‘Alcatraz’ 1.11 Recap: “Listen to That Little Fella Fiddle”

We’re coming up quickly on the ‘Alcatraz’ season (possibly series?) finale. As I understand, the show’s ratings aren’t so hot. Let’s hope that the producers offer at least some answers to the big mystery in next week’s two-hour closer. In the meantime, this week brought us one of the better episodes of the season.

‘Webb Porter’ (Rami Malek from ‘The Pacific’ and Season 8 of ’24’) is a musical savant, but also pretty crazy. Ever since boyhood, when his mother tried to drown him in a bathtub, Webb has suffered serious bouts of Tinnitus that (since he lacks the ability to understand his condition) have driven him insane. He committed a series of murders in which he drowned girls who reminded him of his mother. In prison, the ringing in his ears caused him to scream all night, which made him very unpopular with the other prisoners. The warden had to secure him in an isolation ward, until Dr. Sangupta managed to get through to the man with musical therapy. By learning to play the violin, he also learned how to tame the ringing he hears.

However, now that he’s back, Porter picks up his murder spree where he left off. This time, he kidnaps girls with long hair and uses their hair to string his violin bow. When he uses the hair up, off to the tub the girl goes. He also takes out his frustration on one of the girls when he blows an audition for the Philharmonic because, although he can play beautifully, he never learned how to read music. (I’m pretty sure it’s called the San Francisco Symphony, not the Philharmonic. I assume that’s an intentional fictionalization.)

Hauser has a special interest in capturing this convict, because his blood type matches Lucy’s. He’s still hopeful that a transfusion of the magical ’63 blood will bring her out of the coma. He and Rebecca hunt Porter down to the empty Philharmonic stage after hours. Porter climbs to the rafters and attempts to jump to his death rather than be captured again, but Hauser grabs him and pulls him back up. Later, he has Dr. Beauregard pump the blood into Lucy, and the episode ends with her suddenly waking up.

In the midst of this, Doc finds some old home movie footage shot in the prison, and discovers that Lucy was also a ’63 (which he and Rebecca didn’t previously know).

In terms of plot, this is pretty standard stuff for the show. Yet something about it plays a little better than usual, perhaps due to director Jack Bender’s skillful use of music during the murder scenes. Maybe this isn’t the most innovative thing in the world, but it gives the episode an evocative, almost lyrical quality. Flashbacks to the young Hauser dating and falling in love with Lucy also provide an emotional connection with this otherwise cold character.

1 comment

  1. Bob

    Alcatraz is devolving into a series of gruesome killer sequences with little sci-fi content to fill in the gaps. The plots are sometimes almost impossible to follow, and all the killing in between just turns me off. Serial killers, snipers, bombers, cattle bolt killing guns – it’s just too much gore and not much sense. Not to mention what science there is, is the super-pseudo (unbelievable) variety. Maybe the last episode can turn this series around – I don’t really care (well actually, I’d like to see it go away).

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