TheTwoCents Staff Writer
Fox posts episode recaps on the Prison Break website, and each of those recaps take up about six pages. It’s one of the most tightly plotted shows on television, and regularly balances the large, incredibly talented cast to give each actor their fair share of memorable scenes. So my challenge becomes how to sum it all up quickly.
Here goes nothing…
Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) is framed for the murder of Terrence Steadman, brother to Vice President Caroline Reynolds. Facing execution, he pleads his innocence to his brother, Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller). Scofield takes it upon himself to break his brother out of the Fox River State Penitentiary. Since Scofield helped to design the prison, he has access to the blueprints. He has the blueprints tattooed onto his body (along with other key components of the breakout plan) and commits a crime that will earn him a sentence at Fox River.
As season one ended, eight men made it over the wall. The second season followed their separate stories as they were pursued by police, former prison guards, Secret Service agents and FBI superagent Alex Mahone (William Fitchner). Also making regular appearances was an enigmatic older man who communicated only through written notes and carried a folder marked “SONA”.
As Caroline Reynolds assumed the presidency, Scofield worked to unravel the conspiracy that landed his brother in prison, learning that the alleged victim was not even dead. After failing to secure a presidential pardon, Scofield and Burrows fled the country for Panama, where the multiple stories once again began to intersect.
Burrows was cleared when Paul Kellerman, the President’s top agent, testified in order to clear Dr. Sara Tancredi, who assisted in the breakout. Sara headed to Central America to break the news to Michael and Linc, but they were met by Secret Service Agent Billy Kim, who planned to kill the three of them. Sara shot first, but Michael took the fall for the crime, ending up in a prison called Sona.
The news was given to the older man with the notepad, who was addressed as “General”.
“He’ll break out,” he was told. “It’s in his blood.”
“I know.” The General responded. “That’s what we want him to do.”
That recap of the first two seasons focused on the central crisis of the show. However, one of the strengths of this show is the ability to balance such a large cast to give each actor their share of memorable scenes. Season one played the breakout drama perfectly, as Scofield had to decide who he could trust and who he needed to keep close to avoid a double cross. Every commercial break was a cliffhanger, with Scofield’s plan and resolve tested again and again. Meanwhile, Linc’s attorney tried to unravel the conspiracy while protecting Linc’s son, LJ.
The series reinvented itself as it hit the road in season two, with Michael’s genius being tested by the resolve and guile of Mahone, who battled his own demons in the course of the chase. The mystery got deeper and deeper, balanced against some human drama of ex-convicts reuniting with their families and/or seeking redemption.
Prison Break returns for its third season on Monday, September 17 at 8 PM.