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…
By my count, we have now been introduced to 6 of the 302 who vanished from Alcatraz on 3/21/63:
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.
COMIC BOOK NERD ALERT
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.
DOC SOTO & REBECCA MADSEN
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…
EMERSON HAUSER & LUCY BANERJEE
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.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
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...
THE WARDENS: JAMES AND TILLER
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.
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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!