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Alcatraz - "Clarence Montgomery" - Recaps

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

Another really compelling episode! Clarence Montgomery tested the alleged premise that “the worst criminals are coming back”, as Clarence was innocent of the crime he was accused of committing in 1958, but alas this episode sheds light that innocent or not, if sentenced to Alcatraz, a criminal you will become.
“See this as a chance for redemption.”
“And if I say no?”
“Then redemption it is.”
 After finally being able to watch this episode, I most definitely think it would have been benefited the story to have seen “Clarence Montgomery” before “Sonny Burnett”. As stated in previous recaps, James and Tiller had been dancing around and disputing each other’s beliefs that seem to really start in this episode.

The one thing that is constant for Edwin James beliefs so far is predeterminationism and being born with talent, as apposed to learning to become talented. But his inconsistency lies with his own brand of determinism towards whom those individuals are, and the fact that his choices change and condition those that he deems worthy, thus enhancing said talents. He places himself in a role in which his actions can not be wrong, as he must view himself as a product of perfection on behalf of God, redemptions, and seemingly the goal of the facilitators.

“A dog can’t wear a suit.”

E.B. Tiller too has been bouncing back and forth in his beliefs as well. In "Sonny Burnett", Tiller claims to be pro adaptation and/or change by suggesting that provoking someone is the key to test whom they really are, but here in Clarence Montgomery, Tiller takes the opposing view, as he tells Clarence “animals can’t change.” Referring to the idea that once a criminal, always a criminal.

The difference for the characters lies in their demeanor. No matter what James says, there is an underlying sense of calm confidence, but for Tiller there is something more erratic, hyper, and unnerving and this seems to play on the differences in age more than anything else, or does it? James had mentioned to Kit Nelson that he was a father, suggesting he had children. I have to wonder if Tiller and his sister, Jerry, are James’ children…and if something happened to them that made them a little sick in the head? (like time traveling as children/being exposed to radiation at a young age, experiments, ect)

But uniquely James and Tiller seem to not be prejudice towards Clarence race. James praises his cooking and makes him head chief, and as stated above, Tiller claims his prejudice is being against criminals, as he does not believe Clarence is innocent, especially after the scene of killing William Ghent, but the whole thing is truly ironic when we consider that Clarence was framed to kill Ellen Casey, because of the color of his skin and both James and Beauregard knew he was innocent. Additionally The American Civil War didn’t come up in this episode, which is SO strange to me considering it is from the this war with the Emancipation Proclamation through the 1960’s in which African Americans had been able to start their path towards freedom and civil rights…

Only Fools are limited by time and space.
This episode really gave is something we needed to know. The idea of cultivating a sleeper agent by changing one’s identity starting with brainwashing videos.

This isn’t the first time we have seen this with Bad Robot works either.

The third season of Alias, we get into some things rather Fringe-ish. Sydney Bristow awakes with no memory from anything that happened to her for the last 2 years. The CIA had deemed her dead. It isn’t until “Authorized Personal Only” that we learn what all happened to Sydney. It was first believed she was became a sleeper agent for the organization, The Covenant, who tired to brain wash her to believe she was someone else, Julia Thorne, in which they used several methods, including brainwashing videos, shock therapy, starvation, and dark isolation to attempt to change her, but we learn that Sydney Bristow can never be turned against her own will, as she was protected by another conditioning program from when she was little, called “Project Christmas”. We Learn that Sydney pretended she was turned so that she could get to a Rambaldi artifact and help SDR take down The Covenant. But Sydney was so upset about her love interest, Agent Vaughn, moving on and getting married, that she went to a Fringe scientist to get her memories erased, but later goes to another Fringe Scientist, Dr. Edward Brazzel (“Conscious”) to try and get her memories back.

But no brainwashing video is as notorious as LOST’s Room 23. With phrases like “Everything Changes”, “Plant a good seed”, and the hidden sound bite of “Only Fools Are Enslaved by Time and Space” heavily played on LOST’s themes of both being limited by the axioms of the Island enforcing course corrections from time line to time line and event to event, but also must include evolutionary change if there is to be any “progress” and continued (ß-in motion) survival of the human race in every sense of the word. It seems for Karl room 23 was to keep him from wanting to get Alex pregnant, as there are severe consequences for full termed pregnancy on the Island, but as for Walt and/or experiments of the Dharma Initiative it is unclear what the video was intended to do, but considering it was a apart of the Hydra Station, it may have only been intended for animals

“If we were in private, you would see my true intentions with this bone.”

