It’s the Prison Break season premiere, and hey, we’re back in a prison! Sona is pretty rough when there’s a muddy deathmatch on, but there are also beach umbrellas and recreational drugs, so in that respect it’s a step up from Fox River. Except that Bellick spends the entire episode in his tighty whiteys, and none of us wanted it to come to that. Things that are absent: Sara, Kellerman, Maricruz. Things that are new: hot nuns, hot mysterious government agents (new ones!), and chicken feet on strings. And no one gets hit by a single car the entire episode! Bring on the orientacion!3.01 Orientacion. The critical first scene of this third season begins with…Um. Some lady? She’s putting on her makeup. Also, she’s hot, which goes without saying on account of they don’t let ugly women on television. She has what looks like fingernail scratches on her cheek. Aaaand scene. Well that was odd.
And now it’s Michael, gawking with horror at that same gladiator type cheering we overheard at the very end of the season 2 finale. He steps into the rainy yard, and I thank Fox for kicking the year off with Wet Michael, one of my very favorite Michaels. Dozens of huge scary guys are gathered in a big circle around the yard, yelling. Michael sees Mahone sort of stumble out, bewildered. Poor Mahone. Michael wanders further into the fray, where I don’t have any idea what’s happening. It’s muddy and rainy a big scary guy menacingly produces something that looks very much like a chicken foot on a leather string. No really. He dangles it for everyone to see before he throws it to the ground where it disappears in the mud. Wait, what?
We don’t get any more information on either of these weird short cryptic scenes just yet because Linc is frantic in the Embassy, pleading with some Suit that his brother is innocent. The Suit says he’s just the night guy; Linc will have to wait till morning if he wants anything done. That ain’t gonna cut it with Linc. He storms off, but the Suit interrupts. “Your brother. Where do they have him incarcerated?” “Sona.” The Suit’s face falls and he tells Linc that’s where they put the very worst criminals. The ones the other, cushier, white-collar Panamanian penitentiaries won’t take. After the last riot there, the guards were all “$12 an hour for this bullshit? Fuck that!” and just left them to themselves. Indeed, as he tells us this, we cut to the yard where there is some serious felon-on-felon action going on. The punching kind, I mean. The role of the chicken foot in all of this remains unclear. So two guys are beating the snot out of each other, and everyone else is yelling like and it looks and sounds for all the world like tailgating at an LSU football game. One gets the other into a headlock, and Michael watches, and listens, as the bigger guy snaps his neck. Everyone is very excited about this. Except the dead guy, obviously, and Michael, who looks like he’s going to throw up. He walks up to the dead guy and stares as everyone else just kind of disperses. The Suit tells Linc that anything that goes inside Sona stays there till it’s dead.
Oooh, cool new credit sequence. Naturally there is no Kellerman, although I haven’t given up on that yet, and there is no Dr. Sara. At press time, unsubstantiated rumors have surfaced that Sarah Wayne Callies will not return. I nearly broke up with this show over this, and I have learned not to trust Fox, but they’re at least saying that they haven’t said any such thing, and that “Dr. Sara Tancredi plays a significant part in the storyline this year.” Aw, man, if they go the “It’s totally Sara but she had extensive plastic surgery because she’s in the witness protection program!” route, I at least better like the actress. A lot. Anyway, cool images in the credits, and the very last image is that chicken foot falling in to the mud, so um. I guess that’s important or symbolic or something, huh.
We’re at the Consulate General now. A different Suit is on the phone saying that somebody didn’t do their job and they need to find this hot little engineer before the hand – or chicken foot – of fate lands him all muddy and dead. The Consulate’s all, and wow, that’s a crazy story about you and your brother, huh? He seems a little starstruck but Linc is not interested in PR right now. The Suit offers to contact LJ, but Linc’s not quite ready to disclose any sensitive information, including where he’s stashed his kid, to any government agency. The consul says that the crime scene is supporting their story – Kim was found to have a government-issued handgun. Aw, Kim. You were awesome in life and in death. Linc casually asks if they found anything else, like say a giant sack of money? They have not. The Suit has put in for a transfer for Michael, and it looks like the charges will be dropped. Yay! I’m sure those things will totally happen! Short season this year, everybody!
