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Alcatraz- Webb Porter

Written by Dr. Improbable on Tuesday, March 20 2012 and posted in Reviews

Let me play you a sad song on the world's most gruesome violin.

Welcome to another weekly recap of Alcatraz. Monday's episode did very little except to set us up for the season finale, and also make me worry that my chronic tinnitus is going to make me go crazy and murder everyone.

**Warning: spoiilers ahead**

We open to Hurley sniffing around after Sam Neill, who is at a Chinatown brothel acupuncturist. He tells the totally-not-giving-him-a-happy-ending masseuse that he hasn't always been "this way," and we are treated to a flashback of his young self telling 1960s Lucy about Edmund Burke, because philosophy always impresses the ladies. But they are sweet and in love, and he asks her out. Meanwhile Lucy has work to do with Warden James, who I barely listen to anymore. He's explaining the background our criminal-of-the-week, Webb Porter. Porter is a super-genius, but he's also tormented by a ringing in his ears. His mother tried to drown him in a bathtub when he was six, and he killed her. Fair enough, I say. It's not totally clear when he killed her- was he six? Was there a child out for vengeance? I'd like to hear that story. Anyway, Lucy has a therapeutic idea for Mr. Porter. "Do you like music?" she asks foreshadowingly. Totally a word, guys.

Cue present day, where Webb is kicking ass at violin. But then his bowstrings break. This will be important later. He runs a bathtub, and then walks into a room where a bound and gagged young woman who is missing most of her hair is tied to a bed. We are then treated to a creepy montage of him playing violin superimposed with her struggle to escape him drowning her. She is not successful. Again, there are some rapey undertones here, but they aren't explicitly stated.

Meanwhile, Rebecca is playing pool with Nikki when they get phone calls at the same time. Nikki's is about a murder and Rebecca's is from Soto, explaining that he's been following Hauser and Lucy isn't in the hospital anymore.

At the murder scene, we're treated lots of gratuitous shots of the corpse, and Rebecca finds her fingernail in the middle of a shag rug without even trying. Super detective! Back at the Rock, she and Soto try to determine if the killing is related to the '63s, and Rebecca also asks what's up with Lucy. Hauser shows up right then, so as usual we don't get any answers. He asks why they're looking at the girl, and Rebecca explains it's a murder she thought might be related (Why? What indication did she really have?) but their lead was bad because the blood sample was tainted with colloidal silver. This is just the elixir Hauser's been looking for! So now they know that it's a '63, but they don't know which one it is.

After the break, Rebecca and Soto are talking to the victim's music professor, who is exactly zero help. Also, Beauregard attempts to figure out "Skyping" with Hauser. Beauregard tells him that Lucy's slipping away, but yes, the magical silver blood will heal her.

Flashback to Lucy attempting her therapy on Webb Porter. She says the ringing in his ear is a painful reminder of what his mother did to him, but she can take it away. How? You can't cure tinnitus. I know because I have it in both ears and am awesomely hard-of-hearing for it. It's annoying, but it doesn't make me kill people. (Not yet anyway.) She plays some music, which soothes him. He reminisces about the drowning, particularly recalling the way his mother's hair spread out. There's something Oedipal about Webb Porter.

In the present, Porter is playing for a girl on her porch. He's super creepy, which he tops off by attacking her. In Alcatraz 2.0, Beauregard says the blood is a match, and tells Hauser to go get Porter alive. Porter, meanwhile, is trying out for the philharmonic. He makes an eerie comment about stringing his bow himself, which obviously he strings with his victim's hair. He also can't sight read, which is generally a problem in a philharmonic orchestra. Pissed off, he returns to the victim's house and drowns her.

In the past, Lucy brings Porter into the band room (playing a lively jazz tune) and has him choose an instrument. He picks up a violin. Somehow he takes about one minute to figure out where to place his fingers and how to draw the bow in order to play the song in his head perfectly. Savant or not, that's kind of ridiculous. If it were piano, maybe, but string instruments are tricky because of the fingering. That's what she said.

