Alcatraz “The Ames Bros./Sunny Burnett” Review

After last week’s episode was bogarted by the Daytona 500, Alcatraz returned this week with a double feature! Even though FOX marketed tonight’s installments as a two-hour event, both “The Ames Bros.” and “Sunny Burnett” felt like very different episodes.

“The Ames Brothers” was our first case that actually involved two escaped inmates, and in this case they were, obviously, brothers. At first it looked like Pinky and Herman were going to do the whole “Strong and silent/small and loud” odd couple deal, but then it turned out that Pinky was just the strong one and Herman was just annoying. Although they may not have been the most dynamic duo, I did appreciate how incredibly violent they were. Not only did we see Pinky beat some poor guy to death with some bolt cutters, but then back in the 1960s we saw one of the most violent scenes we’ve ever seen on this show. Some dude got his freaking pinky cut off by a meat slicer! I didn’t know you could show blood splattering on somebody’s face like that on network TV! That was intense!

Not quite as intense was the story involving the Ames’ Brothers back in 2012. One of the best parts of this show has always been seeing the most dangerous criminals escape and try to blend in in the modern day, but these two guys never even left The Rock! I know that their objective was beneath Alcatraz and all, but it really made for an episode that didn’t feel anything like the first half of the season. Oh, and death by a falling bed? Lame.

I’m not saying I’m totally against Alcatraz doing something different, but when it comes at the sake of sacrificing entertainment value then it bothers me. I usually applaud shows for breaking from the norm, but this time it did not fly with me.

The second half of our Alcatraz event was “Sunny Burnett”, which was a great return to form! The Alcatraz writers have done a great job of diversifying the offenses that the escaped inmates were originally incarcerated for. Tonight’s escapee used to be a kidnapper, and now he’s back to get revenge on the girl who was 14 when he kidnapped her before. Sunny was probably the creepiest inmate we’ve seen thus far. His creepy, big-teethed smile when he was telling Helen that her husband was cut into pieces was one of the most bone chilling moments we’ve seen on this show. Pretty funny that he was more menacing and intimidating than both of the Ames Brothers combined.

While this episode didn’t have the same amount of mythology development as the previous hour, it sure was a lot more interesting. Seeing Sunny Burnett slowly transform from a mild-mannered runt on the playground to a muscle-bound playground bully was some of the best character development we’ve seen on this show thus far. Even more note-worthy was all of the politics between E.B. Tiller and the Warden, both of whom seem to be grooming certain inmates for their own means. Definitely a great episode, and it completely made up for the shortcomings I felt with the Ames Brothers.

With FOX canceling Terra Nova earlier today, it looks like Alcatraz’s odds of renewal are looking better and better. With intriguing and involving mysteries, I’m interested to see where this goes with a second season.

Random Thoughts:

– I really liked the point-of-view camera angles when Soto was being interrogated by the Ames Brothers. It’s one thing to see a character get a gun pointed at their face, but it’s another entirely when it’s like the gun is pointing at you.

– It seems like they’re just making the warden feel more and more like Warden Norton from Shawshawnk Redemption. Since when has he been super religious? Is this a new personality trait of his, or is it just the first I’ve noticed of it?

– The guy in charge of the “Squelch” sound effect was working overtime tonight. Pinky crushing the dude’s face with the bolt cutter, Sunny getting stabbed, the cop getting shot in the head. There was all kinds of violence going on tonight!

– Are you allowed to deny service to somebody at a hardware store based on creepiness alone? If it looks like somebody is building a coffin, I’d just start giving him bad advice.