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Prison Break

Prison Break is a drama about Michael Schofield, a gifted engineer who deliberately gets incarcerated in order to try and break his brother Lincoln out of prison. FOX 2005-2009

Seasons

Season Overview #Episodes Score Viewer
score
Season 3 2007-08 13 59 -
Season 4 2008-09 22 54 7

Top episodes

Season
» Episode
Episode Overview Score Viewer score
Season 4
» Episode 12
Selfless The General and his security are ambushed by...
The General and his security are ambushed by Michael, Lincoln, Mahone and Sucre. Michael takes Scylla to the General’s office and waits. Self and Trishanne kill Feng and his men. Gretchen and T-Bag hold the GATE employees hostage after Mr White sees their guns. Trishanne returns and arrests T-Bag. Sara captures Lisa (who is the General’s daughter) in a bathroom and threatens to kill her if the General doesn’t let Michael escape. The General’s security forces follow Michael to the airport but he eludes them and gives Self Scylla. Self then kills Trishanne leaving Michael with nothing but blank paper instead of release papers.
77 -
Season 3
» Episode 7
Vamonos Michael’s challenge to Whistler is merely a distraction...
Michael’s challenge to Whistler is merely a distraction as they attempt to escape. But clouds cover the glare and so they abandon the attempt. Lechero forces them to fight to the death until the guards discover their rope ladder and enter the prison. They humiliate Lechero and so he enlists Michael to break him out of Sona. Meanwhile Lincoln pretends that they have escaped and he and Sucre almost recover LJ.
72 -
Season 4
» Episode 2
Breaking and Entering Self drops the dream team off at their...
Self drops the dream team off at their new base in LA and introduces them to fellow con Roland who will provide technical expertise. They find the man Whistler gave the card to and plant to use Roland’s device to steal the information from it. They plant the device on the maid but she leaves it behind. They manage to break in and retrieve it but discover that it only contains one sixth of Scylla. Meanwhile Self goes to see a former company member, T-Bag cannibalises his Mexican friend and Wyatt locates Bruce Bennett to get the answers he needs.
72 7
Season 3
» Episode 11
Under & Out Mahone, Whistler and Michael dig the tunnel while...
Mahone, Whistler and Michael dig the tunnel while Lechero is deposed by Sammy. T-Bag recruits Bellick to the escape if he can kill Sammy. Bellick escapes death when Sammy rushes off to deal with Michael. Instead he is buried beneath the dirt and Lechero re-ceases power. Lincoln buys a bomb and Sucre places it in Gretchen’s car despite her threats against Marie Cruz.
71 -
Season 3
» Episode 12
Hell or High Water Michael allows Lechero, T-Bag and Bellick to get...
Michael allows Lechero, T-Bag and Bellick to get caught while he and the others escape as the guards are searching for them. The guards torture Bellick and T-Bag until T-Bag gives up Sucre to them. Michael and the others reach the beach where Lincoln digs up the oxygen tanks that take them out to an ocean marker. McGrady’s father uses the boat which Sucre couldn’t and rescues them. Lincoln has found an abandoned warehouse where they can make a safe exchange but Whistler runs away.
69 -

Credit FOX

ORIGINS

From an idea given to him by Dawn Parouse, Paul Scheuring developed the idea for Prison Break and pitched it to FOX in 2003. The idea was rejected because of the lack of potential for an ongoing series. The show was rejected by other major networks and the idea was considered to make it into a miniseries. However after the ongoing success of 24 FOX changed their mind and commissioned the show.

CONTENT

Prison Break debuted on August 29, 2005 to a solid audience of 10.5 million viewers. The idea of a prison breakout was always going to have a dramatic appeal but it was the specific story of Michael Schofield that was gripping. Here was a man who was so smart that he planned a prison breakout from the outside. Here was a man who was so convinced of his brother's innocence that he had that plan tattooed permanently on his body and gave up his freedom to execute it. That confidence and conviction made Schofield a must-watch character and the sombre performance from Wentworth Miller felt just right.

Unfortunately Prison Break was never able to shake the feeling that it would have made a better mini-series than a full ongoing series. As the first season stretched out to twenty two episodes Schofield's secret conspiracy became pretty well known. By the season finale it felt like half of the inmates were escaping with him.

The audience held steady though for season two as the Fox River Eight made their escape. The plot became ever harder to follow as the machinations of the Company became more complex. The sense of reality began to shed too as many of the inmates avoided capture despite a national manhunt.

The audience declined steadily as the gang were re-imprisoned in Panama (season three) and formed their own A-team (season four). The producers wisely wrapped the season up in 2009 and gave closure to the characters in an additional two episodes called "Prison Break: The Final Break" which were made for DVD release.

THETVCRITIC

When Lost reignited my passion for American television in 2005 I began to seek out other contemporary shows. Prison Break was one of the first that I came across and I was instantly hooked by Michael Schofield's daring plan. Even as the story was stretched out I still felt emotionally invested and liked the setup for season two with our characters on the run.

However things began to go south from there. I found season two confusing and implausible. The more we learnt about the Company, the less I cared and I began to believe that secret evil organizations are always a bad idea on TV. Season three was a blatant attempt to put the genie back in the bottle with Michael and company returning to prison.

However that season coincided with my first attempts to review other shows and so I covered it as I watched each episode. The tvcritic.org was live when season four aired and so those reviews chronicle my week by week disillusionment. Without spoiling anyone I will just say that season four pivoted on one twist which destroyed my enjoyment of the season.

I never did get round to covering "The Final Break" although I did watch it. In an ideal world I would go back and cover it along with seasons one and two. However it seems unlikely that that will happen any time soon. Perhaps one day it will be ripe for a re-watch but please don't hold your breath.

LEGACY

Prison Break is a show that actually didn't suit the American television model. Critically speaking FOX were right to raise the objection back in 2003 that the story had nowhere to go once the inmates broke out. To keep the story going we were treated to a number of silly twists.

I don't see much evidence that the lessons of Prison Break were learnt. 24 grinded repetitively on with the same kind of twists which drove me away. In 2011 Once Upon a Time was commissioned, a show about fairytale characters trapped in their own prison which I suspect will end up resorting to similar tricks.

Nick Santora and Matt Olmstead, two of the show's writers developed their own semi-spin-off called Breakout Kings which aired on A&E in 2011.

November 2011