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Alcatraz recap: An Inmate's Chemical Romance

Spurned physical attraction fuels a con’s penchant for fatal chemical reactions

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Liane Hentscher/Fox


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Last night’s episode of Alcatraz was one of my favorites thus far. The inmate of the week was genuinely creepy yet psychologically sympathetic. His present day massacres were horrifically memorable, and the part of me that always loved the grisly openings of The X-Files appreciated that. Also, Soto got to flirt with that cute doctor while she conducted an autopsy, so that was fun.

The only drawback: Aside from a bit more talk about memories, blood work and dreams, most of which we’d heard before, there was very little revealed about the overall mystery. Nevertheless, a solidly entertaining hour.

The episode began with the perpetually surly Emerson Hauser refusing Dr. Beauregard’s suggestion that he read to the comatose Dr. Lucy Banerjee/Sengupta. Without saying it, Sam Neill’s face conveyed Hauser’s distaste for that “New Age touchy-feely crap,” a common sentiment in grouchy old men everywhere.

This week’s inmate started his killing spree in one of San Francisco’s thumping clubs, where he was working as bartender, (It was a nice visual change of pace — I hope we see more of the variety of SF life in upcoming episodes. A Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory massacre, perhaps?)

A gaggle of impolite bros informed the inmate-bartender (who we later learned was named Johnny McKee) that their buddy had just got engaged, therefore they needed to get him drunk and laid. McKee responded with an oblique Jules Verne quote — as so many former convicts and bartenders are wont to do — but the bro was having none of it.

“What a loser!” he cried out as he returned to the table, at which point we knew this guy was somehow going to die, and also that we shouldn’t feel too terribly bad about it, since he was rude and pro-cheating anyway.

Sure enough, Mr. McKee smashed some yellow berries into their drinks. Seconds after they gulped them down, every dude at the table was retching, collapsing, and, well, dying. Moral of the story: When someone quotes Jules Verne to you in a public setting, just nod politely.

Doc Soto — who was up late playing some sort of online game that I imagine Leeroy Jenkins might enjoy — saw a viral video of the club massacre and knew McKee was behind it when he caught a glimpse of the former Alcatraz inmate in the clip. 1) Sharp eye, Soto! 2) There are viral videos of snuff? Gross.

As Soto, Hauser and Madsen dug into his case, we learned that McKee taught chemistry at a junior college until he was thrown in the slammer. His final mass-killing (until now) was at his 15-year high school reunion, where he put fatal chemicals in the sprinklers and turned them on, claiming “justifiable homicide” in court since the football team had bullied him in high school. That — coupled with the earlier scene at the bar — made it clear that McKee kills in response to what he sees as oppressive behavior.

In a flashback to Alcatraz in the ‘60s, Cullen — one of the top dogs behind bars — asked McKee to poison the prison’s librarian for a rather inconsequential reason. When McKee demurred, Cullen implied that refusing his request would prove fatal. Smiling to himself, McKee observed that, “Every schoolyard has its bully.” Cullen clearly didn’t know that you’re supposed to be nice to the local poison expert, (the local Poison expert, however, is another matter entirely. Don’t worry about insulting that guy).

NEXT: McKee’s ‘death pool’ and the return of Jack Sylvane