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“All that’s needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” -Edmund Burke. Or, in this case, Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill). Hey, the man’s got a name that sounds like it should go down in history saying great things already – now he just needs to come up with original material. Maybe Webb Porter (Rami Malek) can teach him a thing or two.

Warner Brothers Banner - Click to learn more at their official web site!Once again, I get ahead of myself. Hello everyone, and welcome to Music Therapy 101.

Your instructor for this week is Lucy Singupta-Banerjee (Parminder Nagra), and your first example is Alcatraz Inmate #2012 – the aforementioned Webb Porter.

Before continuing, we include courtesy of FOX Broadcasting, the exciting promotional trailer for the season one 2 hour finale Garrett Stillman and Tommy Madsen this Monday 8 PM E/P! on FOX!

Webb Porter:

I am auditing this class with you and I have done this before, so feel free to ask questions such as: “What is tinnitus and how does it apply to music?” and “Can violins really be strung with human hair?” I will do my best to answer, and Doctor Singupta and Mr. Porter will provide you with anything I cannot.

MAJOR SPOILERS TO FOLLOW, (hopefully you watched the episode before coming to class ANYWAY but…)

Alcatraz - S1E11- Webb Porter - Hauser in Steam

The episode opens with one of my favorite shots of the series so far: Emerson Hauser, (Sam Neill), walking out of the shadows and steam into the light. The enigmatic symbolism just felt so nice to see. Meanwhile, Doc, (Jorge Garcia), is adorably tracking along behind him, trying to figure out where it is he is going. Emerson leads him to what looks like a massage parlor, but after taking some pills it becomes pretty obvious this is likely a chiropractic session. Ouch!

Alcatraz - S1E11- Webb Porter - Doc Peeking

Alcatraz S1x11 - Lucy and Warden James back in 1960We jump back in time to find Hauser and Lucy Singupta-Banerjee, (Parminder Nagra), discussing the above quote and other philosophical words before she heads off to work.

They agree to meet that night, and Lucy heads off to Alcatraz for a meeting with Warden Edwin James, (Jonny Coyne), and Webb Porter, (Rami Malek).

James introduces Porter as a new challenge for Lucy, but she overcomes it rapidly, diagnosing him with tinnitus within almost two minutes. Having a Alcatraz S1x11 - Webb Porter before music therapyconstant ringing in your ears all the time since the day your mother tried to drown you would definitely help drive someone mad.

With the diagnosis down, Lucy introduces the theme of the episode with what later will become prophetic words:

“Tell me, Mr. Porter: do you like music?”

Alcatraz - S1E11- Webb Porter - Lucy Worried

Alcatraz - S1E11- Webb Porter - Porter Hopeful

In 2012, Rebecca Madsen, (Sarah Jones), and Nikki, (Jeananne Goosen), are enjoying a game of pool in an attempt to relax. Rebecca is clearly having some doubts about the ‘task force’ she is on, but she points out that she cannot go back to the life she was leading.

Indeed, why would she want to? Nikki remains her buoyant and helpful character, (her potentially budding romance with Doc is adorable to watch), all the way up until she gets the call that a new murder has taken place. Rebecca tags along and, despite the gut feelings that this is a 63, there seems to be no evidence to prove it.

Alcatraz - S1E11- Webb Porter - Nikki Playing Pool

Alcatraz - S1E11- Webb Porter - Rebecca Worried

Hauser is less than pleased that Doc is following him, but eager to get going on tracking this new 63, particularly when he hears from Milton Beauregard, (Leon Rippy), that the man has a lot of colloidal silver in his blood – the same substance that could potentially return Lucy to the world of the living. He pushes Rebecca and Doc to find him.

Alcatraz - S1E11- Webb Porter - Hauser Finger

Back in 1960, Lucy quietly seduces Porter with music, easing the ringing in his ears. Porter, far more forthcoming than previous inmates, vividly recalls the night his mother tried to drown him, and Lucy convinces him she can help him.

Alcatraz - S1E11- Webb Porter - Porter's Mother Hair

She takes him to the music room where he picks up the violin. Despite mocking and taunting from inmates and Deputy Warden E.B. Tiller, (Jason Butler Harner), Porter begins to play, revealing himself as a savant.

Alcatraz S1x11 - Jennifer Spence as Webb Porter victim Susan LeeAll the gifts he has, however, are useless in 2012 as he kidnaps another woman (Jennifer Spence), cutting her hair and binding her, then practicing violin in her house.

