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Alcatraz recap: season 1, episode 3

The unsettling calling card from an Alcatraz child-killer pops up in a present-day kidnapping

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In its second week but already on its third episode, Alcatraz seems to have slid into its comfort zone fairly quickly, which is impressive but potentially troubling. On one hand, it’s promising that the series isn’t struggling to find a balance between its “procedural of the week” meets “over-arching supernatural conspiracy” template.

On the other hand, the fact that each episode thus far has ended with the criminal-of-the-week caught and sent back to Alcatraz 2.0 feels anticlimactic and a bit rote.

Last night’s episode introduced us to former Alcatraz inmate Kit Nelson (the ever-reliable Michael Eklund), a psychotic child-killer who was enjoying his newfound freedom in the present day by kidnapping a young boy from his bed and leaving a disturbing (yet fragrant!) calling card: a white chrysanthemum.

The next scene showed us that Doc Soto spends his free time like any reputable social outsider: He listens to the police scanner and sketches comix. Thanks to his encyclopedic knowledge of the Rock and its inmates, Doc caught the bit about the aforementioned white flower and immediately realized that another inmate was on the prowl in present day San Fran.

Following his hunch, Soto and Det. Madsen visited the scene of the disappearance and confirmed their fears, much to the mother’s horror.

Meanwhile, Kit Nelson was doing what child-killers do best: Acting horrifically creepy. He took young Dylan fishing out on a lake before ordering the boy to jump in so they could see how long they could hold each others’ heads under water, which as far as I can recall is not a Big Brother/Big Sister-sanctioned recreational activity for grown-ups and kids.

Back in the 1960s, the bloody rivulets running through Kit’s bashed-in face let us know that he wasn’t one of the more popular inmates. There was also an important reveal that pertained less to Nelson and more to the overall series arc: Det. Rebecca Madsen’s convict-grandfather was the jaded prisoner we saw talking behind a curtain in silhouette during the premiere. This means that Grandpa Madsen is at the focal point of whatever strange testing Dr. Beauregard did to the prisoners in the ’60s, at least according to what Old Man Madsen told Jack Sylvane in the premiere.

As for present day, Madsen and Soto were hard at work… drinking lemonade. Actually, they were questioning the mother for details about her kidnapped son, Dylan, but all she could offer was that her son was terrible at sports and loved comics (making Soto especially determined to save a kindred soul). A comment about cherry pie made something click in Soto’s brain and he excitedly stood up from the table, but his pie-related brainstorm was interrupted by the appearance of Hauser who had arrived at the scene of the crime and was ordering the police to vacate. Knowing Nelson would return to the house after killing the boy, Hauser was willing to let the kid die to ensure a tidy recapture.

NEXT: Hauser’s shaky ethics and a touch of Cain and Abel