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More joy day in prison!

For more joy day, I decided to do something that would bring joy probably only to me, but that's okay, too. I have been eaten alive by Prison Break fandom, specifically Michael/Mahone slashiness, but since the show ended a year and a half ago, everyone's moved on, which means I am very late to the party and short on cash. But I've been reading through past posts by my PB friends for the last few days, and just enjoying the hell out of the conversations, and wishing I'd participated a bit more back then (not that I didn't participate, but it wasn't as extreme as what I feel now).

What is bringing me joy about this cracked show? Oh, so many things. Let me tell you about them!


The first is that honestly, Prison Break is pure, unadulterated, uncut crack. They never really made any bones about that, and you gotta love them for it. The odd-numbered seasons are set in a prison, the even-numbered are "on the run" and trying to exonerate themselves. There's even a post-series made-for-DVD-movie that fills in the timeline immediately following the last scene of the series before the "four years later" tag, and it involves one last prison breakout masterminded by Michael Scofield -- to rescue his beloved Sara, with whom he fell in love in S1 when she was the prison doctor.

The whole premise is built around Michael getting himself thrown in prison to rescue his brother, Lincoln Burrows, who's been framed for the murder of the vice-president's brother. They finally do escape at the end of the season, after much crack-addled wrangling. Eight guys escape, but then in season 2, the manhunt begins, with FBI agent Alex Mahone coming after them. Unbeknownst to anyone, Mahone has been co-opted by the Company, the Evil Nefarious Shadow Committee of Evol, who also set up Linc in the first place.

Alex is basically the smartest guy in the room. This is really juicy, because Michael Scofield is the even smarter smartest guy in the room. Most of second season involves Alex and Michael outsmarting each other, with Alex figuring out Michael's tattoo clues that helped him escape the prison in the first place, and Michael trying to get him off the trail. And there's also the fun of watching Alex kill ALL the people. The company wants him to get rid of all the Fox River Eight, as the escapees are called, because they might know something about Burrows, and in the first few episodes, he does exactly that.

Because he's got a BODY BURIED IN HIS BACKYARD. I mean, how awesome is that? He snapped one day and murdered a child rapist/killer and buried him in his backyard and then started taking drugs to keep his guilty conscience under control and the Company used that against him and now he's under their thumb when they threaten to kill his wife and child if he doesn't comply. Yes, it really is that cray-cray. So Mahone gets twitchier and twitchier the longer the season wears on, and kills more and more people (my favorite is the Company guy who tells him that his son is dead if he doesn't do this or that and the next scene we see Alex open up the trunk of his car to find the guy, nice big bullet hole in his forehead, deader than a dead thing). In the early part of the season, in fact, Alex dispatches three of the escapees, and very nearly succeeds in a fourth. It's AWESOME. He's like the Terminator, but with even cooler sunglasses.

You wish you could rock shades like this


And then, just when you think it can't get better, they throw both Michael and Mahone into a Panamanian prison that has been abandoned by the government except to man the perimeter, and Alex is having junkie withdrawal, and Michael has to try to break a prisoner out for the Company to save his beloved Sara and Linc's son, who are both hostages. And of course he and Alex end up doing the breakout together. In the very first episode, we're introduced to the concept of the chickenfoot, which is like the Sona prison version of a gauntlet thrown down so there will be a fight to the death. Alex comes up to Michael and gives him advice on how to hurt the guy first (go for the kneecap) because he knows, as he's pointed out to Michael before, that the big difference between them is that Alex can kill and Michael can't. (And of course, the guy in the chickenfoot fight tries to shiv Michael, whereupon Alex steps in and kills the guy -- what is more of an I Love You than KILLING SOMEONE FOR YOUR BELOVED? I ask you).

Prison is a good look for them


I don't know what it is about William Fichtner, I really don't, but the guy just... exudes slash pheromones. Since I'm a huge, huge fan of his, I've seen him in almost everything he's done, and whenever he plays opposite a really strong actor, there's just this... thing that happens with him and it's like a slash chemistry explosion. All through the Sona season, he and Michael are all over each other, inches apart, eye-fucking each other across the prison yard or across the hall, and everyone else notices. They also notice his addiction, and evil T-Bag, who's been with the show since first season (it's a loooong story how they all ended up there), even gives him needles and black tar heroin, but all that does is amp up the sexual chemistry between Alex and Michael.

