Recap: Alcatraz 1×06 – Paxton Petty

We open in 1960, with a young Emerson Hauser puking over the side of the transfer boat that he and a few fellow officers are using to make a late-night delivery of one Paxton Petty (James Pizzinato) to the major authorities at Alcatraz: The Warden, Dr. Beauregard, and Dr. Lucille Sengupta (a surprising lack of Deputy Warden Tiller in this episode). Even though Young Hauser seems pretty innocent, I think he has a much greater part to play in the rest of the mystery. Even then, I think he wound up having a little bit more knowledge than he seemed. Otherwise, how would he know so much, fifty years later? Studying a shocking sort-of-time-travel disappearance doesn’t generally lead to as much knowledge as Present Hauser has, although he’s clearly assembled some sort of team.  Anyway, back to the plot. After Hauser throws up and is clearly stunned by the sight of Lucille, she gives him a peppermint for nerves, and the basis of their romantic relationship is revealed.

The trio arrive to a park where some landmines went off, and after recounting their memories, Hauser and Soto say “Paxton Petty” in unison. Before he was caught, Petty was a Marine in 1952, taking part in the Chosin Reservoir battle in 1950. Despite clearing frozen minefields alone and while under fire, he did not receive a Silver Star. He realized that children were being used to plant landmines, and went to the village of Wonju and planted landmines where the children played, intentionally killing many. Due to this, he was court martialed and reassigned to the Presidio graveyard. After being tried and convicted, he served five years in military prison, where he was repeatedly denied requests for his Silver Star. When he returned to San Francisco in 1960, he started planting landmines in the city: Beard Field (6 March 1960), Grace Cathedral (15 March 1960), Union Square Snow Festival (20 February 1960).

However, it’s revealed, via Tommy Madsen, no less, that the locations of the bombs sync up with song lyrics, much like the Korean children used to do with theirs. When Hauser returns to the artifacts archive of Alcatraz, he pulls out not only an adorable picture of he and Lucy, but a copy of a song with circled words that are the same as the bombing locations. Unfortunately, we see that there’s one last location that was never found – and therefore, never neutralized. It’s up to our trio to figure out the meaning behind “twin tree,” and Hauser inputs the lyric into his Batcave computer system only to discover that there’s a second verse. Now, we realize, this is where Petty got the location for his first bomb, and not only do they not know the “twin tree” location after fifty years, but now they have three more potential landmine locations to worry about.

However, due to the combination of Soto’s iPad skills and Hauser’s computer system, they figure out the next probable location: Windward Elementary. When they show up, though, no landmines have been planted. However, Hauser has another location in mind: Sunset Beach. When he shows up, he sneaks up on Petty burying landmines, as suspected. His plan goes awry, though, when he accidentally trips an already-planted mine, while Petty takes his gun and phone and leaves him to explode.

Petty’s next move, though, is indeed Windward Elementary, where Rebecca and Soto catch him and take him back to his original cell in Alcatraz – because where else would take someone who technically can’t exist like this? He tells them about Hauser and the landmine, and when Rebecca goes to the Batcave to look at Hauser’s notes, she realizes Petty was his case – and is, once again, the last to know the crucial piece about the lyrics being the clue to the landmine locations. Meanwhile, Soto stayed to chat with Petty, who mentions “the lady headshrink,” which causes Soto to pause – because there were no women on staff at Alcatraz.

They find Hauser, and Rebecca’s bomb squad friend Tanner digs him out of the problem and thinks he’s neutralized the mine – until it detonates and that’s the end for him. I was really sad, but when one of his first lines was about not having even used half of his nine lives, I knew he was a goner. Disappointing, since he was a fun character. Furious at Petty’s apathy over this death, Hauser shoots him in the knee and bluffs his way into finding out that the “twin tree” location is on Mount Sutro, which was bought by the state and hasn’t been used since Petty planted the mines.

