Advice for Linc’s stunt double: Demand a bonus every time they hit you with a car.
So hey, sorry about missing the first week of school, how tacky is that? A hurricane blew out my electricity for a week, you see, so my circumstances were totally extenuating. [Update: the posting of this recap was delayed by a totally unrelated power outage brought on by winds from a totally unrelated hurricane hundreds of miles away that at press time STILL hasn't even made landfall. Why do I live here?] Anyway, all caught up now, and boy howdy, this show does not mess around with pacing or setting moods or slow burns, does it? By the end of the third episode we’ve already had people killed mid-sentence (Whistler!) killed offscreen (Bruce Bennett and Mahone Jr, ouch) back from the dead (Sara AND Gretchen) and, because this is Prison Break, hit by cars. Plus an entire Alias season’s worth of espionage and encryption and conspiracy. I’m in!
4.03 Shut Down. So firstly I’d like to draw your attention to the desperate, delusional predictions I made after the season 3 finale regarding Sara’s total non-deadness. Ding! And ha, I’d forgotten I’d also called Bellick’s mom coming to the rescue. Now where’s Kellerman and my mojito party? Anyway, a bunch of stuff happened last Monday while my house was dark and hot and boring. Sara’s not dead, Michael undergoes a nonexistent tattoo removal procedure from the future, Whistler gets plugged by our new Kellerman (this version is hot, black and mumbly), and someone finally gave Michael Rapaport something to do besides generic “Man-Boy And His Sassy Wife” sitcoms whose plots revolve almost entirely around Wacky Misunderstandingsâ„¢. And we have this card to steal, which it turns out is actually six cards! Dun!
Michael is angry. He’s doing that thing where he’s kind of yelling but somehow still kind of whispering, accusing Self of getting them into something way bigger than they agreed to. But Self, fiddling significantly with his wedding ring in a way that suggests a Character Motivation of some kind, is just as befuddled as everybody else that Scylla is not as simple as they thought it was. Michael whisper-yells that they held up their end of the bargain, and Self’s all, hey, which one of us has the badge in this scenario, and which one has the outstanding arrest warrants and the ankle bracelet?
“Bitch, don’t you point at me, I was in Grand Theft Auto 3!”
Michael heads back to the Warehouse of Justice and tells the Superfriends that they have to finish the job. Snarky Asian Computer Guy’s little data-sucking machine also copied all the info from Card Guy #1′s PDA, and Michael thinks they might be able to use his calendar and emails to find the next Cardholder. I guess just asking random people “I am the Keymaster. Are you the Cardholder?” would take too long. Sara notices that his calendar is full every day except today, which just has a star. Curious! And oh, by the way, Michael forgot to mention that they have till the end of the day to find the next guy or everybody goes to jail. Again.
Mahone calls Lang, who is relieved to hear from him, and heartbroken to hear that the Company MURDERED his freaking KID. Linc, who has been taking every opportunity to give Mahone as much shit as he possibly can, overhears this part of the conversation and backs away looking rather sheepish. Lang agrees to help him get his hands on some info from the FBI’s Colorado office, because she totally still has a crush on him.
Hot Mumbly Black Kellerman, who probably has a name which I will eventually use, is going all superspy on poor Bennett, who says he doesn’t know where Michael and Linc are. He injects Bennett with some sodium pentothal type substance to jog his memory.
Self’s boss, who seems to be the director of Homeland Security, was iffy about this whole operation in the first place, but now that the one card has turned into six, he’s over it entirely. But holy crap, Self argues, Scofield got them what they asked for in 24 hours, why would they give up now? The director reminds Self that he’s been doing this since before old Don “had a single short ‘n’ curly,” which marks the first time I’ve ever heard that euphemism used in the singular. He reluctantly agrees to check with the Senator but in all likelihood the deal is off. Probably because they’re getting too close, aren’t they, Mr. Homeland Security guy who was probably appointed by the late and notoriously Company-lovin’ President Bitchface, AKA Sweet Caroline! I’ve got my eye on you, mister.
“Together we and our stylish office furniture will defeat the Legion of Doom!”
