The prisoner eluding our heroes this week is Johnny McKee, a killer with a background in chemistry and a penchant for cyanide. He’s also got a strong revenge impulse when it comes to bullies. Kind of relatable for a lot of folks, but he’s not a nice person. (Yes goes without saying.)
Beauregard explains to Hauser that he’s tried everything known to be in Lucy’s toolkit. Nothing has worked so far, except her EEG is active. This means she’s dreaming. The only avenue open is for Hauser to read “The Carpetbaggers” to her, because the sound of his voice might draw her out. Lucy needs a reason to come back, and love is as good as any. Hauser sets the book down and storms out, refusing the plan.
We next focus on a bartender at a nightclub. A patron comes up to the bar and tells him that their friend just got engaged. It’s their job to get him laid, and the bartender’s job to get him drunk. The bartender quotes Jules Verne, and the patron gets in his face a bit. He tells the bartender to just make the drinks, and the bartender tells he’ll make a special drink. The patron goes away, and we see the bartender take what looks like olives out of a leather pouch. He begins to cut them, and we’re left wondering what’s going on.
McKee, the bartender, carts the special drinks over to the men. He stands there as they take a sip, and then walks away and folds his apron at the bar. He leaves as the women with the men shout for 911.
Doc Soto is playing a PC strategy game when a video of the nightclub death pops up on the screen. He frantically calls Madsen and explains the bad involved with Johnny McKee coming back. She calms him down, and says she’ll get in touch with Hauser.
Madsen meets Soto outside the nightclub. He hands her the file on McKee and explains the prisoner was shy and dorky. McKee taught chemistry at a junior college and then killed people in his spare time. Killed almost his entire high school class at their 15-year reunion by posing as a janitor and rigging the sprinklers with cyanide. Fun guy, huh?
Inside, Hauser says the cops are calling the deaths a drug overdose. Madsen talks to the owner of the club, who instantly recognizes McKee. He brings them out the application our prisoner filled out, and we get an address of 142 Broadway. Madsen and Soto head there to see if they can find McKee before he kills again.
At a hotel, McKee’s sitting on a couch next to man watching a video of the killings on his smartphone. He asks if that’s TV, and the man scoffs that it’s the Internet. Then McKee gets called in to interview for a pool boy position. He gets the job by saying chemistry was his favorite class when the interviewer asks if he can mix pool chemicals. Anyone else think is a terrible idea?
Madsen and Soto find 142 Broadway as a fake address painted on a gate. Then Soto figures out it was the address from 50 years ago. McKee sat in cell 142 in the Broadway section of the cellblock. His next door neighbor? Jack Sylvane. Back at the superbase, Madsen sees Hauser instantly take down the viral video of the nightclub deaths. She wants to talk to Sylvane, seeing as he might know something, and says if Hauser tells her the prison he’s in she can go see him. Hauser instead says he’ll bring her Sylvane. Yeah, I don’t think that’s going to work there Madsen.
Soto’s digging through McKee’s box of possessions when Madsen finds him. She asks about results from the tox screen, and Soto says he called her friend at the lab but she didn’t answer. Madsen tells him to go down there instead. We find out then McKee pleaded not guilty to killing his class by reason of justifiable homicide. The football team were bullies and deserved to die. Madsen finds a picture of Ginny, a woman with half her face burned, and a new theory emerges–McKee is taking revenge on the world for whoever burned that woman.
McKee sets towels out on the chairs, when a patron throws a wet towel in his face and demands a new one. McKee hands him one, and then goes into the room with the pool chemicals and pours something into the mixer. Looks like a nasty piece there. Bad feeling? Bad feeling.
McKee’s folding the towels at the edge of the chairs again. He walks away, and we see a bunch of floating dead men in the pool. I guess they all were bullies and deserved to die too. Remind me never to be mean to this guy. I don’t want to end up poisoned with whatever he’s using.
Madsen gets a chance to talk to Sylvane in one of the rooms of Alcatraz. She introduces herself, and immediately asks about McKee. Sylvane wants to know if he’ll be given back to Beauregard should he refuse to answer. Madsen asks who Beauregard is, but Hauser shuts that down.
Madsen slides a picture of Sylvane’s wife across the table, and first asks him how long he was in San Francisco before she caught him. A few days it turns out, and when he came back he was here in Alcatraz. They both want to know why and how he came back, but Hauser again tries steering things to McKee.
Sylvane explains how into science fiction McKee was. Madsen realizes this means Jules Verne, and Sylvane agrees. “The future is now” was apparently a favorite phrase of McKee’s.
Sylvane further explains McKee used to keep a jar of bugs in his room. He called it his “killing jar.” McKee would pull garden duty a lot so he could collect these white flowers with yellow seeds. He’d throw the seeds into a jar and watch the bugs die. Some sort of nightshade it seems. Hauser ends the interview, but as Sylvane stands up Madsen asks him about Tommy. Sylvane says Tommy spent a lot of time in the infirmary; they kept taking his blood for some reason. After he mentions a hole underneath the hole, Hauser says there’s been another poisoning and they need to go.
Madsen calls Soto and tells him about the nightshade. Soto heads to the morgue, where Nicki is examining a body. She tells him everything’s negative, and though he asks for tests about nightshade … they process so many cases it’s impossible for everyone to get the whole enchilada.
Madsen and Hauser investigate at the pool. The M.E. says it couldn’t have been nightshade in the pool chemicals, which does not make Madsen pleased. And now she’s terrified McKee could put whatever he’s using into the water supply. She gets a text from Doc, who’s got a lead on the nightshade. And away we go!
McKee works at a sink somewhere, processing poison. He’s got loads of protective gear on as he hooks a tank up to an empty fish tank with a mouse inside and turns the nozzle. Gas spreads into the tank as the mouse squeaks in pain.