During the day, and without the dramatic downpour, Sona kind of looks like a cheap motel in rural Mexico. They’ve even got colorful umbrellas! Oh, and that dead guy. Michael wakes up out at the corner of the yard, and god dammit. They’re doing that thing where they try to make me feel sorry for Bellick, and it’s almost working. He begs some passing thugs for some water, and one of them chuckles and points to a mud puddle. “Bite me,” says Bellick, who has had the shit kicked out of him but apparently not the incredibly bullheaded bad judgment. He’s grabbed in a headlock and tossed to the ground where they demand that he drink the mud, then, just as he’s about to do it, one of them stamps a foot down in the puddle and they cackle like 4th grade bullies. Out of nowhere some scrawny American type tells Bellick to get used to it, and helps drag him away to relative safety.
Mahone, who, I have to tell you, is pretty hot, is watching some guys play darts. He doesn’t look like he’s had the shit beaten out of him yet, so that’s something. But he’s flashing back to everything that led him here – his family, that dead dude in the backyard, Tweener – and look! He still has his magic pill pen! But alas, it’s empty, and he continues to quietly lose his shit. He spots Michael and corners him, and you know, Michael’s still got a few bones to pick with old Alex there, so he doesn’t side-hug him or do any kind of complicated handshake or anything. Mahone babbles about how he’s not clever like Michael, like the drugs on the boat thing, that was awesome! Which, yes, Alex, it was awesome, but Michael’s not interested in flattery at the moment. Mahone declares that Michael will testify in court that he planted the drugs, and Mahone will go home. Michael makes it clear that Mahone’s comfort is not really his top priority just now, and as a matter of fact, weren’t you the one who set us up? “What does the Company want with me? Why Panama?” Michael wonders, like we did all summer. Mahone snorts that he just did what they told him, since they had him by the short ‘n’ curlies. He was just supposed to arrest Michael in Panama and that’s all he knows. So wait, surely it’s not a coincidence that Michael’s big tattoo plan sent him exactly where they want him? What the hell? Mahone’s all, okay, let’s just get over all this messy stuff where I contributed to everything nasty that’s happened to you since you got out of Fox River. Bygones, right? But Michael can’t look at him without seeing the man who killed his father. Oh right. That whole thing. “You’re on your own,” he whispers steelily and plods off.
Behind a huge fence a woman is screaming in Spanish for them to please bring her husband’s body out. We see that Linc is right behind her. He’s allowed in past the first fence, behind a suspiciously hot nun, and stares at Michael through an interior fence. “So.” Linc says. “So.” Michael retorts. Michael sort of smirks and asks if he’s gonna break him out, but Linc’s all “Nah, too tired. All that running.” It’s cute. But only because Linc has been assured it’s all gravy. If they knew they had 21 more episodes of this, they might not be so jolly. Linc says they’re transferring him tomorrow, then there will be a trial in a month or so. Michael notices Linc hasn’t mentioned Dr. Sara. Linc just shakes his head. He doesn’t know where she is. Michael’s steely eyes water a little as he tells Linc he better find her. Linc says he’ll see him tomorrow.
Ha! Some kid in a Tracy McGrady jersey peps up when he sees Michael. “American! NBA!” He tries to make basketball talk, but before we find out who Michael’s team is (Chicago, Right? Poor Michael.) the kid freaks out at a menacing character who’s barreling up to Michael from behind. But not like that. He’s wearing a vest with no shirt, and he has some inscrutable accent, so I’ll call him Skinny Black Fabio. “Let’s go, Blanco. Orientation,” he growls at Michael. Michael’s all “No thank you!” but the knife Skinny Black Fabio has tucked into his belt makes him reconsider.
A big scary badass – we may or may not have seen him at the fight last night, but either way I don’t think anyone ever says his name – is hanging out in a pretty swanky suite, watching yoga on a nice HDTV. Really? Yoga? I guess you want flexibility, increased breathing capacity and strong core muscles if you’re going to be throwing chicken feet around and presiding over muddy deathmatches. Anyway, he doesn’t introduce himself but it’s clear he runs the place. Michael and his orientation group, which includes Mahone, shuffle in and line up in front of him. He delivers a monologue about how the guards left them there to rot, but actually, they do just fine. No gangs. There are 27 nationalities but not one racially motivated attack. Aw, you guys, Sona is totally a Bennetton ad of universal acceptance, where no one cares what color you are when they snap your neck and leave your broken corpse to rot and bloat in the mud. I have a dream!
Michael’s already scoping out grates. Say, large scary person of authority, you wouldn’t happen to need a scale model of the Taj Mahal, would you? Mr. Badass asks the lineup if they have anything to tell him. When Michael is silent he grins right in his face and says “I don’t think you’re quite telling me the truth, Mr. Scofield.” Michael makes kind of a confused face and the dude is all “we get the news, man!” I like it when they acknowledge that this is probably the biggest news story ever in the history of the universe, what with presidents killing people and whatnot. He assures Michael that he will not be a superstar here. He addresses Mahone next. He hears he has a problem with Michael, and at Sona they have a simple way of handling that sort of thing. He produces a freaking chicken foot. A man has a beef with another, he makes his problem known, he says. He fails to add “…using a freaking chicken foot for some damn reason.” Mahone is shaking like someone who really, really needs his magic pill pen, but says it won’t be necessary. I try really hard to think of a “beef/chicken” joke, but no dice.