I LOVE the Warehouse of Justice. And I love how two episodes have turned a bunch of cons (and a few smart people) into an elite team of detectives rivaling the Priority Homicide division from The Closer . (Incidentally, Haywire was on The Closer this week. Aww. Haywire.) They even have one of those cool-looking clear glass writing boards! Everyone’s puzzling over an email that looks like a schedule change, but Mahone points out that duh, it’s probably a code. Sure enough, the first letters of each word spell out “SCYLLA” and the meeting is at 4. But where? Dun! Mahone, who knows a little something about covert nefarious dealings, says the when and the where would be sent separately, so the where is probably encoded in one of the other emails. Harold and/or Kumar says there were two other emails sent within seconds of that one, but his device ran out of space so all he can pick up is an IP address in Anaheim where there would be a “shadow file” of the emails. Road trip! Bellick and Sucre get the stakeout assignment: watch the guy’s office and follow him if he leaves.
T-Bag, on his ninth life at the very least, opens the door to a really nice apartment, using the key he found along with Whistler’s other fake identity stuff in the bus station locker. Thanks, bird book! T-Bag has some codebreaking skills of his own, kids. He’s crafty, that one. Anyway, it’s a big fancy zillion dollar LA apartment and T-Bag takes his housewarming champagne into his fancy zillion dollar shower and has himself a party. Robert Knepper, it must be said, can chew the everliving hell out of whatever scenery you stick him in. He’s the only reason this character didn’t die 3 seasons ago, and his Foghorn-Leghorn-Meets-Blanche-Devereaux delivery makes it all worthwhile.
“Knock knock! Who ordered the unkillable batshit nuts pedophile/murderer?”
Poor Bruce Bennett is all zonked out on happy drugs. Hot Mumbly Black Kellerman mumbles in his soothing baritone about how totally awesome this imaginary picnic is! Have some lemonade! Now where are Michael and Linc? Bruce is enjoying the La La Land annual cookout and sack race but still doesn’t know. In that case, more needles for you, Mr. Tight Lips!
Self calls Michael, all “your ankle bracelet says you’re in Anaheim? The hell?” and Michael says chill out, they’re trying to get him another card. “From where, Tomorrowland?” Heh. Michael says they know there’s a Scylla Club meeting (no girls allowed!) that afternoon and they’re trying to figure out where. Don has to hang up quickly as his boss barges in and tells him the operation is officially, wait for it, Shut Down. Mr. Director is unnecessarily smirky about it.
Sara approaches the reception desk at the server building, pretending to be there for an interview, and looks appropriately crushed when the front desk guy says she’s not on the list. Nice sad eyes there, Sarah with an H! Sara without an H, i.e., the character, not the actress, gets super lucky when the front desk guy calls HR for her, leaving his security badge lying around for no reason. She slips it to Michael as he and Roland the Computer Guy pass her on their way to the server, which Michael, who’s an engineer, remember, knows has to be on the ground floor. They find it easily and duck inside. Roland is freaking out, as he’s used to doing his data theft in the privacy of his own home, probably stoned and watching the Star Wars episode of Robot Chicken for the seventeenth time. Mahone and Linc are watching from outside, and when Lang calls Mahone he answers it “Hey, lady,” which I find excruciatingly charming. She’s got what he asked for, he’ll have it by 5pm. Oh, and don’t do anything crazy! Mahone’s grim smirk says “Who, me? Crazy? The very thought!”
Front Desk Guy tells Sara there’s nothing HR can do, and she thanks him for his help. Before she’s out the door, though, he calls after her to wait, and grills her about what temp agency made the interview, and also, who the hell does she think she’s fooling, he knows his badge is missing. She feigns bewilderment and relinquishes her appropriately giant purse (nice character continuity, prop guys!), which of course does not contain his ID. He’s still not convinced, though, and Mahone and Linc, through that hilarious WWII-movie-style Binocular Vision shot, see that she’s been made and call Michael to tell him to get out. Michael buys some time via the tried-and-true “yank on the fire alarm” trick, but remembers too late that the alarm probably has an unfortunate failsafe for keeping the data safe from fire, which is to suck all the oxygen out of the room. It’s a pretty good way to kill a fire, of course, but it’s also a pretty good way to kill anything that needs to, say, breathe air. So the bad news is that Michael and Roland are locked helplessly in the glass server room. The good news is that Roland got the data, yay! And it’s Linc to the rescue, snatching a giant axe from an arriving fire truck and carrying it purposefully through the crowded lobby like it’s something he does all the time. Nobody gives him a second look. He shatters the glass enclosure just in time (LINC SMASH!) and everybody heads back to the Batcave to regroup.
