This week's escaped prisoner on FOX's Alcatraz is "Clarence Montgomery." Said to be the only innocent man locked up on The Rock, Clarence (Mahershala Ali, Treme, Alphas, The 4400) begins killing for real when he emerges in 2012. What's more, he slays other inmates in the 1960s, after Dr. Beauregard (Leon Rippy, Saving Grace, Deadwood) performs some experiments on him. So how can he be stopped, and why is he acting this way?
The case of "Clarence Montgomery" is a moving one, indeed. Here is a man that was accused of a crime that he didn't commit, likely because of racist attitudes. See, he is a black man who was dating the white daughter of his boss. It isn't surprising that in the 1950s this could happen to a person of color. But it's incredibly unfair, and so viewers will quickly begin feeling for this poor man, to whom circumstance has dealt a bad hand.
The story of "Clarence Montgomery" comes to a tragic ending. Trapped by Hauser (Sam Neill) and company, Clarence's friend, Emmitt Little (Glynn Turman, House of Lies, The Wire), shoots Clarence dead. The alternative would have been to be locked up in Hauser's secret prison, and after the tortures Clarence has already undergone, death seems preferable. But that doesn't make the tale any sadder.
"Clarence Montgomery" extends fans' knowledge of what is going on in Alcatraz prison, circa 1960, as it expands Dr. Soto's (Jorge Garcia) information, as well. Soto knows about experimentation going on elsewhere, but didn't think the same things happened at Alcatraz. Until now. But what is the goal of the Alcatraz tests? Surely they are related to the disappearance of everyone in 1963, and their reemergence now. Thus, they are another piece of the larger mystery that is slowly unfolding.
Alcatraz does a lot of things right. The mystery is being doled out nicely, piece by piece, keeping fans engaged. Soto's burgeoning relationship with Nikki (Jeananne Goossen, Falcon Beach, The Vow) is sweet. Rebecca's (Sarah Jones) family secrets keep her heavily involved in the plot. Hauser's connections with local law enforcement justify much of how the team can do what they do. And the writers are very good at making viewers care about the prisoners, with intriguing, sometimes sympathetic, stories.