By useless, I mean that the man is incapable of reading music – which causes him to fail his audition for the Philharmonic. In a rage, he kills the woman. Hauser is again less than pleased at the crime scene, unloading on Rebecca for ‘taking her time’ to get there. Alcatraz S1x11 - Webb Porter takes his next victim Jennifer Spence as Susan Lee

In the middle of Rebecca’s defense, Doc reveals that the violin music heard at the scene of the first murder has happened here too. With that clue, Doc and Rebecca search the vault of 63s for a clue – and finds Webb Porter’s violin.

Hauser has a chat with a jazz pianist at a club he used to frequent, (in a flashback scene we see his first kiss with Lucy), and discovers that Porter works for the Philharmonic as a stacker instead of a player. He has a real address now as well, and Doc and Madsen are dispatched to search.

Alcatraz - S1E11- Webb Porter - Hauser and Lucy Kiss

In Porter’s apartment, they find he strings his bows with actual human hair, (a procedure that CAN work if the hair is combined with other materials, incidentally), which lead them to Porter’s third victim of the episode. She reveals that he is at the Philharmonic giving a concert and, as we can see, the concert is taking place only in his own mind as he remembers returning to the ‘general population’ of Alcatraz and soothing them with his violin. Rebecca, Doc, and Hauser surprise Porter at the finish of the “concert”, and take him into custody.

Alcatraz - S1E11- Webb Porter - Hair Bow

Alcatraz S1x11 - Hauser and Beuaregard discuss Porter and Lucys bloodIn New Alcatraz, Porter’s blood is revealed to be a match for Lucy’s – and since it has the colloidal silver, it is implied it will heal her. As Porter plays his violin in the halls, Lucy is given the transfusion, and at the completion of his song, her eyes open for the first time in eight episodes.

Before shifting to character discussion, I would like to point out something I have seen the writers doing all season that I think is quite wonderful. They do a beautifully elegant job of presenting each of these convicts as the men they are. Alcatraz S1x11 - Rebecca with Webb Porters violin

Most of the human race sees convicts as animals, subhuman, and/or unworthy of the lives they have been given. While it can be argued that they are being romanticized in these episodes, the point is simple: Like everyone else, convicts are human beings, albeit with a serious problem often regarding a failure in normal social interaction.

Alcatraz S1x11 - Rebecca proves it is Webb Porters violinUnlike everyone else, something has happened to them that their minds were unable to handle, and their psychology drove them to violent acts in response.

The writers humanize these men, enough that while you may not root for them, you understand their drives and motivations more than what may be seen on the surface. While this kind of analysis and thought process may not be looked on as the ‘right way’ to view these criminals, it certainly presents a different perspective.

Alcatraz - S1E11- Webb Porter - Porter Listening

Alcatraz S1x11 - Lovely Parminder Nagra as LucyEver heard of a ‘gentle killer’? It is a little bit fascinating, the kind of men that come up here in Alcatraz. A good portion of them seem to be quiet, gentle, even charming, (and you wonder why we women do background checks on guys we date. Oh wait….I have said too much…)

Well anyway, Webb Porter seems to be no exception here. He is soft-spoken, quiet in motion, smooth in movement, and dedicated in mind. Dedicated to madness, that is, surrounded every moment by a terrible ringing in his ears that seems to only be drowned out by music. Porter’s mother attempted to kill him as a child, though interestingly we never find out why. Alcatraz S1x11 - Webb Porter is not a gentle killer of Jennifer Spence as Susan

We can assume she was just as insane as he is, (which suggests Porter’s madness may have some genetic causes), but interestingly we do not have any contact with any member of Porter’s family nor do we know what happened to any of them. Our savant is a pure mystery, enough to the point that Rebecca and Doc do not even know his name for the first half of the episode, and for the most part he remains a mystery – even at the end when he reveals that, deep down inside, there could still be a good man.

Alcatraz - S1E11- Webb Porter - Hauser and Lucy Hands

We had hints of this ‘good man’ within Porter for most of the episode anyway. Though he is clearly mad and taking revenge on his mother for what she did to him, he still shows compassion, even care for Lucy, (though since she is the one who brought him out of the darkness provided by his tinnitus, some form of imprinting and attachment can be expected). When Porter sees Lucy again in 2012, he is relieved, even smiling, and eagerly offers himself, (as eagerly as he can with Beauregard forcing him), to help save her life.

She fits his profile, so once she wakes up it will be curious to see how they interact, especially if he ever manages to escape. He was one of the few inmate who was more than willing to reveal the key memory that triggered his violent behavior, implying he wants a form of help to heal from it. Is Webb Porter truly a lost cause, or could he actually be seeking some form of redemption despite the shackles of his own mind.

