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Alcatraz - "Kit Nelson"

Written by DrImprobable, Outhouse Contributor on Tuesday, January 24 2012 and posted in Reviews

Child abduction was so much easier in the '60s.

I promised the Overlords I'd tone down the snark this round, but dammit, it's so difficult. I spent six years in an abusive relationship with Lost, and the only result was that once a week for an hour I developed behaviour similar to a paranoid schizophrenic. So I promise I'll try to be nice, but I don't promise to be successful. Also I'm going to attempt to go through the episode chronologically, even though it's going to be a mess. [Editor's Note: I give this Alcatraz recap about a 6 out of 10 on the snark scale. Read on at your own risk.  Be sure to provide your own Alcatraz review in the comments!]

We open "Kit Nelson" with our titular criminal creeping into an adorable house in a town called Walnut Creek. There he finds two boys sleeping in the attic, where he clamps his hand over one's mouth and threatens to kill his sleeping brother if he screams. To be fair, he has a tear in his eye, so presumably he's remorseful about it. For more background, we head to a 1960s flashback to Kit in the yard at Alcatraz, where several inmates kick the crap out of him. No one seems too concerned about it, though the kafuffle is eventually broken up.

In case we haven't figured out our criminal of the week actively hates children, Soto is hard at work creating a comic based off the Ernest Cobb episode when he hears his (presumably ill-obtained) police scanner report the boy's kidnapping. He rushes to the hospital, since he apparently has ESP and knew Madsen and Hauser would be there, woefully discussing Lucy's state (it is not promising). He tells them what he heard on the scanner and gives us the rest of the necessary back-story for our criminal of the week: Kit Nelson, inmate #2046; his MO is to kidnap an 11-year-old boy on a Friday, leaving only a chrysanthemum behind, and bring his dead body back to the house on Sunday. Looks like it's gonna be a long weekend for these folks.

Soto gives us a little background while he and Rebecca drive to the crime scene. Nelson had a kid brother who died at age 11, which is presumably why he abducts children that age. At the victim's house, Rebecca shows her a picture of Nelson, and mom confirms that he said his name was Warren and that she hired him from a nearby hardware store to do work on their house. Furthermore, the victim's little brother confirms that he was in the room last night, kidnapping his big brother while he pretended to be asleep.

Flashback to Nelson lying in the hospital, looking decidedly worse for the wear after his impromptu boxing match. Dr. Beauregard seems unconcerned about his state, explaining that he has boys of his own. Madsen (the grandfather/inmate one, not the present day cop one) speaks to Nelson from behind his curtain, telling him not to piss off the doctor if he doesn't want to lose several litres of blood a day. Then he tells Kit, "They don't hate you for what you did, they hate you for what you are," but when you're a child murderer those two things are kind of interrelated, so he probably needs to spend some of his down time developing better cross-stitch phrases.

During all this, the present-day Nelson has brought Dylan (the kidnappee) to the local fishin' hole. Nelson takes him out on the lake, then tells the kid to jump into the water with him. Nelson then has Dylan hold him down under the water. When he bobs up, he forebodingly says, "Your turn," and we cut to commercial.

When we return, Warden Edwin James is wheeling Kit down the hall (in 1960). He informs him that his dad is visiting- much to the horror of Kit. James stands him up in a hallway, where he shakily balances against a railing, then wheels away his chair, stranding Kit. Nelson seems a bit concerned. I guess he bruised his spine or something.

In present day, Hauser is calling to get the Amber Alert for Dylan cancelled. He seems stressed out since Lucy is indisposed- I guess he isn't really cut out for the logistics work. At Dylan's house, Madsen and Soto are interviewing her on the kid's interests, and Soto is clearly freaking out because she's describing a young him- likes comic books, watching television, etc. (By the way, what mom allows their 11-year-old to watch South Park? When I was 11 I had to secretly watch it at night when my parents weren't around. Actually I still do that.) He mumbles something about cherry pie and Madsen sends him away, since he's worrying the mom. 

The local cops leave, as Hauser managed to get the alert cancelled, and we're treated to a well-scripted scene where Madsen and Soto yell at Hauser for being a complete tool. Hauser was planning on just waiting for Nelson to come back with Dylan's body Sunday night, but his new partners disagree with this plan, presumably because it's a tad morbid.

Soto (still resisting the urge to call him Hurley) recalled from his extensive research that Nelson likes cherry pie, so he goes to every diner in the northern San Francisco region to find out if he's been there. Madsen admonishes Hauser for being an impatient old jerk. In a miraculous only-happens-on-television stroke of luck, Soto is sitting in the very diner that Nelson walks into. Furthering the impossibly good timing, Madsen calls him right at that moment, and he does a very poor job of nonchalantly informing her that he's with Nelson, confirming that the still-alive Dylan is also with him.

