Alcatraz 1.10 Review: "Sonny Burnett"

By John Keegan and Henry Tran

alcatraz_iconThis episode felt like an attempt to distance the show from the largely self-contained nature of the previous episode with the Ames brothers. It did return to addressing the larger story arc, only to oddly take a step back from a solution that was obvious from the start. That indicates the show might not be willing to change its status quo and is still sidelining a character who might factor very much into the narrative. Of course, the show has so de-emphasized character development at this point that even if she were to somehow come back, there's little chance viewers would care about what happens to her and how she impacts everyone else on it.
Sonny Burnett's return to the present definitely feeds into the theory that the '63's presence in today's world enhances or ramps up the crimes they committed in the past. Burnett was known as a violent kidnapper, and does so (along with the murder of an unfortunate bystander with his target) with cold efficiency. Through the team's investigation of the matter, it's determined that Burnett is doing it as a form of vengeance on a former victim of his who betrayed him in the past. He would have had a couple more victims if Hauser and his team hadn't stopped him in time.

Burnett's crimes are so heinous that Madsen and Soto advocated the man's death. Hauser says otherwise, and reveals the reason why he is collecting all of these criminals: Their blood contains an element called colloidal silver, vital to keeping people alive, people like the currently unconscious Dr. Banerjee. The silver is also a convenient explanation for how the 63s enter the present day with little to no effect on their bodies. Only, at the end, Dr. Beauregard says the colloidal silver won't have any effect on Dr. Banerjee's body for some unknown reason.

110Alcatraz-ep110_sc8_069-550x380It's so strange for the writers to advocate a potential solution to a problem on the show, only to back off on that solution in the last minute. Dr. Banerjee/Sengupta has been largely absent for the bulk of this season that it makes little sense that she should remain silent and bed-bound. There remains no real explanation for how she survived to the present day without aging or whether it's true she was the first of the 63s to return.

The flashback to 1960 is interesting only for giving Sonny Burnett a little bit of a story arc. He came to the Rock as a potential victim for thugs like Hicks to prey on. He wasn't guaranteed protection so he built himself up to keep himself from being a victim. Assistant Warden Tiller encouraged this, suggesting perhaps that he knew what was going to happen to Burnett in the future. Indeed, the escalation of Burnett's actions suggests that something in the present day amplifies his violent tendencies, and that was tied to his desperate feelings to exact revenge on Helen for her betrayal.

Once again, it feels like a chore to make these kinds of connections with no real seen evidence onscreen. The show seems to have a passing interest in advancing whatever mythology it has (perhaps because it may be near death because of steadily declining viewership) so this bread crumb-like approach is unlikely to reverse that trend.

We're still dancing around the same interludes that involve Hauser, Detective Madsen, her grandfather, and uncle. Why is Tommy Madsen so important? What does that have to do with Detective Madsen joining Hauser's task force and not Ray? What does Ray know that Rebecca doesn't? These feel like questions that won't be answered in favor of continuing the (now admittedly) stale "Criminal of the Week" procedural elements. The show is running out of time to move somewhere beyond the parts where any person could put on an episode and figure out what the show is about.

John Keegan is the Editor-in-Chief for Critical Myth, a partner site of SciFi Vision. Henry Tran is Critical Myth's backup reviewer for Alcatraz.

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