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Alcatraz- Clarence Montgomery

Written by Dr. Improbable on Tuesday, March 13 2012 and posted in Reviews

Hipster Warden James liked black people before it was cool.

The gods of television must seriously hate me, because I can't find this episode online anywhere. Apparently it doesn't exist. So I'll be reconstructing the recap from my memory combined with my tweets. I'm sure I'll miss some of the intricate details subtlety woven into the episode (almost as intricately woven as my sarcasm), so bear with me. At least I was sober this time.

* Warning: probably mostly accurate spoilers ahead! *

We open with a black man in a country club, which is already an awful lot of suspended disbelief. He woos a lovely woman (read: she's dressed kind of like a hooker) out onto the golf course, where they have adventures riding a golf cart. Not a euphemism. After a few minutes of wooing and flirting, he has a Jekll/Hyde moment, flashes to a bunch of murder scenes in his head, and then kills the woman. Is it just me or do I already know that something about Lucy's therapy triggered his murder spree?

We flashback to Clarence working his stint at Alcatraz. Warden James pulls him out of line and takes him back to the kitchen. James is cooking something in a big pot, which worries me because I assume the secret ingredient to everything he makes is baby. Anyway, Clarence criticises his cooking, which pleases James because he's weird, and James assigns him chef duty.

In the present Soto is doing the regular scan for Alcatraz escapees, and hits a match for Clarence. Meanwhile, the respawned Clarence shows up at the house of some other dude and reveals that he's a killer. Emmett, the wheelchair-bound old man Clarence came to see, is remarkably unruffled by the reappearance of his unaged old friend. I would wonder if there was a conspiracy going on, where the people in the present who weren't transported know about whatever's happening, except Rebecca had approximately the same reaction and she's obviously clueless. So who knows.

Flashback to Lucy discussing race with Clarence. Though they do at some point remark on the fact that Lucy isn't white herself, it's never actually discussed why there is a female Indian psychologist in the 1960s. Or why she only has to suffer Beauregard, while the black inmates are subjected to blatant hostility from all their white counterparts.

The team interviews a friend of the murdered girl. She explains through subtext that her friend was a slut, so she wasn't surprised not to see her at the end of the night. The team spends some time establishing Clarence's background, and the body is shipped off to Nikki for analysis.

In an awkward flashback scene, Clarence discusses with his friends (including the young Emmett) his new appointment as head prison chef. His barber comments on the progress they're making! Because a black person in prison is progress if they have an important assignment I guess. I can't decide if I feel like that's racist or not. The young Warden Tiller comes in to awkwardly shave one strip of Clarence's face while commenting on how white people will never eat food made for them by a black person. Because prisoners can afford to be picky.

Nikki concludes that the murder is not identical to Clarence's murder from the 1950s. The slash marks on the neck are wrong- the past murder was jaggedly left-to-right (right-handed) while the present one is smoothly right-to-left (left-handed). Hauser is ready to turn the case over to SFPD, but Madsen has a hunch they are still related somehow. Hauser gives her and Soto 12 hours.

In the past, James is being his usual sanctimonious self. He gives a pompous toast to the prisoners and tells them to eat up. The white people don't want to eat Clarence's food though, so they start a food fight/prison riot. Seriously? You're in prison. You don't get to be picky. Hell, at least you don't have to make your own food three times a day. It gets old.

I think Team Alcatraz at this point went to talk to Emmett while Clarence flashes again and kills another easy chick from a country club. I know it happens at some point, but apparently I didn't tweet about any of it. Also, I know Madsen and Soto go through Clarence's stuff and find vitamins that could indicate several different diseases, which Soto is apparently an expert on. Man that guy has too much time on his hands. Emmett maintains that Clarence was innocent in the 50's, as he was actually in love with the murdered girl; they were planning to run away together. Whitey didn't like that, though, so he killed her. Madsen finds Clarence working as a sous chef for a catering company and chases him through the most ridiculous obstacles ever. He gets away be rolling under a semi. Seriously.

