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TV Review: Prison Break Confidential

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Let’s face it. I’m addicted to a really silly show.

Prison Break is the heartwarming story of structural engineer Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller). Michael’s life is great until his brother, ne’er do well Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell), is framed for the murder of Terrance Steadman, the brother of the Vice President of the United States, who isn’t even really dead. Conveniently Michael’s firm designed Lincoln’s prison, so to save his brother, who is facing the electric chair, Michael tattoos the plans of Fox River Penitentiary all over his body, concocts a plan that Einstein would have been incapable of, has himself tossed into Fox River and leads a breakout of basically every prisoner lucky enough to figure out what he’s doing there.

If sanity ruled the airwaves, Prison Break would have lasted two years. Michael escapes in year one, and exposes the mass conspiracy set up by the mysterious “Company” in year two, but American television isn’t very good at leaving the public wanting more, so the Jump the Shark website exists and Prison Break will go on until no one can remember why they originally watched it.

Entering season three’s premiere, let’s take a look at where we are, AKA the body count:

  • Veronica Donovan, Lincoln’s lover and lawyer – killed by the Company
  • Nick Savrinn – lawyer who sort of helped Veronica – killed by the Company
  • Frank Tancredi- Governor of Illinois – killed by the Company
  • Aldo Burrows – Michael and Lincoln’s mysterious father – formerly a member of the Company – shot and killed by Agent Mahone, a man being blackballed to work for the Company
  • Terrence Steadman – Pseudo murder victim – committed suicide
  • Charles Westmoreland – aka DB Cooper – died while escaping from Fox River
  • John Abruzzi – mob boss – shot by Mahone after escaping
  • Charles “Haywire” Patoshik – shot by Mahone after escaping
  • David “Tweener” Apolskis – shot by Mahone after escaping
  • William Kim – evil Company agent – shot by Sara at the end of season two

Essentially, if you get cast in Prison Break, celebrate a little, but don’t make any long term plans.

Other Goofy Issues

Vice President Caroline Reynolds became President after she had the existing President poisoned. Unfortunately, Patricia Wettig has commitments to another television show and was all but non-existent in season two. Additionally, since Lincoln was cleared of killing her brother at the end of last season, one would expect her corrupt Company-directed Presidency to be in a whole lot of trouble, but maybe the show has decided to just pretend this character never existed and move on.

Paul Kellerman, everyone’s favorite evil secret service agent, came clean and cleared Lincoln at the end of season two. It’s likely that he won’t be around anymore.

Maricruz, the pregnant girlfriend of Michael’s cellmate Fernando Sucre, was put into a box by angry prison guard Brad Bellick, with one day of food and oxygen. Given that everything went crazy in last season’s finale, she seems to be in serious peril.

A Big Problem

Sarah Wayne Callies, who played Sara Tancredi, the nurse Michael fell in love with at Fox River, has apparently had enough of this nonsense. Since their love affair gave the show some weight and is Michael’s only real chance at salvation, her departure may doom the show to go completely off the rails.

Yes, this is a show in crisis, but let’s not let that ruin the fun. Let’s check in with the characters lucky enough to be alive.

Michael, having taken the blame for Kim’s shooting, was tossed into the worst prison that the producers of the show could imagine, the Panamanian hell hole Sona.

Lincoln is free and clear, but he’s now trying to get Michael out of the stir.
Mahone, Bellick, and everyone’s favorite psychopathic child molester Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell are all coincidentally in Sona with Michael.

Confused, sure you are, just enjoy the mayhem and violence and let it pass.

Episode 1: "Orientación"

Our favorite heartwarming show opens with the romantic sight of two shirtless men mired in mud and rain, fighting each other to the death. Yes, that’s how they solve their disputes here in Sona. Sona is run by a man named Luchero, who seems to think he is running some sort of brave new world. Sona apparently has been abandoned by the Panamanian powers that be. What happens in Sona stays in Sona. The law just patrols the perimeter, shooting anyone who tries to escape, monitoring visitors, and collecting dead bodies.

While T-Bag, Mahone, and Michael are treated with about as much respect as you could hope for in a place like this, Brad Bellick is in serious trouble. He’s been beaten, likely raped, he’s lost his clothes and walks around in a diaper, no one will give him any food, and he’s forced to do sewage duty. Sucks to be Bellick. Apparently word got around that he was once a prison guard.

Mahone, who is jonesing from withdrawal from whatever pills he used to hide in his fountain pen, decides quickly that Michael is his only chance at escaping this hell hole. Unfortunately for Mahone, Michael still isn’t too happy about Mahone offing his father.

Lincoln, who is free and clear, talks sense into the local authorities and arranges for Michael to be transferred after another day in Sona, which any fool can tell will be extremely treacherous. Michael tells Lincoln to find Sara, and that he can’t go on without her. This reminds us that Sarah Wayne Callies has left the show, we all sigh and wonder how this mess can ever be rectified.

Of course, Michael’s one day in Sona is an eventful one as he is set up by Luchero, who doesn’t like his star status and plants another prisoner’s drugs on him, which means Michael has to fight some 'roided up monster to the death. Told you that day wouldn’t be easy, especially since we know that Michael doesn’t have it in him to kill anybody. This plot contrivance is solved when Michael’s opponent grabs a knife (a violation of the Sona constitution, which they take very seriously) giving Mahone a reason to pop into the circle and snap the poor monster’s neck.