He moves on to a little guy and addresses him in Spanish. The guy just begs not to hurt him, and, as most of us probably would, proceeds to piss himself. This sends Mr. Badass into a rage and he starts smacking him around real good, until Michael offers “I think he gets the message!” Michael’s lucky he’s been meditating, Badass muses, because he used to just go nuts on people but now he has control. “Mind, body, and soul,” he tells Michael, punctuating every word with a poke of the as-yet-unexplained or even mentioned chicken foot. We don’t see where he pokes for “soul” though. I’m just saying.
The hot nun from earlier, who presumably is not actually a Bride of God, since I’m pretty sure you can’t afford boobs like those when you take a vow of poverty, is totally just standing around in red lingerie. As she clothes herself she confesses that it’s kind of cool having a celebrity in Sona. Mr. Chicken Foot Badass is not so thrilled. There are men of weak character behind these walls, and they’ll be drawn to someone like Michael. “He’s the best looking man in the prison, no?” “Not compared to you” answers Hot Nun Lady obediently. He shoves her for pandering to him, but when she changes her answer to “I don’t know. Maybe,” he tells her to pack up, puta! She scuttles out as her scary man-friend watches Michael plod through the yard.
These exterior shots are actually pretty cool. Sona, despite its reputation, looks way more fun than Fox River. There’s music and cards and weed and improvised cooking and seriously, it’s like the common room in the guys’ dorm in college. Good times. Michael is over in the corner mooning about Sara, and dammit, I miss her too. I thought she was boring and useless most of the first season, then they went and turned her into a sardonic ballsy spitfire and I fell in love with her, and they didn’t even let them get to second base before she’s (allegedly) off the show. Boo! (Allegedly!) I also miss his tattoos, which we see for a second in a flashback. Anyway, Linc is at the constable’s office asking about Sara, but they don’t know anything about any missing pretty white lady.
Scrawny POW guy, the one who helped Bellick, shuffles across the yard, and Bellick asks where he got shoes. They both sort of pan over to Dead Guy, who is indeed newly shoeless, and who no one’s bothered to move even though it looks really really hot and that can’t be a pleasant thing to have to deal with when you’re trying to just chill with your multicultural pals, playing cards and smoking joints and barbecuing. Skinny Black Fabio shows up, telling Bellick and his new pal they better start earning their rent around here, and to be fair, he at least gives them giant ponchos to wear before he makes them clean a bathroom viler and nastier than any college boy bathroom I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying something. Hey Bellick, remember that time you killed that cat for no reason other than to make a really nice old man sad? Then like, sneered at him when he found its broken little body just so you could watch his heart break before your cold dead eyes? Yeah, me too. Now get to work.
Mr. Badass surveys the kingdom/prison/Phish concert he’s built for himself and spots Michael. A rather large gentleman with questionable intentions also notices Michael, and Mr. Badass gives him a conspiratorial nod. Someone is saying there’s a new man, an American, and he’s got this thing with his hand…and sure enough, it’s our old pal T-Bag, just strolling around, taking it all in. He spots Michael and does that thing where he twists his tongue along the top of his teeth, and iw! Michael concurs. He looks way more scared now than he did earlier when there was an oafish megalomaniacal yogi all up in his grill.
Suddenly Michael’s at the fence, asking some guy what he wants. He’s Eliot Pike, and he wants to represent Michael. Michael’s already got a lawyer, thanks (he does? All the lawyers keep dying!), but no, Mr. Pike might be able to help him in other ways, like if Michael ever, for example, breaks out of Sona. Michael’s all “who are you?” but he just says that they can help him in every possible way as long as he gets past that wall. Can they get him laid? By a girl? Cause damn. He so has it coming. Anyway, Mr. Pike goes on to say “there’s a reason a guy like you, with your skill set, was put in here you know.” Oooh, mysterious! Like whatever General Baldy meant last season about Michael being able to get out because it’s in his blood. Cool. Michael is understandably kind of wary of shady government agencies and stalks off when he realizes who he’s dealing with, “this conversation is over.” They’re trying to do this the easy way, says Mr. Pike, but Michael walks off, all “whatever, talk to the butt, Pike.”
