Goodbye Shawshank, hello The Fugitive
With Fox River Penitentiary now short of eight inmates, the single-location, ticking-clock countdown of Season 1 has turned into a sprawling, cross-country chase, with the gang of convicts splitting up and various law-enforcement officials introduced.
Foremost among the latter is the steely-eyed FBI Special Agent Alexander Mahone, assayed by William Fichtner, a stalwart character actor who could easily pass for Christopher Walkens nephew. Mahone has a sixth sense for predicting what his escapee prey will do next - he also has a dark secret that comes into play later in the season.
The show attempts to compensate for the loss of Season 1s tight structure by keeping the action rolling at full pelt and swiftly juggling storylines.
Brothers Michael and Lincoln (Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell) aim to collect enough evidence to clear their names (and yes, Michael has more useful tattoos on his torso); Sucre (Amaury Nolasco) needs to get to his girl
in Mexico; gay rapist T-Bag (Robert Knepper) has inexplicably turned into a family man; evil correctional officer Bellick (Wade Williams) has vengeance in mind; and Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies) deals with the sour aftermath of leaving
a door open in last seasons finale.
While we miss the neat ingenuity of Michaels cell-block schemings, there are enough thrills here to keep fans hooked. As before, though, the action is loose and ludicrous - viewers who like their stories underpinned with verisimilitude will soon find themselves choking, not least at one of the silliest ever portrayals of a sinister government conspiracy. Sorry, but that simpering Filipino master-baddie is as scary as marshmallow.