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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Alcatraz - Cal Sweeney

Four down, 300-ish to go. This week’s criminal is Cal Sweeney, a bank robber who seduces tellers in order to get to safe deposit boxes. Rebecca, who are you calling average-looking? Those tellers were above average looking. Have you seen normal American women? They are about 40 pounds heavier at that age. Rebecca and Doctor Diego Soto track Cal to the next bank he is going to hit and arrive too late. Cal has accidentally triggered an alarm and was forced to take the entire bank hostage.

Rebecca sneaks into the bank via air vents and convinces Cal that she’s there to rescue him, presumably for these bosses or whatever forces brought the Alcatraz criminals to our time in the first place. Cal and Rebecca escape and jump into her cop car. Cal shows Rebecca a little black bag that he went into the bank to get. He doesn’t know what it is or why it is needed and he feels like he isn’t supposed to open the bag and see what’s inside. This shows us that Cal is operating under orders.

Rebecca maneuvers her car so that Cal is knocked out because he isn’t wearing a seatbelt (because it wasn't a law back in the 60s). This is EXACTLY what Ern’s dad told her to do if a bad guy ever got in her car and told her to drive. Ern’s dad assumes that no criminals would be smart enough to put on their seatbelts. After seeing this episode, they probably will be. That was a cheesy line Rebecca delivered right before spinning the car to a stop. We got it when Rebecca looked at the empty seatbelt buckle, thanks.

Rebecca opened the baggy and found another one of those gold keys. She turns it over to Hauser, but Hauser doesn’t tell Rebecca and Doc what the keys are for. Hauser takes the key to Neo-Alcatraz to be studied by his scientists, who are still trying to figure out how the prisoners arrived, where they have been, and who is orchestrating this whole debacle.

Of course, in the flashbacks we got a little of Cal’s story. He ran the black market in Alcatraz, just like Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Redemption. Cal has a young assistant named Harlan who he warns against showing weakness. Deputy Tiller wants a cut of Cal’s operation, and when Cal refuses, Cal’s cell is tossed and a personal item is taken. It’s a tin box and Cal really wants it back. Cal conspires to get Tiller alone so that they can make a deal without Cal showing the other prisoners that he caved to Tiller to get the box back.

Alone in a bathroom at Tiller’s birthday dinner, Cal demands his box after striking a bargain. Tiller says he doesn’t have it, so Cal tries to drown Tiller in a toilet. The swirly wasn’t enough to stop Tiller from stabbing Cal in the upper thigh with a pen and leaving him, bleeding, on the bathroom floor. Cal was sentenced to 30 days in the hole. Just before Cal is taken to the hole, Harlan returns Cal’s box to him. It was Harlan who stole it because Cal showed Harlan his weakness. The box was the only thing left to Cal from his childhood home that burned when he was ten (and his family along with that home). With Cal out of the way and all the information about the operation in Harlan’s head, Harlan is free to take over the project. Cal is upset and smashes the tin box, his only weakness.

Warden James and a mysterious someone are impressed with Harlan’s scheming, so the warden takes Harlan to a dank, dark place that seems to be on the lower levels of Alcatraz. Down there, the warden uses three keys (the same mysterious keys Hauser now has) to open a large, metal door. Harlan is to be introduced to someone inside that door. Roll credits.

Cal killed a few people with one of those cattle guns that Javier Bardem carried around in No Country for Old Men, so this episode was more violent than previous installments. We didn’t mind. We like when shows like this get a little violent, because that brings some darkness that ushers out campiness. We want serious J.J. Abrams shows. We like that each episode brings us some hint of the larger story and answers to come. We are still digging this show. It has a definite formula and isn't turning out to be the most original show on earth, but it's fun, and we are still interested.

Episode grade: B


  1. Concur. Good, but not great...yet. Finding a true LOST replacement is now my grail quest. Funny about the stabbing with the pen thing; that is exactly what I would have done had I been attacked by an inmate. Always had my Cross at the ready.

    1. Yeah, this isn't even in LOST territory. We kind of like that it's not trying to be LOST (like The Event) because it just knows it has no chance. It's trying to be its own procedural thing.

      We would have stabbed the criminal in the face. That's more of a sure-thing. The leg? He could have fought through that if he wasn't such a wussie.

    2. not face. eye. Well, that's face too.