Thursday, November 08, 2007

Prison Break: The Story So Far

(Our newest writer is Benjamin Alper, who will be taking over Prison Break, as well as some other shows down the road. And with the strike now upon us, did I pick a good week to add a bunch of writers or what?! Hope you guys enjoy your three episodes before your shows go off the air! -- ed.)

Despite the desperate and elaborate attempts of Michael Scofield to flee the United States with his brother Lincoln, the finale of Prison Break’s second season led the main character back to where the show is at its best: in prison.

However, Michel, T-Bag, Bellick, and Mahone are not locked away in a nice, warm, cushy American prison. Rather, they now find themselves trapped in the Panamanian hellhole, Sona. A prison filled with -- and for the past year run by -- the worst of the worst in Panama.

But don’t fret. For those of you viewers who crave the complicated uber-conspiracy that surrounded the first two seasons, this season does not disappoint. As Lincoln is on the outside trying to free Michael (legally) from Sona, he is approached by a mysterious femme fatale, Susan, claiming to work for the even more mysterious “Company."

Lincoln learns that it was the Company that had Michael placed in Sona. The Company is in need of someone with Michael’s expertise to help them break yet another mysterious person called Whistler out of Sona. But why would Michael and Lincoln work to help the Company? The answer is as simple as you could have guessed. The Company is holding Lincoln’s son LJ and Michael’s girlfriend Sara hostage until Michael gets Whistler out. The Company has given them a deadline of one week to break out of Sona with Whistler in tow.

Inside Sona, Michael is trying to stay alive long enough to break Whistler out. Meanwhile, T-Bag has been sucking up to the chief criminal who runs the prison, Lechero (played by The Wire’s Bunny Colvin), and has now managed to weasel his way into his inner circle by selling drugs to the Sona inmates. Mahone is trying desperately to convince Michael that he can stop shaking long enough from drug withdrawal to be useful and join in the escape plans. Bellick was walking around in a diaper for the initial episodes but thankfully has obtained some clothing and now spends most of his time whining and trying his best to thwart Michael for his own benefit.

Outside of Sona, Lincoln has teamed up with Whistler’s girlfriend and Sucre (now conveniently in charge of grave digging at the prison) to try and help Michael escape as best he can while trying to learn what the hell the Company is really after. In doing so, Lincoln figures out where the Company is holding Sara and LJ and, in the worst rescue attempt ever, manages to lose them.

To teach Lincoln a lesson, and to get rid of the character played by an actress no longer with the show, the Company kills Sara and places her head in a cardboard box for Lincoln to find. Lincoln is distraught over this for about thirty minutes and then seems to forget it ever happened. Lincoln decides not to let Michael know that the love of his life was beheaded for fear that Michael will be so enraged that he will forget about Whistler and thus causing the Company to behead Lincoln’s son.

This past week’s episodes really shook up the plot. On the day set for the escape, Mahone is visited by his former federal colleagues and is offered the deal of a lifetime. In their infinite wisdom, the US government has decided to offer Mahone four years in a minimum security American prison for the half a dozen murders and treasonous acts he’s committed so long as Mahone provides testimony about the Company’s conspiracy last season. Mahone takes the deal and gets to leave Sona but then freaks out and gets suspicious when the deal gets delayed and he has to stay in Panama a day longer.

Michael demands to see pictures of Sara and LJ (Lincoln's son) alive before he breaks Whistler out of Sona. Despite the Company’s vast resources they are unable to photo-shop a new photo of the recently beheaded Sara (hey, Photoshop is hard! -- ed.) and Lincoln is forced to come clean with Michael and tell him Sara is dead. Michael cries for a bit but then continues his escape plans, vowing to Whistler that he will seek revenge against those that killed Sara.

Michael orchestrates a diversion and gets ready to escape. Whistler and Michael climb out of the window, but as soon as they make it into the yard something goes wrong and Michael and Whistler have to abort their escape attempt. Michael and Whistler make it back inside just before the guards see who is trying to escape. However, the guards do notice the ladder Michael and Whistler used to climb out the window and lock down the prison.

In the process of locking down the prison, the guards embarrass the head criminal Lechero, causing him to fear that his hold on the prison is weakening. Lechero, afraid that his days in Sona are numbered, then tells Michael that he must break him out of Sona as well. So now Michael must come up with an entirely new escape plan within the next week to break him, Whistler, and Lechero out of Sona. Luckily for Michael, Lechero presumably has much greater access to materials that will be beneficial to Michael in the escape.

Meanwhile, Lincoln realizes that Michael is not going to make it out of the prison and attempts, with Sucre’s help, yet another pathetic rescue attempt of his son. Lincoln fails to rescue his son but does manage to negotiate an extension of the deadline to get Whistler out to another week.

But the final twist of this week’s two hour extravaganza came at the very end, when the Company femme fatale Susan visits Whistler at Sona. From their conversation, it is clear the Susan is working for Whistler and that Whistler has been masterminding the Company’s plans from the beginning. Michael sees the two talking and begins to realize that Whistler is not at innocent as he pretends.

So there you have it. The writers were smart this season to bring Michael back to a prison because the show is clearly at its best when Michael is using his cunning to engineer an escape. The rest of the plot lines with Lincoln, Sucre, Whistler’s girlfriend, and the Company are uninteresting for the most part and really only serve to fill in the gaps between the Sona scenes.

That being said, I commend the writers for being able to take what most people thought could only be a single season show and making it relatively entertaining for at least two and half seasons. Prison Break will never be a particularly deep show, but it's fun, and it still manages to entertain me from week to week.


Carrie said...

I stopped watching this show when they killed Sara. So he finds out his love is dead and he...cries a little? Disappointing.

God, I sound like such a shipper. Gross. Sorry.

Ben said...

Haha, Yeah Michael (or any other character on the show for that matter) isn't really what you'd call the "emotional" type. Its sad when you think about it, he can break out of any prison but he can't break down the walls around his heart...