ALCATRAZ Recap: Cal Sweeney* (ep.4)

By Ruthie
*no relation to anyone on staff. Probably.

Here we are again, all dressed up and ready to roll. I don’t know about y’all, but after last week’s creep fest, I am really ready for a good wholesome bank robber.
"Fifty year old Altoids? What kind of clue is that?"

We start out in a generic bank, where a dapper fella in a snazzy suit strolls in with a briefcase and requests to visit his safety deposit box. The teller, a pretty 40-something, escorts him back. Once they’re alone in the back, the make-outs begin. Oh ho ho, you young kids and your crazy bank-smooching fetishes! As soon as she assures him the cameras are turned off, he spins her around, slips a syringe from his pocket, stabs her, and dumps her drugged body in a corner. His briefcase turns out to contain a captive bolt gun, a device you might remember as Javier Bardem’s weapon of choice in “No Country for Old Men.” He cleverly uses it to pop the locks out of the boxes—pumf! pumf! pumf!—and starts stuffing his briefcase with 6 boxes worth of wills, deeds, and papers. He seems delighted to discover a pretty platinum and sapphire pendant. “What’s your story?” he asks it. Speaking as an aficionada of the sapphire, I too would like to get to know that particular sparkly rock better; perhaps even take it out for drinks where the sapphire and I would have a lively chat, followed by a long walk of a romantic nature before slipping it around my neck and… but I digress.

The bank manager interrupts the robbery, and for a brief moment, it seems like he might just walk in and back out again without incident. Unfortunately, he spots the sedated teller, and the robber is on him with the cattle bolt. “Please! I have a family!” he pleads, and the scene has already begun to wipe to Alcatraz when we hear the subtle “pumf!” of the gun. That's some nice cinematography.

On the Rock in 1960, Cal Sweeney is busy teaching a young man how he uses his prison laundry job to smuggle contraband to his fellow inmates. The protégé looks like someone spliced together Matt Damon and Taylor Lautner, sort of vaguely handsome with an eager expression. When a customer asks for credit, Sweeney agrees on the condition that the price will triple. Sweeney uses this as a teaching moment to explain to the protégé that if he isn’t utterly emotionless and uncaring, he’ll be perceived as weak. No soft spots, he says. The kid assures Sweeney he has committed this lesson to memory. A guard comes up and lets Sweeney know Tiller is tossing his cell, and Sweeney rushes back, discovers something missing, and demands to speak to Tiller.

In an Asian restaurant, Madsen and Doc are having buns for breakfast. (Side note: I adore those little meaty buns, and I haven’t had a good one since I moved back from Japan. Just not the sort of thing you can find on every street corner in North Texas.) Their meal is interrupted by the news that someone robbed the safety deposit boxes at the bank, leaving the vault alone. Doc recognizes the M.O. of Cal Sweeney. (Our own Bill Sweeney claims there is no relation. A likely story.) Doc explains that going after just the boxes is smart because it means the robbery isn’t a Federal crime, and therefore, the FBI stays out of it.

They interview the teller, who explains how Sweeney romanced and conned her. He gave her a little mother of pearl butterfly pin that she hands over. They decide to talk to the owners of the boxes to get a list of lost items; just as they say this, Sweeney rings a doorbell and identifies himself to the owner as a representative of the bank, here to begin filling out insurance paperwork for the lost items in the box.

At the kitchen table, Sweeney questions the owner about the pretty sapphire necklace, and his questions rapidly become personal. When Sweeney pulls the stolen pendant from his inner pocket, the owner smells a rat. He jumps up and ends up with a bolt gun through his hand. Eeew, that was a bloody special effect. Sweeney says that he wants the story of why the necklace is important and that the man will begin with how he met his wife.

Back on the rock, Sweeney interrupts Tiller’s shave and demands the return of a metal box from his cell. Tiller demands a piece of Sweeney’s operation. Sweeney refuses and tells Tiller that Alcatraz needs his operation. Afterward, Sweeney does a lot of macho posturing about how he can’t back down from Tiller or he'll lose face, and his protégé tells him that the warden is having a party for Tiller’s birthday. The protégé can arrange to get Sweeney assigned as a steward.
At the pendant owner’s house, a woman with vibrant red hair lets the Dynamic Duo in, and they discover the man dead with a hole in his head and hand. Sweeney, meanwhile, is headed into another bank.

In 1960, the prisoners are looking smart in white tuxes at E.B. Tiller’s birthday party. The observant will immediately note that Lucy is among our honored guests this evening. Tiller arrives with a woman Sweeney identifies as Tiller’s "gimp" sister. The warden greets her as Jeri, and she jokes about wanting to wear her birthday suit in honor of the birthday but Tiller is such a prude. My husband declares, “I love that woman. Let’s have more of her!”

At the table, the warden introduces Dr. Beauregard to Dr. Lucille Simgupta, and he is obnoxious and condescending. It’s clear that she likes Dr. Dracula almost as much as I do, which is to say, almost as much as I enjoy finding a cockroach in my cupcakes. She explains her theory that violent and criminal behavior stems from traumatic memories, and she believes that by eliminating those memories and replacing them with soothing ones, the behavior can be changed. She’s apparently had some success at this with rats. The protégé is displeased to hear that they might be after his memories next.

