.

Former Alcatraz inmate and infamous bank robber, Cal Sweeney, is back smooth talkin' signal female bank tellers and lifting the safety deposit boxes where they work; this time in the present day. After taking some seemingly random safety deposit boxes Sweeney decides to select an individual owner of one of the boxes and brutally attack them; changing his MO from the 1950s. While Madsen, Soto, and Hauser are tracking him down Alcatraz turns the clock back to 1960 to show Sweeney as the prison's supplier of smuggled goods. Sweeney's smuggling ring becomes compromised when Associate Warden Tiller wants in on the action.

Alcatraz seems to be spending more of their screen time introducing their 'inmate of the week', rather than their main leads. As of right now I'm not seeing this as a negative since all the inmates have been pretty appealing so far. Each has been very different in their own rights and all the guest stars brought on to play them have been great. There has been a few scenes here or there between Madsen and Soto that provide a little backstory for each other, but nothing on the scale of a character focused episode yet. I was hoping for a Madsen episode this week but being a huge Smallville fan I was pretty excited to see two former cast members join the show (even if it was only in a guest star capacity) in "Cal Sweeney" instead.

Smallville's series original (first season only) Eric Johnson plays the titled character, Cal Sweeney, with Steven Grayham (Smallville season four guest star) also joining as Harlan. Johnson plays Sweeney as both charming and ruthless in the present day while robbing banks, but his best stuff is during the 1960 flashbacks. During Sweeney and Tiller's heated encounters the show reveals more about how the prison operated and who was in control of what. After Sweeney is duped by his protégé Harlan, as well as some suggestive words from Warden James to Tiller, we learn there isn't much loyalty inside Alcatraz; regardless of occupation.

With Alcatraz being a series cloaked in mystery "Cal Sweeney" provided an abundance of unanswered questions before the 42 minutes were up. First would have to be an unanswered question from the "Pilot", who is giving these inmates their orders? First Sylvane and now Sweeney have stolen a key for someone and it's still undetermined who or what the keys are actually for. So if the mysteries of those keys is the second big question for this week then Agent Hauser's interest in them has to be the third. In the episode Hauser uses a door in Alcatraz's basement/batcave that leads to that other secret prison (which I thought was in the woods, that's going to have to be explained) and gets his team to analysis the keys. Since the keys look to be cell keys from Alcatraz are they connected to the inmates time traveling?

Finally it wouldn't be a Bad Robot series if they didn't hint at something completely strange. At the very end of the episode it seems like the Warden figured out Harlan's deception against Sweeney and decided to solve it with some one-on-one prison justice. At first it looked like the Warden was going to throw Harlan in the same solitary cell Sweeney was in but instead opens some cryptic looking door that required three keys to open it. The kicker was the Pulp Fiction-isk bright light coming from the door after it was opened as the episode's cliff-hanger. There is a Lost hatch joke here I know it. Whatever the unexplainable light is, whether it be the time-travel portal the inmates have been using or something else, the Warden looks to be the most interesting character in the series so far.

Tags: Alcatraz, Sarah Jones, Jorge Garcia, Sam Neill, Parminder Nagra, Jonny Coyne, Jason Butler Harner, Eric Johnson, Smallivlle, Lost

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Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.

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