Tuesday, January 24, 2012

ALCATRAZ Episode 1.03 ("Kit Nelson"): Thoughts & Theories

Thank you for your patience! As a reminder, this site is spoiler-free, my emphasis is on elaborate speculation rather than episode recap, and all comments will be moderated.

So without further delay, let’s light a bonus match and uncover the truth about Kit Nelson…

302/THE 63’s

By my count, we have now been introduced to 6 of the 302 who vanished from Alcatraz on 3/21/63: 

Lucy Banerjee
Dr. Beauregard 
Ernest Cobb, inmate #2047
Tommy Madsen, inmate #2002
Kit Nelson, inmate #2046 
Jack Sylvane, inmate #2024

Regardless of the fact that Emerson Hauser’s opening narration of the show states that 302 men vanished, Lucy is proof that at least one woman was among them.


In the U.S., a chrysanthemum represents positive reinforcement – primarily given in bunches as get-well or house-warming flowers. However, in many countries such as Austria and Belgium, the chrysanthemum is used as a gravestone memorial and is widely considered to be the flower of death. Kit Nelson clearly chose a more European style; he left chrysanthemums on the beds of his kidnapping victims.


If I’m not mistaken, Dylan was reading the Justice Society of America Volume 3 #41…which I believe features a visit to Alcatraz. 

What? I’m a Comic-Con and Wonder-Con girl, and geek at heart.


We are bound to see a Doc Soto-penned comic book become available to us at some point, but it remains to be seen whether or not the new crime scenes that Doc is drawing will come into play after Hauser has captured more inmates. 

The working relationship and friendship between Doc and Madsen is progressing quite nicely, and I do like how she stands up to Hauser with regard to her partnership with Doc. I must note that I was very impressed and touched by Jorge Garcia’s performance in this episode, and I look forward to more reveals about his character. For a show focused on hard criminals and those in pursuit, it is essential to establish a heart and soul of the series - and they have. His name is Diego Soto.

Although exact details were not shared (yet), we now know that Doc was kidnapped when he was 11 years old. Hauser refers to a state of arrested development brought on by a trauma, and obviously knows exactly what happened to Doc. He also likely knew that Madsen would find him and that they’d team up for his purposes. While I hesitate to call Madsen and Doc mere pawns in Hauser’s game, it seems to me that both of them have joined a team that was pre-determined and meticulously designed… 


Whether it was a purposeful editorial decision or not, something interesting caught my eye during the scenes from “previously on ALCATRAZ.” I noticed that they first showed Emerson patting Lucy’s hand as he instructed her to “watch them” (when he asked her to go with Rebecca and Doc as they looked for Ernest Cobb), and then cut to her being shot by Cobb in the window. It was as if they wanted us to believe that Emerson was complicit in her shooting…as if he knew if was going to happen or even may have been behind it.  In “Kit Nelson,” however, Emerson was unusually demonstrative with his distress about Lucy’s current condition.

With every new episode, we are left to ponder if Lucy chose to come back or was forced to return. 

They seem to be hinting that the relationship between Emerson and Lucy used to be of a romantic nature. The question remains whether or not they dated when he was a young SF police officer and she was a doctor on Alcatraz back in the early 1960’s, or whether it was more recent – upon her “return” to contemporary society. 

Now that Lucy is in a coma, where is the key that Sylvane stole from Flynn? I believe she was the last person to possess it. If it were in fact the key to operate the elevator for access beneath the Secret Spy Lair on Alcatraz…I’d like to think that Hauser knows about it and would be using it already. 


I am particularly amused by the locations they are using on ALCATRAZ, even though I realize that they are filming up in Vancouver. For example, Kit Nelson kidnapped Dylan from a house in Walnut Creek and they went fishing on the Lafayette Reservoir – both of which are quite close to where we actually live. I’m not one to nitpick and compare real locations with where they are filming, but so far none of the Bay Area towns and settings featured on ALCATRAZ have been too far off in terms of realistic surroundings.


