Alcatraz: 103 “Kit Nelson” Review
“Kit Nelson” (Season 1, Episode 3)
WARNING – FULL SPOILERS
This week’s installment of Alcatraz was a great self-contained story about the hunt for a ruthless child murderer, Kit Nelson. Much like the second episode of last week’s premiere, “Ernest Cobb”, this edition had strong character development as well as an intriguing plot with well-integrated flashbacks. It also raised another bunch of questions we’ll have to wait a while to find out the answers for. Primarily, what happened to Soto when he was 11 years old?
The story this week was very strong overall which is such a relief after a very up and down double-bill opener. What I liked most about this episode was how well the flash backs were used to develop Nelson’s character in the present day. At first watching him getting beat up in the prison yard (which left him looking more like an extra from The Walking Dead than a victim of a pounding) created some sympathy. It looked as if the story was going to follow the path that he’d been framed or falsely imprisoned and this episode was going to explore why that was. Instead though the more we saw of the character in the flashbacks the darker he became. The scene where he denies killing his brother to his father, followed by the Shutter Island esk match-lit interrogation by the warden, were both well performed and enormously engaging.
Another thing that improved the show this week was that the story wasn’t over complicated, giving us more time to get to know the main protagonists. Marsden for me is still a bit cold but she is definitely starting to open up. Hauser didn’t appear as often as I’d like however when he did he brought with him a lot of drama and mystery, which Neill displays effortlessly. This week it was all about the big man, Soto. After watching the first two episodes I feared Garcia’s character would become just another Hurley, thankfully though Soto has broken the mould.
Soto demonstrated that he isn’t comfortable in the situations he is put in by the people around him. He isn’t a cop; he doesn’t know how to stall a suspect while waiting for back up or handle the level of intense emotion that the investigation creates. Instead what he brings to the table is an unsurpassed level of knowledge about Alcatraz and a keen eye for detail. Garcia really steps up in this episode and is making Soto his own, the more we learn of his character the better the contrast is between him and Marsden. How they interact with each other is key to making this show work and it really feels like these two characters are beginning to grow together.
Cherry pies, fishing and a trip to the movies – Nelson’s actions were as detailed as they were disturbing. The B movie they were watching must have been around when Nelson was convicted because it looked fresh out of the late 50’s, whether that was intentional or not I’m not sure. Nelson meticulousness echoed the likes of the Trinity killer from Dexter, predominantly the scene where they are hiding in the bomb shelter. I did chuckle at this scene – having a hatch to an underground bunker in the middle of a forest, sound familiar to all you J.J. Abrams’ fans?
The finale played out well, although it was very cliché for Hauser to turn up right at the end to take the shot at Nelson but it didn’t take too much away from a good ending. What I really thought was interesting was that Hauser killed him. Having to catch 302 escapees alive would have been a challenge when they’re out causing chaos so it was great to see that the show isn’t going to always end with a clean arrest. Hopefully in future episodes we’ll see either some get away, possibly to return, or even a couple of escapees collaborate together. This all depend on the explanations behind what’s happening, are they being released one by one? If so, why?
What was also revealing about the flashbacks this week was that the man behind the curtain was Marsden’s granddad. An intriguing theory into what may be going on could involve him and the large amount of blood that he’s been drained of. Some fans of the show have suggested cloning as a possible explanation, if so this scene would support it and also why Hauser was happy to shoot Nelson. Even more fascinating is that he mentioned to the Alcatraz doctor, also in the future, “I may need your help with something, depending on how things go, it’s a great friend of mine” to the doc’s response “armed and ready sir”. Hmmm, yet more questions to keep us occupied until next week.
One thing I forgot to mention in last week’s review was that the title sequence is ace. It’s modern in it’s appearance yet with Neill’s voiceover it feels nostalgic, what’s even better is that it’s perfect for a bit of parody from the likes of Family Guy.
Overall, this episode was well executed and it was brilliant to see some character development this early on. It’s definitely on the right path now to becoming a great show, more episodes like this will help it get there sooner rather than later.
Scene of the Episode – The diner scene was fantastic, Soto really showed some character trying to stall Nelson from leaving the restaurant. It really sent home the message that he is not a super-cop like Marsden and in this kind of situation he’s just like any other average person. Seeing him throw the plate on the floor and then ask; “hey…err…what are you guys up to?” was brilliant. I’m so glad Soto was presented in this way because it emphasised the difference between himself and Marsden.
Reviewed by Rich Jepson, cult TV enthusiast and author of 24: Terrorism Through Television.