It doesn't hurt that Fichtner is one of those actors who elevates everyone around him. He's often overlooked because he's not traditionally handsome (at least most people don't think so), and he always shows up on one of those "that guy" lists, but every actor he works with seems to fanboy or fangirl him. In fact, on the DVD commentaries, most of the cast and crew fanboy the hell out of Fichtner. He rips every scene he's in away from the other actors. He's utterly amazing even with the most ridiculous dialog or action and you can see other actors trying to bring their A-game when they do scenes with him. And I for one think he's a major hotass.

Proof of hotassness:


And this brings me to one of my favorite things about PB. So, I used to watch Oz for the Beecher/Keller Romance Theatre aspect (though I have since watched the entire series), and there was a lot of fucking and nudity and swearing and all that on the show, because it was on HBO so they were never afraid to Go There. And Prison Break was on sanitized, conservative Fox, but it is still the nastiest, dirtiest, filthiest show I may ever have seen, and a lot of that is because of Fichtner and Wentworth Miller together. But mostly Fichtner, god bless him. He imbues his obsession with Scofield with this just... dirty, dirty quality, amplified by the disgusting, subhuman conditions of the prison in S3. YOU GUYS IT IS JUST SO HOT. There's this one scene, which can be seen wonderfully in both of these two amazing vids by sdwolfpup, where Alex pins Michael up against a wall and is practically licking him, and there is stuff going on below the frame that just... well, there is lots of movement of Fichtner's lower half and all you can hear is your brain going OMG he's dry humping Wentworth Miller. I mean, I'm sure there's dialog, I've seen it many times, but... I'm damned if I can tell you what the hell any of it is. It is the NASTIEST thing I've ever seen on TV.

There's even more closeness but this is the only screencap I could rustle up


So anyways, they eventually escape Sona, but then they are forced to work together in S4, which has its own brand of intense slashiness, even though Sara is there for Michael. They become friendly, and when Alex's son is in fact killed and Alex is hell-bent on reVENge, it's Michael who supports him in that quest and whom he turns to in his time of need. They start finishing each other's sentences, plotting their plots of doom, and continue to eye fuck each other even in the presence of everyone else. And even the ones who hated him (see, there's this little problem with Alex having killed Michael and Linc's dad in front of them) come around to his woobieness eventually.

This brings me to one of my other favorite things: they have this intellectual mind-meld thing going on since the very beginning of S2. See, mind-bonding or mind-melding has been a staple of fandom since forever. Everyone likes to imagine their pairing as having one, even in things that are grounded in real-world stories. And you can certainly get away with it in SF and fantasy, of course, where there might be canonical mind connecting. But this is the one real-world-based show I've seen where there IS actually two brilliant guys mind-melding and being all in each other's heads and being able to share one brain, and it's not some fannish wishful thinking for something that isn't really there. (OK, for values of "real world" that include writers who are clearly taking hallucinogenic drugs.) And it is SO HOT. In the first two seasons of them facing off, that mind-melding thing is adversarial and so, so much fun. But in S4, it becomes this they share one mind thing that is so incredible it overcomes all the shit that has happened between the two of them. It's like you're watching them fall in love with each other's minds.

Michael is not a people person in a lot of ways. He actually suffers from some mental issues, they say in S1, that lead him to have a low sense of self-worth, but it's coupled with his genius intellect. So he's always in his own head, always thinking, and this leads him to have problems with perceiving what others will do or fully grasping how to interact with them (not that it prevents him from being able to manipulate them). He has these brilliant plans all the time, but they are sometimes undone by his inability to really see people and get out of his own head. This is where Alex actually excels, plus he's got the other smarts, so between the two of them, they KNOW EVERYTHING in the universe. And that's what helps them succeed in the end, and believing in each other even after everything that's happened.

And there's a lot about Mahone's violence that is just really really smokin'. His backstory is that he was in special forces in the Army, so there's this thing I have in my head that he was basically Sanderson from Black Hawk Down (the character Fichtner played in the movie). At one point T-Bag tries to enlist Mahone's help in doing "that... neck-snappin' thang you do" and Michael clearly understands that Alex's ability to handle guns and snap people's spines is of value to his endeavors.

And while he does torture and kill with aplomb, he always feels really bad about it later -- hence his addiction to drugs, and his pain at knowing what that cost the other people around him. It's gorgeous angst. Which would be fabulous enough on its own except that even though he doesn't kill people outright, Michael also shares that same pain and guilt because so many people suffer for him and are killed because of this thing he did in trying to save his brother. So they are mind-melded pair-bonded WOOBIES OF SUFFERING. Does it get any better than that?