In a flashback scene, Clarence is subjected to ridicule from the white inmates. Beauregard straps him down and hooks him up to some electrodes, then forces him to watch a choppily edited video with scenes from his murder trial interspersed with "kill" and "murder." Also for some reason the word "colored." Is that... is that really relevant somehow?

They head to the morgue for the results from the first murdered girl's tox screen, and Nikki reports that they found an African-American male's hair positive for Wilson's Disease. Madsen and Soto realise that while Clarence didn't commit the murder in the past, he did commit the one in the present. The reveal probably would have been more dramatic if the previews hadn't already told us this. Also, in the only funny scene for this episode, Soto (successfully) attempts to ask out Nikki and Madsen rolls her eyes in feigned irritation. It's little moments like that that keep me tuned in.

1960s Clarence is working laundry duty when that chatty guy from the Johnny McKee episode comes in and yammers on about how great the food was. Clarence's new conditioning causes him to snap, and he grabs a box cutter and slices the guy's throat. This is a relief to me because it means we'll never have to deal with an entire episode with Chatty Cathy. The guards grab Clarence as he's repositioning the body to mimic his lover's from the post-mortem pictures. Also who the hell left a damn box cutter in the prison laundry?

In the present, Team Alcatraz runs to Emmett's house and tries to confront Clarence. Emmett is having none of the White Man's Burden, however, and proceeds to shoot at them with a shotgun through his front door. Bold move, Cotton, we'll see if it pays off. Clarence attempts to overdose on penicillin (I'm 99% sure that isn't going to be terribly effective in the short run) while Hauser tries to sneak into the back of the apartment. Clarence runs out to Emmett and tells him he is a killer, and that he can't go back to prison, and to please help him. Emmett accomplishes this by shooting a hole in his chest the size of a basketball.

Final flashback to Lucy talking to Clarence again. He explains that he didn't kill his girlfriend- but he did kill Talky McTalkerson. Lucy says, "You entered Alcatraz an innocent man but left a killer?" Confucius say very deep. Beauregard is acting all smug because he got Lucy's therapy to work in the opposite way. James doesn't seem convinced that proves anything. I think he was fond of Clarence.

Clarence's body is packed up while Emmett is arrested. Kind of a dick move on Clarence's part, getting his old friend sent back to jail so he doesn't have to. Hauser's police chief buddy is irritated that they're leaving all these cases unsolved. Hauser responds by rolling his eyes and giving him a file that closes the case of Clarence's girlfriend from back in the 50's. I think he's pissed he didn't get to shoot anyone. Clarence's name is cleared despite the fact that he really did end up killing two girls. Soto comments on the irony.

To conclude, we learn that Lucy's conditioning really works and that Beauregard is one bitter and messed up old man. Meanwhile James, despite his irritating soliloquies, seems to be fairly progressive. He has a female head shrinker, puts a black guy in charge of making the food, and seems to genuinely want to rehabilitate the prisoners, though his motives aren't clear. Could his progressivism have something to do with his knowledge of the future? What exactly happened to James anyway? No, seriously, I'm asking you that, I have no idea if we know what's happened to him in the present or not.

Next week: a musician escapes and plays a virtuoso in MURDER. Meanwhile, I hate the writers for making me type that.

Written or Contributed by: Dr. Improbable

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About the Author - DrImprobable

Before you ask, no, Dr. Improbable is not that kind of doctor, and will not be diagnosing your genital warts today. Seriously, put it away. The doc does more of the "mad science" brand of doctoring, though one day hopes to be that "time and space traveling" kind of doctor. In the meantime, Doc passes time cloning things, memorizing acronyms, and using large magnets. When not plotting all the terrible ways to destroy the human race (particularly those found on public transportation), the doc kills time by watching television and making sarcastic commentary on it.


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