Michael Scofield's brother has been convicted of murdering the vice president's brother and soon will be skipping down death row. Scofield, a structural engineer, is convinced his brother was set up. (By whom?) He robs a bank, fully intending to get caught—he stands there, righteously tall, as if it were curtain call at Rent—and so goes off to Fox River State Penitentiary, planning to bust out his brother. He's sure he'll pull it off. After all, his firm worked on the prison's design. And he smuggles in the blueprints using considerable ingenuity and what I would describe (for the sake of preserving a nice twist) as go-for-broke panache.
This is an entertaining, big-narrative concept. Victor Hugo certainly would have thought twice before using it to line his parakeet cage. Like 24, the story will work itself out throughout the season, which means initial weaknesses should be indulged for a few more episodes. (For one thing, wouldn't the authorities notice they had two brothers under lock and key? And why does Stacy Keach, as the prison warden, have a toothpick model of the Taj Mahal in his office? It's bad decor, cheap symbolism and an aesthetic crime.) But the plot lines are tantalizing—federal agents are scampering about on the outside, employing extreme prejudice to make sure the death sentence is carried out. And the two-hour opener (which airs at 8 p.m. ET) ends with a jolt that forces Wentworth Miller, as Scofield, to drop his look of smug invincibility.