Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"That don't look like no invitation to the Sona Hawkins dance.": Prison Break

by Benjamin Alper



After a two hour special last week that turned the plot upside down, Prison Break’s fall finale ended with not only a bang but also a bit of a burn this Monday night. The bang came with the final scene’s action packed, helicopter, explosion fest, and the burn came with the realization that after an entire fall season nothing much has changed for the characters of Prison Break.

Michael is regrouping from his most recent failed escape plan and is now working with Lechero to formulate a new plan. The company has told Michael and Lincoln that they have four days to plan a new escape and get Whistler out of Sona. However, Susan, the company’s sexy yet sadistic operative, gets an unexpected visit from the “General”, a creepy old white man who appears to run the company.

The General tells Susan that he is sick of her failures and wants to go with the “Bang and Burn” option to get Whistler out of Sona. Susan feels this is too risky but the General alleviates her concerns by threatening her with torture if she doesn’t follow his orders. Susan seems to get the message and visits Whistler to tell him to be ready by five that afternoon. Almost as an afterthought she tells Whistler that he has to kill Michael before he leaves.

Inside Sona, Michael, Lechero, and Whistler inspect the tunnels underneath the prison. Michael tells Lechero that he might be able to dig them out of Sona in a few days and begins to formulate a plan. Whistler, a bit nervous about whats in store for the afternoon, conspicuously checks his watch to see what time it is every 5 seconds, tipping Michael off to the fact that Whistler has plans of his own. Whistler’s weird attempts to get Michael alone with him so he can stab him also don’t help. Lechero’s control over Sona seems to be slipping as well, as Sammy, Lechero’s number two, begins to recruit new gang members of his own.

Outside of Sona, Lincoln and Sucre start putting together secret plans of their own in preparation for Michael and Whistler’s second escape attempt. Whistler’s girlfriend, meanwhile, gets a phone call from Whistler’s old landlord. It appears Whistler kept an apartment on the side that his girlfriend didn’t know about. The girlfriend goes to check it out and finds that Whistler left a passport at the apartment but under a different name. She gets suspicious and confronts Whistler who tells her not to worry and to stay away from Lincoln because it might be “dangerous” to do so. Once again, Whistler fails to be subtle, and his girlfriend realizes that she is being lied to. She then heads straight out to find Lincoln.

Even further away from Sona, Mahone is going through a bad drug withdrawal but is forced to testify at a hearing so that they can determine whether they’re going to let him off the hook for the half a dozen murders he’s already committed. Shaking and sweating profusely, Mahone goes on an insane, nonsensical rant at the hearing while trying to describe the power of the Company. No one believes a word he says, and Mahone is informed that he is (surprise!) heading right back to Sona. As horrible and pathetic as Mahone is you really have to feel sorry for him at this point. He was offered four years in a minimum security prison for murder and treason, and he can’t hold it together long enough to get the deal. Now, he is headed back to the worst place on earth for what will most likely be the rest of his life (unless he manages to escape!).

As soon as Whistler’s girlfriend catches up to Lincoln and Sucre, the three are ambushed by Company goons. However, Lincoln and Sucre manage to overpower these goons with great ease, and they finally begin to realize that something isn’t right. Lincoln calls Michael on Lechero’s cell phone, and the two realize that the Company is trying to get rid of them because the Company has their own escape plan and they don’t need Michael anymore. Michael then sets off to find Whistler and confront him.

As Michael closes in on Whistler, two Company attack helicopters attack Sona, taking out the guards with extremely excessive force. Whistler runs to the roof of Sona and one of the helicopters drops a rope to him. As Whistler picks up the rope and is about to be whisked away, Michael jumps on Whistler and hangs on for dear life. The two men struggle in mid-air for about 10 minutes and eventually fall back onto the roof. The Company is forced to abort the mission and Whistler and Michael remain in Sona.

Although last week’s escape attempt didn’t upset the guards enough to do anything, the mass slaughter of dozens of prison guards finally does the trick. The chief-guard in charge of Sona finally realizes that if Michael Scofield is in your prison and two escape attempts are made in two days, Michael’s probably got something to do with it. Michael is forced to leave Sona; where he goes only time (and the end of the writer’s strike) will tell.

Thus ends Prison Break’s fall season. It was great to see Michael back in prison and trying to break out. However, the ancillary stories all feel like teases, and this fall season is remarkably similar in structure to the first fall season of Prison Break. Michael has an amazing plan that is foiled at the last minute by something he can’t control, and Michael is forced to spend the spring season making and implementing a new plan.

After this fall season, all of the characters are pretty much in the same positions they were in at the beginning of the year. Nonetheless, this season was still very entertaining, and the helicopter scene at the end of Monday’s episode was really cool. Prison Break will still keep an audience as long as the writers keep coming up with fresh situations that test Michael’s ingenuity. Hopefully, the strike will end soon enough, and we’ll get to see whether Prison Break can keep things interesting.

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