I hope you enjoyed this past episode of Alcatraz as much as I did. It was a creepy episode, almost bordered on the horror movie type of creepy.
Before continuing my review of “Kit Nelson”, included below is the promotional; trailer for this Monday January “Cal Sweeney” courtesy of FOX Broadcasting for your enjoyment!
The story at first seems like it is just another psychopath doing what he did in the past, but as the story progresses we find out the method behind his madness. I found it interesting that flowers are prominent again in another one of J.J. Abrams TV shows.
In Fringe it was tulips and here in Alcatraz it is Chrysanthemums, I love how there are always symbols that are peppered throughout episodes of these great shows. Chrysanthemums have a significant meaning in different cultures, in the U.S it is used as symbol of happiness and positivity…ironic, don’t you think that a child killer would use this particular flower as his calling card. Of course, we find out later the true meaning of why Nelson uses this flower.
Michael Eklund who played (Kit Nelson) was great. He personified that child like demeanor that he so often seeks out in his victims. The scene in the prison recreation yard where Nelson gets beaten to a bloody pulp by his fellow inmates is interesting and brutal. It is usually known that child killers and child molesters are the lowest form of criminal…the ones that even criminals themselves despise. So the fact that he is beaten by the murderers and rapists is in some sick way poetic justice.
Jorge Garcia (Dr. Diego Soto) shined in this episode. He brings his man child to life beautifully and has no qualms about the fact that yes he does have the coolest job ever; “A 16yr old’s wet dream” is what I believe he said. I found it very cool that he had a police scanner in his house
It is a waste of Parminder Nagra’s (Lucy Banerjee) talent to have her in a coma. She is way too talented to be stuck in that hospital bed, but I am sure the writers will spring her out soon. Especially after that reveal…did not see that coming!
I may be far reaching with this, but I do think that Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill) and Lucy have a ‘thing’ or at least a very deep affection for each other. It is in the way that they look at each other and how much Sam Neill is overtly caring about her.
I loved that in this episode we got to see the amazing shot of the Bay Bridge and our beloved city in the background. The one thing I am always wary of when a series is ‘set’ in San Francisco is that the accuracy is always in question. So far it seems to be okay, but we shall see as the series progresses.
I am so enamored with the fact that Rebecca Madsen is driving a Mustang…the same color and year as Steve McQueen in that iconic San Francisco classic Bullitt. I am sure the creator of the series did that as a wonderful homage to a great movie, movie star and classic car. I myself am very happy that it is a part if a series that is not only set in our beloved city, but is surely to become a classic itself.
Leon Rippy (“The Doctor”)…he makes me smile every time he appears on screen. He is one of those actors that always has a great role an always knocks it outta the park when he is on screen. The comments he makes to Nelson about needing something stronger than aspirin when he is in the infirmary is brilliant. Nelson gets no sympathy at all, the result of who and what he is.
One of the parts I love about this series is when the prisoners are taken to the infirmary and there is the voice behind the curtain, which turns out to be Tommy Madsen (David Hoflin). It always intrigues me that he is there and is almost like a devil’s advocate or the voice of some twisted reason. He is the one asking why the criminals do what they do, what provokes them, what makes them tick. I also find it very interesting that it happens to be Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) who is the one assigned to find the criminals and that it was Tommy Madsen that killed her partner.
The fact that Nelson takes Dylan fishing is at first a very father/son thing to do. The activities that Nelson and Dylan do together are what normal father/sons would do together, fishing, miniature golf, going to the movies. It isn’t until later that we learn why Nelson is doing all these things with Dylan. I found the scene in the boat, out in the middle of nowhere, reminded me of a number of scary movies (of which I cannot remember now) but also of one of the most famous ‘boat’ scenes in cinematic history. It reminded me of the scene in The Godfather Part II when Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) and Fredo Corleone (John Cazale) take a boat ride and only one of them returns.
It could have been very easy for Nelson to just kill Dylan in the boat and dump the body, but instead plays a childhood game with him. This act again reminds me of the child like nature of Nelson, but with the sinister motive behind it. Dylan is a smart kid; he knows that if he plays along with him his chances of survival increase…or so he hopes.
The fact that they are on a lake and the symbolism of water in this episode and the dunking of Nelson into the water is almost like a renewal, like his baptism or a rebirth, like a cleansing of the soul. By dunking him into the water Nelson is becoming reborn, baptized again, purging him of his past crimes…while he is committing a crime.
Creepy seems to be theme in this episode. Eklund is great as Nelson, but the man that steals every single scene he is in is Jonny Coyne (Chief Warden Edwin James). He gives brilliant a whole new meaning.
I have decided to start saying that actors that are THAT good, John Noble good. Coyne knows how to tap into that slimy part of himself, that part that can be just as despicable and sinister as the inmates he lords over. Coyne reminds me of another dazzling Brit, Bob Hoskins, who has the uncanny ability to scare the hell out of you.
Sam Neill is another actor that is always a pleasure to watch. He has that great sensibility to him. My theory that he and Lucy have a thing together or at least deep affection for each other is shown in this scene, because of the way he looks at her belongings or the way he looks at her lying in that hospital bed.
Jorge Garcia does a great job with the family and it is sad that he scolds himself that he forgot about the cherry pie reference and that he might be the cause of the child getting killed. It is not again until later that we find out the reason he is so much more invested in this particular case than others.
