The Escape of the Walking Map

I remember when “Prison Break” premiered early last year. It was definitely intriguing as we are introduced to Michael Scofield (the wonderfully taciturn Wentworth Miller), a straight man who’s gone crooked to deliberately go to prison. As luck would have it, he goes to the same prison facility where his older brother Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) is held. Lincoln has been framed for the “murder” of the vice president’s brother and is counting his days before execution. But there’s still hope – Michael has a scheme for both of them to break out of prison. Hidden in his tattooed body is the blueprint of the prison. Hopefully, with the aid of fellow inmates and a help from outside (Robin Tunney), Michael and Lincoln can pull off the great escape.

“Prison Break” had an auspicious start due to Wentworth Miller’s Michael Scofield. Here’s a character that relies almost entirely on smarts to survive in prison. We are also drawn to him because he’s so mysterious and even though he’s quiet, we can sense the guy thinking, always planning his next brilliant move. Unfortunately, I don’t really find any of the men surrounding Michael involving. The rest of the cast are pawns; they’re more or less stereotypical characters in full service to the plot. But as more episodes were produced, I did begin to approve of the respected Warden Pope (Keach), cunning Special Agent Kellerman (Adelstein), the mob-connected Abruzzi (Stormare) and that slimy T-Bag (Knepper). However, nobody among them can steal a scene like the vegetable-chopping vice-president, played sharply by Patricia Wettig.

As for the plot, the show felt thrilling and refreshing in the beginning. But as I got used to this show, the more it got obvious in its execution. The show is indeed packed with many twists and surprises but only few produce a substantial impact. I hate it when an episode is so standard, just a series of flukes and predictable set-ups. Sometimes it feels like “Prison Break” stretches its stories far too thin, as if it’s trying to last a season. But I don’t mind such redundant flaws if the show mainly focuses on Michael and his plan, instead of trivial matters. When the show delivers, it’s fantastic.

Halfway through its season, “Prison Break” lost much of its hype when it aired next to the first-rate thriller “24.” It is then I realized that “Prison Break” will remain second-rate if it doesn’t take some ambitious turns and risks. For now, “Prison Break” is good – good enough until Jack Bauer comes back with his latest bad day.

With that said, I anticipate the second season. The premiere airs on Monday night (August 21) at 8 PM/ET on FOX. The last time we saw them, the gang was surrounded by cops. Oh boy, how do they elude the authority this time? My best guess: the script is tattooed on Michael’s body. He’ll know what to do. He always does.

Preferred episodes from Season One: Pilot (1), English, Fitz, or Percy (5), The Rat (14), Go (21), & Flight (22)

Grade: B

CAST
Dominic Purceel, Wentworth Miller, Robin Tunney, Peter Stormare, Amaury Nolasco, Marshall Allman, Wade Williams, Paul Adelstein, Robert Knepper, and Sarah Wayne Callies
Created by
Paul Scheuring
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