The big question at hand is this – does Emerson Hauser NEED the returning 302 to be alive? Does their viability determine or affect his end game? He made the choice to “kill” Nelson rather than merely put a carefully placed, non-lethal bullet in him, as he did with both Sylvane and Cobb. 

Given the very hi-tech equipment installed at New Alcatraz, we can’t rule out the possibility that Hauser and his team have a type of revival/restoration system in place. Not only did Hauser bring Dr. Beauregard the dead body of Kit Nelson, he mentioned that he might need him to help a friend. The obvious guess is that Hauser would like the dancing doctor to save Lucy’s life, and that he has some way of bringing Nelson back as well. Perhaps my Crazy Theory of the Week in the last post isn’t too far off.

Speaking of modern technology...I have to also wonder if New Alcatraz is where the returning prisoners are actually being dispersed from. Hauser is working beneath old Alcatraz and New Alcatraz is clearly within driving distance of San Francisco (my guess: Marin County). We have only seen one or two levels of and rooms in the facility - the inmate cells, Dr. Beauregard's infirmary and the lie detector room. It is entirely possible that there is yet another Secret Spy Lair, and that the re-animation process takes place there below New Alcatraz.

IF in fact Hauser is actually responsible for what is happening and is bringing the inmates back to life in New Alcatraz, then I would suggest that the mysterious key (retrieved courtesy of Jack Sylvane) will play a role in uncovering/thwarting Hauser's plans in future episodes. Logistically speaking, the newly revived inmates may not recognize New Alcatraz when they are captured and brought back there because they might have been brainwashed. Or their implanted chips were swiped clean of any memories from their time in suspension, from 1963-2011...


Whomever/whatever is assigning the returning inmates their mission is dooming them to repeat the past and get captured. They MUST be aware of Hauser’s efforts and New Alcatraz by now, or at least that he has assembled a team to secure the collective evil before they destroy more lives across a wider swath than just the Bay Area.

One commonality among the first three prisoners we’ve seen thus far is that all of them were put in solitary confinement. Yes, that was a frequent action on Alcatraz and prisons everywhere – but we must consider if it is also a hint or a pattern that relates to their future disappearance. For all we know, there are brainwashing messages and/or chemical releases being dispersed secretly within those cells.  


A few days before this episode, I was tinkering around with anagrams using episode titles (as I did often when I covered LOST), discovered one for Kit Nelson that seemed apt and turned out to be spot on (Stolen Kin), and then posted it on Twitter. Keep an eye on inmate and other character names in future episodes…

I don’t know about you, but I laughed when Dylan’s little brother said that Nelson had given him ROCK candy. Nice touch.

It struck me as odd that Warden James left the remaining matches with Nelson in solitary, and it would be very interesting to learn that the matches Nelson had when he returned were the very same.  Were they frozen in time along with Nelson, or were they placed in his coat pocket as part of his mission and memory retrieval upon re-entry?  


We have now seen Rebecca’s grandfather getting blood taken in the Alcatraz infirmary twice in 1960. He must have been of particular interest to whomever was running those tests. To me, the same party responsible for taking extraordinarily large amounts of blood from the inmates was also responsible for the abduction in 1963. 

When Madsen told Nelson that, “they didn’t beat you for what you did, they beat you for what you are,” it offered up a potentially fascinating take on the morality of those who managed to make 302 people disappear. The inmates may have been chosen for experimentation because of their horrible dispositions and disposability, but what about the guards and medical staff who vanished alongside of them? Either they were collateral damage or each had a dark past that we’ve yet to witness...


Both Warden James and Deputy Warden Tiller conveniently left their posts on Alcatraz before the 302 vanished on 3/21/63. If they were warned, we have to question by whom and why. They were both aware of the blood being taken from the inmates in their infirmary, and also took great pleasure in the mental and physical anguish of the inmates….