Enormous bald hulking oaf wielding an axe? Yeah, I probably wouldn’t ask any questions either.
Don Self is trying desperately to get the Senator on the phone, but they won’t let him through. Another agent pokes his head in and tells Self it’s time to go, presumably because of the Shut Down order. See, this is where my disbelief unsuspends itself, because no way does any government agency do anything that quickly or efficiently. There would be Request for Authorization of Shutdown forms, and they’d need notarized signatures from all the department heads, and then, maybe, they could organize a Shutdown Approval Committee to discuss the itinerary for the Shutdown Implementation Protocol.
T-Bag, who has modified his Young Colonel Sanders goatee into an awesome Tom Selleck ‘stache, orders pizza and porn in what was supposed to be Whistler’s apartment, and to be fair, Whistler doesn’t need it, so no harm, no foul. Also, one of his porn choices is Add Momma To The Train, which is great. Porn titles, real or fake, are a positively endless source of entertainment. So ha, but because it’s T-Bag, and because he chooses Amateur Screen Tests #9 instead, mostly iww. “Cole Pfeiffer” reads his offer letter, which promises a starting salary of $75k, on which he would never, ever be able to afford that apartment, even if he were in the LA that stood for “Louisiana.” He calls the number from the creepy, inscrutable GATE company brochure to inquire about the $10k bonus check he never received, and the secretary who answers tells T-Bag that Mr. White will be soooooo upset he missed his call! They can’t wait to meet him!
So in the Warehouse of Justice they’ve printed out the two emails, one of which is an ad for Discretiaâ„¢ (“For him, for her, forever!”) which, ha. That’s the best fake drug name since Bart Simpson was on Focusinâ„¢. The other email is an invitation to a stargazer’s club, with an embedded image of a constellation. Mahone tries looking it up on a website that gives coordinates based on the positions of certain celestial objects. A website he knows about because his RECENTLY MURDERED KID used it to look up at the sky so he would know where his daddy was. Oh man. Prison Break writers, you do not pull any punches. But no dice, that would put the meeting at the South Pole, which even the coolest evil conspiracy jets couldn’t get him to by 4pm. Mahone of course has not told anyone about that “murdered kid” part, so when Roland explodes bitchily about how he almost died for this worthless crap, and anyone who does die for it is a sucker, Mahone calmly loses his shit (seems like an oxymoron, but it totally isn’t) and slams him by the neck into the Conference Table Of Righteousness. Linc talks him down before he actually strangles him, and Mahone shuffles off like a lost old man. William Fichtner, ladies and gentlemen, who is a better actor in the corner of the frame with his back to the camera than the entire cast of Two and a Half Men combined. (No disrespect to Jon Cryer. I still can’t believe Molly Ringwald picked the boring rich guy instead of him. Also, she totally should have slept with James Spader when she had a chance. Yum!)
“I’m sorry, Short Round, you were saying something about dead suckers? Please elaborate.”
Bellick and Sucre – and I like that they’re a team, because it’s pretty much guaranteed to be comedy gold – are staking out Card Guy #1′s office. Bellick is antsy and wants to make a run for the border, in the literal sense, not the Nacho Cheese Chalupaâ„¢ sense. He probably wouldn’t object to a little of both, really. But Sucre ain’t having it. First of all, he vouched for Bellick, and doesn’t want to look like an ass for doing so. Secondly, he only got to hold his baby girl for ten seconds and he’s going to steal as many superspy data cards as he has to if it means he can go back to her. Aww. And also, oops, because all of a sudden they’re surrounded by unmarked cars and suits pointing guns at them. D’oh. Michael gets Sucre’s succinct text message, “Run,” just as Roland realizes the gubment has shut him out of the computer system. They pile into their SUV of Vengeance and screech out into the alley just in time for a good old-fashioned car chase with Self. And ha, Mahone and Sara are both very clearly holding the “oh shit” handles throughout.
