In keeping with recent reboots and reinventing former successes (think The X-Files and 24), FOX is bringing back Prison Break for a nine-episode limited event series. Most of the main players will reprise their roles, including star Wentworth Miller, whose character Michael Scofield appeared to die in the original series’ finale. But more on that later.
Fans of the series, which aired from 2005-2009, can thank The CW’s The Flash for inspiring the reboot by casting Miller and Dominic Purcell as comic book villains Captain Cold and Heat Wave. “That is where Dom and I had our reunion,” explained Miller at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour. “We hadn’t seen each other for about five years, and suddenly, we are back on set. We are talking about old times, and out of that conversation came the possibility of revisiting Prison Break.”
Where we pick up
The series finale and stand-alone DVD film Prison Break: The Final Break explained that Scofield, suffering from an inoperable and fatal brain tumor, sacrificed his life while breaking his wife Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies) out of prison. Fans of the series were heartbroken at their hero’s valiant death, but when a reboot can be made, fan favorites don’t stay dead for long. The new Prison Break finds Michael very much alive and imprisoned in a notorious Yemeni jail, accused of having ties to terror organizations. “We’re dealing with ISIS,” Purcell revealed to Deadline. “And obviously we left off with Michael presumably dead. He wasn’t; he ended up working for this organization. It got to the point where he couldn’t do it anymore, and they threw him in a jail in Yemen to change his mind. He didn’t change his mind; they set him up …” How Scofield managed to fake his death and why he stayed away from his wife and son is the crux of the story, and to explain it, executive producer Paul T. Scheuring looked to Homer’s Odyssey. “It took me back about 2,500 years in literature,” he explained, “but I found a reason.”
Who is back?
The globe-trotting new season will feature familiar faces including Michael and Lincoln’s jailhouse cronies Fernando Sucre (Amaury Nolasco), “C-Note” (Rockmond Dunbar) and prison scourge Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell (Robert Knepper). The reboot finds C-Note as a community leader and practicing Muslim who volunteers to guide Lincoln as he searches for Michael. T-Bag also undergoes a regeneration of another kind and, courtesy of a mysterious donor, is updated with the galaxy’s coolest robo-hand since Luke Skywalker. (T-Bag lost his hand during Season 1’s prison escape and wore a ridiculous rubber hand the rest of the series.) Now that T-Bag has become quasi-bionic, Knepper reports, “you’ll see in different episodes where I had a lot of fun with this hand.” Callies, who has been busy since her time on Prison Break starring in The Walking Dead and Colony, returns as Dr. Sara Tancredi, but our hopes for a tearful Michael/Sara reunion fade with the news that her character is happily remarried. Foe-turned-friend Paul Kellerman (Paul Adelstein) also returns.
New cast additions
To help tell this worldwide tale, the show enlisted a few new faces. Royal Pains star Mark Feuerstein joins the cast as Sara’s second husband, who, despite the emotional complexities of discovering that his wife’s thought-to-be-dead husband is alive, joins the fight to save Michael. Inbar Lavi will play a brave and beautiful activist who we’re pegging as a possible love interest for Lincoln. Augustus Prew, Rick Yune, Marina Benedict, Kunal Sharma, Steve Mouzakis and Amin El Gamal also add flavor to this international escape saga.
So, what happened to Michael?
In the years since Prison Break aired, the characters have gone through significant changes. “Who are these characters now?” Miller asked. “When they see each other, will they even recognize each other? This is the meat of the story.” And when we first meet Michael in the new story, he’s barely recognizable.
In the sequel, Scofield’s epic tattoo art gets a new look, but spoiler prevention keeps Miller from revealing too much. “It’s a different set of tattoos,” reported Miller, “and they serve a slightly different purpose. That’s all I can say.”
Why you must watch
When Prison Break premiered, it stood out from its contemporaries as a fast-paced thrill ride. But now, most TV dramas echo Prison Break’s frenetic pace, so this time around, Scheuring saw another chance to try something new. “In the new era of television, people are much more open to limited runs and event series,” he revealed. “This is a very tight, close‑ended story, and it’s just constant thriller, cliffhanger, revelation, one after another and another.” These final nine episodes will also provide closure to fans.
But despite plans for Prison Break to be concise and tight, the production crew also had to show its ability to think on its feet when Purcell was seriously injured on set in June 2016. A piece of scenery fell onto the actor’s head, breaking his nose and causing a severe head laceration that required over 100 stitches to close. While Purcell recuperated from the incident, his injuries were written into his character’s story. “[It] pays to have a thick skull when an iron bar falls on your #head!! busting it open severely also broke my nose in two places,” Purcell shared on Instagram. “Haha. I got a free nose job out of it.”
Prison Break > FOX > Tuesday beginning April 4 at 9/8c