You look like a real human being
But you don't have a mind of your own.
You can talk, you can breathe,
You can work, you can stitch, you can sew,
But you're brainwashed.
“Brainwashed” – The Kinks
Please excuse any typos or errors in advance, as I stayed up very late to finish this rather than wait to post it on Tuesday. There are some episodes of television that stay with me; theories formulate and percolate and prevent my mind from shutting down for slumber. This was such an episode. So grab a Goldie's Carolina tea cake, tape your eyes open and allow me to subject you to some wild speculation...
- Herman Ames, inmate # ?
- Pinky Ames, inmate #2177
- Dr. Lucille Sengupta/Lucy Banerjee
- Sonny Burnett, inmate #2088
- Dr. Milton Beauregard
- Mrs. Beauregard (questionable)
- Donovan, guard
- Guy Hastings, guard
- Ernest Cobb, inmate #2047
- Tommy Madsen, inmate #2002
- Johnny McKee, inmate #2055
- Clarence Montgomery, inmate #2214
- Kit Nelson, inmate #2046
- Paxton Petty, inmate #2223
- Cal Sweeney, inmate #2112
- Jack Sylvane, inmate #2024
Former inmate Emmett Little was told that Clarence Montgomery had died in Lompoc Prison in 1965 (which is located on the California coast; I actually know someone who works there). Someone took the time to create fake prison transfer and death certificates for 302 people well in advance of the 1963 abduction. This was a meticulously planned and executed undertaking, and there is no way that the Warden was the only one overseeing it all.
BLOOD MAKES NOISE
Keep in mind that this episode was originally supposed to air before the two last week, so Doc’s speculation about possible experiments on Alcatraz was a major clue to what was revealed in the next two episodes.
In the early 1960’s, ten Utah State Prison inmates were indeed subjected to radiation tests and blood samples were taken. That blood was then mixed with unknown elements and then re-injected. So the colloidal silver revealed in the last episode is a story not far from alleged reality.
KOREAN WAR CONNECTION
As I pointed out in previous posts, several returning Alcatraz inmates (and one guard thus far) had served in Korea: Guy Hastings, Tommy Madsen and Paxton Petty. I am convinced that many of the future 63s were brought to Alcatraz based on their exposure to certain chemicals from biological attacks during the Korean War, in preparation for their abduction (and for the “fog” that likely knocked them out en masse on 3/21/63). And now there is another influence from that war that we have to take into consideration: brainwashing.
During the Korean War, some believed that brainwashing was implemented to confuse captured soldiers so that they would resist escape, resulting in an unusually high number of soldiers deserting their country and joining the enemy after becoming prisoners-of-war.
As was the case with biological warfare, the US government and military still deny the use of brainwashing.
LOST AND FOUND
While there have been very few LOST Easter Eggs on ALCATRAZ thus far, I’m going to assume that Leigh Dana Jackson (who wrote this episode) was a huge fan. Not only is this episode 108, the prison brainwashing room is a nod to Room 23 and the booking number on the rap sheet of the real criminal who killed Ellen Casey in 1958 is 48151623 – and he is from Tallahassee. Nicely played!
MAKE YOUR OWN KIND OF MUSIC…AGAIN AND AGAIN
“We want to move on, to move forward. But the trauma blocks us. So we repeat it, like a skipping record.” – Dr. SenguptaWe have seen two record players in modern day (Dr. B’s infirmary in New Alcatraz, Lucy’s original hospital room) as well as music played from Hauser’s nerd herd experimental briefcase of tech gadgets in the abandoned cells of modern day – and one in 1960 (at the Warden’s house). From the get-go I have asserted that returning inmates had been brainwashed, and that music played a role in their reintegration process. It appears that I may be on to something.
It isn’t a spoiler to simply say that next week’s episode involves a musician – and I can’t wait to find out if the returnee relates to any of my left field musical conspiracy theories.
PARLAY “ROCK” ANTHEM
“Parlay: a discussion or compromise between enemies over terms of truce.” – Warden JamesThe Warden’s interpretation of the word sheds new light on the scenario where young inmate Harlan was brought down to the dungeon because there was a “subterranean resident who desires to have a parlay.” Harlan’s enemy in 1960 was Cal Sweeney, whom he had elaborately bamboozled. But the look of sheer terror on Harlan’s face when the dungeon door opened seemed to indicate a far more nefarious enemy…
Montgomery suffered from Wilson’s disease, a rare and inherited condition where too much copper in the body causes damage to the nerves and liver. While Wilson’s has been associated with violent behavior resulting from damage to the central nervous system, it seems quite cruel to have subjected the innocent Montgomery to brainwashing - as many of the resulting effects from that experiment are similar to the side effects of Wilson’s Disease: uncontrollable movement, limb tremors, weakness, personality and behavioral changes, dementia and delirium.