Pretty when he cries


Yes! Because they are also both incredibly hot. Both of them have these burning blue eyes that, especially in S4, the crew seemed to want to light, set design, and wardrobe them both solely to showcase. As an example of that hotness, I give you these pics from S4, when Alex lands in jail (and there's a minibreakout orchestrated by Michael against everyone else's wishes to retrieve Alex before he can get whacked) that I grabbed off of isagel's LJ:

Still pretty when he cries




They both have these insinuating, low voices that when they say each other's names, it sounds like the dirtiest pillow talk you've ever heard. And since they are both so smart and always thinkingthinkingthinking, I can imagine their bedroom conversations to be these low-voiced scientific discussions of what they're doing and experiencing while they're banging each other's brains out. At one point in Sona they have this conversation about a freaking pen that sounds like filthy sex talk. They are hilarious together.

And clearly obsessed with each other. In early S2, Michael wants to go on the offensive against Mahone and of course he goes on the Interwebz to find out stuff about the guy, discovers that the only bad guy who's ever gotten away from Mahone mysteriously vanished, and puts two and two together and figures out that Alex killed the guy and buried him in the backyard (what? Like you wouldn't immediately reach that conclusion with just those few facts at your disposal? Michael's a genius, yo). Then he uses it to try to torment Mahone into leaving them alone. Alex can read Michael's tattoo-clues and figure out where he's going, what he's doing next, what brand of toothpaste he prefers, and his favorite sexual position.

Michael kind of keeps himself at a distance from everyone except Linc, Sara, and his cellmate Sucre. But he allows Alex into his physical space even from the beginning when they're enemies, and when they become frenemies in Sona, they get even more into each other's spaces. The twitchier Mahone gets in Sona when he's going through withdrawal, the more Michael actually seems to let him into his space. This is the one fandom I can see as a threesome, with Michael and Sara and Alex together in the end, because it's so clear that Michael reserves things for Alex he only ever gives to Sara.

Everyone on the show notices this, too -- the Powers That Be clearly were reading LJ. I took this also from isagel's journal because it's proof of how obvious their love for each other is -- this is the evil general in charge of the Company in S4, and look who he links Michael up to on the whiteboard of evil (not his brother or his BFF Sucre):



Ah ha ha ha. Even the General OT3s Michael/Alex/Sara. I know a lot of people had issues with an extremely squirm-inducing torture scene and subsequent murder that Alex commits almost in front of Sara, and how they felt that would be a game-changer for any potential threesome. But I think the situation was so complex, and Sara's thought processes so mixed up and complex herself when it came to the situation they were in (she was the only member of the team who had no stake in anything personally besides her devotion to Michael, who was free and not in legal trouble) that it's pretty easy to circumvent and deal with that. Also, we're fans, it's what we do.

And that, I think, is the heart of why this has eaten my brain so long after watching all this when it was airing on TV: the show is like four seasons of fan service. There is nothing fanfic could do except maybe MPREG that the show itself wasn't willing to do. They just went balls to the wall sometimes. Each season would start out with a bang, stall for long periods, and then they'd kind of just throw anything up to see what stuck so the last part of the seasons would bring the crazy so hard. Head in a box? Check. Extreme torture? Check. Implied dirty nasty prison sex? Check x 11. Incest? Checkity check. And that doesn't even get to chickenfeet, floppy hats of justice, cutting off body parts, whore nuns, and Ocean's 11 capers. They would pretty much go anywhere. And we gotta love them for that.

It's not a quality show in terms of story (but it is in terms of cinematography and acting). It jumped the shark almost from the get-go, but in some ways that almost made it more fun. The dialogue writing is frequently witty and hilarious (especially for the vile but hysterical T-Bag), and you could tell they were having fun with it. But it's that slash aspect, which I think TPTB recognized very early on and pushed into the forefront, that's eaten my brain lately (although I have really developed a thing for Mahone and his fellow FBI agent friend Lang, and want to vid and write about them too). It's definitely my joy right now, and I wish I had someone to share it with.

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Comments

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trepkos
Jan. 13th, 2011 02:32 pm (UTC)
I'm considering investigating this on the basis of that cap. up against the wall, alone.
gwyn_r
Jan. 14th, 2011 08:17 pm (UTC)
Oh, that scene against the wall is HEAVEN. Really, I could watch it a million times in a row -- but the whole season is like that, they're constantly in each other's faces.

SDWolfpup has a really good beginner's guide to Michael/Mahone here if you do get interested.
slavelabour
Jan. 13th, 2011 04:18 pm (UTC)
Jesus, Gwyn. Your passion is infectious. And I think I might have to quote you on, 'We're fans, it's what we do.' \m/
gwyn_r
Jan. 14th, 2011 08:18 pm (UTC)
If I could infect at least one person from this post, I would die of happiness. I'm feeling so alone!!
sdwolfpup
Jan. 13th, 2011 06:07 pm (UTC)
THIS IS THE BEST POST EVER.

