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Alcatraz - "Cal Sweeney" - Recap

On March 21, 1963 three hundred and two inmates, guards, and staff vanished in the night and started to reappear today.




The Hole - Treating Mental Illness or Radiation Poisoning?
Cal Sweeney's story is a sad one. We learn in the past that he would rob safety deposit boxes and take the stolen items to a pawn shop for money. In modern day Cal has made his robberies personal, as he searches for the owners of the items he takes, which seemingly is often jewelry, something one may use to commemorate an important and intiment relationship. (Which is something to consider thinking back to Hauser's ring, as perhaps it is not his at all, but Lucy's?!)

The flashbacks partually consisted of a small dinner party including one for the arrival of psychologist Dr. Lucille Sengupta. (Lucy) and Tiller's Bithday. One conversation headed by Lucille suggests the idea that to help the inmates with their problems stemming for childhood trauma, that perhaps the answer lies in eliminating the memory of the trauma itself. she explains in addition one should try to "replace" the memory with one that is more soothing.. But seemingly Cal had already been to "the hole" by this point and he finds himself going there at the end of the episode, --and to be isolated for a longer period of time. In modern day it becomes clearer Cal doesn't remember his parents or his life before a brutal fire killed them --and ultimately he is searching for their love story, a story that would lead to his own origins.
"My noise might come to bleeding in such rarefied air."
It's seems likely that "the hole" in this case could be a source of memory loss. But it is Dr. Beauregard's comments about NOSE BLEEDS and referring to the inmates as "RATS" that brings me back to LOST.

In LOST we gather that the whole Island in itself is a multi-faceted time machine! But more over there were tons of reasons, some brought on by the Dharma Initiative, as why many characters through out it's history kept getting exposed to some type radiation sickness, including unearthing electromagnetic pockets, leaking 1954 Jughead/detonating it's nuclear core, bio-chemical experiments, physical time travel, conscience time travel, all lead to cancer, no full term-on Island-pregnancies, the purge, and some rather severe deaths.

But I want to take a moment to also look at Dr. Beauregard. Bad Robot has this fun tendency to reference famous physicists...things pertaining often to quantum mechanics and multiple universe and repeated eveny history, people such as Stephen Hawking (E. Hawking-Lost) and Roger Penrose (C. Penrose -Fringe).

I had mentioned in the "Kit Nelson Recap" that I felt a little stronger about loops and/or alternate realities becoming present at some point, specifically because of the Bad Robot's use of the record player in other works as an analogy to time, time lines, and/or histories...A record player shows up again in this episode, but more importantly I discovered that Beauregard may be named for a famous scientist, one who's worked on information theory thermodynamics!
Olivier Costa de Beauregard (1911-2007) was a French theoretical physicist, having had a general interest in the relationship between mind and matter, and noted for his 1963 book The Second Principle of Time, in which he attempts to reconcile reversible time of relativity, and irreversible time of consciousness and thermodynamics, using the information theory ideas of Leo Szilard and Leon Brillouin. In short, he seems to equate negative entropy (neguentropy) with information and speculates on how acquisitions of information in the mind consumes negative entropy, but also how the mind can generate negative entropy, thus increasing organization. Beauregard also co-wrote a 1972 article defending the thermodynamics interpretation of information with Myron Tribus.
My understanding of the real Dr. Beauregard seems to tread in areas of parapsychology.(Parapsychology consists of telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, precognition, near death experiences, reincarnation, and apparitional experiences.) It seems he was trying to prove that there was a relationship with the way we think in conjunction to experimenting with radiation and/or energy dynamics and proving mind over matter abilities. And proposing principal of backward casualty in which one factor includes all phenomena in physics is symmetrical between the past and the future (time) at the elementary level. It looks at the relationships associated with the conversion of energy.

Many works had already come to mind when I started reading about the series. The film (based on the novel of the same name) "Shutter Island" was one of them, but it wasn't until this 1960's dinner scene, including listening to classical music, in this episode that really gave me a deeper sense of connection.

For those who have not seen or read "Shutter Island", it basically is psychological thriller set in the 1950's about a man who goes to investigate a mental institution located on an Island, in which he suspects fowl play and mistreatment among their patients and in fact suggesting those patients were once innocent victims. The book emphasizes this more than the film, but two realities, or rather two different perspectives of reality are offered to the reader: if these scientists/psychologists were unethical, as the work ends in giving him a lobotomy after an unsuccessful round of play-acting which caused the man to reach a temporary break, or if the man who thought he was a hero was really a delusional man suffering effects after killing his wife! The choice of perspective is left to the viewer...

Going back to 1960's Alcatraz we may be seeing something similar. Bad Robot seems to helm it's exploration of the human condition on behalf of empiricism, suggesting that who we are and what we do, our identities rely on the memory of our experiences. --But what happens to us when we can't remember, or our memories get scrambled, or we get separated from the familiar? What happens when our brains get rewired? -And can rewiring ever be used to someone else's advantage?

The idea that someone purposely sent these people remains to be seen. Only Jack Sylvane gives us any clues that their are people behind this...and then there are the keys.

The Keys to the Kingdom:
Cal Sweeney leads us to another key and it is revealed by Hauser's science team, that the key blades were created using lasers. Bad Robot also seems to like to give people ideas about advanced technology existing at a times they shouldn't. The keys themselves are old--dated, but yet made with lasers, lasers that supposedly didn't exist then. There are a few idea about how this could happen.

1. Laser could have been brought back in time.
2. The keys themselves keep getting exchanged in time, but origins of everything probably lie in the future of some timeline and "taken back", then exchanged/passed.
3. An alternate timeline exists where this technology exists much earlier.And we will be dealing with two timelines.
4. Extra Terrestrials ("Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull") left a 'present' behind in the past ("Cowboys and Aliens").

I Want To Talk to the Man in Charge!
Additionally the episode gives a deeper sense that Alcatraz had a hierarchy and you could create a business out of trading products. We are introduced to another inmate as well, and Cal Sweeney's story is further expanded with his beliefs that you can't emotionally care about everyone, as he tries to to explain 'the every man for himself' aspect to the prison to young inmate, a possible protege ` named Harlan (according to MIDb). But even the idea of having a protege suggests Cal was lonely and maybe even looking for a partner. Of course the whole episode surely reminded Lost fans of James 'Sawyer" Ford, but also Kate Austen, as I almost was going to say that Cal Sweeney has "Austen's Disease". The safety deposit box numbers might be a clue too! The last one was 1869--In a previous post I proposed a theory Edwin James might be from The American Civil War Era, but now I am wondering if some of inmates are too? -If they were children when they time traveled and somehow because of brain reseting, grew up to be prisoners or guards like family members before them (Alcatraz has a prison history going back to mid 1800's). Even Cal Sweeney's empty tin box reminded more of The Civil War Era, then the Depression Era.

Harlan, however is already ahead of the game. He's the real thief of Cal's tin box and has set Cal up, which lands Cal in "The Hole" for 30 days! Harlan is seen in his cell siting next to a chess set. It may suggest we have met another powerful player in this game. He's curiosity, is not unlike Lost's Ben Linus, seeing how far people will go to expose what they really care about, but also to get something he wants.

Until next time,
Don't let the air conditioning fool you!

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