So Warden James was a phillumenist! Seriously, I love that the man responsible for overseeing the worst criminals on earth collected matchboxes and matchbooks for fun. Was he a pyromaniac, or just a fan of incendiary products? The phillumenist, the lover of light, was certainly working in the darkest of offices…

Warden James is fast becoming one of the most interesting and compelling characters on ALCATRAZ, and Jonny Coyne is delivering the perfect mixture of mystery and maliciousness. Mark my words - Coyne is poised to become the breakout star of this show, and he deserves the accolades. Although I must admit that I am far more creeped out by Deputy Warden Tiller, and love how Jason Butler Harner is playing him with a seemingly deliberate stillness and control (despite what lies beneath).

I was not able to capture the brand of matches that James used with Nelson, but I did catch that they were from the civil war area. That only caught my attention because we know that Doc has a PhD in civil war history...


Almost all of the returning 63’s appear to be motivated by the resolution of family matters, from the guilt of lost spouses, siblings and opportunities. Sylvane: ex-wife and brother. Cobb: half-sister. Nelson: brother. It is possible that Lucy Banerjee returned for Emerson Hauser. And don’t forget that the ageless Dr. Beauregard is wearing a wedding ring in New Alcatraz, so don’t be surprised to see his origin story emerge as one of love lost…or found. 

In addition, Warden James was hell bent on making sure that Nelson both faced his father and confessed to killing his brother – so it appears he may have a very strong interest or stake in the families of the inmates. At times, James comes across like a pastor or priest, yet far too interested in their criminal techniques. Perhaps James is taking it upon himself to play God with his incarcerated subjects, with Tiller as his Right Hand. Under that context, consider when Nelson’s father said, “I thank God for Alcatraz.”

Overall, I felt that there was a strong X-Files and Fringe vibe to this episode of ALCATRAZ, which is fantastic. Once again, I am thrilled that I was not at all reminded me of LOST (and no, the bomb shelter was not a hatch). The criminals are appropriately frightening, the wardens are deliciously suspicious, the three leads are intelligent and resourceful, the story and overarching mythology are accelerating, and the cast chemistry is building at just the right pace.

Fun side note: Hauser said that it takes about 10,000 hours for someone to become an expert on a subject, so I calculated the amount of time I spent over 6 years watching, re-watching and writing about LOST…and estimated about 30,000 hours. Do with that what you will.  

I am so appreciative for your interest and comments, and that many of you have already shared this site with your social networks. If you like what you read, whether you think I'm way off base or possibly on to something, please spread the word! And stay tuned for giveaways, from InsideAlcatraz magnets to souvenirs from Alcatraz itself to swag from the ALCATRAZ premiere party!

As always, I love and encourage comments, but ask that you please be constructive and polite. 

Alas, I will be out of town next Monday and unable to watch or write about ALCATRAZ until Friday of next week (2/3/12). Thank you in advance for your patience…again!



Just Thinking said...

Glad you are better Jo. How about this- what if Hauser wanted the doctor to help his "friend" EB Tiller? Maybe even some kind of cloning with memory installation. As you say, the doctor was working on a dead person at the time.

maven said...

You're pointing out interesting things, Jo. One thing I found interesting is that Dr. Beauregard was playing a "record player" and not a modern version of that (especially in ultra-modern New Alcatraz) to dance to while he works. Lucy and the Dr. must have done some quick adjusting to modern technology (especially all those computers for Lucy).

I agree that some romantic relationship exists between Hauser and Lucy...he knew that she always wanted children. It could have started in '63.

Moritz Reiter said...

I am now a fan of your blog. I find your writing not only on point, but very witty. This episode was really good. I can't help though thinking that doctor Beauregard is like Dr Frankenstein.

Andrea said...

Two biggest questions I came away with after last night's episode - is Dr. Bearegard staging a re-animation attempt with Nelson (since every prisoner so far has been brought back alive) and how much does Emerson know about Lucy's past? I can't wait until we get more back story on Lucy herself.

Jbones72 said...

