Now I’m a huge fan of series set in prisons something about how harsh and gritty they are with that beautifully twisted sense of morals and destruction of people both physically and mentally. I mean one of my all-time fav shows is Oz so I jumped up and got very excited when Prison break hit our screens years ago. Now Prison break came out not long after Lost offering us a more realistic based show with a similar us of flashbacks to explain character development and interesting twists and cliff-hangers leaving you desperate to know what is going to happen to these characters. Series 1 was pure genius and absolutely amazing it had amazing pace and was filled with suspense and tension. Every episode was edge of your seat and gripping with a very interesting array of characters all developing in ways I didn’t see coming. It was never the main brothers of Linc and Michael that had my interest it was all the other side characters and how they connected and why they were hear and what lengths they would go to see their personal agendas fulfilled. If you haven’t seen Prison break than series 1 really is amazing. The first season follows the rescue of Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell), who is accused of murdering Terrence Steadman (Jeff Perry), the brother of the Vice President of the United States (Patricia Wettig). Lincoln is sentenced to death and is incarcerated in Fox River State Penitentiary where he awaits his execution. Lincoln’s brother, brilliant structural engineer Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller), is convinced of Lincoln’s innocence and formulates an escape plan. In order to gain access to Fox River, Michael commits an armed robbery which results in his being sentenced to Fox River. In prison, Michael befriends the prison doctor Sara Tancredi (Sarah Wayne Callies) when he pretends to suffer from Type 1 diabetes, in order to gain daily access to the prison’s infirmary. The brothers’ fight to ward off the execution is aided by their lifelong friend Veronica Donovan (Robin Tunney), who begins to investigate the conspiracy that put Lincoln in jail. However, they are hindered by covert agents, members of an organization known as The Company. The Company was responsible for framing Lincoln, and they did so because of Lincoln’s father, Aldo Burrows (Anthony Denison), and his former connections to the company. The brothers, along with six other inmates, Fernando Sucre (Amaury Nolasco), Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell (Robert Knepper), Benjamin Miles “C-Note” Franklin (Rockmond Dunbar), David “Tweener” Apolskis (Lane Garrison), John Abruzzi (Peter Stormare), and Charles “Haywire” Patoshik (Silas Weir Mitchell), who come to be known as the Fox River Eight, work together to try and escape in the season finale.
Now after series 1 I did enjoy the second series cause I was riding high on the kite of how awesome the first series was and the writers kept it fast and interesting with the inmates on the outside trying to escape and stay on the run. The third series was set back in SONA prison so I preferred it because it was again about trying to calculate a daring and dangerous escape from a prison without the rules and regulation of Fox River. Sona was run by the inmates and was a harsher environment with more edge and danger than the first prison but alas our protagonists escaped this prison too. Then I tried to watch the last series and after about 5 eps gave up until last week when I finally decided to finish the series. The problem with the last series is that again it was set on the outside and therefore didn’t have the harshness that comes from a prison setting. There was no insight into how the prison system works or doesn’t, no look at the interrelationship of prisoners and their cliques, no sense of imprisonment that sense of isolation from the world and everyday things. What was great about prison break was that you only had the prison and its walls you could feel the characters constrictions and seclusion it made it more interesting knowing that they had few resources, options and allies to help escape their confines. Michael seemed even smarter when he was trying to escape a prison as it was a far more difficult task than just being on the run, he has to be a step ahead of everyone know so many details and have so many contingency plans. The most amazing part of the first series was Michael’s tattoo and how it not only mapped out the prison but of how it was such an intricate puzzle and visual representation of the brilliance that was going on it Michael’s mind. Once they were out of Prison this brilliant tattoo lost its importance and meaning and was lost to the plot and development of the show.
I was really disappointed in series 4 it got more and more complicated and it was just an over the top conspiracy thriller by the end. I really didn’t care about the plot by this point it was too convoluted, more and more characters were introduced, everyone kept betraying each other, you couldn’t trust anyone and there were random plot lines introduced. We had Michael with his strange neurological disease that he somehow developed, a mother that came back from the dead, an evil company selling environmental weapons to china and no prisons!!!!
