‘Alcatraz’ Season 1, Episode 10: ‘Clarence Montgomery’ Recap

Published 3 years ago by

Sam Neill Jorge Garcia and Sarah Jones Alcatraz Clarence Montgomery Alcatraz Season 1, Episode 10: Clarence Montgomery Recap

After the rain-delayed Daytona 500 pushed Alcatraz off schedule for a week, we were treated to a double-header with ‘The Ames Bros.‘ and ‘Sonny Burnett‘ – largely because the events in the former tied loosely into the latter. And since ‘Clarence Montgomery’ is more of the typical stand-alone episode, with a small hint at the larger picture sprinkled about, FOX rightly thought it would cause less confusion to air it later.

The episode begins with the titular inmate, Clarence Montgomery (Mahershala Ali, Alphas) arriving at a silent auction and chatting up a comely young lady by the name Megan Palmer (Christine Chatelain). Soon after the two exchange pleasantries, they are carousing on a golf course in the middle of the night, and Clarence is telling Megan he’s bought her a simple little house with a window in the kitchen. She brushes it off on account of Clarence’s attractiveness and ends up being carried to the 13th hole with her throat slit while Clarence mutters to himself questions of what exactly has transpired.

A blood soaked Clarence arrives at the home of another former guest of Alcatraz – one who lived the last few decades and is now an old man confined to a wheelchair. It turns out Clarence’s friend Emmitt Little (Glynn Turman, House of Lies) spent time as a gangster and in the Black Panthers before his trip to the Rock and, while serving his time, came to understand that Clarence was likely the only innocent man in the island prison.

Back in the past, Warden James (Jonny Coyne) was apparently a connoisseur of fine cuisine, and learning that Clarence was the first black chef at an all-white country club, decides to try his hand at integrating Alcatraz by having Clarence head up the prison kitchen. Sadly, despite telling the inmates “Bon appétit, you sons of bitches,” Warden James is unable to produce sufficient racial harmony and a small riot breaks out.

A short time later, Clarence is pulled from his cell and taken to meet with Dr. Beauregard (Leon Rippy), who takes a page from A Clockwork Orange and the work of Dr. Segupta (Parminder Nagra), and basically engineers Clarence into a killer destined to repeat the same murder over and over again. Clarence’s first kill is a fast-talking inmate who also took a liking to Clarence’s cooking, but praise for slow-cooked ribs and barbeque sauce isn’t enough to keep Clarence from slitting the man’s throat.

Now certain that Clarence is responsible for the present day murders, but unsure why, Madsen (Sarah Jones) and Soto (Jorge Garcia) work to track him down after yet another killing (it seems the ladies just can’t resist Clarence’s charms). Madsen and Soto are able to track Clarence down at his current job, but lose him after he flees when confronted.

Having learned earlier that Clarence suffers from Wilson’s disease, an affliction that produces too much copper in the bloodstream, Madsen and Soto get Nikki (Jeanenne Goossen), the super attractive, but slightly nerdy medical examiner to help them track what would be Clarence’s prescriptions to Emmitt Little. The scene ends with the insecure Soto scoring a date with Nikki, and Madsen exclaiming “Oh, my God…” to Doc’s inability to read Nikki properly. The whole thing is unnecessary, but kinda cute.

Mahershala Ali as Clarence Montgomery Alcatraz Alcatraz Season 1, Episode 10: Clarence Montgomery Recap

Soto and Madsen arrive at Emmitt’s apartment with Hauser (Sam Neill) in tow, and have their arrival met by gunfire courtesy of Emmitt and his shotgun. While the other two attempt to talk Emmit down, Hauser goes around back and confronts Clarence through the bedroom window. Clarence, seeking to atone for the murders he’s actually committed, confesses to Emmitt and tells his friend he cannot return to prison. Emmitt, either in mercy or an unwillingness to see the cops get a hold of his friend once more, kills Clarence with the last remaining round in his shotgun.

In a bizarre turnaround, Clarence is publicly and posthumously exonerated of the crime he was wrongly accused of, but no mention is made of the two women he actually did kill – a fact both Madsen and Soto seem perplexed about as well.

We end with Warden James providing an exasperatingly coy response to Dr. Beauregard’s question of what happens to the inmates’ blood between the time he takes it out of them, and then puts it back in. James merely responds, “What kind of warden would I be if I kept secrets from my staff?”

Given that we know of the stash of gold hidden in the prison, perhaps that line was intended to have more impact had ‘Clarence Montgomery’ aired according to schedule. Now it just serves to make the episode feel like a superfluous step in the search for more answers.


Alcatraz returns next Monday with ‘Webb Porter’ @9pm on FOX.

