After focusing on the breakout (season one) and the manhunt (season two), season three of Prison Break
turns the concept on its head by throwing everyone involved with the show so far--fugitives, lawmen, villains--into the same prison. When we left off in season two's finale, Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) had been exonerated of the murder for which he was framed since the beginning of the series, but Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) landed himself behind bars during the escape in Panama. It's no coincidence that he's placed in SONA, a remote place for the lowliest of criminals, along with his pursuers Agent Mahone (William Fichtner) and Bellick (Wade Willams), and fellow former inmate Theodore "T-Bag" Bagwell (Robert Kneppner), who naturally cozies up to the crime lord who rules the prison in an effort to move up in the ranks.
The main premise of Prison Break this time around is Michael needing to break someone else out of prison for The Company, the crime network responsible for all nefarious doings on the show. The Company's rep is a homicidal, sneering assassin named Susan (sometimes Gretchen) (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe), who's holding hostage both Lincoln's son LJ and Michael's love Sara until Michael carries out his mission. The typically false starts, double-crossings, and man-that-was-close moments you'd expect to come from a series like this are all there, but this time around episodes feel scattershot, a far cry from the white-knuckle tension builder that was season one. Fichtner, who joined in the second season, is a standout as a pill-popping agent-turned-inmate in withdrawal who must now collaborate with the man he chased across the country. The new characters introduced don't have much purpose; the many plot twists (he's a good guy... no, a bad guy... no, wait, a good guy) leave you a little less motivated each time to keep tuning in, and the final straw is one main character's death early in the season (reportedly because of a contract dispute between the producers and the actor). Originally planned as a jolt to the series, it instead angered many fans who had been long awaiting a just payoff. This would later be rectified before the fourth season, but there's no telling how many Prison Break fans may have skipped town before then. --Ellen A. Kim
Beyond Prison Break on DVD Stills from Prison Break: Season Three (Click for larger image)