TV Diary | Alcatraz: “Paxton Petty”
TV Diary | Alcatraz – Episode 1.06 – “Paxton Petty” – Original Airdate: 2/13/12
Episode Grade: B
Been a while since we talked about Alcatraz but I wanted to check in with some quick thoughts on “Paxton Petty.” While not a bad episode by any means, it was a clear step backwards from the series high that was “Guy Hastings,” but in some respects that helped “Paxton Petty.” By that, I mean that an episode such as this that came earlier may not have been tolerated as well as “Paxton Petty” was simply because of the goodwill that Alcatraz has been building with its audience of late. The plotline is pretty rote – Madsen and crew track a dangerous bomber creating havoc throughout the Bay Area in an episode that echoes some of the lesser Alcatraz outings like “Ernest Cobb” and “Kit Nelson” – and they eventually do subdue him as per usual, but the real meat of “Paxton Petty” is in the flashbacks that give us some more insight into Lucy’s past . Since Parminder Nagra has existed almost solely in flashback since episode two , Alcatraz hasn’t fleshed her character out much to this point but in “Paxton Petty” we learned that she and Hauser shared a mutual flirtation back in the 60s, that she wasn’t averse to using shock therapy or drugging her patients without their consent, and perhaps most importantly that she shared time with Tommy Madsen at The Rock  and would later openly question Dr. Beauregard as to why Madsen was so important only to be warned off of that line of questioning. Interestingly, Soto also made mention that to his knowledge, there were no female doctors at Alcatraz which raised the question of where exactly Lucy came from. Were she and Hauser an item in the present day and whatever process brought the inmates forward in time also is capable of taking people back in time as well? And what exactly is this mysterious procedure that Beauregard has at his disposal that causes Hauser to bring Lucy’s near-death body to him at the episode’s conclusion? While Alcatraz had trouble balancing its standalone story with its mythology this week, the mythology portion of the episode raised enough interesting questions to keep “Paxton Petty” from being a complete dud. Call it half a dud and hope for better next time.
 The “Previously On” montage prior to the episode was a clear hint that the episode was headed in this direction.
 Other than playing a vegetable in hospital scenes, that is.
 Where he wondered aloud why he always seemed to find himself in the infirmary and why his blood was constantly being taken.
*As I mentioned previously Paxton Petty, the inmate-of-the-week, was probably the least compelling prisoner since Kit Nelson. Boiled down to one sentence: former soldier who came home and decided he still liked to blow things up. Yawn. There was none of the internal strife that we saw in Cal Sweeney or even Guy Hastings. He was simply a paint-by-numbers villain and we’ve seen that Alcatraz can do better than that when it’s actually trying. Granted, that Madsen and Soto actually got the drop on Petty early in the episode only to lose him until later was a different shading than what we’ve seen in the past but it’s going to take more than that kind of twist alone to keep these self-contained stories interesting. The gore factor in “Paxton Petty” was amped up a little higher than usualy but it fit with the aftermath of a bombing, as did the effect where we “heard” things from Madsen’s perspective post-explosion. It was pretty obvious, though, from the minute Mehcad Brooks stepped on screen as a brash bomb expert/former colleague of Madsen’s that he was going to bite it by the end of the episode and sure enough.. he went boom after getting Hauser to safety when Hauser unwittingly stepped onto one of Petty’s landmines. Not the best standalone story that Alcatraz has told yet, but far from the worst at the same time.
*No Robert Forster again. Boo, Alcatraz. Boo.
*Potentially interesting theory of the week: Soto posits that someone is supplying the 63s with their arms. Who and why? This could possibly fit in with Petty’s revelation that he went to sleep a week ago only to wake up on the floor of a tomb in the Presidio. He also offers to tell Madsen and Soto whatever they want to know in exchange for informing him exactly what happened to him. Problem is, they’re in the dark as much as we are at this point.
*What was the deal with Sam Neill’s odd line readings in the scene where a doctor informs Hauser of Lucy’s dire prospects? Maybe he’s still getting a handle on the character but his performance – particularly in this scene – seemed more than a little odd to me.
*Struck me as kind of ironic that the “new guard” of psychiatric medicine back in the 60s was electroshock therapy. Egad.
*Looks like there could be a potential nerd love connection between Soto and the ME he and Madsen visit to try to glean some information on the bombing. Her comic book t-shirt could hold the key to Soto’s heart.
*Random observation: Alcatraz is threatening at times to become almost Lost-lite.
*”Dueling sawbones. Old school vs. the new guard.”
*”I gotta go back inside. I never wear the right clothes.”
*”You probably won’t want to move now.”
*”How about we just cut the cop-to-psychopath chitchat and you just tell me what you want.”
*”You said he’s a vet, right? Afghanistan? Maybe we crossed paths.” “I doubt it.”
*”Couple of things. You just killed a good man. And my legs hurt.”
*Episode embedded below via Hulu, as usual.