Alcatraz: Dr. Bannerjee/Gupta and Hauser’s Tender Beginnings, Also Some Landmines!
Last night, on Alcatraz, two kind of landmines were discussed – the kind that are a metaphor for a relationship, and the kind that will blow your legs off of your body and/or kill you.Was that in poor taste? I’m sorry. I’m not a nice or tasteful person when my patience has been tried – and this shit storm of suck has tried my patience without employing artfulness clueless but charming levels of camp-melodrama a la Ringer.
As we have established, every episode of Alcatraz breaks down into the following three component. Trying to find the most recent innate who has returned from the ’60s and capturing them, some hidden details about the past that could lead up to explaining why things are the way they are now, and Doc Soto telling some jokes about comics. It’s not a great formula, in fact, right now it isn’t working. Why? Because while it might be interesting to watch a character figure out something that we as the audience already know, having another character figure it out again in the course of the same episode is boring and lazy.
It’s the symptom of a much more serious condition – Alcatraz has us all four steps ahead of the curve. We know what’s going to happen. That would be fine if we cared, but since there is little to no emotional development, we don’t. That might be even be fine is there were a large over-arching mystery for us to solve – which is the case here. But unfortunately the mishandling of every, single, other, aspect of the show makes it painfully clear – the writers only have a peripheral idea of where they are going. It’s Lost all over again. Lost but much, much, less good.
Last night’s criminal a la minute, was Paxton Petty. In his day, Paxton was a fried-out, PTSD-riddled veteran of the Korean war. While stationed in Korea, he killed many children who, he maintained, were child soldiers. Court-martialed by the army for seven years, and then eventually released to American soil, Petty began his landmine games again – this time on American civilians, including children. It was this that landed him in Alcatraz.
Madsen and Soto tootle about not doing much other than flirting with (or being threatened, if you’re Soto) by a dreamy member of the bomb squad – who we figure out will be killed roughly one minute into the episode. While they are sitting on their thumbs, Hauser solves the case of where Petty will hide his last landmine, based on following the key words in a song. At the last moment, Madsen and Soto finally decide to help in spite of having been warned off by Hauser. They succeed in apprehending Petty, but they don’t get off Scott free – the sexy slash threatening member of the bomb squad dies dismantling a bomb trapping Hauser. It’s very sad I guess, since a human life has been presumably taken. Only it isn’t that sad. Because he don’t really know this guy or what he means to anyone, and thus, do not care.
But how did Hauser figure out the song thing as a clue? EASILY. It all ties in with his own memories of his past at Alcatraz. In fact, it was trying to find Petty’s last hidden landmine in the 60s that introduced him to Dr. Bannerjee – or as she was known then, Dr. Gupta. While we receive no other information about where she came from or how the patients manage to be traveling, we are reminded, yet again, that Madsen grandfather is a crucial part of the equation. He is questioned in the past, by Gupta, about the reason Petty – having been sedated and undergone electroshock in a bid to get him to talk – might have song a Korean song. It is Madsen who explains that the songs are a key to the bomb’s locations, a tactic often used in the army (He’s also a vet.) He only gives up this information if Gupta promises to find out why he is being kept in the infirmary drained of blood.
In addition to this, and learning about “Dr. Gupta’s new methods” – drugs and electricity – we also see a young bumbling Hauser falling for this pretty woman. This is inter-cut with a sad Sam Neill staring at his brain dead paramour and then ultimately bringing her to New Alcatraz, plopping her on a table before the doctor there and saying, “You know her methods – FIX HER.” It’s all very troubling. This is the only relationship in the show they’ve put any weight into, and we never really even took the time to see them as a couple. Also, if Hauser had this magical doctor at New Alcatraz, why wouldn’t he have brought her there first?
I will also continue to say this: Rebecca Madsen Makes No Sense. She has found out her whole life has been a lie. Her grandfather was a criminal, not a guard (his being a guard presumably was a driving factor in her decision to join the force) that her adoptive uncle is her real uncle, that there are inexplicable phenomena happening, that there is a shady federal agency running it, and that your grandfather is involved, alive, murderous (of your own partner, no less) AND STILL ON THE LOOSE – wouldn’t you try to uuhhhh PURSUE ANY OF THAT? ANY OF IT? Instead, Rebecca is passive to the point of stupidity. When she finally does move or speak or think about ANYTHING it’s such a relief that you almost forget she SHOULDN’T be busting her hump to help Hauser – she should be figuring out what’s going on, confronting her uncle, finding her grandfather, trying to figure out who Hauser works for! She does none of these things. Ever. And it’s reaching a point where it’s just a bizarre choice. Having her solve the case a full twenty minutes after Hauser had with virtually no assistance and for no reason was stupid and boring.
Meanwhile, Soto continues to make entry-level jokes about comic books – see, randomly talking to the busty medical examiner about her Sandman tee-shirt. It’s lame, guys. It’s a lame choice. But not as lame as him saying, “Every two bit criminal has their Paxton Perry, their Lex Luthor.” I screamed and died and then 911 was called to bring me back and then I ate the medic’s face off because I was so angry at this line. That said, if they are going to have Diego Soto date the medical examiner, cool, fine, somebody has to have chemistry on this show – and that guy could have it with a wall. But also note that if this occurs, I will probably go an eight page diatribe about male female double standards in terms of looks.