Michael finds what looks like an empty bunk, but before he can claim it the guy from earlier, the one with the conspiratorial nod, starts choking the life out of him, demanding his stuff. Michael doesn’t have his damn stuff, and before he kills Michael anyway Mr. Badass and Skinny Black Fabio break it up. No extracurricular fights. We do our vengeance killing in a muddy arena with chicken feet like the classy folks we are, thank you very much. They find nothing when they search Michael. When Mr. Badass says “check his area” I immediately think he means, you know, his “area.” But no, they check his bunk and there’s a packet of heroin or cocaine or something under it. Presumably this is the stuff Michael allegedly stole. Michael’s all, oh now that’s bullshit! The giant guy menacingly tells him they’re not finished.
Linc is asking around about Sara, and her photo makes me sad. He gets a call from one of his contacts saying they’ve found a woman fitting Sara’s description. In the morgue. Aw, hell no. They better not. I mean, after all that crap last season, the plastic surgery witness protection thing would be better than just killing her off.
Bellick is just fucking pathetic, people. He and his concentration camp looking friend, who confirms he hasn’t eaten in a week, are trying desperately to find food. Nobody seems interested in feeding them. Even the frat boys shared their hot plates, dudes. Can’t a brother get some ramen around here? Bellick tells him to hang in there, but he decides to climb out of a window instead. This bodes well.
So they can’t find anything to eat, but Michael has found enough paper to make a little origami swan, and I miss Sara again. Stupid pregnancy, ruining a perfectly good storyline. Speaking of ruining perfectly good things, T-Bag appears. “Playin all by yourself, same ole Pretty! Just not good at makin friends, are ya?” Michael says they have nothing to say to each other, but T-Bag follows alongside him theorizing about why those government types T-Bag was working for wanted Michael, and why they wanted him here specifically. Michael reluctantly realizes T-Bag might be of some use, but before he can say anything we hear shouts of “Runner! Runner!” Aw crap. Bellick’s only friend is toast. He gets a few steps out into the yard before he’s unceremoniously gunned down. This freaks Michael out, but not as much as what he finds in his bunk. I will give you seventeen guesses what kind of foot it is. (Hint: not beef.)
Linc’s being led through the morgue. As they wind down hallways the coroner says the unidentified woman was found in a pond near where Linc last saw her. But it was the back of her, and not even we were sure it was her, right? Well, perhaps, because when Linc sees the body he sighs in relief. It’s not her.
Michael is pondering his Chicken Foot Of Impending Doom. He tries to confront Badass in his lair to plead his case. He’s leaving tomorrow, and also, they both know he didn’t take those drugs. Hey, Badass doesn’t make those kinds of calls. The chicken foot does the talking around here. Somebody’s got a beef, you get chicken, that’s our system. “Do you always set up your fights?” Michael wants to know. “You’re the only one in here who’s got a problem with me.” Badass just grins in Michael’s face and says he’s gonna like watching Superstar Michael go down. During this conversation we cut to some scruffy, filthy, ratty little guy listening through the drainpipes, and he looks like he’s been down there a long, long time.
Bellick shuffles pathetically into the sewer, where he is still lugging buckets of what we can only assume is the worst kind of nastiness any of us can imagine. We cut to a shot of that weird little guy, who evidently lives holed up underneath the prison. He gets Bellick’s attention and offers to feed him if he’ll do him a favor. Bellick takes a piece of meat and wonders where he got chicken. Well, I mean, it would be a shame to waste everything but the foot, but no, the guy confides that it’s not chicken. Iw. He hands Bellick some balled up pieces of paper.
Linc is surveying the Panama City skyline when his cellphone rings. It’s LJ! Linc’s all, wait, what? LJ says he ran in to Sara, who gave him the number. It’s iffy right from the start, because all we see are tight shots of LJ’s face and nothing else. He tells Linc to meet him in the restaurant on top of the Garfield Price building.
Meanwhile, there’s no way around it; the gauntlet has been thrown and Michael has to fight an incredibly large angry man. The crowd’s already heard about it and they’re getting the arena ready and taking bets. They finally drag away the last dead guy to make room.
T-Bag is creeping around the yard when he spots Badass and his minions. There’s some good old fashioned sycophantic southern charm, the end result of which is that T-Bag humbly offers to serve him in any way possible, starting with a nice symbolic washing of the feet. He throws in some “I only have this one real hand, poor me” for good measure and Badass is amused. He invites T-Bag up into his clubhouse.