In addition, Montgomery was a chef but those with Wilson’s are supposed to avoid using copper cooking utensils and foods as diverse as nuts, shellfish, chocolate and mushrooms. And to add insult to injury, Montgomery had to drink tap water likely flowing through copper pipes.
DR. MILTON BEAUREGARD
“I was hoping you would tell me know what you’re doing to their blood…between the time I take it out of them and put it back in.” – Dr. BThe Cigarette Smoking Doc is subjecting prisoners to psychological experiments and removing pints of their blood to mix with colloidal silver, but has no idea why. We have to question whether he was and continues to be a passive order taker, or if he knows far more than his few scenes have indicated so far.
Emerson met with the Chief of Police, and it was not the first time. The Chief must be his main source for keeping the 63s investigations relatively unquestioned by other agencies like the SFPD, FBI, etc. Because Hauser himself is former SFPD, he has probably made connections over the last 50 years in preparation for his current assignment and obsession.
“I know what happened in ’58. You never killed that girl. You were innocent.” – Emerson HauserHauser obviously knew who killed 1958 victim Ellen Casey before Montgomery re-emerged in 2012. But he pretended to be surprised when Rebecca and Doc told him that Montgomery wasn’t her killer. Aside from the obvious surreptitious nature of Hauser’s secret spy operation, I can only assume that he has withheld certain leads until he could play those cards when necessary while capturing the 63s.
DOC SOTO & NIKKI
Now Doc is spending all of his spare time and late nights in the Secret Spy Lair on Alcatraz. They really need to speed up his relationship with medical examiner Nikki, or reveal her complicit connection to the 63s…
In many earlier posts, I have overanalyzed the potential significance of each comic book tee that Nikki has sported, and in this episode she switches it up to Black Orchid. In what is likely the shape of things to come for Nikki’s true intentions, the Black Orchid was a master of disguise…often pretending to be someone’s girlfriend, for example.
Given that Rebecca’s grandfather has gone rogue and appears to be on his own mission, perhaps he somehow escaped the brainwashing that the other 301 who vanished in 63 were subjected to before returning. Almost every inmate and guard we’ve seen thus far in 2011-2012 seemed to be on a programmed mission, with memories in place and wires crossed. But Madsen is on an entirely different path…
“I’m not the same.” – Montgomery
The Warden created a similar situation for Montgomery in prison that he faced in the real world. He was the first African American chef at an all-white country club, and then the Warden forced him to become the first African American prison chef to supervise and cook meals for white inmates. Without a doubt, I would consider that to be one of his many manipulative pre-brainwashing preparations; agitate and push buttons first, drug and mentally coerce second.
Montgomery knows that they did something to him in Alcatraz, but unlike previously returned inmates - he appears to be more traumatized by what happened to him. He immediately expressed remorse after murdering both inmate Gant and his female victims, which has not been the case with other prisoners in modern day.
“I got a bad feeling about this.” I am unable to think about anything other than Star Wars whenever any variation of this line is uttered. So if it was intentional – thank you, Leigh Dana Jackson.
Another dead inmate put into Hauser’s SUV, another assumption that he brought the corpse to New Alcatraz for possible revival.
Random aside: Montgomery’s victim was Megan Palmer. A possible hat tip to Twin Peaks and Laura Palmer?
EMMETT LITTLE, INMATE #2410
The gun-toting activist in the wheelchair was released from Alcatraz in 1961, before the abduction in 1963 (in case you didn’t catch it, he was the young inmate trying to convince Montgomery during his shave that the chef opportunity presented by the Warden was a good idea). In 2012, Emmett had no idea what Montgomery was referring to when he said they took his blood and messed with his head; he must have been one of the inmates that the Warden took less interest in, and thus allowed him to leave before the big event. He didn’t ‘qualify’ in the Warden’s mind…
So Montgomery killed the chatty cathy, last seen in the Ernest Cobb episode – and there go our chances of finding out what landed him on The Rock in the first place. Even now, it is not illegal to be annoying. I should know.
“Our good Warden thinks he can convert you all; convert and rehabilitate you. The Warden thinks you can change. Myself, I’ll admit to doubt but I am itching to see the results.” – Deputy Warden Tiller
“Mark the day, son. Your new future has begun.” – Warden JamesOnce again, the Warden played spiritual advisor to another of his incarcerated subjects. This week’s pet prisoner project was Montgomery, and the Warden’s seemingly self-programmed mission with him was “a chance for redemption.”
