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Prison Break: How the Odyssey-inspired revival came to be

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Fox

It’s been seven years since Michael Scofield sacrificed himself in the Prison Break series finale, and now the tattooed genius will be back for Fox’s nine-episode revival set for Spring 2017.

This time, however, Michael’s the one behind bars, trapped in a Midnight Express-esque hellscape that makes Fox River look like the Four Seasons, while his brother, Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell), and former wife, Sara Tancredi (Sarah Wayne Callies), are none the wiser to his true fate.

But how did Michael find himself locked up instead of six feet under? For the answer to that, you’ll have to time-travel back to 2014, when actors Miller and Purcell reunited on the set of The Flash as the villainous duo Captain Cold and Heat Wave after not seeing each other for five years. “Wentworth and I have a deep friendship, but also a unique chemistry on screen, and it was just like we had never left Prison Break when we reunited,” Purcell tells EW.

“We started chatting and reminiscing,” Miller says. “Out of that back-and-forth came this idea: ‘What if we revisited Michael and Lincoln from Prison Break? Would Fox even be interested?’ It turns out they were.” The timing was fortuitous as Fox was already working on reboots for The X-Files and 24.

The next key move was getting Prison Break creator Paul Scheu­ring to come on board, which happened relatively fast after he met with Miller and saw his enthusiasm for a revival. “On some level, that break that we had of six-to-seven years in real life allowed Wentworth to appreciate what he had with Michael Scofield,” Scheuring says. “He said he wanted to inhabit it for a few more episodes. I said, ‘Look, nobody wants to revive this thing for multiple seasons and that whole long slog, but if we can tell a concise, closed-ended story in nine or ten episodes, I’d be amenable to that.’”

With that long break in mind, it was Scheuring who came up with the idea to use one of the most famous epics in history to revive the beloved series. “It’s ultimately a story about somebody coming back to life,” Scheuring says — though he stays mum on just how Michael is still alive after sacrificing himself in The Final Break. “The emotional heart of it is that he left behind a wife and a son he’s never seen before. [I thought] ‘Hey, wait, isn’t that The Odyssey?’” And Scheuring took his inspiration literally: In both tales, the heroes use the assumed named Outis and resurface after seven years in the foreign land of Ogygia, attempting to get home.

Ogygia, in this case, is the prison that Michael has called home the last four years. The assumed name is Kaniel Outis, renowned terrorist. What?! To get more scoop on the Prison Break revival, pick up Entertainment Weekly’s Comic-Con issue.

To continue reading more on Prison Break, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Friday, or buy it here – and subscribe now for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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