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Mini TV Watch: 'Prison Break' (Season 3, episode 1)

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Prison_lFirst off, what was all that pre-premiere critical hoo-hah about Prison Break “improving” this season by sending Michael & Co. back to the slammer? I dug last year’s men-on-the-run in every-which-way-but-win setup.  Sucks that Lincoln’s lawyer babe Veronica had to get clipped in episode 1 (no double dates with Mike and Sara), but her goody-goodness was dead weight. Those dudes were in prison. With T-Bag. They were pawns in a hoax orchestrated by the vice president and Veronica was still angling for a reprieve.  Who wasn’t chuffed to see her screen time go to emotionally conflicted, drug-addicted, altogether cooler Sara?  The good doctor always came through in the pinch.  Season 2 trimmed Break‘s fat (Veronica, Abruzzi, C-Note), revealing a streamlined, if old-school, conspiracy thriller (a shady group of financial corporations known simply as the Company runs the country) and a slick game of cat-and-mouse pitting brainiac fugitive Michael against FBI genius Mahone (an employee of said group).  Now through machinations of the Company, the pair, along with T-Bag and Bellick, are trapped in a Panama City prison called Sona. 

And yeah, last night’s episode hinted at a pretty thrilling season to come.  For instance:

1. Prison Break: Panama City is rough.  Remember the jail-house riots from season 1? Child’s play.  It’s like 28 Days Later in there, everyday, complete with cannibalism (Bellick to inmate: “Mmmmm…chicken”) and rotting corpses (inmate to Bellick: “That’s not chicken”).  And the only way to get out is in a body bag.  Or in the stomach of someone in the body bag. 

2. Sona is run by Bunny Colvin, aka The Wire‘s Robert Wisdom, but without the cuddly cop thing he had going on in that show.  Here he’s called Lechero and he makes yoga — which he practices while watching his flat-screen TV (in a prison, so you know he’s got pull) — scary.

3. New Hamsterdam it ain’t.  Which brings me back to 28 Days Laterand Michael.  One of Lechero’s unbreakable prison rules mandates thatwhen inmates have a beef with each other, they fight it out — to thedeath.  Maybe it was the rain.  Maybe it was his shaved head.  But whenMichael got roped into one such face-off, I expected — no, hoped — for him to go all Cillian Murphy at the end of Daysand kill his opponent by pushing his thumbs through the guy’s eyes.  Hechickened out (saved only by Mahone’s FBI ninja moves — I sense areluctant partnership in their future…), but Michael’s violent side hasbeen brewing since Fox River (the tattoo, the guilt complex).  As T-Bagmight say, You have a freak flag, Pretty, fly it. 

4. There’s a mysterious Australian guy living in Sona’s walls.Obviously, he’s self-sufficient.  Obviously, Bunny would go nuts if hefound him.  And obviously, he’s the “James Whistler” the Company putMichael in there to break out. 

5. No more mentions of how General Pad Man’s labcoated lackey hintedat the end of season 2 that Michael was some sort of science experiment(“You know he’s gonna break out.  It’s in his blood”).  I’m not one fordropped plotlines or characters (like George Clooney’s son on ER), but I get enough of this on Lost.   

6. The scratch marks on Jodi Lyn O’Keefe’s face.  You know sheprobably got them from a boyfriend whose cruelty has turned her into ahard-hearted criminal, but you secretly hope Sara did it when she wassnatched. And when did PB become a haven for Nash Bridges’ cast (Jodi,Jeff Perry)? Next up, Don Johnson as T-Bag’s new honey. 

7. Sara’s potential return.  We know Sarah Wayne Callies is nolonger in the cast.  But here’s to hoping she has a tearful cameo in anend-of-season reunion.  George Clooney did it when Julianna Marguliesleft ER.

8. Sucre’s not dead.  Is it just me or whenever he yells “Maricruz!” are you reminded of Brando’s “Stella?” Don’t answer that. 

9. Kellerman’s return. Okay, so this isn’t in the episode, but needI point out that we never actually saw him die?  Come on PaulAdelstein, “everybody eats berries,” you know what I’m talkng about!

Okay, all you Break fans, what did you think of Monday night’s episode?