As they’re speeding along, Michael is on the phone with Self, trying to convince him they can do the job. Plus, he said they had till this afternoon! Man, that’s one thing this show has a lot of, is phone conversations. Somebody count those. Anyway, Self is pretty clear: there is no more job. Linc manages to lose them in oh my god yet another warehouse district, but they get blocked in and have to get out of the SUV of Valiant Efforts and hoof it. The ankle bracelets make it really hard to hide, but Michael leads them to some kind of underground tunnel thingy. He knows they don’t have much time, but he also knows the answer is in those emails somewhere. The dick pills ad is, of course, mostly a huge paragraph of gibberish, but Michael realizes that makes it the perfect place to hide a code. While he’s straining his hot little brain, he gets a quick lightning flashy headache, which is probably one of those things that’s going to matter later. Anyway, he finally figures out that the two messages go together, overlapping each other – the stars in the constellation mark the words “power plant new beach” in the spam gibberish. “There’s a power plant in Newport beach!” Mahone points out helpfully and hilariously. And we have a where to go with our when! They’re doing well for a bunch of cons on a canceled mission, actively being hunted down by the people who canceled it.
They decide they might as well run for it, try to catch the meeting. Linc steals a cab, and I have to tell you, he’s kind of an asshole about it. No need to be a bully there, Linc! You’re fighting for Truth, Justice and the American Way, for heaven’s sake, you can steal people’s cabs without shoving them to the ground. Sheesh.
Cole Pfeiffer, the
one-handed pervert murderer promising young recruit, receives a callback from Mr. White at GATE industries. Mr. White is just tickled freaking pink to have a voice to put to the emails, and anxious to put a face to the voice. “Riiight!” T-Bag confirms hesitantly, in a very “yeah, that’s the ticket!” kind of way. “Because we haven’t met yet!” Ha. Mr. White is oblivious, and can’t wait to meet him. How about tomorrow morning? Apparently Whistler’s fake identity has a pretty impressive resume. Or was it his real identity? Dun! Mr. White will get the psychopathic kiddie rapist #1 salesman in the entire Northeast region on the payroll, set up his office and give him that $10k he was asking about. You won’t regret that decision, Mr. White!
Card Guy #1 arrives at the secret power plant meeting. General Baldy is there as well. “Why Laos?” Card Guy asks cryptically. General Baldy explains that even the greatest surgeons don’t start with human cadavers, they start with frogs and pigs and work their way up. Laos is their frog. After that, anyone can be their cadaver. Huh? Something totally nefarious is afoot, that much is certain, but I don’t have any idea what. Watch your back, Laos!
The A Team arrives just in time to be cornered by Self and his gang, and Linc, astonishingly, is hit by a car. Also, while he’s being handcuffed, Self is consulting his GPS thingy to find Michael, and Linc just kicks it right out of his hand mid-sentence. Heh. So they have Sara, and Michael and Mahone slip away. Linc is screaming that there’s a Scylla meeting right over there, they have them, it’s not over. Self screams back that yuh huh, it totally is over, so there. It’s out of his hands, his word means nothing at this point. Meanwhile Michael sees that they were right – it’s a bunch of old white guys standing around big black limos, asking cryptic but most assuredly evil questions about when they can expect to see “ramifications.” Baldy: “You worry about the gigahertz and the offshore drilling; I’ll worry about the outboarders.” Um. You got it, General! Michael listens behind a fence, probably because they’re so used to shooting Wentworth Miller through chain link they can’t bear an episode without it. He watches as another car pulls up. It’s a bigger meeting than they could have hoped for! Too bad they’re hauling them all off to jail anyway.
“I photograph well behind fences.”