Wonder if the red liquid Dr.Bearegard is pouring out when Hauser brings Nelson to him. Maybe that is used when they reanimation process? Can't wait for next week!

KCupsStore said...

Maybe the blood that was collected from the inmates is needed for possible reanimation. Of course, that would mean at least some of the staff knew what was going to happen.

Just Thinking said...

Is one more discussion point OK? It seems like a chess game right now,with each of the returning prisoners having a purpose. I think Sylvane's was mainly to kill Flynn and get the key-perhaps to New Alcatraz as you say. Flynn may have had a tie there, maybe constructing its technology say.

Then Cobb seems mainly meant to have killed Lucy, which would have weakened Hauser's team.

And Carson may have been an attempt to make Doc Soto quit. Soto already has doubts, and then along comes a monster who takes boys just the same age as he was when he was a child. What if the boy had died?

Not sure what Marsden is up to-but did you suggest he may be organizing things? Someone is getting info to the force behind the prisoners too. I wish we had a name for whatever that power is!

Unknown said...

The matches were from a Swedish company and labelled "Jönköping Tändstickor - Guldstjärna Kvalitet" or (in English) "Jönköping Matchsticks - Gold-Star Quality."

Jönköping (actually pronounced Yun-shupping) is a Swedish city that is historically significant for producing matches, although I can't think of any bearing that that specific brand would have on the story.

BlastOff said...

Just found this blog and you make some really good observations. I really like the idea of Lucy and Hauser having started their relationship in the 60's. It would add a great dynamic since now they are very removed from each other by age. ONe thing that really struck me is that Kit told Rebecca to toss her phone when he had Dylan at gunpoint. No one from the 60's would ever say that so these folks obviously have some knowledge of how things work in the 21st century. Also, the way he said it was as natural as someone from our time would say it. That just stood out to me.

lennyg said...

Great read, Jo. Always makes me re-think an episode when I read your comments. Doc Soto is becoming a great and complex character. The fact that he has a Ph.D in the Civil War and Alcatraz got its start during that time (first as a fort)probably means something. Most Civil War concentrations are Lincoln- or North/South-based. Not much attention paid to California and certainly not Alcatraz. Try Alcatraz and Civil War in a search engine. Interesting!

SG_Tess said...

Great thoughts onthe episode Jo.
The things I noticed have already beenmentioned. Maven I agree Dr. Beauregard does seem stuck in the past or at least unwilling to come into the present. Unlike Kitt. Blastoff I noticed the mention of the cell phone too like it wasn't anything unusual.

Mortise Reiterate After last nights episode I to have referred to Dr. Beauregard as Dr. Frankenstein.

I don't believe the inmates are time traveling but have undergone some type of medical experimentation to keep them young whether it's cloning, cryogenics or something else. They've been kept somewhere then brought out for some reason we don't know yet. Maybe the red liquid was diluted blood.

Just Thinking interesting theory onwhy the first 3 inmates came back.

Farnswroth said...