Um. I still have some fannishness for Prison Break. Hee. I will comment AT LENGTH later.
gwyn_r
Jan. 14th, 2011 08:25 pm (UTC)
Yay!!! I have been enjoying so much going through your PB posts and re-reading all that stuff from before.
out_there
Jan. 14th, 2011 12:19 am (UTC)
This post brought me so much joy. The thing about PB is that, yes, it's crack-filled and ridiculous when you try to explain it, but that doesn't stop it from being awesome and really, really involving as you watch.

Alex can read Michael's tattoo-clues and figure out where he's going, what he's doing next, what brand of toothpaste he prefers, and his favorite sexual position.

Bwahahahaa! That's it exactly.

It's not a quality show in terms of story (but it is in terms of cinematography and acting). It jumped the shark almost from the get-go, but in some ways that almost made it more fun.

That's very true. It's a ridiculously fun show to watch, and in so many ways, it's perfectly built for fandom. Canon is so crack-filled that any story you write is always *this close* to something that would have appeared onscreen -- and more than that, the show always paid more attention to the emotional intensity of the series (the connection between the characters) and the prettiness (the cinematography is regularly gorgeous) than the plot. I can happily forgive plot-holes for brilliant, pretty characters who want to spend hours staring intensely at each other.
gwyn_r
Jan. 14th, 2011 08:35 pm (UTC)
I'm often surprised by it... it's like you get kind of accepting of the crack and then you forget how great it can be, and you'll be reminded when you least expect it.

Your stories have brought me so much glee while I've been tumbling back into this.
ealgylden
Jan. 14th, 2011 07:54 am (UTC)
Random drive-by comment...
(my favorite is the Company guy who tells him that his son is dead if he doesn't do this or that and the next scene we see Alex open up the trunk of his car to find the guy, nice big bullet hole in his forehead, deader than a dead thing)

Hee hee hee! I loved that. So there.

And of course, the guy in the chickenfoot fight tries to shiv Michael, whereupon Alex steps in and kills the guy -- what is more of an I Love You than KILLING SOMEONE FOR YOUR BELOVED? I ask you.

I watched this episode the first time around with my little sister and her fiance, and he was massively disturbed by our shared ecstatic reaction to that scene. "Oh my GOD, he's so hot!" "I know!" "Wait, what? He just broke that guy in half. With his bare hands!" "We knoooowwwww!" Sorry, kiddo, it's Fichtner. That just... says it all.

Not that I just loved Alex only for his violence, of course. It was the whole brilliant, beautiful, obsessed, terrifyingly ninja package. That show was completely demented, but I forgive it many sins for the sake of Alex, and his mad Michael-magnetism.
gwyn_r
Jan. 14th, 2011 09:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Random drive-by comment...
I love drive-by comments!! Especially when they're about Fichtner!

Poor fiance... some people just have no idea what they're getting into with fans, and the kinds of things we looooove.

I love "terrifyingly ninja package." I will be quoting you on that.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 15th, 2011 12:44 am (UTC)
Eeee!!
Yes to all of the above (the blue eyes thing always got me) 'Otis' is on right now and I love that scene where Mahone cocks his head and looks up at Michael. You can almost see his entire being sharpen. Jeebus on a stick:)

g. (x_art)
mashimero
Sep. 4th, 2014 08:15 am (UTC)
This is such a late reply (you thought you came into the fandom late after a year and a half? Try me: 4 years late LOL!). But I found a link to this entry from a fic post and just had to comment on the Fichtner love because YESSSSSSSS. I totally fell for him in PB, and have been working my way through his filmography. He is just so... magnetic!

And god yes, but I could watch the chicken foot fight and the Sona wall!porn on repeat <3__<3
gwyn_r
Sep. 4th, 2014 07:15 pm (UTC)
Oh wow, it's lovely and surprising to get this comment! I'm so glad to hear this. Man, I miss this show so much. I miss the other fans so much too -- it's comforting to know that there are people still discovering it. And that's thrilling to hear someone linked to this post -- I'm totally surprised, but glad!
mashimero
Sep. 8th, 2014 07:15 am (UTC)
Well, I used to lurk in PB fandom back when it was still airing, but never really participated in fandom until now... 5 years too late LOL. But I'm hoping that the cast's recent activity will bring more new people and activity to the fandom!
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