TAGS: Alcatraz
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  1. This episode was ok, nothing really great about this one.

  2. The peek into racial tension during the time of Alcatraz was interesting. But as for moving the story of the show along, this episode really didn’t do anything. I’m starting to think this is another LOST where questions are piled upon questions until we realize that it was all in Hurley’s head.

  3. Random thoughts as I watch the show:

    –Modern day Clarence talks nonsensically to a pretty girl on a golf course. They don’t know each other. Short time later, he’s carrying her bloody body, throat slit, moaning about who could’ve killed her. Then he positions her body in a certain way on the green, seeming to copy another girl’s body position, as shown to us in flashes.

    –Alcatraz Clarence is a chef, and was apparently sentenced to Alcatraz for slitting the throat of a pretty, young, white girl. The Warden enlists his chef services for a dinner a few nights hence.

    –Ah, Hugo. Analyzing incoming murder cases for similarities to ’63 cases.

    –Crikey. I loathe stories of the wrongfully convicted.

    –Apparently, similar to Rebecca’s grandfather, Clarence was taken to the Alcatraz infirmary and repeatedly had his blood taken. They also played mind games with him and destroyed his previous self and sense of identity. His old friend tells him he was innocent 50 years ago, but Clarence says he’s not innocent any more.

    –Odd that so far we haven’t seen Clarence proclaim his innocence yet in the past.

    –Tiller is creepy. Huzzah!

    –Nicky says the old and new killers aren’t the same person due to chirality. Wonder how long it’ll take everyone to realize that it means the opposite of their assumptions, i.e., that Clarence wasn’t the old killer.

    –Finally. Emmitt told Rebecca and Hugo that Clarence was innocent.

    –I do NOT want to see a previously innocent man turn into a modern-day killer. Argh.

    –I wonder about the Warden’s angle with Clarence. I don’t trust that he’s simply a before-his-time foodie giving a great chef a second chance. There have to be strings somewhere.

    –Clarence thanked the Warden for allowing him to cook again, and promptly got his ass kicked by the white prisoners who didn’t want to eat Clarence’s food. Crap.

    –Was Dr. Ratchet’s statement the most chilling set of words uttered on this show? “If it works in one direction, I don’t see why it won’t work in reverse.” Presumably they usually use these techniques to “cure” people and make them into non-violent, compliant members of society. Make the bad apples good. Is the reverse of that, then, to make an innocent, non-violent person into a killer? Did Alcatraz methodically program Clarence to be a killer? Ratchet’s actions here are possibly the most sadistic I’ve seen on this show.

    –I like that they’ve acknowledged a second side of Alcatraz this week, i.e., the black side. Segregation and racism loud and strong in 1960.

    –Tiller is loathsome. Son.

    –I love Hugo’s awkward interactions with Nicky. Rebecca: “Thanks, Nicky, I owe you a drink.” Hugo: “….yeah, me, too. I mean, you know, whenever.” Nicky: “Great. How about tomorrow?” Hugo: “… … you mean me, or…” Rebecca (disgustedly): “Oh my God.” Yeah, you, Hugo – score!

    –Ok, I understand Emmitt’s loyalty to Clarence, and his fury over Clarence’s mistreatment. But really? Attempted murder of some cops? Cause that’s what multiple shotgun blasts at the door behind which those cops are standing would be. Attempted murder. There’s no way to make that OK. Yeah, it’s Oakland, and yeah, he was a Panther, but still.

    –Clarence is a tortured soul now. It’s tragic. He begs Emmitt to kill him rather than send him back to prison. Emmitt complies as Rebecca flies through the door.

    –Hugo now suspects that Alcatraz was a hotbed of experimentation. Good call.

    –Does Alcatraz Lucy know about Dr. Ratchet’s experiments on Clarence? Is she trying to cure him of their effects, or of the memories of the killing she believes he committed on the outside?
    Interesting that Dr. Ratchet doesn’t know what’s happening to the inmates’ blood between removal and re-infusion. Some of the experimentation, then, is at the Warden’s level or higher.

    –Now we have explicit confirmation of medical experimentation occurring at old Alcatraz. Still nothing more on how or why the inmates are preserved and returned, where they’ve been in the meantime, and the purpose of their return. More experimenting?

    –Less Dour Hauser in this episode. Thumbs up. Decent amount of mythology and backstory. Thumbs up. Less Rebecca being a stupid cop. Thumbs up. Appearance by the actor who plays Emmitt. Thumbs up (although disconcerting to see after watching an episode of House of Lies today, too). Destroying an innocent man. Thumbs down.

  4. They did move along the fact that something was done to their blood. This slow burn before everything get explained (I hope) in the season (series?) finale.