Monday, March 19, 2007

What I'm Watching -- Prison Break & 24

That was quite the episode of Prison Break and now, as I type this, 24 has started and based on the episode previews, Jack Bauer is about to get some shocking news about Audrey Raines, played by Kim Raver. But, before 24 gets going, reviewing the great episode of Prison Break seems appropriate.

Prison Break has been a great show since it came on the air last season. The first season was, well, the show's title. Breaking out of prison. This season has been more Fugitive-esque and has been much better. For those that don't know the specifics, Prison Break follows two brothers, Lincoln Burrows and Michael Scofield. Burrows, a tough street thug with a heart of gold (or something like that), was framed for the shooting death of the Vice President's brother, who needed to fake his death in order to subvert tax evasion and other similar charges. Scoffield, a highly educated structural engineer, is a genius, and just so happened to work at the architectural firm which designed the prison his brother was being held at. With weeks to go before his brothers execution, Scofield commits an armed robbery of a bank in order to get himself thrown into the same jail his brother is being held at. But, before he does, he has the blueprints of the prison (and a bunch of other encoded messages) tattooed on his body in an elaborate design. Overhanging the show is a vast government conspiracy whose aim is now to kill Lincoln, Michael, and the other convicts which escaped with them from Fox River Penitentiary.

While season one was really good, this season has been even better. Last year, Michael was one step ahead of everyone, which was fine, he needed to break out of the prison after all. But this season, Michael met his match with FBI agent Alexander Mahone, played brilliantly by the great William Fichtner. Playing Sam Gerard to Scofield's Richard Kimble, Mahone has kept step-for-step with Scofield, which has added an added element of anticipation and equality to the show. While we understand Michael is the "good guy", him no longer being the smartest guy in the room has been a pleasant change. Even better is that Mahone, like Gerard in the Fugitive, is multi-dimensional, and is not just a bad guy. In many ways, he's a good guy put in an awful position.

Another great thing we saw tonight, which we've seen a little bit this season, is a sense of regret from Michael's character. Yes, he saved his brother's life, but in the last two years, a lot of people have died, and in breaking out of prison, some good guys (like Sucre and C-Note -- by the way, nice job tonight giving somebody a happy ending (at least seemingly) with C-Note being released to be with his wife and daughter. Hopefully they let him escape freely and actually send someone away instead of killing them) escaped, but so did some bad guys (like T-Bag). In the end, Michael wanted to save his brother, and while he does think everything through and has a plan for everything, showing that he has regret for all the people that have died in the wake of the brothers' escape, is important to redeem his overall character. And, with the previews for next week showing Mahone using this sense of regret by Michael against him, we have a heckuva setup for the last two weeks of the season.

As for 24, we are most of the way through this episode now, and it's just, well, eh. Without repeating my complaints from a previous post, I'm just not into this whole storyline with the Vice President threatening to use a nuclear weapon to respond to the terrorist attacks. And last week, President Logan was stabbed by his wife, and flat lined in the ambulance heading to the hospital, and this week, neither he, nor his wife, are even mentioned. And the "shocking twist" involving Audrey? I won't reveal it for those that haven't seen the episode yet, but its in many ways disappointing. And a mole in CTU who may not really be a mole? We've seen this before. Almost every season as a matter of fact. Oh well, maybe 24 will break out of its slump next week. Despite struggling a bit this season, I'll still be watching.

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