For a show that’s named Prison Break, the majority of season 2 saw itself with no place to break out from as our escaped convicts were on the run. With the prison element completely stripped away, the show reinvented itself in a way by almost becoming a TV show rendition of the film The Fugitive. As literally the entire season revolved around our group of inmates all trying to leave the country.
Now one of the best things, Prison Break would always do is introduce new and compelling characters. In the four seasons of the show, no introduction to a character was better done than that of FBI agent Alexander Mahone (William Fichtner) in season two. Looking back on season one, Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) never truly had an antagonist, unless you count the prison itself as his antagonist. Mahone however was the perfect “villain” as he is a mirror image of Scofield. Everything from his smarts to his attention to detail, Mahone was on Scofield’s tail throughout the entire season making for some amazing got-you moments. Not to mention the character was incredibly layered as well. Throughout the show, we see Mahone taking medication to keep himself focused on the hunt for the Fox River Eight. We later learned that Mahone’s past involved him wrongfully killing a man, resulting in a personal burden that was helped hidden away by the Company. The price of that secret however is forcing Mahone to hunt and kill each of the Fox River Eight.
What season 2 did that many never expected was its willingness to kill off characters left, right and center. Right in opening episode, Veronica who spent all of season one trying to clear Lincoln Burrows name was shot and killed by the dreaded Company. After discovering that the Vice President’s brother was alive, her revelation of the truth was short lived to say the least. Now while her death and those of characters such as Tweener and Charles Patoshik were understandable, given their diminutive status on the show as a whole, the biggest surprise came in the death of John Abruzzi, which in my eyes was one of the biggest mistakes done by the writers. As killing him off eliminated a potential interaction between the Mafia and Company, which would have been amazing.
The show also decided to extend Brad Bellick’s stay on the show having him go about hunting the Fox River Eight on his own, which ends up with his own imprisonment within Fox River. Now what could have been great poetic justice for the Bellick character, his stay in Fox River was short lived as he winds up assisting Mahone. He also ends up in a subplot at the end of the season involving Michael, Lincoln, T-Bag and Mahone in Panama, which didn’t make sense for him. Having so many characters meeting their end in season two, it was shocking to see Bellick survive this long.
A huge subplot during the first half of the season revolved around Michael and Lincoln discovering the five million dollars stashed away by D.B. Cooper. This made for quite a lot of fun as it was the first time in a while where we see key members of the escape reunited again (Michael, Lincoln, Sucre, C-Note, Tweener and T-Bag). Sadly the series made the whole ordeal of obtaining the five million dollars worthless by having the money thrown down a river by the end of the season.
The show also had a few hiccups when it tried expanding the power of the Company. At times, Prison Break made the Company into a legitimate threat by having characters such as Mahone obeying each and every order. But by the same token the show overplayed that hand by having the Company overpower the President of the United States Caroline Reynolds. Doing that, eliminated a tangible threat, the government, and replaced it with one that was outlandish. Then again plausibility has never been a friend to the show.
To the show’s credit, it did do a fine job spending many episodes further developing side characters such as T-Bag, C-Note and Sucre. With T-Bag, we see his mission after breaking out to be finding Susan, the woman who imprisoned him, and rekindling their romance and in turn building a family. Though we knew that would never happen for him, it was amazing to see that character’s reasoning behind it. Coming from a broken family and where he was abused as a child, it was obvious why he was so inclined on rediscovering a life that he missed out on so many years ago. While with C-Note his days on the run revolved around him keeping his sick daughter alive. Her sickness however led to him giving himself up to Mahone. Having no value to Mahone alive, C-Note is given the ultimatum of hanging himself in a cell or seeing his daughter and wife killed on the outside. Thankfully C-Note’s life is spared by a side investigation being done on Mahone, which also leads to C-Note entering the witness protection program and being written off the show.
The show then ends on a downer as we see Michael, T-Bag, Bellick and Mahone being sent to Panamanian prison called Sona. This was all a so called “plan” done by the Company, but personally I would have preferred to have seen the remaining inmates on the run instead of being confined to a prison again.
Season two of Prison Break again shined when it focused on the development of its supporting characters. Its overarching story however was hit or miss as the more we learned about the Company, the less interesting the story became. Regardless, the show’s characters made season two a fun season to watch that at times flirted with season one’s greatness.