Now for the best thing about Prison Break and the reason I stuck with it to the end. The brilliant acting of Robert Knepper and his awesome character of Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell. I can’t tell you how much I adored this character, by all accounts you should hate this vile creature and his awful crimes but you just can’t hate him. He is seductively charming, manipulatively brilliant, a genius and a terrifying man. T-bag is a horrific man with horrific crimes ranging from murder to rape; he is both psychotic and sociopathic. But he is a product of his father raping his mentally ill sister and therefore T-bag is a child of incest who was also abused by his father. This will never justify his action but it makes for a very conflicted, interesting and unpredictable character. There is something very charming about the man and also something in him that begs for redemption and a wish he had been dealt a better deal in life. I loved his character development, the way he spoke, the duality in his nature and his presence on screen and ability to steal any scene he was in. One of the things that I disliked by series 4 is how they downplayed his importance and after giving him some heart they just stripped it away and turned him into a monster again rather than showing how intelligent and calculating he could be. This nicely brings me onto Breakout Kings.
When I heard there was going to be another Prison show from the team behind Prison Break I was intrigued by the premise and then I heard that Robert Knepper would reprise his role as T-Bag and I was sold. I had to see this series. The premise for the show is in order to catch escaped convicts; a squad of U.S. Marshals makes a special deal with several current prisoners. If they agree to help, their sentences will be reduced by one month for each fugitive they bring in, and they will be transferred to a minimum-security facility. However, if any of them should try to escape, they will all be returned to their original prisons, and their sentences will be doubled. The show was a strange mix of Prison Break and a harsher meaner version of leverage. It has a simple formula, each ep a convict escapes (American prisons need better security since so many high profile prisoners seem to escape) and this crack team that include convicts that were themselves the hardest to catch by the team leader are called in to track down and catch the escapees. Now the series lacks the polish of leverage and the intelligence of Prison Break but it’s entertaining no the less. It’s not really a prison show it’s more a cat and mouse chase show. But the reason I watch it was not disappointing, in the third ep we get the return of Theodore Bagwell and he does not disappoint. I do feel bad for Fox River prison this is the second time T-Bag has escaped from this facility, you’d think they would learn since it’s also now the third time he’s escaped from a prion in the last 5 years. Robert Knepper again performs brilliantly in his role as the very messed up, brilliant and determined killer and this one episode had everything that was missing in the entire last series of Prison break.
T-bag’s dual persona is beautifully explored, how he is seen as nothing more than a monster, an animal that feeds of humanity but at the same time he has feelings and personal reasons for his actions. Even from the beginning of the ep when he tells his cell mate to keep the candle burning for him you know that his escape is about something more than him and he’s after revenge for someone else. We get to see both the vicious and brutal side of the man, always emphasized by the scoring of the episode as well as well as his lost and emotional side, triggered by his quest to revenge the treatment of his mother. Even with everything that he has done there is one thing that means he still has a soul and that is the love he has for his mother and the lengths he goes to to protect her. We learn so much about the man and all the conflicts within him as well as how others perceive him and how he perceives himself. Plus we see an amazing performance by Robert Knepper. But moving away from this one ep the series is pretty entertaining and I am enjoying the chase it provides me with each episode. I’m not as invested in the characters as I have been with other shows but the first series is only 13 eps so there’s room for development. The characters do interact with each other well and antagonize each other well so it does provide some good banter and dialogue but it needs some tighter scripts. There are some plots that even I think need more care, like the fact that they let these convicts out and about but haven’t put tracker bracelets on their ankles where shows like White Collar and Hawaii 5-0 have managed to put this into their plots.
The one character that really does raise this series up is that of Dr. Lloyd Lowery played by Jimmi Simpson a convict who suffers from gambling addiction even though he was a child protégé and brilliant scholar. It’s his brilliant evaluation of the people he meets, the way he can detect and diagnose people’s problems, insecurities, mental health issues and behavioural patterns making him essential to the team. He really is an interesting character that comes across as intelligent and a little mental himself, his own social skills are lacking but his evaluation of cases is such a huge help to this team and while he seems to wind everyone up he tends to solve the cases and speak the truths. I know there are a lot of procedural cop shows out there such as CSI, NCSI, Law and Order, Hawaii 5 -0 this one is a little different as it does give us a different prospective by having cons helping to catch cons. But if nothing else watch ep 3 which really is brilliant and worth it.
Dont forget to follow me on twitter @lonedreameryaoi and the facebook page let zoe spoil you