Flashback to Kit's dad visiting him in Alcatraz. He reveals that he's discovered Kit killed his brother because he was jealous of his ability to enjoy life. But his mom decided not to do anything about that because she didn't want to lose both of her children. Grade-A work, mom. Raised a charmer, there. Kit unconvincingly denies this, maintaining his brother died of scarlet fever.


Back in the present day, Soto does a truly terrible job of preventing Kit and Dylan from leaving the diner, which culminates in him chasing after them out the back of the diner, into a nice, abandoned alley. Madsen comes charging in, but Nelson holds a gun to Dylan's head and gets away. Soto laments that it's his fault the kid is going to die, and even though it's really not (he's an overweight history scholar and comic book enthusiast, what was he supposed to do?), Rebecca fails to be reassuring to the poor guy in any way.

We've reached the point in the show where actual detective work is done. Madsen and Soto rifle through Kit's things, and realise his cigarettes weren't the prison-issued kind, but instead some fancy brand that cost five dollars a pack, back when cigarettes costing five dollars a pack was actually outrageous. They realise he had some serious cash flow, and trace it back to a construction company Nelson worked for that built bomb shelters. Man, I miss the Cold War. The company built one such shelter for a house in Walnut Creek- the house isn't there anymore, but odds are, the shelter remains.

Flashback to the 60s, with Kit being dragged into solitary confinement, which is not such a reward for him as it was for Cobb. Inside the cell, the warden is waiting with a matchbook. He allots Nelson four matches to confess what he really did to his brother. Nelson does confess, and it's a terrifying scene. Killing his brother was just the beginning- he realised he enjoyed it, and had to do it again.

In the present, Dylan does some crafty work, slipping off his shoe and throwing it at the bare light bulb illuminating the bomb shelter. He runs into the woods. [Editor's Note: Pretty impressive throw for a kid who doesn't like to be outdoors. Teach that boy how to throw a football and he'll be set for life!]

Meanwhile, Madsen and Soto are approaching the same area. Nelson grabs Dylan, confident he's safe because they didn't shoot at him in the alley before, but Rebecca points out that this time he doesn't have a weapon. Suddenly, Hauser appears from nowhere, and, presumably deciding he's Too Old For This Shit, kills Nelson with one shot. Everyone looks a little shocked, and he just sort of shrugs. [Editor's Note: My theory is that Hauser won't be content until he shoots all the 63ers.]

Back in the secret Alcatraz lair (not Alcatraz 2.0, but the research room they have set up in the old Alcatraz), Hauser defines "arrested development" to Soto (unfortunately, his definition has everything to do with being stuck in a moment in the past, and nothing to do with the Bluths) and tells him he's only allowed to stick around because he's a super expert on Alcatraz, but that he needs to grow the hell up. He also alludes to something traumatising happening to Soto when he was eleven. Soto tried to explain to Rebecca, but struggles, and she assures him that he did good work, and that she's sure he has a pretty good origin story himself. Because we have to hamfist a comic reference in here, even though no one has said anything about "origins" the entire episode.

Soto goes to Dylan's house, and gives him some comics to complete his set. [Editor's Note: He gave the kid some mediocre JSA comics, including the first appearance of Magog. As if the kid hasn't suffered enough.] Soto confesses that he was also abducted and escaped, which sort of made him feel like a superhero. So I guess they retroactively included an origin story? Sure, whatever. Also, I maintain that there are a lot of creepy paedophilic undertones in this episode, but I'm pretty sure child molestation is reserved for Lifetime Original Movies topics.

Final scene, and Hauser is carrying a body bag into Alcatraz 2.0. He dumps Nelson's body with a not-at-all-aged Dr. Beauregard, also putting in a tentative request for help for "a friend" (presumably Lucy). Beauregard assents, and Hauser leaves, then the doctor lights up a cigarette, turns on a record and goes to work. Health and sanitary regulations are for saps!

Another episode of Alcatraz down the hatch (sorry) and I still don't really know how to feel about it. It still feels like a Lost knock-off, only instead of character back-story, we hear about the motive, means, and opportunities behind the crimes these guys committed, which is less interesting, because we only care about them for a week. Combined with their attempts to pander to comics fans and the lack of curiosity in Madsen, the show falls a little flat. The acting is solid, and it seems like they might (key word: might) be trying to tie together a more coherent storyline, but it's missing the thrill-a-minute-what's-going-to-happen-next-oh-god-what-the-hell feeling that its predecessor had. The very fact that I keep making all the Lost references shows that it's not strong enough to stand on its own. This programme's going to have to up the ante, or it'll be axed by season two.

Written or Contributed by: DrImprobable, Outhouse Contributor

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About the Author - Christian

Christian is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Christian is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.


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