‘Alcatraz’ Season 1, Episode 9: ‘Sonny Burnett’ Recap

Published 3 years ago by

Jorge Garcia and Sarah Jones Alcatraz The Ames Bros. FOX Alcatraz Season 1, Episode 9: Sonny Burnett Recap

The second episode in the Alcatraz double feature doesn’t manage to tie the returned inmates to the larger story of the series like ‘The Ames Bros.’, but it does feature two guest stars in Sons of Anarchy‘s Theo Rossi (as the titular ‘Sonny Burnett’) and Wendy Crewson (Air Force One) as the woman Burnett is seeking revenge on.

Burnett finds himself on Madsen and Hauser’s radar after he murders one man and kidnaps another. It seems Burnett was serving time for kidnapping – which he apparently ran like a semi-successful business – but he was ultimately undone when Helen (Crewson) the young woman he’d been supposedly holding captive/grooming as a lover and partner, escaped and ratted him out to the authorities.

Burnett’s story is largely unimportant, as he merely serves to be the end game for Hauser (Sam Neill), who has learned from Dr. Beauregard (Leon Rippy) that not only are all of the returned inmates in perfect health, but they’re actually in better shape than when they were last seen back in ’63. Beauregard goes on to explain that he’s found colloidal silver in the healthy inmate’s bloodstream, and the compound appears to have extensive healing properties. The good doctor goes on to surmise that if an inmate were to have the same blood type as the injured Dr. Banerjee (Parminder Nagra), then perhaps she might be roused from her coma. Naturally, the recently returned Burnett happens to be a match.

Meanwhile, Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) is still plagued by thoughts of her partner’s death – at the hands of her returned grandfather Tommy Madsen (David Hoflin). During a brief visit, her uncle, Ray Archer (Robert Forster), is quick to warn of the danger Tommy poses, and Madsen is equally quick to realize that Ray has been in contact with Tommy recently. Apparently, Ray has the worst poker face in San Francisco, as Hauser was able to conclude the same thing when he met with Ray earlier in the episode.

The 1960s portion of the episode illustrates Burnett’s transformation from a somewhat soft kidnapping and ransom expert to hardened criminal after he is shanked in the prison playground when payment for his protection doesn’t come through. After Burnett heals, he spends his time punching the cell wall and doing pushups, so he can beat the hell out of some guy to prove how tough he’s gotten. Unfortunately, this earns him all the wrong attention and Deputy Warden E. B. Tiller (Jason Butler Harner) subtly encourages Burnett to take things further – lest the other inmates think of him as weak.

Theo Rossi as Sonny Burnett Alcatraz Sonny Burnett FOX Alcatraz Season 1, Episode 9: Sonny Burnett Recap

In the present, it turns out that Helen stole Burnett’s earnings after she turned him in, which resulted in him getting shanked and gave him something to do once he showed up in the present. Stage one of Burnett’s revenge was to decapitate Helen’s husband, and leave his head for the cops to find. Stage two involved the kidnapping of Helen’s daughter, Danielle, and burying her in the same field his money was stashed. Not doing much to cover his tracks, Madsen and Soto (Jorge Garcia) are quickly on his tail. After a brief car chase, Burnett is brought into custody, and Danielle is pulled to safety.

The episode flashes back to 1960 one last time, and we see Burnett pummel the guy who shanked him, and send a message to the rest of the inmates by gouging the man’s eyes out rather than killing him. The flashback ends suggesting some discontent is brewing toward Warden James (Jonny Coyne) on behalf of Tiller. The two passive aggressively threaten one another and seem content to leave it at that, for now.

Back at Hauser’s secret compound, his hopes for Lucy’s recovery are dashed after Dr. Beauregard informs him that Burnett’s blood did not contain any colloidal silver – perhaps suggesting other elements are at play in the inmate’s ageless appearance and health.


Alcatraz airs the preempted ‘Clarence Montgomery’ next Monday @9pm on FOX.

TAGS: Alcatraz
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  1. Sonny Burnett …sounds so familiar !
    Wasn’t that a guy on Miami Vice ?

  2. Lol yeah was Sonny Crockett’s (Don Johnson) under cover name.

  3. Gotta say, I’m hanging on by a thread here. They keep churning through bad guy of the week while tossing out new tidbits like the iron door with 2 special keys but I just don’t care.

  4. I like the dynamic between the Warden and Deputy Warden…I hope that leads somewhere interesting. Does anyone know why they didn’t air episode 8 with these? I guess it was pulled for the delayed Daytona 500, but it doesn’t make sense to keep air episodes out of order…why didn’t they air 8 and 9 and keep the Sonny Burnett (10) episode for another week.

    @Mongoose – I’m feeling the same way when I think of Alcatraz as the sci-fi show it should be. So, I try to enjoy it as a police procedural drama and a prison-life drama…and in that regard it’s pretty good. Getting only a small piece (if any) of the puzzle has gotten quite old in nine episodes.

    • I hate to keep referring back to this but LOST often times did the same thing. They would often reveal hardly anything more than tidbits (with the occasional, “WTF just happened?” moments!). The difference was each episode kept the plot moving forward in some fashion and thus didn’t get stale so I never cared too much. Alcatraz conversely just keeps giving us same, same, same with a side serving of different which is not enough, at least for me.