But Room 23 also should be mentioned as it is the thing that is passed on from the Dharma Initiative and then taken over by The Others, and really when you think about the history of the Island, we see that a lack of organization is part of the reason so many things go wrong, some mysteries are left open, as there are several factions working for several people and the communication between them is not good, nor did everyone follow the same set of rules. We have the Dharma Initiative that fade away and become to some degree a part of the Others (Ben Linus and “The Purge), We have an exiled former leader of the Others, who wages war and wishes to expose to the Island (Charles Widmore) and comes to have his own peoples, but then we have Jacob his off Island associates like Ilana and Braham, we have Temple Others lead by Dogen who specifically get orders from Jacob, and then we have Richard Alpert going between Jacob and Ben to advise Ben, who has his outer Island others, and then we have Ben’s off Island others and we see Ben methods are extreme, but then again so are Jacob’s. It's this multi-faction aspect that I think could also come into play with Alcatraz.

He’s Our You
What also is sort of interesting is that in the “Ames Bos./Sonny Burnett” Recap I also mentioned Lost episode, “The Economist” in which I compared the similarity in character and experiments conducted by a scientist on Hauser’s team to that of Daniel Faraday in that Lost episode. It is also “The Economist” in which the post 2004 off Island Sayid Jarrah goes on a killing spree starting with a wealthy man Mr. Avellino, in which Sayid plays a little golf with before suddenly killing him in the middle of the day, leaving his body on the golf course

Although Sayid is not yet any kind of sleeper agent in this episode, he is surely a broken man full of pain and has been blackmailed by one of LOST’s greatest facilitators, Benjamen Linus, as Ben used both the loss of Nadia and the threat of protecting the plane crash survivors as his means in using Sayid against Charles Widmore --But as I hinted at, Sayid does sort of become a sleeper agent in season 6. After he shot in the 1970’s and they return to their 2007, Sayid is taken to the temple where cleansing his wounds and being revived results in “ a man with out feeling”.

If any character in LOST displayed a deep sense of love, but also could be responsible for some of the most gruesome of physical actions, Sayid is that character, although his story is greatly then paralleled in a loop with Ben‘s. A soldier who has been abused and suffered great loss through and through, who’s journey has only cultivated him to be some what criminal in actions, can we see the innocents lost like with the inmates Alcatraz…It also then reminds me of Paxton Petty, who like Sayid a soldier, who wasn’t afraid to execute revenge on children.

Final Thoughts: The Man From Tallahassee
Clarence Montgomery’s was compelling simply because the actor who play Clarence was compelling. It was an interesting twist to have the story be about an African American who was climbing the ladder and changing the perspective of Caucasian American culture simply by being a great chief that earned him a place at an upscale Tallahassee Country Club, only to be framed for murder of someone he cared about, and then further expounded by both his acquaintance Emmit Little who was aligned with The Black Panthers and supposedly went to the Rock and was released in the 1961. Everything about Clarence episode was about tragedy and victim of circumstance, as Clarence was not a character initially looking for trouble, but trouble found him despite it.

It was so curious that Clarence’ first actual victim was another inmate named William Ghent, when in modern day Rebecca and Soto discover Clarence suffers from William’s Disease, which deals with copper in the blood. In the previous recap I learned while doing research on silver, that silver often derives from refining other metals such as gold and copper, but Doc also tells Rebecca that some other prisons besides Alcatraz were said to have also experimented with radio active materials. It it makes me suspicious considering some how the inmates end up in present day that something electromagnetic is likely involved.

There wasn’t much knowledge gained about our present day characters, but Nikki ended up having a small but useful role to play, as we quickly learn that the modern day killings of Clarence, such as Meghan Palmer, could not have been the same killer of 1958’s Ellen Casey, because of the direction of the throat slashing implied opposite hands being used.

The biggest shocker for me, however came during the mess hall rib dinner scene in the 1960’s flashback. James went on and on to Clarence about his talent for cooking and made him the head chef in Alcatraz’ kitchen. James was certain that this talent would give praise to Clarence among the inmates, but when dinner was served, the Caucasian men refused to eat it. James even commands them to eat it, but still they refused and a riot broke out! --We learn that James is not a man who has the courage of his convictions. The minute his beliefs had turned out not to be true, he flees the scene leaving Tiller to clean up after the mess!

On a last note Beauregard seems to have been telling Hauser the truth in “Sonny Burnette” about not knowing what was done with the blood. When Beauregard directly asked James about it, James says he doesn’t do anything, and there for Beauregard is not in on what actually happens to it, but it also then may suggest that James must be working with someone else…a chemist or Fringe scientist, a person we haven’t met yet relating to the facilitators.

Beauregard had one other curious comment when they were discussing the effects the experiments might have on Clarence. He says, “If it works in one direction, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work in reverse.” I think this might be one of those lines that will come to have more than one meaning and it will be interesting to see if this doesn’t just reflect the changes in the inmates, but perhaps the ability of time travel.

Until Next Time,
If you ever have the misfortune for running into him, whatever he tells you, just do the opposite.

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