"Alcatraz": Matchbox '63 Manchurian Candidates
Everybody associated with "Alcatraz" swears it is not another "LOST" series. I'm thinking that thou doth protest too much: it's the same but different.
Imagine the following pitch by "Alcatraz" creator Bryan Wynbrand to JJ:
While "LOST" was about a bunch of good-but-flawed souls seeking redemption who are imprisoned as candidates on an island by an omnipotent guy named Jacob to fight a timewarp battle between "good" and "evil," "Alcatraz" is about a bunch of natural born killers who "escape" an island as Manchurian assassin candidates programmed by some omnipotent guy to go back in time in a battle between "good" and "evil." Now they are coming back, but is it from the future or the past?
Digging in Wynbrand's past reveals his future was heavily influenced by two movies: "The Manchurian Candidate," the 1962 political thriller directed by John Frankenheimer that was removed from distribution in 1963 after JFK's assassination and another 1962 film directed by Frankenheimer was "Birdman of Alcatraz," with Burt Lancaster.
"Watching that film as a 7-year-old boy, I knew what I wanted to do," said. "I grew up obsessed with movies and television and knowing I had to do this. I had to tell these kinds of stories."
Similar but different: "Alcatraz Meets the Manchurian Candidates."
Alcatraz is a remote island but it does not exist in a vacuum. Something BIG was at work to "disappear" the inmates and staff in 1963, complete with fake official documents; hence the US government likely was involved. What was the US gov involved in 1963?
In 1963 the US was on the verge of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Perhaps it was not coincidental that the action in "Kit Nelson" took place in a bomb shelter. And what about that Swedish matchbox - perhaps Chekhov's gun? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chekhov's_gun
Sweden was neutral in the Cold War but the rest of US had to take sides. NB - Operation Matchbox was a Brit Op to smuggle Nazi scientists into its Berlin zone -- while the US and the Soviets had already picked the cream of the crop. (NASA: Our Nazi scientists were better than their Nazi scientists.)
The Matchbox '63s were ideal Manchurian candidates as assassins sent to the past to extinguish the Soviet-Nazi scientists in the 50's to put out the flame of their nuclear bomb program ...just like the Israelis are snuffing out the Iranian scientists.
Truth is stranger than fiction.
Perhaps the ageless Jailbirds are coming home to roost on US.
As JFK discovered, blowback's a bitch.

ChristyinTX said...

Great blog, great posters!
Just a thought, maybe Lucy and Doc B are not from 1960 (ie, not a 63) maybe they will GO to 1960 soon know the repercussions of the 63's coming to 2012. Paradoxical? Yes, but someone knew when and where Jack Sylvane was returning and was able to supply him with a mission and tools, so my guess is there is already a paradox in play somewhere (or somewhen! ha, I crack myself up)
Love the blog!

Just Thinking said...

Farnsworth-very interesting idea-so you are going with time travel as the mechanism.

Does it feel right with how Hauser is set up though? I get the impression the government experiment went awry, the inmates escaped, and Hauser was assigned to be ready for them when they showed up again, but that it is taking place chronologically, if that is the word. If the 63s can time travel, they could show up in any time. I suppose New Alcatraz could have been set up to continue into the future indefinitely, to catch any of them as they came appeared.

Farnswroth said...

Perhaps they were sent back to 1947 - coincidentally the number 47 is JJ's and Ernie Cobb's fetish.

By the beginning of 1947, Soviets completed the transfer of all works on rocket technology from Germany into secret locations in the USSR. In the fall of 1947, Soviet-German team launched eleven A-4 rockets near the village of Kapustin Yar in the steppes north of the Caspian Sea.

sportsattitudes said...

Jo, love the posts and the comments being left in response to them. I was on board for the entire "Lost" voyage but did not take the viewing experience to the deeper level I hope to with "Alcatraz." This blog will obviously help me get there. Great stuff being discussed here. The music reminds me of "Lost"; the graphics of "X-Files." The "bomb shelter" hatch in the last ep...believe we will see all sorts of bouquets tossed in the direction of previous sci-fi adventures (not just J.J.'s) throughout Alcatraz's run. The more people who offer their views, the better the experience for all. Great job.

Tweb said...

Has anyone found a good pic of the QR code that is scannable?

Disneypal said...

Great blog - will be checking in here often !

Alcatraz63 said...

Good stuff! Now let me begin.

Let's not be in denial. This show obviously has THOUROUGHLY gone through the LOST's playbook. The soundtrack is practically cut and pasted from LOST to Alcatraz. Also, you can't deny the parallel's between LOST and Alcatraz with its use of comicbooks. That being said, the bomb shelter never gave me a "Hatch" feeling. Although, I do believe there is more to this "C&C Company" that helped build these bomb shelters and gave Kit Nelson a monthly check while in prison. I also believe that Doc Soto's parents will have a connection to the 63's disappearance. I am very interested to dig into Soto's past and family tree.