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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Alcatraz: “Paxton Petty”

Illustration for article titled iAlcatraz/i: “Paxton Petty”
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Ever since the end of Alcatraz’s second episode, Dr. Lucy Banerjee—played by the lovely Parminder Nagra—has been lying in forced repose, stuck in a coma as a result of injuries incurred from being shot by Ernest Cobb. Thanks to the beauty of flashbacks, however, her condition hasn’t kept us from learning a little more about her with each passing week… which is to say that, although she’s yet to suddenly regain consciousness in the present, we are at least getting the chance to see her in action on Alcatraz in 1960.

And, hey, what a coincidence: That’s exactly where and when this week’s episode kicks off. Poor Hauser’s battling a nasty case of nausea (“Maybe the pirate life ain’t for you,” quips his partner), but his spirits rise at the sight of Lucy—sorry, make that Dr. Sangupta, since that’s apparently what she was calling herself back then—even in the presence of the loathsome Paxton Petty, a convict who’s earned international notoriety for having killed a bunch of kids in Korea under the misbegotten belief that he was serving his country.


Amazingly, Petty’s reputation has only gotten worse since returning home from the war, having gone around setting mines in public places… three so far, but there’s a fourth that’s yet to be discovered, and time, as one might reasonably expect in such a case, is a-wastin’. As Warden James and his uniformed associates begin to escort Petty away, Hauser’s hormones force him to ask awkwardly of Dr. Sangupta, “Does the lady need a ride back to the mainland?” The lady does not. She does, however, offer Hauser a peppermint to aid him in conquering his nausea, and after witnessing the gentle touch of her hand on his and the look and smile she offers him in addition to the peppermint, it’s clear that Hauser’s feelings for her are being reciprocated at least to a certain degree.

That’s why it’s so damned depressing to flash-forward to the present and find Hauser in Lucy’s hospital room, listening to “These Foolish Things” and learning that her consistent lack of improvement has reached a point where the letters of the day are D, N, and R. The look on his face could be seen as one of lost hope if we hadn’t already seen him chatting with Dr. Beauregard a few weeks ago about how he might need his help with something, “depending on how things turn.” By episode’s end, we learn that, as far as Hauser’s concerned, things have turned very badly, indeed.


Things get pretty graphic when Petty makes his present-day debut in Pine Street Park, blowing up several random pedestrians and dog walkers and—like so many bombers in the past—sticking around to see the aftereffects of his handiwork. Naturally, Soto can identify the responsible inmate without blinking an eye, but it’s momentarily surprising when Hauser echoes the identification, revealing that he has a personal history with this particular case. Apparently, he hasn’t reread the files recently, given that Madsen’s the one who spots Petty in the crowd and tries to take him in. And it would’ve worked, too, if it hadn’t been for that darned mine…

It’s not long after this that we meet Psycho, a flirty bomb-squad buddy of Madsen’s who never stands a chance to getting out of the episode alive (search your heart: you know this to be true of any character who claims to have nine lives but offers the caveat, “I haven’t burned through half of ’em yet”) as well as the only coroner in recorded history to be both smoking hot and in possession of a Golden-Age Sandman T-shirt. While I was half-hoping that Soto would question her right to wear such a shirt and demand that she either identify Sandman’s secret identify or take it off immediately, I can’t chastise the big lug for instead opting to try and flirt with her—albeit very, very poorly.


Okay, time to travel back to 1960, where we once again see the profoundly different methods of Drs. Beauregard and Sangupta. On this occasion, however, we see a slightly more chilling side of Dr. Sangupta, which is a bit of an ironic descriptor, given that Dr. Beauregard’s method for extracting information involves nearly drowning Petty in icy water. Still, “chilling” definitely describes the calm and collected manner she maintains as she proceeds to drug Petty’s tea and begin the slow, methodical process of preparing him for electroshock therapy. It doesn’t work, though: Even after administrating the designated voltage, he still won’t give up the location of the fourth mine. As a result, Sangupta decides to approach another inmate: Tommy Madsen,who agrees to help her only if she’ll promise to find out why they’re taking so much blood from him. She promises, of course, and there’s no question that she means it when she says it, but she hits a brick wall when she tries to get answers from Dr. Beauregard, who only snaps back, “A word of advice, my dear: don’t overstep.”

Meanwhile, back in the present, Petty’s got himself a great little hideout in a mausoleum and is working to bring a new plan to fruition by placing a mine directly below the slide on a playground—and, damn, that’s some cold-hearted shit—while Madsen and Soto realize that the shrapnel inside Petty’s bombs is actually pieces of Silver Star medals that he’s salvaged from the corpses of soldiers buried in the cemetery of the Presidio, which, come to think of it, is damned hardcore in its own right.


This, possibly not coincidentally, is also when things really start to get interesting.

First, we learn that Petty apparently “arrived” from 1960 in the mausoleum, which is, I believe, the first confirmation we’ve received that the 63s aren’t all just popping back onto Alcatraz. Then we watch Hauser literally stumble onto a land mine in pursuit of Petty, leaving him stuck where he is until Madsen can work out where he’s gone and figure out a way to save him. We also learn that there’s a major gaping hole in Soto’s already relatively flawed knowledge of Alcatraz history: He is utterly unaware of the existence of Dr. Sangupta. Lastly, after Psycho gets his ass blown to kingdom come, Hauser shoots Petty, first telling him, “You just killed a good man,” then adding, “And my legs hurt.” Hauser is also inspired to take Lucy off life support and haul her to Dr. Beauregard, where he simply says, “You know her methods. Fix her.”


Will he fix her? We shall see. Either way, though, Alcatraz is on a nice little roll.

Stray observations:

  • The banter between Dr. Beauregard and Sangupta is consistently priceless. (“Why don’t you hit him over the head with a sledgehammer?” “Oh, a prescription straight from the pad of Mother Goose herself!”) Here’s hoping we see more of it in the coming weeks.
  • “What’s next: crumpets?”
  • “I’m trying to picture a transparent suit. That’s pretty gross.”
  • “Don’t skulk out there like a common ferret, Doctor… ”

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