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Prison Break: Season 2 - Buried

William Fichtner in Prison Break

Review by Jack Foley

INDIELONDON singles out notable episodes from our favourite television series for stand-alone reviews. On this occasion we take a look at the key episode of Prison Break entitled Buried.

What’s the story? Michael (Wentworth Miller), Sucre (Amaury Nolasco), T-Bag (Robert Knepper) and C-Note (Rockmond Dunbar) continue to dig for the hidden treasure, while an anxious Lincoln (Dominic Purcell) goes it alone in search of a freshly released LJ. Agent Mahone (William Fichtner), meanwhile, is forced to result to deadly force to get the truth out of Tweener (Lane Garrison).

Why so good? While certain episodes of this second series have strained credibility and veered towards the ridiculous, Buried provided a welcome reminder of why the show became so watchable in the first place. It combined a claustrophobic situation with plenty of twists and turns.

Digging a little deeper: Based on the evidence of the previous episode, Prison Break had begun to lose its way amidst a number of unlikely plot contrivances. The escapees had located the buried treasure but had been forced to take a woman hostage in order to dig under her garage, and Tweener (Lane Garrison) had been caught by Agent Mahone (William Fichtner) attempting to get petrol to refuel the getaway car.

These stories came to a head in Buried, which found the hostage situation escalating, tensions mounting and Agent Mahone resorting to desperate measures in order to get Tweener to confess the whereabouts of the gang.

What made it so notable, however, was the insight it gave you into Mahone. From the start of the series, William Fichtner made sure that his agent wouldn’t be a mere retread of the Tommy Lee Jones persona from The Fugitive. Rather, he was a wily adversary with a much darker, harder edge. In Buried, he proved himself to be every bit as ruthless as some of the men he was chasing.

When Tweener led him a merry dance in order to buy his escapees more time and say farewell to the woman he had fallen in love with, Mahone clearly snapped. His patience and trust had been tested and he’d been played by a young upstart. To make matters worse, Tweener’s trickery had prevented him from closing in on the escapees just when it looked as though every one of them would fall within his grasp.

Mahone’s response was simple. He took Tweener out to the country, revealed a deep, dark secret from his past and then shot him in cold blood by way of revenge. It was a shocking conclusion that gave rise to an exciting possibility. If Mahone is as psychologically unhinged as he now looks, what more will he be prepared to do in order to catch his quarry.

Fichtner, for his part, has succeeded in creating another memorable character. He obviously relishes the opportunity of filling out his character, imbuing him with fascinating little ticks and character traits that are designed to make him every bit as compelling as other lead characters. And his refusal to allow himself to be conned or made to look a fool means that his character doesn’t exist merely to stay one step behind the fugitives.

Rather, he’s as unstable and unpredictable as anyone in the series. And that can only be a good thing when considering that some of the series regulars have begun to feel a little stale.

Sucre (Amaury Nolasco), in particular, has become a little dull, as has T-Bag (Robert Knepper). Their constant bickering is a little formulaic, as is their emotional attachments to their families. Not even Sucre’s surprise decision to turn against his comrades at the end of the episode was particularly compelling.

That said, the brothers remain an endearing presence and it’s good to see the strain is starting to show on the usually calm and collected Michael (Wentworth Miller). And there’s even mileage, it seems, in seeing how Dr Tancredi’s (Sarah Wayne Callies) story develops, especially now that she’s been targeted by the government conspirators as a potential loose end to be tied up.

With Burial, Prison Break put itself firmly back on track.

What do you think?