ALCATRAZ 1.7: “Johnny McKee”

I admit to being underwhelmed by this week’s ALCATRAZ. It was enjoyable enough, but felt very formulaic and a bit tired, even for such a new show. I think I’m getting bored with the “63 of the Week” format, more than the show itself, which remains engaging.

Poisoner storylines are not that common, even on procedurals, so at least ALCATRAZ shook up the formula to that degree. And Johnny McKee’s motivation for his crime spree was a bit different, too.

Notorious poisoner Johnny McKee (Adam Rothenberg) landed in present-day San Francisco and picked up where he left off, poisoning bullies with deadly nightshade. Back in 1960, McKee was recruited by Tommy Madsen (David Hoflin) to do a contract hit, but instead of killing the bunny, McKee took out the bossman, Mickey Cullen. (Who might have been a fictionalized version of real-life gangster Mickey Cohen, who was sent to The Rock for tax evasion.) In the present, McKee schemed to kill a subway full of people, but Doc Soto (Jorge Garcia), Hauser (Sam Neill) and Madsen (Sarah Jones) foiled the plot.

Under questioning by Madsen, Jack Sylvane (Jeffrey Pierce) revealed that he had been in SF for a couple of days before Madsen captured him — and spoke of a “hole beneath the Hole” on Alcatraz. Seems to me he was referring to something underneath solitary confinement — perhaps that triple-locked room into which the warden sent Cal Sweeny? It’s possible that is the location of the time-travel mechanism. He also confirmed that Madsen’s grandfather was kept in the infirmary and constantly tapped for blood.

Why did Beauregard (Leon Rippy) want so much blood? My guess: Something about Tommy Madsen’s blood was thought to help survival during time travel. Maybe he was the first to survive some related experiment, so he was used as a resource.

Great to see the return of Nikki (Jeananne Goosen), the bombshell coroner who wears the cool Golden Age Sandman T-shirts. I’m glad she wasn’t a one-off, because it’s fun to watch Doc Soto struggle with his obvious crush on her. It looked like Doc was playing StarCraft II on Hauser’s big government computer — a computer that can wipe a viral video off several websites simultaneously, I might add! I was intrigued by the little historical fact Doc dropped that nightshade plants were imported from Ethiopia because they were the only plant that would grow on The Rock. Kinda ironic, huh?

McKee’s attack on the subway doesn’t jibe with his established M.O. of killing bullies, so I guess it was somehow related to his Jules Verne obsession (Verne presaged subways). Also, that recurring saying, “The future is now,” was constantly associated with Verne. Could that saying be related somehow to the time-traveling incidents?

Anyway, ALCATRAZ’s weekly formula needs some shaking up, and if the show’s sliding ratings are any indicator, that reshuffling cannot come soon enough!

Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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