He has to give himself a break and know that even the most seasoned veterans make mistakes and miss things…you are only human, Soto. I don’t blame him for being angry at Hauser. This child’s life hangs in the balance; every second that they delay is one step closer to Dylan losing his life.
I like how Rebecca stood up to Hauser about needing Soto and basically the team of them, the trio (I wonder where else we have seen this kind of team? Seems very familiar…Fringe!).
She has a lot of spunk for someone so petite, but that is what makes her a good cop. They need each other, they each have a specific or unique knowledge for their field, that is why they work well (and sometimes not so well) together.
She is a cop, she has that knowledge, Soto’s a comic book writer, yes, but he also is an expert on the inmates and their background, Hauser is probably the one with the most knowledge, having already lived it…he has truly been there done that.
The scene where Soto is drowning his sorrow in a cafe eating a cherry pie and Nelson walks in with Dylan is almost karma giving him a second chance, the fates of his past giving him the go ahead to make things right. He is great at trying to stall them. His conversation with Rebecca Madsen is cryptic but luckily she is a smart girl and figures it out.
The scene with Nelson and his father is the turning point in the story, it is finally where we find out why Nelson is doing the things with Dylan that he is. We find out about his dysfunctional family, his unbelievably caustic father and the reason for the Chrysanthemum and what it ultimately means to him. The scene is creepy but significant, it gives you a glimpse as to why he turned out the way he did. Nelson does not move from his position, he keeps as far away from the glass as possible while his father scolds him and berates him about what a giant disappointment he was to the family.
I have two favorite scenes in this episode, the first one is when Kit gets put into solitary and the Warden is waiting for him. The cinematography is so amazing, bravo to David Stockton. The way that it is shot, with such low light, is difficult but achieved beautifully. It gives the viewers the sense of solitary, the sense of confinement.
That scene also reminded me of the last fifteen minutes of a brilliant movie “Wait Until Dark”. The way that Warden James taunts him and then scares him is disturbing, but brilliant. The lighting of the match, the sound of it almost echoes, it is so surreal, it is drawn out and almost alien.
Jonny Coyne again shows us why he is at the top of his game. He shows us why you almost need a shower after watching scenes with him, he oozes slime, but in such a vivid way. The anticipation, the freakiness of what will happen next, what will the Warden do to Nelson in that confined space knowing how he feels about his crimes.
It seems to me that the only man that Nelson fears is the Warden, and I don’t blame him. Just by his body language alone in every scene that they are in is a blaring reminder of how he can make Nelson cower. When Nelson starts to confess to the Warden of what really happened to his brother, Eklund shines.
The way his body is shaking is almost like he is shedding his skin and revealing what he truly is, like he chipped away at this facade that he has built up over the years. Once he was able to confess his crime, a rebirth if you will, happened, he became the monster that he is.
The retelling of his brother’s death is diabolical, the ease that Nelson tells him about it, the use of the flower again.
When Nelson says “that’s when I knew” and the Warden answers “that he was dead,” and then Nelson says “that I needed to do it again,” that is when you see the pure evil that is embodied in Nelson. Eklund’s body did become transformed if you will once he started talking about his first crime, brilliantly done!
When Dylan is in the bomb shelter with Nelson and we see the ingenuity of a child that is in survival mode. Clever to use his shoe to break the light, I was happy to see him get away, you were rooting for him. Dylan had always seemed to be on the cusp, scared out of his mind, but brave at the same time. It seemed like he was trying to emulate the comic book heroes he reads about all the time.
I love that Sam Neill explains the concept of arrested development and how it pertains to Soto. Again it harkens back to Fringe and Olivia and the age she was at when she shot her step father. Sorry, had to add that in. The writers have a remarkable way of somehow hinting to the other J.J. Abrams shows in some way. He knows what happened to Soto and is willing to forgive him and cut him some slack. He understands, but also is firm with him, he needs him…the adult him not the scared little boy that still lives and surfaces in Soto from time to time.
The second of my two favorite scenes comes at the end of the episode. When Soto goes to visit Dylan to not only check up on him, but to tell him he knows how he feels, the simpatico. Soto knows what Dylan means when he is scared, Soto was and in some ways still is that eleven year old boy again. When Soto told Dylan that once you get away from the kidnapper, once you know you can do that, it gives you a superpower, is wonderful. Garcia does a great job, you can see that scared little boy again, but you can also see the man that he has become behind it as well.
In the last scene, we get to partake again in the wonderful Southern slyness of Leon Rippy, he does it so well, that way that he plays Doctor Beauregard is perfect. They way he looks at the inmates or in this case the dead body of Nelson. I love that he puts a blues song on while he is working, reminds me of a mad scientist on another Abrams show that often listens to music while he works.
Well, looks like we have a lot in store for the next few episodes. I am looking forward to seeing how the rest of the 63′s will come back. What other kinds of criminals will we have the ‘pleasure’ of seeing walking through the fog covered streets of San Francisco? Too bad Capone died in 1947, I would have loved to seen him try and blend in.
I hope you are enjoying Alcatraz as much as I am. I must admit that at first I was a little skeptical, but after viewing three episodes so far, I am completely in love with it already. I am looking forward to hopefully having Alcatraz actually film here, that would be beyond cool!
Thanks for reading and do not forget to leave a comment on my review. Thank you!
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Until next time,