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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

56
/100

Episode 4 - Good Fences

30 March 2012

Synopsis: Lincoln is stunned by finding Sarah’s head in the box. He meekly submits to Susan’s demands and heads off to bribe the grave digger as Michael requests. Susan kills the grave digger when she believes he will hand them over to the cops. They manage to bribe the supervisor and get Sucre hired as the grave digger. Michael tries to distract Mahone by sending him off to find him a pen. Mahone is tortured by his own past and realises that Michael is playing him. Michael cuts off Sona’s electricity which allows him to get outside the prison to take a look at the cables running under the prison. He then “fixes” the problem which is trouble for Bellick who told Lechero that Michael was up to something. T-Bag kills Lechero’s drug dealer in order to get his job.

The Good: This is a strong story as Michael’s plan begins to take shape. What it lacks in subtlety it makes up for in brutality.

First we have the revelation that Sarah has had her head cut off. Despite my issues with how it was done (see The Bad), it does mark Susan out as someone not to be taken lightly which is important for the drama of the story. Her conversation with Lincoln hints at her having depth as a character as well (see Best Moment). She follows up by murdering the grave digger in front of his house. Again the brutal reality of the break out is well served by this twist and it allows crowd favourite Sucre to get involved in the story.

Lechero indulges in some necessary brutality too by pouring boiling water on Bellick for his bad information. Again it reminds us that Lechero is to be feared which is good for the story. Similarly T-Bag’s promotion is another clever story because it reminds us of what a snake he is.

The central story of Michael weakening the fence and acquiring the correct cell to break out from is good to see as it begins to build anticipation in our minds for the break out and all the things which could go wrong.

The Bad: As I hinted at in the last episode, Sarah’s death is an anticlimax. It became clear that the producers either didn’t or couldn’t get the actress involved and so killed her off. But deaths only have impact when the audience believe that a character is an important part of the show. She was clearly being kept out of sight and so her death is more predictable than shocking. It is reminiscent of the death of Lincoln’s girlfriend Veronica (see 201) which also felt sudden.

Once again McGrady is an unconvincing character. He makes a flippant bet with Michael about basketball and when he loses agreed to pay the debt. They are in prison, there was nothing but his own sense of morality which could make him honour that. But he does even though Michael then shows him that he is going to cut the electricity. Why would McGrady allow his cross to be used for that? Surely he should be terrified that Lechero would discover his cross and kill him. He appears to be nothing more than a plot device to allow Michael to make things happen. It also makes Michael look foolish for trusting him.

I’m also not sure how effective the electricity story is. Season one of the show thrived because we had a sense of what Michael was trying to achieve at each step. Here we don’t discover that he was responsible for the electricity going out until it is revealed like a twist ending. But it is hardly a great twist because we don’t really know what Michael gained by digging about in Sona’s electrical tunnels.

Considering Michael’s history of prison escape, Lechero looks a bit dumb for giving him a cell with a window. Michael’s excuse that he likes the sun in the morning is completely lame.

The Unknown: What did Michael gain from his digging expedition outside Sona? Who sent Whistler the note and why is he running out of time?

Best Moment: Again the interaction between Susan and Lincoln is very interesting. He has been broken by Sarah’s death. No more defiance. He hands over Whistler’s real book when she asks for it, reminding us of how efficient she is. But it is her defensiveness that is most interesting. “I am just a soldier in this war Lincoln. Just like you. I did not want to do that. Can you even comprehend the intimacy of the mechanics of what I had to do to that woman? It's horrible!” It’s a sign of real character development for her with an indication of her morality. It also plays into the theme of the whole show that it is those large unaccountable, unseen forces that are to blame for the plight of our characters.

The Verdict: Which lacking in the subtlety and intelligence of season one, season three has continued the brutality developed in season two. At least it is used to good effect here as those who have power over Michael are shown to be threatening and ruthless. His escape plans are shaping up intriguingly.

('DiggThis)

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