Meanwhile, there is a strange dude living down in the sewage tunnels of Sona named Whistler. The Company, which can apparently manipulate the entire U.S. government, need this guy out of Sona and can’t do it themselves, and that’s where Michael comes in. Hasn’t the poor guy suffered enough? To give the brothers some incentive, the Company has kidnapped Lincoln’s son L.J. and the absent Sara Tancredi. Michael must stay in Sona, escape ASAP, or the loved ones die.

And there you have it, season three becomes Prison Break II.

  • Can Michael escape from a prison with the wrong plans tattooed to his body?
  • Can Mahone survive withdrawal?
  • How many times will Brad Bellick be prison raped before he’s given any food?
  • What goofy mess will the one handed T-Bag get himself into.
  • Will Sara be recast or just killed off?
  • Where is Sucre?
  • Has Maricruz suffocated?

Stay tuned for next week's thrillingly absurd episode of Prison Break.

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About Brad Laidman


    I too am addicted to this silly show( at least no smoke monsters have made an appearance) alas this will be the last season unless Michael becomes an agent for a secret agency(some he was designed for!) Good lord I’ve just talked myself into watching season four.

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  • Alec

    I commend you for a great review! In retrospect, it is clear that “Prison Break” should have been crafted as a limited run series, lasting perhaps a maximum of 3 to 3.5 seasons, encompassing the breakout from the prison, the battle against the mysterious Company, and perhaps a few other issues. it would still be imminently watchable and also have an afterlife on DVD, etc.

    On the other hand, like “24,” one of the biggest challenges that the show faces is that it creates memorable regular characters who logically get killed off, making it harder for the writers to come up with new characters who we root for (or hiss at) as heartily as we do the old ones. I have some women friends who are seriously invested in the relationship between Michael and Sara, so if her character is killed off, they may abandon the show if they cannot reconcile their need to see Michael and Sara together with any new plot lines.

    Despite these potential handicaps, the writers might be able to pull off something interesting since fans of the show care about Michael, his brother, and his brother’s son, and even Sucre and T-Bag (in a very weird way). Anytime an audience feels empathy with a show’s characters and are intensely curious to see what happens next, you have a little room to breathe if you can come up with compelling stories. On the other hand, if you fall back on the standard network pap — stock situations and marketing-research department nonsense meant to mechanically appeal to a “demographic,” then you are done for.

    So it will be interesting to see whether the show’s creators can pull off their rather sudden shifts of theme and locale.

    By the way, it is interesting to see that Fox has made the season premiere of “Prison Break,” along with some of its other shows, available as a free download on iTunes. I don’t have any great love for either Apple or Fox, but I am a big champion of entertainment companies who come up with creative ways to entice new viewers to sample their TV shows, while also rewarding fans and regular viewers. And offering a free download early in the season is a cool thing to do.

  • lilylis

    Interesting review. I agree that on paper or when trying to explain Prison Break to someone else, it does sound a bit far-fetched. However, to a viewer who has the ability to suspend belief, its an hour of intrigue, suspense and entertainment; far more enjoyable than the typical choices offered up as television these days. If given a choice between game shows, competition shows, reality shows, cop/lawyer/forensic/medical shows – give me more Prison Break.

    In reading your review, I found it difficul to believe you are actually a fan who watches the Prison Break series regularly, when your review contains several obvious errors concerning events in previous seasons. If anything, a reporter/reviewer/critic needs to provide accurate info about a show to his audience.

    A few examples of errors found:

    — Nick Savrin was NOT killed by the Company, but by Abruzzi’s mafia goons because he failed to bring Veronica to the airstrip

    — Mahone did NOT kill Abruzzi, he never fired his gun. He was responsible for the setup of Abruzzi’s capture. When Abruzzi refused to put down the gun, he was fired upon by FBI agents but not Mahone.

    — Charles Patoshik was NOT shot, but committed suicide when he jumped from the grain silo.

    — There was a resolution to the corrupt Reynold’s presidency when she resigned in Season 2 before Lincoln was exonerated; wrapping up the story surrounding Lincoln’s framing and ending the influence of the Company over the White House. So you see, fans were not really left hanging as to what happened to Reynolds.

    — Maricruz was not left in a box?! Although she was put somewhere not yet revealed…and left with 3 weeks of food and water…not one day.

    — Mahone was ‘blackmailed’ by the Company which is what I think you intended to say rather than ‘blackballed’.

    — And, you fail to mention that the rumors of Sarah Wayne Callies leaving the show permanently after the birth of her baby have yet to be confirmed by either FOX or Callies herself, which is an important piece of info that was left out of your synopsis.

    I know, it seems petty to point these things out, but your review lacks credibility and makes me wonder if you really watch this show? And, if not how can you be giving a fair review?

    Silly show? Perhaps. What conspiracy show today isn’t silly? Entertaining? Most definitely. Should the show have been limited to only 2 seasons? I just discovered the show mid-season last year and am not ready to part with it yet. I’m looking forward to more Prisneyland…even if its more brutal that season 1. The relationship dynamics between the SONA 4 will make season 3 worth while even if the rumors about Callies turn out to be true. Sign me up for more Prison Break!

    — lily

  • I’m going to actually write a column in response. Actually you’re totally correct.

  • Mike

    Well done, Lily!
    I’m with you

  • Haywire doesn’t get shot.
    He commits suicide but Mahone let him.