An old man in Chinatown sold the nightshade to McKee. He only speaks Chinese, but Hauser is apparently fluent. The old man gives them the address where McKee took delivery. It’s an abandoned high school. Madsen and Hauser investigate first, and smell grass. Soto discovers the dead mouse, and then they find the chemical composition of phosgene (which does smell like grass) on the chalkboard. Turns out that’s our mystery poison used at the pool. And it’s soluble in water too. Gulp … another bad feeling.
The phrase “the future is now” sits on the board, and Soto reveals it got mentioned in a news article about the East Bay 2 subway. What better killing jar than a subway car full of people?
McKee believes the same thing, because the next scene has him take over a subway train by killing the driver. He pulls the shade to hide them from the riders and takes the wheel. Ruh-roh, Raggy.
McKee halts the train and uses the radio to say they’ll be moving again shortly. The sports guys within the train shift about while McKee unpacks his poison.
The team at Alcatraz notices a stopped train under the East Bay 2 tunnels on their computer. They run to get there, since it has to be McKee doing the stopping.
Meanwhile, McKee hooks up the hoses to the subway car underground. He turns a nozzle and we can hear the hiss of the gas. Ah crap. They’re too late. McKee watches the men in the subway car shove around trying to get away from the gas.
Madsen and Hauser rush to the subway car. Hauser grabs an axe and smashes the window to free the men from the gas. A subway worker pulls men from the car while Hauser and Madsen give chase. McKee catches Madsen, but she fights him off until he’s knocked onto the third rail and electrocuted. He’s still got a pulse though.
Back at the superbase, Soto tells Madsen he discovered the girl in McKee’s photo was Virginia Winters. She went to the same school as McKee and was injured when a bottle of ferro-cyanide acid dye exploded in her face. McKee’s poison of choice. The question of course is why.
At the new Alcatraz prison, Sylvane gives the picture of his wife back to Hauser. He doesn’t want to keep looking at pictures of dead people. Sylvane asks what’s going to happen to them, but Hauser says they’re going to stay in prison. And now Sylvane apparently doesn’t dream.
A man sits in the yard looking at a bug in a jar. It’s the bartender we just saw, who one of the other inmates calls McKee. McKee heads up to talk with another inmate, Cullen, who enlists McKee to kill another inmate because the man’s selling shivs out of the library. Cullen wants McKee for it since poisoning gets the job done quiet. McKee asks what happens if he refuses, and Cullen makes a pointed threat that he doesn’t want to do that. Cullen’s a bit of a schoolyard bully it seems. So much for the free market.
McKee’s working in the library with the man he’s supposed to kill. He asks for a book, something sharp and to the point. In exchange he offers the man a dirty magazine. Once the exchange is made, McKee asks the man if he’s going to movie night. It’s a western called Born Reckless with Mamie van Doren, and there’s a flash of melon in there. The other prisoner looks up and immediately says he’s going now. Isn’t that just the way?
Sylvane sits looking at a picture of his wife, while McKee sits against the same wall in his cell. McKee tells the story of his date with Ginny Winters. They had egg creams at the malt shop, and went up to the roof where he spent all night talking about Jules Verne. Then she kissed him. Sylvane asks what happened to her, but McKee says he couldn’t say.
McKee pulls the sticker out of the book while he explains to Sylvane about the U.S.S. Nautilus, which passed by Alcatraz on the way to the North Pole. Then he talks about Verne’s other book that has people headed to the moon. Sylvane scoffs at the idea, while McKee swirls the sticker through his “killing jar” and pulls it back out coated in poison. McKee’s convinced it will happen, despite the naysayers. Hey in 9 years, McKee turns out to be right. So there’s that.
McKee sits in the infirmary with Lucy and Warden James. Lucy’s all polite with him, but he goes for the sarcasm instead. She goes through his crime, and he says he regrets his actions. James comments McKee thinks he’s at a parole hearing. Lucy says she’s there to help him, and asks why he chose the men he killed. He quotes Verne at her, and refutes her statement of him dreaming about his killings. Then he gets pulled away, since he didn’t cooperate.
McKee’s at movie night. The librarian sits in front of him and Cullen sits beside him. James gives a speech before the movie, and tells the inmates not to smoke during the film. Cullen pushes McKee to kill the librarian, but he says he’s waiting for Mamie’s grand finale.
The movie ends with a big song, and McKee pulls his sticker. It rests next to a leg, which we think is the librarian’s. Then the film ends, and McKee hits the man on the shoulder asking if he liked the movie. He turns around and responds. Bit of a shock really, since he’s supposed to be dead. Then the inmates stand and we see Cullen with foam coming out of his mouth. Ooo … nice move, McKee. As the inmates stand against the wall, McKee comments no one likes a bully.
Lucy and Warden James interview McKee about Mike Cullen’s death. Lucy asks about Virginia Winters. McKee says nothing happened beyond the egg creams at the malt shop. Lucy refutes this, and goes on to tell the story of Virginia taking him to the roof of the gym where it was nice and dark. She got his clothes off, the lights popped on, and the entire football team was there.
They laughed at him and threw firecrackers. One of the cherrybombs even took his manhood, and Lucy says he’s been looking for revenge ever since. She says she can help him, but first he has to be honest. McKee admits to burning Virginia in response to all the things she did. He even dreams about her face. And now Lucy says she can help him.
The episode ends in the present, with Hauser picking up the copy of “The Carpetbaggers” and finding it’s actually Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Beauregard laughs at him, but then he starts to read to Lucy. It’s rather sweet to be honest.
If you missed the previous episode be sure to read our ‘Alcatraz: Paxton Petty’ recap.