While most people assume that the show that I am the most excited to see return is Survivor: China, that is not the case this Fall season.
To me, there is one show that I have been waiting for. The show that I have been counting the days and minutes until and the one that at times made my summer unbearable to get through because of my unparalleled anticipation.
The show is Prison Break and with the third season premiering tonight at 8 PM Eastern on Global and Fox, I was lucky enough to catch the first two episodes in advance. And let me state now and forever that the show is worth the hype. The first two episodes do not disappoint.
What I like the most about the show is that it is groundbreaking (both literally and figuratively). While many expect a show about a couple of brothers breaking out of prison to be nothing more than a television take on The Great Escape, or The Shawshank Redemption, Prison Break has redefined the scripted prison drama with its unique focus on its characters and the original methods the prisoners employ to fight for their often-deserved but sometimes undeserved (especially in the case of T-Bag) freedom.
For the last two seasons, Prison Break focused on its character development. Michael’s brilliance and his full body-tattoo map. T-Bag’s cunning and ruthless willingness to do whatever it took to escape Fox River. Lincoln’s undeniable devotion to his son. Sucre’s love for the girlfriend that he left behind.
After seeing the first two episodes of season 3, I now realize that the concentrated focus on character development was designed to serve as a payoff in the third season.
Let me explain.
When we last left Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller), he was locked up in Panamanian prison known as ‘Sona’ along with Brad Bellick (Wade Williams) and Alex Mahone (William Fichtner). It was clear that some powerful people wanted him in that specific prison and when in last season’s finale, the show just ended with the image of Michael now being forced to escape an even tougher penitentiary then he did before.
The reason that the show’s strong character development is so important in the show’s third season is because all the roles have reversed. It is now Lincoln (Dominic Purcell) who has to try and get his brother out of jail. Whereas Bellick was once the master of the universe at Fox River, he is now forced to serve as the prison bitch, forced to clean sewers in his underwear. Perhaps the most interesting dynamic is the one between Mahone and Scofield. Bitter rivals for the majority of last season, in their new surroundings, Alex quickly realizes that their only chance for survival is to stick together.
The writing is absolutely brilliant.
Sona is basically controlled by one dictator-esque captain. Because the prison is so tough and for the baddest of the bad, there aren’t even any guards to keep the peace. It’s self-governing but not in the typical political sense. If one inmate has a problem with another, the inmate presents his enemy with an odd chicken’s foot (basically a vicious replacement for the show’s previous paper crane symbol). The chicken’s foot serves as a challenge and the two prisoners then fight until one dies, with the other bloodthirsty jailbirds cheering loudly.
In the first episode, Michael is given his “Orientacion” (which also serves as the title of the premiere) and quickly learns that a bunch of tattoos will not be nearly enough to help him escape.
We later learn that just as Linc has managed to obtain a transfer for his brother, it is futile because the same people who put Michael in Sona want him to stay for the explicit purposes of breaking out another important prisoner. Who is the mysterious other inmate named ‘Whistler?’ You will have to watch to find out.
Other things to look for in the first two episodes?
– Like a moth to a flame, T-Bag manages to retain a degree of power in the pen
– LJ is still a nuisance.
– Sucre is still the most lovable character on the show and still hopelessly devoted to his pregnant girlfriend.
– For the first time, Michael actually looks scared.
Shows like Prison Break get a lot of criticism for being too serialized and it is in this respect that I totally disagree. While it is obviously advisable to watch the first two seasons before jumping into the third, this is not a prerequisite to enjoying the program for the first time. I mean all you really need to know about the first two seasons is that Michael broke his wrongfully-convicted brother out of jail and took some friends along for the ride. Now he is back in jail, only this time in a much more dangerous situation and the question is whether he will be able to defeat the odds and breakout again.
I also must say that the show definitely has a different look and a different vibe this season. Sona is not only deadlier, it’s dirtier. Michael soon finds out that the bread and water served in American prisons is a luxury, not a right. Everything in his new location is a struggle and this is something that the show’s protagonist has to deal with if he is going to make it.
The one thing that we have learned about Wentworth Miller’s character, though, is that he is a survivor and somebody who has shown an uncanny ability to adapt. We will see if he is able to do it again every Monday.
I for one, cannot wait.
Prison Break airs on the Global network on Monday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
Sir Linksalot: Prison Break
Tags: Prison Break