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Alcatraz S01E07- “Johnny McKee”

Written by DrImprobable, Outhouse Contributor on Tuesday, February 21 2012 and posted in Reviews

Alcatraz returns to us this week to remind us the importance of lab safety.

We open with Beauregard lamenting his inability to fix Lucy's condition using her "methods." He's tried electroshock, traumatic memory therapy, and acupuncture. Because apparently he doesn't have some sort of magic serum to fix Lucy like we all thought, he was just going to fry her brain until she woke up. Beauregard explains her EEG shows she's actually in more of a deep sleep, and she is dreaming. He suggests that Hauser read The Carpetbaggers to Lucy, appealing to his romantic side. Hauser looks rather embarrassed and skulks away, demanding a tangible treatment.

We pan to a club playing generic dance R&B. A gentleman with an unfortunate haircut, who is our criminal of the week Johnny McKee, is manning the bar. A douchey Asian demands that he gives them drinks. Bartender quotes Jules Verne, which prompts the Asian man to call him a loser (because they're in third grade). McKee agrees to give him some drinks, and mashes up some berries to put in them.

Flaskback time! McKee is examining a bug jar very closely when Tommy Madsen comes over to tell him he is wanted by some man named Cullen, which makes me upset. That name must not be used; it needs to fade from our species' collective memory. Cullen wants some squirrelly fellow named Kings (I think? Or maybe his first name was Squirrelly?) dead, as he's running a bustling shiv business in the library, which is interfering with Cullen's own blade market. He wants it done quietly, and McKee is the man for such a job.

Back in da club, a group of twenty-something men are choking to death and a woman is screaming for help. Chaos and such ensue.

Meanwhile, Hurley is playing some World of Warcraft in the Alcatraz command centre. (I didn't even notice I called him that until I re-read this paragraph.) His teenaged WOW buddy is impressed by his refresh rate and asks if he's on the pentagon mainframe. Soto gets distracted from his game by a flashing notice- a hit on an inmate. He calls Rebecca, sending her the YouTube video of the deaths at the club; they agree to meet with Hauser there. Worst dance party ever.

After the intro, Soto gives us the scoop on McKee. Johnny was a chemistry dork who enjoyed poisoning people with cyanide. Madsen asks the bar owner for McKee's application while Soto explains that McKee generally targeted men. They get an address from the application and head over. 

McKee is waiting for a job interview, where a guy shows him the club video on his iPhone. McKee is confused by the whole "internet/phone/television" thing. Later the hotel owner is interviewing him for a position as a pool boy. All McKee has to say is that he loved chemistry and worked in a library and he gets the job. I call bullshit- I'm proof that it's not actually that easy to get a crappy job, particularly if you're an overqualified scientist.

Madsen and Soto find that his address is no longer valid. Soto realises that address McKee gave (142 Broadway) was actually his prison address- cellblock and strip name. Soto goes all savant for a moment and realises Jack Sylvane was his next-door neighbour.

Hauser is deleting the video off the entire Internet, because he has that power. Madsen asks to see Sylvane, since Hauser hasn't shot Jack. Yet. Hauser is reluctant, but agrees to it.

Madsen finds Soto looking for McKee's belongings. She tells him to go to the morgue and talk to Nikki (our Golden Age Sandman fan) about the tox screen. Soto is clearly torn between his desire to see her again and his desire to avoid cadavers. They talk about McKee's fondness for Jules Verne, and discuss Verne's vision of the future. Heads up, guys- there are going to be a lot of not-subtle references to that vision and the prisoner's time travel. Soto says McKee killed his high school football team (at a reunion, not in high school) because he thought they were bullies. They also speculate on a picture of a woman named Ginny, who has a hideous scar down the right side of her face.

At the pool, some snobby dude antagonises McKee. So he pours a vial of yellowish liquid into the filtration system.

Flashback to 1960, with McKee asking the guy he's supposed to kill for a blade. He offers a dirty magazine as payment. For his gift of boobs, he receives the sharpest of shivs. McKee makes conversation, asking if he's going to the movie night to see Born Reckless.

In the present-day poolhouse, McKee is organising the towels while everyone floats lifeless in the pool.