Self tells them to let Sara go, but everybody else is hauled into his stylish black paddywagon. Bellick pleads like he always does. Roland bitches about the losers Don stuck him with, and like, fuck you, Roland, have you seen the last few episodes? Jees. As they load the last ones up, Michael drives up in their stolen taxi, cause he totally had a head start, but he’s just awesome like that. He shows Self the video he took on his cellphone of the old white guy meeting, and says see? It’s all six guys. We know who they are now. “That should mean something, even to someone whose word means nothing.” In return for this priceless information – which Self has been looking for for months, and Michael was able to get in less than 48 hours – Self tells Michael the next time he runs he’ll get a bullet to the back. That is just plain bad manners, sir. But on the upside, everybody’s going back to the Warehouse of Justice rather than jail. Self wants to try to change the Senator’s mind one more time. And he does, kind of. After getting his ass chewed out yet again by the Director, he’s told that if the Company comes after him he’s screwed, so he’s on his own with this little project. Self’s all, whatever, if I’m on my own, get out of my face, to which Mr. Director responds “When they do bury you? I’ll be there with a shovel.” Damn, somebody’s got sand in his vagina today. Sheesh.
Mahone wanders off alone once they get back to the Batcave. Roland, who apparently needs a shove every now and then to stay in line, starts to say something bitchy about where “Mr. Personality” is going. Linc, who’s still the only one who knows about his kid, grabs him by the shirt and suggests he leave him alone. Turns out Mr. Personality is in fact retrieving the info Lang got for him, which is a big manila envelope stuffed with what I’m sure is a stack of vacation photos or perhaps a coupon book full of valuable money-saving offers.
Bennett is still at his awesome imaginary picnic, and Hot Mumbly Black Kellerman is digging around his personal effects, looking for a way to get him to talk. On his shelf is a photo of himself with one Dr. Sara Tancredi. Ding! He realizes, finally, that Bruce really doesn’t know what they did with the brothers, but he probably knows where Sara is. Bennett eventually sloppily points to LA on a map and HMBK knows his work is done. The good news is, he puts away his needles. The bad news is he switches to a handgun, which doesn’t have same capability for eliciting idyllic picnic hallucinations. Or hey, maybe that’s what really does await us on the other side of a bullet to the head, and it’s off to the Great Sack Race in the Sky for Bruce Bennett. Godspeed, you poor bastard. This show has a serious mortality rate! What do you think we’ve had more of in this series: deaths, phone conversations, abandoned warehouses or vehicle-pedestrian collisions? Somebody pull up the stats on that.
“You can’t kill me, I’m the only guy left from that whole framing Linc/Vice President/Company conspiracy storyline from season one!”
Michael asks Linc about the particular stick up Mahone’s ass this time. “They murdered his son,” Linc says sadly. That’s a pretty big stick. Mahone’s over in the corner opening his coupon book, and yeah, it’s autopsy photos. Jesus, you’re a tough FBI agent and whatnot, and you want to know who to wreak vengeance upon, but what could these photos possibly, possibly tell you? He’s cowering behind some shelves, because really, how much private space do you have in a warehouse to look at your kid’s autopsy photos, when Linc approaches and says he knows what happened, and he’s sorry. Mahone confirms that they left Pam alive, which I guess is good news? Silver lining? Eh? Poor Mahone. Anyway, he’s understandably feeling rather guilty about putting his kid in danger, and Linc says that they’re all here for somebody. He tells him to stay focused till it’s over, but promises to help him when they’re done, a sincere offer that Mahone accepts with a handshake that looks like it physically pains him. He actually looks old and frail, it’s a remarkable performance. Have I mentioned that I find William Fichtner to be a talented actor? I have? Every single episode? Okay then.
And on that note, credits!
I liked these first few episodes a lot – it feels almost like a really good spinoff. Same characters, a few new people, totally different setting and even mood really. The pace is freaking relentless, I don’t know how they’ll keep it up. But they do not pull any punches and I doubt Team Justice will survive the season intact. It’s a cool premise though, a nice caper plot that has a lot of promise, and Michael Rapaport is a great addition. See you next week! I’ll have these up by the weekend in the future, a future that will hopefully involve significantly fewer hurricanes.