 

Alcatraz - S1E11- Webb Porter - Porter Playing

The choice of a violin for Porter is symbolic. The violin generally is a symbol of elegance and refinery, (perhaps Ernest Cobb [Joe Egender] would have played it), but it also means stability, peace, and harmony. A violin implies seduction, grace, and beauty, unlike the brave rally of a trumpet or the flittering wings of a flute. That being said, most of the music Porter plays is painful, scratchy, (not in technique, in emotion), and even torturous, (again, emotion, not sound). He turns his madness and pain into meter and key, and in return the violin grants him a form of balance as the music tunes out his condition. The violin is often one of the most dangerous instruments to play, because it requires such control and exudes such a powerful aura. A criminal playing a violin has a mind that should not be crossed.

That being said, in 2012, Porter continuing to play music in the halls of New Alcatraz, (my name for the facility in which Hauser is ‘storing’ the recovered 63s) has a clear effect on those already there – they are soothed and even show possible comfort at the sound. Porter actually has a great amount of control over them with that violin, and I hope that angle is explored later on in the show.

Here now is a brief moment of lightness: Lucy is awake!!

Alcatraz - S1E11- Webb Porter - Lucy Awakens

Okay, we really have no real clue if she is awake or if her eyes just popped open and now she is going to stare emptily at the ceiling for the rest of the season, but at least we get to see those beautiful eyes back in 2012. We have done quite a bit of discovering when it comes to her character while she was asleep, and of course the moment she wakes up is the moment that Rebecca realizes she is a 63.

Heavy amount of development and drama to follow, ladies and gentlemen, because Lucy has proven herself to be a major player in the events of the show so far, and the concept of her being “the key to everything” is one many of us, (I hope), have suspected far before Rebecca voiced it. A number of clues have rained down on us – she is a psychiatrist of sorts, with methods that we suspect are not entirely humane but certainly seem to work. She seems mildly twisted to be able to perform the kind of treatments she does – in fact she is much like the men I mentioned earlier. Charming, beautiful, gentle…and deadly – she is the cobra.

She several times promises she can ‘remove memories’, though she seems to require the memory be active and recently accessed. She can virtually seduce most of the patients into acquiescing to her, but her motivations remain foggy. She often shows compassion for the men, implying she genuinely views them as humans. She also seems to have no real idea as to why some things are happening, (such as why Tommy Madsen [David Hoflin] has so much of his blood taken). By the end of season one, we may learn whether or not this cobra has venom.

Alcatraz - S1E11- Webb Porter - Lucy's Bedside

The revelations happening over the courses of these episodes indicate a big reveal at the end of the season. Many of the questions we have suspected would not be answered have been hinted at and in some cases outright announced. We have learned that some of the 63s received injections of colloidal silver. The implications of colloidal silver are yet to be fully seen, but perfect health and potentially lack of aging seem to be two side effects.

Though, not all of the 63s have the silver, and Lucy certainly did not. There is one question answered – and another raised, in the classic style. The Warden keeps the keys that are found on some of the patients, (quick! The patients with colloidal silver in their blood – are they the only ones with keys? Go take a look!), and he is slowly stepping from the shadows as being the one who ‘takes the blood’ once it is removed from each 63. What’s HIS role in all of this?

One quick note on another character here that has been getting some more screen time : Milton Beauregard (Leon Rippy). He first came to us in Alcatraz as a seemingly sadistic, methodically cold doctor that we were not supposed to like. But the more time we have spent around him, the more he has started to become almost likable. It is his idea to have Hauser read to Lucy to wake her, citing love as a powerful reason to live. He also provides one of this week’s comedic elements as he tries to figure out how to work a webcam.

Alcatraz - S1E11- Webb Porter - Beauregard Webcam

He is also one of the few – including Lucy – who is not a convict who has come forward in time, so to speak, (not only convicts have gone through this, it seems!) Regardless, he is another one to watch.

This week, we finally wrapped up – supposedly – one story arc present for the season. Lucy is awake. As we race for the end of the season, we already know that both her and Tommy Madsen are going to be key. What will happen when he and Rebecca meet face to face? How will the confrontation go between Rebecca and Hauser once Lucy rejoins the ranks? What will J.J. Abrams willingly tell us to satisfy our curiosities, and what will he dangle as a reason for us to come back for a second season?

Think about that. Class dismissed.

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Nayari09 (Pam)

1 Comment

  • WR_Systems says:

    Hi Pam!

    Thank you for a wonderful analysis of “Webb Porter”, music, criminal behavior, and MUSIC! You did an awesome job of sharing thoughts about the human condition and how music can help almost everyone … everyone except perhaps the murderous Webb Porter who killed poor Susan lee (Jennifer Spence of SGU).

    I had hoped they would catch him in the act, he would run and she would escape. Dang that Webb Porter! 😛

    Thanks again and best regards,

    Kenn

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