Meet Michael Scofield, who has just spent the last year getting tattooed, building large nests made of newspaper clippings and schematics, and deliberately bungling an armed robbery so he can go to the same prison in which his brother is incarcerated. We find out Lincolnâs due to die in a month for a crime he swears he didnât commit. (Whatever historical misgivings the state of Illinois may have over the possible innocence of death-row prisoners are being eliminated by a shadowy government conspiracy.) We also meet Michaelâs cell-mate Sucre, whoâs doing a dime for heavy-handed exposition, and establish that Michael has an elaborate plan to match the elaborate tattoo on his torso: using a cat-toting inmate, a greasy mob boss, and a faked diabetes condition, heâs going to break his brother out of prison.
All right! Due to some graphic content, viewer discretion is advised!
The series opens with the buzz of a tattoo needle and Michael Scofield directing his steely gaze to the middle distance. Get used to this look: you will be seeing it a lot. I suggest you not incorporate it into a drinking game, unless you already have a liver donor lined up.
Anyway, Michael tears his eyes away from whatever point he's looking at in the middle distance to check out the final bit of work that the nice tattoo artist lady is doing on his left pectoral. She puts down the needle with a sigh and says, "That's it. Can I just...you know...look at it a minute?" Michael tells her, "You are an artist, Sid." She can't tear her eyes off his tattoo: "You're telling me you're just going to walk out of here and I'm never going to see it again?" Michael does not suggest that she take a picture. Sid compliments Michael's commitment to his skin art: "You got a full set of sleeves in a few months. It takes guys a couple of years to get the ink you got." Well, it helps when you have no blood: Michael's shrugging on a white dress shirt and there is not one drop on it. Anyway, he gets all foreshadow-y with, "I don't have a few years. Wish to hell I did."
Cut to the Chicago skyline, then a close-up of an origami swam sitting on a desk. Michael and his bright white shirt stride into the place, and the camera pulls back so we can see that he's turned his wall o' windows into a giant collage. He begins tearing items down. We see a newspaper clipping, the hed reading "Lincoln Burrows' Final Appeal Denied" and the dek explaining "Execution Will Proceed As Scheduled." My hat's off to the copyediting staff at The Daily Exposition for fitting all that information in a two-column space. The next clippings we see are not so informative: "Governor's Daughter Wins Humanitarian Award," "Life Sentence for Mob Boss Abruzzi," and "'D.B. Cooper 'Myth' Still Alive Despite Conviction."
Now the information's more fragmented -- a clipping where all we see is "Scientis--" "Insulin B--" and the circled word "PUGNA." A yearbook photo of Sara Tancredi, who was in Phi Beta Kappa and the Spanish Club, and who advises, "Be the change you want to see in the world" -- credited to Gandhi. Another clipping: "Killer of VP's Brother Scheduled to Die May 11." And then Michael pulls the hard drive out of his computer, walks out onto the balcony of his swanky condo, sighs and stares off into the middle distance, and chucks the drive into the river below. You think he'd run a magnet over it before doing so, if he's that concerned with nobody finding it.