Episode Title: "The Bag Man"
Writer: Nick Santora
Director: Sanford Bookstaver
Previously on "Breakout Kings":
U.S. Marshal Charlie DuChamp (Laz Alonso) gave Ray Zancanelli (Domenick Lombardozzi) a chance at redemption by putting into place his plan to use highly skilled convicts to hunt down escaped prisoners. They ultimately picked Dr. Lloyd Lowery (Jimmi Simpson), Shea (Malcolm Goodwin) and newcomer Erica Reed (Serinda Swan), who replaced the original female con, Philly (Nicole Steinwedell) after she tried to escape.
However, unknown to the rest of the team (save for Charlie), Ray is himself a convict for taking money from a drug bust. Although Ray hoped to get his badge back through the team’s captures, Charlie used the info to blackmail him into staying in line and to keep him from revealing Charlie’s heart condition to their superiors.
In Fox River Penitentiary, Theodore Bagwell aka T-Bag (Robert Knepper) dominates his cell mate sexually before receiving word that he’s being transferred to get a new prosthetic hand. But in the prison transport, T-Bag removes his hand to reveal a hidden shank underneath which he uses to kill the lone guard. He then shoots the driver and robs a local man of his clothes and car, but leaves him and his young son alive. The Breakout Kings are soon called in and Lloyd is particularly eager to face T-Bag in order to properly analyse him in person.
The team also goes over T-Bag’s previous murders and crimes, as well as his two previous escapes from prison (as seen in "Prison Break"). They also find evidence that suggests T-Bag is headed to Canada. Meanwhile, T-Bag frees himself from "the captivity of negativity," steals a new suit and seduces a woman at a franchising seminar. He drugs the woman’s drink and then helpfully offers to drive her back to her hotel… before stealing her ring and kicking her out of a moving car. At this point, the team believes that T-Bag is planning to rendezvous with a woman that he met while he was in prison.
However, the stack of dead bodies he’s leaving behind throw doubt on that theory. Lloyd offers some comfort to the woman who survived getting kicked out of her car by suggesting that T-Bag would have killed her too if he didn’t like her. Later, Ray and Charlie track down T-Bag to a rock quarry, where he holds a man hostage and then throws him towards the grinder. Ray struggles to save the man and calls Charlie back to help him, reluctantly letting T-Bag go in the process. But the man in the grinder falls to his death anyways.
Although Ray is initially upset at the death of the hostage, he changes his tune when they discover that he was one of two men that viciously abused T-Bag’s mother at a nursing home and left her in a comatose state. They then realize that T-Bag isn’t trying to get away to Canada, he just wants to see his mother before she dies. They arrive at Mrs. Bagwell’s nursing home shortly after T-Bag and pursue him through the hospital before finally catching him. In a moment of charity, they let T-Bag say goodbye to his mother before dragging him away.
Later, Lloyd finally gets his chance to sit down with a bound T-Bag for a mostly one-sided conversation. After listening to T-Bag spew his filth, Lloyd concludes that T-Bag is like a machine that just came out broken. After he leaves, T-Bag replies "no s***."
I didn’t get a chance to review the second episode of "Breakout Kings," but I want to point out that the opening credit sequence is among the cheesiest I’ve ever seen. It’s so bad that you have to see it for yourself.
Not to oversell the importance of opening credits too much, but an interesting or innovative sequence can help build audience anticipation. This one looks like it was put together as an afterthought.
Three episodes into "Breakout Kings," the only character I’m really invested in is Lloyd, who is so strange and brilliant that he could probably carry his own show. Neither Erica nor Shea seem as special by comparison and it’s getting tougher to swallow the premise of this show. T-Bag goes on a wild murder rampage and the government only sends two U.S. Marshals and three cons after him?
"Prison Break" itself asked for a lot suspension of disbelief from its audience, most of which it earned early on (before sheer ridiculousness took over in the later seasons). "Breakout Kings" doesn’t make half as much sense. It would help if the main characters were more dynamic, but neither Charlie nor Ray have that much life to them either.
What saves this episode is Robert Knepper’s mesmerizing performance as T-Bag. He was always one of the more compelling characters on "Prison Break" and he tends to elevate even weaker scripts like this. If anything, I was surprised that T-Bag didn’t get away to extend his stay on the series. At the very least, we saw the multiple sides of T-Bag, from his position of power within the prison, his willingness to kill at the drop of the hat and the more refined version of himself that seems to be popular with the vulnerable ladies. Several of his scenes also brought back the sense of menace that he had on t"Prison Break." The rock quarry sequence was also really well done.
Giving T-Bag a goal beyond escape was actually a nice touch and gave him more motivation than usual. However, I had a hard time buying Charlie and Ray letting T-Bag have a moment with his mother. If they really wanted to punish him, they would have taken him away before he got his chance. The last scene with Lloyd and T-Bag was probably the best part of the episode and something I wish we saw more of throughout the show. For most of that scene, Lloyd actually seemed afraid of T-Bag before delivering a biting commentary on why he does what he does.
I can overlook the many flaws of this episode on the strength of T-Bag and Lloyd, but I’m not sure that "Breakout Kings" is going to be worth our attention in the long term. There are only so many chances I’m willing to give before I send this one back to the hole.
Crave Online Rating: 7 out of 10.