Michael is freaking out. He’s pretty awesome, but he’s also like half the size of this other guy so he’s not real keen to fight him. Behind him Mahone appears. “Go for the kneecap.” Mahone is hot! This whole scene has a nice “I hate you, but I lurrrve you” vibe going through it, like their entire relationship does. “Fighting dirty, that’s your secret?” No such thing as clean here, Mahone points out. Michael says he almost sounds like he cares. Then they gaze into each other’s eyes and make out furiously. No, I’m kidding, but if this were a different kind of show that would have been the perfect moment. Mahone just says Michael’s his get out of jail free card and he wants him alive.
Everyone’ going crazy outside. Bellick, all dolled up in his sewage-splattered poncho, shuffles around to both fighters. He has the pieces of paper given to him by ratty sewer guy, and he shoves one into Michael’s pocket and one in the other guy’s. Badass addresses everyone from this clubhouse about their way of settling disputes. One drug addict, one thief: he doesn’t care for either. It’s their fight, not his, and the only rule is no weapons, just man vs man. Namaste, bitches! They face each other, and Michael nobly shouts “I’m not gonna fight!” Except it’s totally not noble at all, because while everyone’s all “huh?” he kicks the dude in the kneecap just like Mahone said! Aw. And does a decent job of kicking the shit out of him while he’s down. Michael has brought the guy down pretty well and tries to walk away, but Badass is all oh, did I forget to mention the part where only one man can come out alive? Aw crap.
God damn, I hate watching Michael get punched, but he holds his own pretty well against the giant until someone tosses the giant a knife, which Badass has totally just said is against the whole principle of their honorable, poultry-based tradition of settling disputes. Mahone sees the knife and grabs it before the giant can literally stab Michael in the back. Mahone is so fucking awesome. He doesn’t mess around, just gets ahold of the guy and snaps his giant neck. “No weapons! Rules are rules. If we don’t have them, we’re savages.” He repeats Badass’s words from earlier back to him. Badass is unhappy. He slinks back into his lair, with T-Bag close behind.
Linc goes to restaurant like LJ said, and I am immediately suspicious, because it’s a really nice restaurant and the maitre d’ won’t let him in without a jacket. This is the point at which Linc, were he thinking clearly, would wonder “Why would LJ and Sara want to meet me at a fancyass restaurant when all of our money is in a bag at the bottom of the river, and not only do I not own a jacket, I can’t even button my shirt most of the time?” But he just borrows a jacket from a guy in the kitchen. He stands at the bar and a hot American woman flirts with him pretty heavily. And it’s the one from earlier with the claw marks, so yeah, something’s up. He even asks about the scratches, and something about the way she says “You push anything far enough into a corner, the claws’ll come out” 1) gives me the creeps, and 2) makes me think those are Sara’s nails. Right on, Sara. He says he’d love to hang out but it’s not the right time, and starts off. “Yes it is, Lincoln.” She says menacingly. They have a lot to talk about, specifically his brother. She pushes a phone over and highly recommends she listen to her.
The same lady from earlier is yelling for her husband. She knows he was killed here yesterday and she wants to bury him. The prison guards – the ones who don’t actually go into the prison – ignore her and drag out all the dead guys. They shoot them in the head for good measure. One of them tells her they’ll be buried here unless family members come forward, but once she’s alone with the bodies she digs through the pockets till she finds the note crazy guy gave to Bellick. It says “Versailles 1989 v. Madrid.” A soccer match? Does Versailles have a soccer team? Michael’s says the same thing.
Linc comes up to the fence and Michael’s all “so hey, about that transfer!” Linc makes a sad Linc face and tells Michael he has to stay. There are people who want him to break someone out. His name’s James Whistler, and we get a quick cut to guy in sewer. Linc shows him the phone the woman handed him earlier: it shows a video of LJ, holding today’s newspaper like all TV kidnappers make you do. Poor LJ. He’s sorry; they got him and Sara, please just do what they say. We at least see a Not!Sara facing away from the camera in the background. Michael has a week to find Whistler or they’re both dead. Who knew that repeatedly getting caught up in huge international conspiracies was genetic? Honestly, LJ, aren’t you a little tired of being kidnapped/framed/held as bait? And how did he escape the clutches of Auntie Jane?
So with Sara gone I thought this might be even more of a sausagefest than it was in Season 1, but there were no fewer than three attractive females in this episode, and at least two of them are in the credit sequence. So what’s the deal with the lady digging through pockets? What’s her connection to Whistler? Who the hell is Whistler and why does the Company want him so bad? Will Bellick ever get any clothes? Please?
That was pretty fun. Thoughts? Welcome back, everybody!