uttered by Michael and James Whistler or by the show’s creative team?

[Spoilers coming, obviously.]

After an episode of machinations to get the elusive and all-important Whistler out of his underground hidey-hole and into the general Sona prison population (events that managed to be both much too complicated [I have no idea how Michael knew his booze bomb would work] and much too simple [couldn’t they have milked more time from Whistler’s isolation?]), the Australian convict turned to his brooding potential rescuer and asked, "So how are we getting out of here?"

"I have no idea," said Michael, looking as sad as we’ve ever seen him before.

You and the writers both, Michael. And you have less than a week to figure out. Could that week last a full 22 episodes? That would be impressive economy.

In the first season, Michael’s escape strategy was telegraphed by the end of the pilot. Sure, things happened to make the break take extra time and effort, but both the character and the writers had some sense of where things had to go. Through two episodes of this third installment, the writers are just trying to make it sound like this season’s plot isn’t as silly and repetitive as it’s initially seeming.

In the first season, Michael went to jail to break out a man who’d been accused of killing the vice president’s brother. Now we’re back behind bars for him to spring a guy who killed the President of Panama’s son in a bar fight. Does anybody think maybe Whistler was framed? Does anybody think a Vast Government Conspiracy might have been involved? Oooh, is there a chance that the President of Panama’s son is living in a remote cabin off in the woods somewhere with a set of false teeth? Certainly there’s something complicated at work.

When Linc asked in-the-know Susan B. Anthony (Jodi Lynn O’Keefe) the rather valid question of "Why us?" her answer was less-than-direct.

"There’s a political spotlight on Whistler due to the nature of his crime," she said. "Raids, bribes, what-have-you are not an option. We have to go in through the backdoor, so to speak."

Wait. First of all, that doesn’t answer Linc’s question. That answers the "Why don’t you attempt raids, bribery or what-have-you?" question, rather than the "Why [and how] did you orchestrate an entire season’s set-up in order to get a pouty structural engineer and his lunkheaded con brother involved with fringe Panamanian politics?" question. Second, is there an easy exit through the back door of the prison? Is that what she’s saying? Because that would make this season really easy. Or is she making a euphemistic reference to prison rape? Because that would be icky. And as of now, it looks like unfortunate and unwanted sexual congress is perhaps the only awful thing that isn’t happening in Sona. It’s no wonder Michael can’t figure out how to escape, since yesterday he had to avoid being killed in gladiatorial combat and today he had to avert a full-scale revolt.

Maybe tomorrow the other convicts start getting flirtatious. I hope it isn’t that dweeb in the Tracy McGrady Rockets shirt, because he’s quite possibly the season’s most annoying new character, always on hand to ask intriguing questions like whether or not Michael’s ever slept with a blond cheerleader. I was relieved that Michael didn’t go off on a rant about how his whole life was dedicated to the love of a drug-addicted brunette doctor he’d only kissed and who he may not ever see again unless contractual issues get worked out for February sweeps or something.

And speaking of annoying characters, weren’t we all overjoyed to see the return of both Sucre and his beloved Maricruz (original flavor Camille Guaty, not to be confused with imposter-Maricruz, Melissa Marsala)? After all the tension about Maricruz’s fate, wasn’t it just a bit anti-climactic for Bellick to be all "Yeah, I used to be an ultra-sadistic prison guard and then I was an ultra-sadistic mercenary last season, but I would never actually hurt anybody, so I set Maricruz free"? I continue not to understand why Lincoln’s wandering around Panama City as a free man, but if Sucre were to return to the States, he’d be a fugitive, nor do I get why Linc went through the guilt trip to keep Sucre in town. Sucre doesn’t add very much to the Injustice League shaping up to help Michael and Whistler out of jail. He’s mostly good at crying about his beloved Maricruz and, um… not being evil, I guess. Somehow I can’t see Linc enlisting T-Bag’s help if the roles were reversed between Sucre and the one-handed pederast, which is too bad, because T-Bag’s actually smart.

Other quick thoughts from a week that was both busy and uneventful:

  • Several great scenes between Mahone and Michael, particularly Mahone’s acknowledgement of the irony of having to kill a man to get out of prison ("It does seem pretty strange, doesn’t it? But this is a really strange place. One that I want to get out of."). But I didn’t buy Mahone deciding unilaterally to get Whistler out of the wall without approaching Michael first. He’s a smart enough man not to make a snap decision like that without seeing the entire picture. And why hasn’t T-Bag earned a little extra capital by letting the other prisoners know that a debauched FBI agent was in Sona? What fun they could have!
  • And speaking of fun for the Sona prisoners, couldn’t they get even more amusement out of Bellick, a former prison guard? How bad do we all feel for actor Wade Williams, who has been limping around in a dirty diaper for two full episodes now. Somebody get that man some clothing.
  • That’s a mighty big coincidence that Whistler is using Birds of the Northwest Hemisphere as some sort of codebook for his girlfriend after all of that stuff about the European Goldfinch last season.

    Thoughts on this week’s episode?

  • Posted by:Daniel Fienberg