Alcatraz: "Clarence Montgomery" (Season 1, Episode 10)


Okay. So I sat down this evening with the specific intent of not watching tonight’s episode with dread, not using the term “sludge pump,” and trying to honestly give this series a chance.

My reward, you may ask? A charming little vignette where I got to watch a genuinely innocent black inmate brutalized by prison management and his peers, then subjected to a sick Clockwork Orange experiment by Doctor Beauregard (yes, Hauser’s present day buddy) that turns him into an actual killer. But on the plus side, Diego Soto got a date with the cute coroner. So there’s that.

We open with Clarence Montgomery having fun with a young lady. He slits her throat and positions her on a golf course to a montage of psychotic imagery and unpleasant lighting. Yep, if I had been blindfolded in solitary for the last four weeks and suddenly exposed to a TV screen with no channel indication, I’d instantly know it was 9:00 P.M. on a Monday and this was Alcatraz. No other show has such a brazen lack of charm.

Clarence goes to the apartment of a crippled black man who was a former Alcatraz inmate. The man tells Clarence he was innocent. Meanwhile, Diego sees the body of the most recent victim on his Bat Computer and instantly pulls out a photo of another dead woman on a golf course from 1958. It’s the Penguin! Quick, to the Bat Poles! And our big twist follows: the coroner can tell just by looking at the picture of the 1958 victim that she and the current victim were killed by different people.

The Alcatarz back story is as follows. Clarence Montgomery was a cook sent to Alcatraz for murdering his girlfriend, the aforementioned 1958 victim. Only he didn’t. He really didn’t. He’s the one innocent man on Alcatraz. The warden picks him to be the new cook and he makes a delicious meal of ribs. Of course, the white prisoners won’t eat it. A riot ensues, in which Clarence is beaten. The warden seemed to expect this. For extra laughs, the deputy warden directs thinly veiled racial insults at Clarence on two occasions. Finally, Clarence is taken to some basement where Doctor Beauregard draws blood, straps Clarence down, tapes his eyes open and forces him to watch a grisly film to an accompaniment of electroshock therapy. Later, Clarence kills a fellow inmate. Brainwashing images play as he does so, the same as when he kills women in the present. For added fun, we see Beauregard and the warden chuckling about their little experiment in the final close.

In the present, another woman gets killed. Rebecca, Diego and Hauser track Clarence down to the apartment of his crippled friend. He shoots at our intrepid trio to hold them at bay. Clarence tells his friend that he did the most recent crimes, that he can’t go on like this or let himself be taken back. He begs his friend to kill him. The friend shoots him as Rebecca breaks in. To make the whole thing as wretched as possible, we’re also treated to the sight of the crippled old friend being taken away by the police for the crime of being the only decent person in the entire show. Can’t have that.

Welcome to snuff television, folks. It’s as bad as it sounds.

I couldn’t possibly care less what the answer to any of these mysteries are. I wish John Carter and a big, super-fast Martian dog would jump in and beat Hauser to death. With a copy of Scriptwriting 101.

Will conservatives like this episode: I certainly hope not.