Back in the Batcave, Doc and Madsen wonder at the fact that Sweeney’s sole possession was a burned, crushed tin box. They show Hauser that another deposit box owner robbed by Sweeney had also been killed with the bolt gun; this is new for Sweeney, who was just a robber in the 50s and not a killer. Since the only connection is the tellers who he uses to get in, they study the tellers in security footage and discover that he sent flowers to both robbed banks. At the flower shop, the helpful florist recognizes Sweeney, gives them a list of his orders, and flirts with Doc. They identify the next bank from the list of deliveries.

They’d better hurry, because Sweeney is already in the back room with the redheaded teller and make-outs are imminent. He’s already slipped the sapphire necklace around her neck, but she sees the syringe coming before he stabs her. She runs and triggers the alarm, but he catches her and smashes her head into the wall. He finds and presumably robs a box, but the alarm means the bank is on lockdown. He beats up a guard and steals his gun, but the police have already arrived and there's no escape. He takes everyone hostage. Madsen and Doc arrive just in time to see him threatening hostages.

Well, that’s a problem....

Back at Tiller’s birthday party, the Warden makes an awkward toast and presents Tiller with a fountain pen. The protégé spills coffee in E.B.’s lap; while Tiller slips to the restroom to clean up and Sweeney follows, the sister propositions the protégé. (“Yep,” my husband declares, “she’s my new favorite character.”) In the loo, Tiller demands a 50% cut of Sweeney’s operation, but still refuses to return the box. Sweeney attacks him and tries to drown Tiller in the toilet; Tiller stabs him in the leg with his newly acquired fountain pen. Best fight ever. He leaves Sweeney bleeding and swearing on the bathroom floor with the promise of 30 days in the hole starting in the morning.

Since it wouldn’t do to let the SFPD catch a prisoner who supposedly died in the 60s, Hauser distracts the officials by throwing his weight around and demanding jurisdiction. Madsen sneaks in through an air shaft the bank shares with the building next door. Sweeney interrogates the semi-conscious teller about a hidden exit, and when she tells him there is none, he’s about to shoot her in the chest, right through the sapphire pendant (NOOOO!). Luckily, Madsen arrives just in time—not to negotiate, but to bust him out. He agrees, probably because he’s desperate.
"Well, this is another fine mess you've gotten us into, Hauser."

Minutes later, the sound of shots prompt the police to throw smoke grenades and move into the bank. Madsen and a black-clad SWAT officer casually walk out and steal a police cruiser; Doc and Hauser follow in Madsen’s mustang. Doc is not very good at tailing (or driving); he says the last time he drove a car was when he was 11. Sweeney spots the tail of course, and Madsen loses them.
Back on Alcatraz the day after Tiller’s birthday, Sweeney is bemoaning ending up in the hole when the protégé strikes up a conversation. The protégé slides a burnt tin box over to Sweeney’s cell, gloating about how he knew it was the only thing Sweeney had left from the fire that claimed his family and his entire childhood. The protégé set him up. Cal asks why, and the protégé grins that after Sweeney does 30 days in the hole, he will have completely taken over his entire operation. Sweeney, in a fit of pique, crushes his tin box.

In the police cruiser, Madsen asks Sweeney what he took, and he produces a little black bag, which the astute among you will immediately recognize as identical to the one Jack Sylvane took. He tells her he’s “not supposed to” open it. At this point, Madsen notes that Sweeney isn’t wearing his seat belt, and she crashes the car, smashing his head into the window. She cuffs and disarms him, retrieving the bag.
"This Magic Key... unlocks my love. Destroy it."

Back in the Batcave, Doc adds Sweeney’s photo to Kit Nelson, Ernest Cobb, and Jack Sylvane on a wall of captured 63s. Madsen shows him the black bag and the key (yep, just like Jack’s). Hauser retrieves the key, promising to tell Madsen what it’s for, but reneges and doesn’t tell them. He takes the key through to another room, this one apparently the den of the scientists we saw very briefly in Ernest Cobb’s episode.

They compare the key to Sylvane’s, hoping it will help them figure out how the prisoners jumped. The biggest anomaly is that the keys are laser cut, something that didn’t exist when the prison was open. Hauser orders them to figure out what on the island these keys open.
Back on Alcatraz in the 1960s, the Warden is escorting the protégé through a dark tunnel. It seems to be underground; there is the sound of dripping water and it looks older than most of the prison tunnels. The Warden tells the protégé that he’s caught the eye of a certain underground resident who wants to meet him. At a heavy iron door, the warden inserts two keys (looking just like Jack Sylvane’s and Cal Sweeney’s) into locks, which opens a third lock, and the third key opens the door. The protégé wears a look of terror, but the warden assures him that his future just got a lot brighter and shoves him in.

So… that both answers some questions and raises more. What is that thing under Alcatraz? How did it make the protégé’s future brighter? Was Lucy playing with prisoners’ memories? How? What do you think? Talk to me in the comments. Seriously, people, talk to me. I get lonely. Remember to check us out on Facebook, and come back next week for our next exciting installment.

Until then, I’ll be here… watching TV so you don’t have to.

1 comment:

  1. Great recap! I was wondering about the weird incident in the flower shop - it seemed like there was more there than they let on. Am I alone on that? Loved how you thought protege resembled Matt Damon as well - I thought I was the only one. Take a look over on our site for my take on the episode. There's some potential in these past few epsiodes, but not enough to keep me going.

    And seriously, your captions are absolutely hilarious.