Still on a rampage and out of patience for modern medicine, Hauser kidnaps Lucy from the hospital and brings her to Dr. Beauregard, who looks stunned. Hauser ask-states that Dr. B knows Lucy’s methods, and tells him to “fix her.”

Something I’ve neglected in the above recap, though, is the presence of Dr. Lucille Sengupta, Certified HBIC. She’s made it clear in the past few episodes that she doesn’t approve of Dr. Beauregard’s methods, especially the water torture, and I have to admit I was as skeptical as Dr. B when she said she wanted to “put him back together.” To quote Dr. B, “a prescription straight from the pad of Mother Goose,” indeed.

However, we quickly learn that Dr. Sengupta is more than meets the eye, as she straps Petty into the chair and delivers him quite a shock, literally. That combined with the mild anesthetic in his tea led him to open up, humming the Korean lullaby that Tommy Madsen later decoded for us. Further on that, we learn that she isn’t above making deals with inmates, as she got Madsen to explain the lullaby in exchange for finding out why Dr. B is always drawing his blood. Even though she got reprimanded for going too far with that one, she still obviously isn’t afraid to do what she needs to do to get what she wants.

Clearly, she has more brains than most of the rest of the staff combined, and I’m pretty sure one of the big twists this season is going to be that she had more a hand in the disappearance than we could have ever imagined. After all, there’s no mention of her in any Alcatraz history. It’s about to get real up in here, and I suspect she’s right at the heart of it.

Questions of the Week:
  • Why did Hauser leave all of his stuff in the trunk? He obviously isn’t hiding his identity from anyone, so there’s no need to leave it all there. Wouldn’t he want to hang onto those pictures of Lucy?
  • What’s going to happen with Lucy? Although she and Dr. B had their differences, it’s clear that the doctor respects her and fears Hauser enough that he’s going to bring her back.
  • Speaking of Dr. B being afraid of Hauser – why is that? He seems pretty disrespectful to everyone else he worked for, so what happened this time?
  • Clearly none of the inmates have any idea what happened to them. Petty said he was asleep, and then he woke up inside the mausoleum. How is that possible? Where did everyone else wake up?
  • And back to the initial mystery and the idea that Lucy knew what was going to happen – why were the wardens not on the island when everyone disappeared? They made it to 2011 just fine, which means they weren’t present when everyone else disappeared. Have their lives been relatively normal until now? Why don’t they care what happened – was the cover-up of a transfer their idea? Why is Hauser the only one obsessed with finding answers, and why haven’t they been working together? Though, I’d imagine that if I were the wardens, I would be afraid of men I’d abused coming back, too.

We didn’t make much headway on the overall mystery this week, although I will say I was really pleased to get a Valentine’s-themed episode that was a subtle nod to the holiday, and not in a comedic way. The major subplot in this episode was revealing more about the relationship between Hauser and Lucy. I can’t say how great it was to have some understanding of their relationship. I think they’re really the best, and it would appear they’ve only had a short time together between her return and when Cobb shot her, so I hate that she’s in a coma instead of working through the problems that losing fifty years of a relationship would bring. I hope Dr. B can bring her back by the next episode so we can gain some headway on all of the mysteries – I think Lucy knows a whole lot more than anyone else, and I suspect she may have had something to do with the original disappearance. Especially since there is no record of her existence in the Alcatraz files – if anything ever sounded suspicious, it’s that.

What I appreciate most about Alcatraz is that it is the master of the slow burn. Yes, outrageous things are constantly happening, but we’re no closer to really understanding how these inmates and guards came back than we were before the show aired. Someone (or multiple someones) is behind this, but we don’t know and I’m pretty sure Hauser doesn’t know, either. If Lucy does, though, that’s a pretty big secret to have kept from her boyfriend, who she is now helping investigate the disappearances. Something tells me their relationship now isn’t just about lost love.
What did you think? I’m pretty sure this show is about to become unstoppable, but it’s so mysterious that I can’t figure out how. Any theories?

About Bailey

I'm a writer and a feminist. I read a lot of books and I watch a lot of television.

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