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Prison Break: Season 2 - First episode reviewed

Prison Break, Season 2

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THE second season of Prison Break kicked off in suitably breathless fashion, picking up eight hours after the convicts had escaped.

The first hour of the second season successfully maintained the momentum generated by its fast-paced predecessor and even took the show into new directions.

But whether it can sustain such a high level of quality without sacrificing too much credibility remains to be seen, as there were moments when the opener threatened to come off the rails.

With so many loose ends from the end of season one, it was little wonder that season two failed to address them all. A couple of the escapees from season one didn’t even get a look in, while there was no mention of Lincoln Burrows’ son.

What the first episode did do most convincingly, however, was introduce a very interesting major new character in the form of William Fichtner’s FBI Special Agent Alexander Mahone, who will be leading the hunt for the fugitives.

Fichtner has long been a great character actor and straight away stamped his authority and personal integrity on a role that could easily have become just another Tommy Lee Jones rip-off from The Fugitive.

Fichtner ensured that Mahone had the brains to match Michael Burrows and it should be interesting to see how their battle of wits develops throughout the season, as well as how Mahone deals with the vengeful Captain Brad Bellick (Wade Williams), who seems hell-bent on killing his prey.

Elsewhere, there was also the surprise death of a key character to contend with, cleverly setting up the possibility that no one is safe.

The character in question was Robin Tunney’s Veronica Donovan – one of the weaker characters from the first season – whose discovery of the whereabouts of a key character proved her downfall.

The main thrust of the episode concentrated on Lincoln (Dominic Purcell), Michael (Wenworth Miller), John Abruzzi (Peter Stormare), “C-Note” (Rockmond Dunbar) and Sucre (Amaury Nolasco) as they attempted to outrun – literally – the prison wardens on their trail, as well as the lone figure of “T-Bag” (Robert Knepper) as he attempted to find a doctor capable of saving his severed hand.

It was as exciting as we have come to expect, as the prisoners survived several brushes with the law by the skin of their teeth and began to put into play a back-up plan that Michael had created in the event that Abruzzi let them down.

By the episode’s close, the central five were in civilian clothes and thinking of parting company – all determined to find the money stolen by late colleague Westmoreland during the 1971 skyjacking.

Some were even contemplating returns to their loved ones, despite the fact that such a move would be an obvious step.

And let’s not forget Sarah Wayne Callies’ Dr Tancredi, who miraculously survived her overdose attempt and was in hospital preparing to face the wrath of her employees while contemplating her relationship with Michael.

Plenty to be going on with then… and vastly different from the claustrophobic confines of season one’s prison setting. Both a good thing for the show’s progression and a possible handicap for the future.

Of the lapses in credibility, Mahone’s amazing ability to workout Michael’s Plan B required a major suspension of disbelief, while the conspiracy element surrounding the death of the vice-president’s brother took a new and unlikely turn.

But we’re prepared to go with it for now in the hope that the ensuing chase remains as consistently exciting as the 60-minute taster.

For sure, there’ll be surprises and even some disappointments along the way but for now, Prison Break remains one of the most compulsive programmes on terrestrial television and one that’s well worth giving over Monday nights to pick up the chase.

Prison Break: Season 2 screens on Channel 5 on Monday nights (from January 15, 2007)