Back in Alcatraz, Madsen sits down to have a little chat with Sylvane. Their conversation is not terribly interesting, though I did enjoy when Jack said to her: "You didn't shoot me." He has no idea how lucky he is, given Hauser's track record with the inmates and bullets. Jack asks about Beauregard, but Hauser prevents Madsen from following up on that topic. Madsen gives Jack a picture of his wife to try to butter him up. I guess she didn't realise that was not the way to go. Madsen's questions have nothing to do with McKee, and also manage to establish nothing new. Between Sylvane's speech and flashback, we learn that McKee had a thing for Ginny and took her out once, and he was really into Jules Verne. "The Future is Now." We get it, show. The one useful thing we get out of this is that McKee used nightshade as well as cyanide. Madsen tries to ask about her grandfather, and Hauser lets Sylvane say a lot more than he probably should have, though nothing actually useful for the viewers.

Soto explains that nightshade was the only thing that grew on the island. Foreboding much? He also heads over to the morgue for the tox screen and some flirting. There's a dick joke. No cyanide or drugs in the bodies.

Moving along, the police are at the pool. They establish that McKee has a new chemical weapon. In a clumsy attempt at foreshadowing, Madsen asks if he could put it in the city water supply. I think they just wanted to put that in the preview. She and Hauser leave to meet Soto.

Johnny's playing Breaking Bad over in his apartment, and kills a mouse with his new concoction.

After the break, flashback to McKee talking to Lucy under the supervision of Warden James, who hilariously wheels into view to insult Lucy. She tries to therapy Mckee's problems away, but Johnny is uncooperative and goes back into his cell.

In a shady Chinatown market, Hauser reveals that he can speak Chinese with what I imagine is a terrible accent. We also learn his chi is murky. Oh, and that Johnny's been buying his stuff and having it delivered, so we've got an address.

The apartment is empty except for deadmau5. I mean, the dead mouse. They Google colbalt (II) chloride and find it to be water soluble and scented like fresh grass. Mystery solved. They figure out he's going to poison the subway.

McKee is there already, and gasses the conductor to take over the train. Are San Francisco subways really that clean and neat? It seems the CTA could afford to learn a thing or two.

Our flashback takes us to movie night. James introduces the movie with one of his typical diatribes. Cullen urges Johnny to kill like he's supposed to.

Present day McKee stops the train and begins filling it with poison.

Past McKee pulls out his new shiv- covered in nightshade- during Mamie Von Doren's sexy finale dance (because all the men are distracted by tits). In a twist everyone sees coming, it is actually Cullen he kills, since he was a bully.

In the present, Team Alcatraz is monitoring their computers. They find a tunnel with a stopped train and race to reach it.

McKee is filling the traincar with his CoCl2 poison. Madsen and Hauser show up on their hilariously small maintenance cart. Hauser breaks the subway glass with an axe- which is impressive, as the glass they use for those cars is ridiculously strong. But Sam Neill is too awesome to care. As the commuters climb out of the car, McKee tries to get away, but ends up fighting Madsen. She gets feisty when her life's at stake, and throws him onto the nearby tracks (for a different line). They're live, and before Hauser gets the pleasure of shooting him, McKee gets electrocuted by the deadly third rail. He survives, which is surprising, because those things have several thousand volts running through them.

Soto and Madsen watch a news report on the train incident, which mentions exactly zero things about McKee or the poison. Hauser's shady cover-up remains in place. Soto figures out who Ginny is, and that McKee was the one who disfigured her, though they don't know why.

In the past, Lucy talks to McKee, telling his story for him. We find out Ginny was a raging bitch, and tricked McKee, getting him to take his clothes off on top of the school gym, where the football team was waiting to throw firecrackers at him. Holy shit, are teenagers really this awful? McKee lost his testicles, and got revenge by disfiguring her with acid. Which, honestly, is almost fair.

In Alcatraz 2.0, Hauser speaks to Sylvane. Jack returns the picture of his wife- he's decided to embrace the future, or at least his new present. See how it ties into the Jules Verne stuff? Sylvane reveals he no longer dreams, which is probably somehow significant.

 Hauser gives into Beauregard's request and begins reading to Lucy- only to find that the book was not really The Carpetbaggers (Beauregard has a weird sense of humour), but actually Ovid's Metamorphoses. He reads the opening lines even though he has the book open to the middle. We exit with him reading aloud to Lucy, still in her dream-filled coma.

Overall, this episode was not nearly as exciting as the preview made it out to be. We didn't learn much. It was nice seeing Jack again, as he's the only somewhat sympathetic inmate, but I feel like we only saw him to remind us that he's still around- hopefully we see more substantial stuff with him in the future. I know I complain about all the episodes, but this one fell particularly flat. Hopefully the pacing picks up a little bit, and we get more Sam Neill shooting people, which is what this show is all about.

Written or Contributed by: DrImprobable, Outhouse Contributor

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