The larger story of Alcatraz continues to be doled out piecemeal with common elements consistently referred to again and again, like the exsanguinations of Tommy Madsen and Dr. Sengupta’s work with the inmates’ memories. Meanwhile ‘Johnny McKee’ works to bring some procedural elements into the overall narrative of the series (by bringing back inmates from previous episodes), and not just to fulfill the needs of a single episode.
Once more, an episode begins with Lucy Banerjee/Lucille Sengupta (Parminder Nagra) and her condition as a result of a sniper bullet in the episode ‘Ernest Cobb.’ Hauser (Sam Neill) is tasked by Dr. Beauregard (Leon Rippy) to try reading to Lucy, as a way to rouse her from unconsciousness – or dreaming of a place other than this so-called reality, to paraphrase the good Dr. Beauregard.
Hauser’s not buying it, however, and tasks Beauregard with finding a more “tangible” treatment for Lucy.
When Johnny McKee (Adam Rothenberg) is introduced, it’s not long before he finds an opportunity to make his first killing – a trio of alpha males looking to celebrate the engagement of one of their own. After a brief confrontation between bartender and customer, Johnny sends the celebrating bros to the morgue with some killer cocktails.
Through the magic of facial recognition software and Johnny’s need to witness his killings, Doc Soto (Jorge Garcia) is made aware of McKee’s presence, and the information quickly finds its way up the chain of command to Madsen (Sarah Jones) and eventually Hauser.
McKee’s backstory is largely spent detailing an obsession he has with Jules Verne, his meetings with Dr. Sengupta as well as, perhaps most pressing, being forced to kill a fellow inmate that’s been selling shivs without permission – and therefore must die. During his sessions with Sengupta we slowly learn that McKee was bullied, and had a traumatic experience, which led to a slew of his male classmates being poisoned.
Back in the present, McKee strikes again, killing several men in a swimming pool after one of them treats him rudely. At this point, it would seem that if Johnny would simply stop taking jobs in customer service, then he’d probably have a much lower chance of running into people who need to be killed. Unfortunately, McKee’s need for retribution is caused by something far more complex and embarrassing than “the customer is always right.”
Madsen and Soto’s investigation leads them back to Alcatraz’ returned inmate no. 1 – Jack Sylvane (Jeffrey Pierce). Madsen gets Hauser’s reluctant approval to question Sylvane and in doing so not only piques Hauser’s interest in what lies below the island prison, but also inadvertently reveals to Madsen just how in the dark Hauser is keeping her. Unfortunately, with McKee preparing another attack, there is little time for either of them to dig deeper into Sylvane’s claims.
McKee is at last apprehended while attempting to gas commuters on the Bay Area subway, and nearly goes the way of ‘Kit Neslon‘ after rolling onto the third rail – which was apparently invented to give power to commuter trains and eliminate the threat of bad guys in fiction.
Flashing back, Dr. Sengupta uncovers McKee’s reason for killing his classmates and need to continue punishing bullies, but promises him, rather cryptically, that she can make all of his painful memories go away.
‘Johnny McKee’ ends with Hauser once more reluctantly doing something for the benefit of someone else, and begins to read to the comatose Lucy what he initially believed to be the novel The Carpetbaggers, but turns out to be The Metamorphosis of Ovid – an ancient Roman poem, which is noted for being a series of separate stories linked by a single common theme. Whether or not that is a telling sign or simply a nod to Alcatraz’ method of storytelling, remains to be seen.
Ultimately, we were given short answers to questions that probably should have been asked weeks ago, but what information was provided at least points Hauser and Madsen in a more precise direction.
Alcatraz returns with ‘Clarence Montgomery’ next Monday @9pm on FOX.
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