“If we were in private, you’d see my true intentions with this bone.” Perhaps the best line yet from the strangely poetic Warden! Although, “bon appétit, you sons of bitches!” is a close second.
One thing is for certain – the Warden and the Deputy Warden were not on the same page regarding treatment of the prisoners. Like many of you, I strongly believe that the Warden was one of the 63s. Tiller’s clear disdain for his superior’s methods likely led to his banishment from Alcatraz – forced off by the Warden because he didn’t feel that Tiller was worthy of the great time traveling escape he’d been planning for years.
CRAZY THEORY OF THE WEEK: CONTINUED
To add to the already mounting evidence that the “fog” Guy Hastings referred to as the last thing he remembered on 3/21/63 before vanishing was some type of dispersed chemical or aerosol cloud – I would offer that the “gas chamber” mess hall was a cover and practice space for Warden James. As seen in this episode, they sprayed fighting inmates with tear gas, but I believe that there were large quantities of hidden dispersion devices or small holes discretely installed throughout Alcatraz leading up to the abduction.
Also – the MKULTRA 1950’s mind control experiment illegally administered by the CIA that Doc alluded to? They experimented with a pill that could be slipped into food and beverages, as well as into an aerosol - with the goal of causing amnesia. So far, no one remembers what happened to them after 3/21/63. Except, perhaps, Tommy Madsen….
[NEW] CRAZY THEORY OF THE WEEK: INSANE IN THE MEMBRANE, INSANE IN THE BRAIN!
“You think you know who you are, but they push you, and they twist and something in you just snaps. I’m not the same. I’m not innocent, not no more.” – MontgomeryWhile my first inclination was to believe that Dr. Lucille Sengupta designed the brainwashing techniques applied to the inmates by Dr. B in the 1960’s (one of her “methods”), it seems counterintuitive to her memory removal emphasis; she was interested in removing rather than implanting specific visceral imagery that caused the prisoners to react violently.
“Trauma is a roadblock inside our psyche. We want to move on, to move forward. But the trauma blocks us. So we repeat it, like a skipping record. Your record is stuck at the moment you killed Ellen Casey. If you let me in, I can help you. I can take that memory away. All those memories.” – Dr. Sengupta
“It works in one direction; I don’t see why it can’t work in reverse.” – Dr. BThere were two different types of experimental treatments being forcibly applied to the inmates in the 1960’s on Alcatraz: Lucy’s electroshock therapy and the Warden’s brainwashing. I would speculate that the Warden and Dr. B implemented option #2 without Lucy’s approval: implanting memories and images that would later influence their missions and behavior upon return to society.
“You took her methods into madness.” – Warden James“You asked if it could be done.” – Dr. B.Dr. B, Deputy Warden Tiller and Lucy were probably unaware of the reasons WHY the Warden used such a technique, but none were in a position to question him. The location of the Clockwork Orange-inspired brainwashing chair appeared to be in a subterranean room, where Lucille was unlikely to wander or have access. In fact, it may be the horrible place that Tommy Madsen referred to beneath Solitary.
“I can only be what the world wants me to be.” - MontgomeryIn the 1960’s, Lucy tried to understand Montgomery’s motivations, while the Warden was fixated on reinforcing and reactivating them. Montgomery was key to the Warden’s future success – more than likely his first 'victory' in the big picture (brainwashing transformed Montgomery from an innocent man into a murderer at an alarmingly quick rate).
“I can only be what they tell me to be.” - MontgomeryWhile it may have been LSD, my best guess as to what type of liquid Dr. B used to accompany the brainwashing - one that contained strains of Nightshade. Some of the chemicals derived from those plants (found on Alcatraz) can be used as a sedative, and side effects include confusion, agitation, hallucinations, paranoid behaviors and delusion.
As always, I am so grateful for your interest and appreciate all of your feedback! I love reading your comments, and ask that they simply be constructive in nature.
Last week I was lucky enough to watch an entire day of filming in San Francisco while they were in town for finale scenes. This is a spoiler-free site, so I will not be posting any photos or videos from that day until after the season finale airs on March 26! What I can tell you is that is was amazing to watch the action unfold live, and that it was an absolute pleasure to meet and speak with both Sarah Jones’ stunt double and David Hoflin (Tommy Madsen). It was also a huge thrill to see former LOST executive producer/director (and ALCATRAZ executive producer/director) Jack Bender directing the car chases in “my” city and before my very eyes.
One last reminder: I am heading to Anaheim this weekend for the official WonderCon ALCATRAZ panel and pressroom. Look for live tweets and photos on Sunday, as well as interviews here on the site next week and beyond!