Present day and Hauser yells at Rebecca for showing up late for the new crime scene. She explains that it's her job to interview people. They also figure out the criminal is playing the music, not the victims. Soto and Rebecca search Alcatraz's band room for clues to who played the violin, and conveniently enough find one with Webb Porter's name scratched into it.

Sam Neill then goes to some random blues joint and talks to some random guy (seriously, where did he come from?) and asks if he knows of any new violinists in town. Guy answers: "You know the difference between a violinist and a pizza? A pizza can feed a family of five." Oh-ho-ho, I see how you took that traditionally racist joke and turned it around there, sir. Hauser gets the info he needs (Porter's job at the philharmonic is stacking the chairs, not playing any of them) and our bluesman plays him out to a jazz song that takes us to a flashback...

...Of Hauser on a date with Lucy. He likes that she's not cynical and actually wants to help the inmates. He says he's never met anyone like her before- you know, because Indians weren't really around in 1960s America. They kiss. It's sweet.

In present day, Madsen and Soto figure out the philharmonic thing just as Hauser calls them. They go to Porter's house. He's been at the place for a while, indicating he's become accustomed to the modern world. They also find the human-hair strung bows. His next bow is red, so they know his next victim will be redheaded. And indeed he has a redheaded girl tied to a bed. She's only missing half her hair, so there's still time.

In the past, Lucy tell Porter he's going back to general population, assuring him that he can keep the violin and play in his cell. Webb is genuinely grateful to her, and says he wishes he could repay the favour. Good thing he has magic blood!

Team Alcatraz narrows down the potential victims, and go to the house of the most likely girl. She's tied up, but Porter isn't there- he's gone to the theatre to play for an imaginary audience because he's certifiably insane. He hears phantom applause and everything.

After the break we're in 1960 again, and Porter's being led back to general population. Everyone's real pissed because his screaming bothered them when he was in there before. They holler at him, as if that's going to help. He sets up shop with his violin in his cell, and the magic of music soothes all the prisoners. We see some old faces. Even Beauregard is kind of impressed. He comments that Lucy is basically a pawn for Warden James. Whose endgame is what? Help all the prisoners? That doesn't seem terribly sinister.

Team Alcatraz tracks down Porter in 2012. There's a somewhat lacklustre chase scene in which they ultimately apprehend him.

Hauser takes Porter to Alcatraz 2.0 and explains that he can possibly help Lucy with his magic silver blood. Beauregard hooks him up to the equipment.

In decrepit, modern Alcatraz, Soto laments the fact that they have no idea what's going on. He's playing some digitally restored films in the background, and Rebecca notices Lucy in the films, un-aged. They realise she's the key to their understanding.

Finally, in Alcatraz 2.0, Porter is playing his music again for the recaptured inmates. Lucy wakes up. Scene.

Next week we have a two-hour "season" finale of Alcatraz. I put season in quotes there because the show's ratings are low, getting lower every week, and it's highly likely to be cancelled. As much as I complain about it, there's much worse stuff on television (see: anything on the CW), and the show has potential in a way. What frustrates me the most is that they don't seem to tap into this potential very well. More development of Rebecca and Soto's characters would help- the past romance of Hauser and Lucy is probably the most compelling thing that carries the season, and there's a lot that could be done with that. The criminal-of-the-week thing can only take you so far; if people want cookiecutter crime dramas, they'll watch CSI or Law and Order. Regardless of what should happen, it looks like next week we'll get some answers about what's going on, including the one that's been bugging me the most- what happened to Warden James?

Written or Contributed by: Dr. Improbable

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About the Author - DrImprobable

Before you ask, no, Dr. Improbable is not that kind of doctor, and will not be diagnosing your genital warts today. Seriously, put it away. The doc does more of the "mad science" brand of doctoring, though one day hopes to be that "time and space traveling" kind of doctor. In the meantime, Doc passes time cloning things, memorizing acronyms, and using large magnets. When not plotting all the terrible ways to destroy the human race (particularly those found on public transportation), the doc kills time by watching television and making sarcastic commentary on it.


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