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.
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.
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