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November 28, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

”Prison Break”: A great fall finale

Nothing says ”Happy birthday, William Fichtner” quite like having Agent Kellerman shoot his character, Mahone, in the gut. (Yes, that’s right, William Fichtner turned 50 on Nov. 27, 2006.)

In the opening scene, we were denied a good Michael speech when the border patrol quickly took him and Lincoln out of Mahone’s soon-to-be-dead hands. (He is dead, right?) Exceptionally speedy reporting had the Fox River prison guards, Bill Kim, the other feds, Kellerman, and T-Bag all hearing the news of Michael and Linc’s arrest just moments after the brothers were in custody. Kellerman was eating a piece of fruit off a knife when he heard, which showed that he was a tough guy working out a secret plan. (I used to try to eat apples like that as a kid, and my mom always yelled at me to stop. This is why I don’t have secret plans now.)

The arrest was a disaster for the president and the Company, and it seemed that even the constantly scolding Kim was going to get into trouble for the slipup when an underling told him, ”He just heard, and he’d like to see you.” Later in the episode, we saw the enigmatic ”he,” who passed notes instead of speaking. What’s with that? I thought it had something to do with him not wanting his voice to be heard while Kim was on speakerphone, but then he stayed silent when Kim was off the phone. Can he not talk, or is he trying to add to his mystery? Have we seen him before? He looks familiar, but I don’t know if my mind is just jumbled by all the Prison Break craziness.

Anyhow, the arrest gave Kim the opportunity to deliver the best line of the series: ”There’s not much this country loves more than a bad man with a good story.” Kim knows reporters will be aching to interview the brothers, and he told Mahone to shoot them while they were still in police custody. When Kellerman got himself back in the game by offering to use his inside man in the Illinois DOC (whom he obviously met at the Crooked Officials Club) to facilitate the brothers’ ”escape” and subsequent assassination, Mahone got the order to kill Kellerman as well, which Mahone seemed guiltily hesitant to do. Too bad Kellerman wasn’t as hesitant to kill you, buddy.

The only way for the brothers to get out alive was for one fed to use deadly force on the other. (Congratulations, message-board guessers who said Kellerman would be the turncoat.) Kellerman is still responsible for killing Linc’s baby mama, and he almost killed Sara in a hotel bathroom, but his desire for revenge has brought the bad boy on to the good team. For now, at least.

Since Kellerman knows where Terrence Steadman is, I wonder why Kim didn’t have him killed earlier. Kellerman would have sounded like a lunatic saying he knows all about government plots without any evidence to support his statements, but an actual living dead man, that’s evidence. Kellerman is a bad man with a good story. Perhaps the president and the Company didn’t realize how much he knew. If they did know he knew all along, then, well, I’ll let it go so I can stay wrapped up in the show. Logic would slow this down too much.

Nothing has slowed down T-Bag. In this episode, his path to Mrs. Hollander wound past a couple of innocents. That pool player basically signed his own death certificate with his prosthetic hand when he called T-Bag’s hair ”nancy boy.” Then T-Bag used small talk so effectively in the diner with postal worker Denise. He really is quite charming, and it makes him ten times as creepy and dangerous. Just minutes later, in the scene showing Denise lying so still on the floor, viewers caught a glimpse of the future. When T-Bag said he was interested in her ”inside,” I thought he was going to tear her open then and there. But he seemed strangely apologetic before killing Denise. I think he might have let her live if she hadn’t seen his photo. (And only his photo, which was a little odd considering four escapees were still at large, and Michael and Linc had only recently been arrested.) I even think he would have taken her out to dinner as he had promised. Maybe he was waxing romantic knowing that he would soon be reunited with his ex in Ness City, Kan. It turned out a good woman wasn’t that hard to find.

Apparently, a good man is. Sara left a voice-mail on Michael’s cell phone (which has the longest-lasting battery in the world) saying that she needs him, but he’ll never get that message. Unfortunately, Sara wasn’t around for the first newscast that everyone else caught, so by the time she heard that the brothers had been arrested, they were practically escaping already. Not long after, Sara, looking not all that different with her bluntly cut hair, longingly stroked her old Fox River ID and went off alone, just as Sucre did as the sole survivor of the plane crash. It will be interesting to see Sucre and Sara making their way on their lonesome, while C-Note struggles to live as a fugitive with a sick daughter in tow.

The thing I’m most nervous to see in January is how the new warden will (justly) make an example out of Bellick. (Shouldn’t cellmate Avocado show him some love though? After all, Bellick threw a lot of tail his way back in the corrupt days.) I want to think the new warden is honest, but he was able to call in a favor so he could have some control over Michael and Lincoln’s return to Fox River. Is that suspicious?

What do you think? Is the new warden legit? Will T-Bag try to get romantic or psychotic with Mrs. Hollander? When will we see LJ or Haywire again? And will Steadman prove to be Linc and Michael’s next unlikely ally? We all know he hates being cooped up in that house….

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