ALCATRAZ 1.3: “Kit Nelson”

As expected, ALCATRAZ slotted right into the “63 of the Week” format this week, introducing the newest returnee from the legendary Rock, child-killer Kit Nelson. But viewers also got a far-more-interesting peek at Dr. Diego Soto’s backstory — y’know, his origin story.

Child murderers are at the bottom of any prison pecking order, so Kit (Michael Eklund) found life behind bars to be a litany of daily beatings. But it didn’t reform him. When he appears in the present, he resumes his old practice of abducting a child on a Friday night with the intention of returning him home on Sunday — dead. But not if “Doc” Soto (Jorge Garcia) and Madsen (Sarah Jones) have anything to say about it. (And they do.)

ALCATRAZ may be produced by a lot of the people behind LOST, but this is still broadcast network TV, so I knew there was no way the child was going to be murdered. This knowledge allowed the viewer to concentrate on Doc. As played by LOST fan fave Garcia (ex-Hurley), Doc is exactly what he called himself: “a 16-year-old’s wet dream”: He has a smoking hot partner, his own secret government task force, and he writes comic books. It’s almost like not working!

Except that it is work — especially for Doc, who really takes his responsibilities seriously. He may draw his superhero comic between task force assignments, but when Kit suddenly surfaced, Doc sprang into action like the hero he is. He was again reluctant to put himself in the line of fire (Lucy is still fighting for her life in the hospital after being shot in the chest last week.), but who wouldn’t be hesitant in his position? He isn’t a trained law-enforcement officer; he’s a bookworm geek. Naturally he’s going to wonder if he’s cut out for field work.

I particularly like how Garcia is making Doc so reluctant to embrace the concrete destiny he clearly dreams of — Doc doesn’t write and draw a comic book series because doesn’t want to make a difference. He clearly has some adolescent power fantasies. But even after having the required sappy TV epiphany that other kids are depending on him to stop Kit, Doc still didn’t suddenly transform into Jack Bauer. His transition to action hero is going to take a while. Especially if he continues to let doubt and uncertainty plague his every step. After Kit escaped the diner with his kidnap victim (William Jackson Shadley), Doc moaned that he’s responsible for getting the kid killed. But he did the best he could under the circumstances. And I like that idea of Doc continually striving, trying to turn himself into a better, more proactively heroic man, like the kind he draws.

At the end of the episode, Hauser (Sam Neill) admitted that he needs Doc Soto’s Alcatraz expertise, but also scolded Doc to get past his “arrested development” and stop acting like he’s still 11 years old. Doc later told Rebecca (in a tale short on details) that he had been kidnapped as a child, but escaped. That’s why he bonded so closely to this week’s case, and especially the kid who was kidnapped. Doc hinted that the experience made him stronger, but I don’t think he quite believes that himself.

In addition to getting some clues about Doc’s background, viewers also saw just how cold Hauser can be: He canceled the Amber alert for Kit’s victim out of concern that the publicity would expose his task force — and reveal that criminals from 50 years in the past are reappearing in the present day. Hauser was willing to sacrifice a child to maintain the secrecy of his agency and his mission. Are we sure he’s really with the government?

The activity in Hauser’s secret bunker got a little more interesting when he brought Kit’s corpse to Dr. Beauregard, who acted like he was happy to have another test subject. What’s going on in that underground facility? It’s beginning to look more and more like a rogue operation.

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