“I guess in a place like this, you never know which day is going to be your last.” –Michael Scoffield

One of the most spiritual shows on television, along with Deep Space Nine and Babylon 5 (not including those set up to specifically explore those themes, like Joan of Arcadia), was the show Oz. Why? Because do you know when many of us think about God and life? When we’re desperate. When we’ve reached the end of our rope and hope. When we’ve seen where life has gotten us under our own efforts. When we see the bars/cages of our life for what they are. Prison Break has more in common with 24 than the harsh depictions of prison life found in Oz.

Make no mistake: Prison Break isn’t trying to be a documentary on prison life. In fact, the set up is fairly ludicrous. Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) is on Death Row, framed for the murder of the U.S. Vice President. His brother, Michael Scofield (The Human Stain‘s Wentworth Miller), was one of the structural engineers that designed the prison. So concocts an elaborate plan to escape, tattoos the schematic of the prison on his body, then robs a bank to land in the same prison as his brother. If you can get past the set up, then sit back and enjoy the ride, because it’s a roller coaster of a show.

Wonderfully shot, the show itself is a technical beauty. Despite the show being chock full of action, we wouldn’t watch if we didn’t care about the characters. And the show is full of brilliantly acted characters: John Abruzzi, an incarcerated mob boss (Constantine’s Peter Stormare); the legendary D.B. Cooper (Muse Watson); Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell (Robert Knepper), the white supremacist with the survival capabilities of a cockroach; and dishonorably discharged Benjamin Miles ‘C-Note’ Franklin (Rockmond Dunbar) among others. Criminals, but none seemingly too unsympathetic or beyond redemption (except maybe T-Bag). And that’s what the show is, a journey of redemption.

“Preparation can only take you so far. After that you have to take a few leaps of faith.” –Michael

During the “secret origin” episode of Prison Break, we find that Scofield has been diagnosed with low latent inhibition. People like Scofield see everyday things like we do, but they process everything – their brains are more open to incoming stimuli. Coupled with a high IQ, makes him a creative genius, one that is attuned to all the suffering around him. Scofield became a rescuer, concerned with other people’s welfare more than his own, in short, he became a kinsmen-redeemer.

Originally, the brother or kinsman of a deceased husband was to marry his widow, and if she were childless, provide offspring. The kinsmen-redeemer had a three fold function: he was a redeemer of person (from slavery), of property (an inheritance), and of blood (an avenger). Christ is a kinsmen-redeemer, whose demonstrated grace and mercy by shedding his blood to purchase liberty for us from the prison of sin.

The tattoos on his body are a map to freedom.

“Often the Lord appears when you are in particular need of forgiveness.” –Reverend Mailor

The thing about prison is that it is the ultimate end of self moment. Why people so often find themselves on a spiritual path once they find themselves in prison is because they look around and see the consequences of living life their way on their terms. We are trapped, sometimes by our selves, sometimes by the Law, and sometimes by the circumstance of life.

Michael: Why are you so cynical?
Dr. Tancredi: Michael, I think there’s cynicism and there’s realism.
Michael: And there’s optimism. Hope. Faith.

Faith is the central theme of the show. We see all manner of faith being examined and lived out: faith in their efforts, faith in each other, faith in God (which John Abruzzi finds). Each type of faith is an attempt to escape the desperation of being trapped, of being caught up in a web of conspiracies and forces beyond our control. In Christ there is freedom, a liberation and reconciliation where we are declared blameless and which only puts us on the path to become holy.

“It’s never too late. If you agree to accept Christ into your heart and turn from your sin, he will forgive you. And save you in eternity.” –Reverend Mailor (Thomas Edson McElroy)

Serialized shows are all the hip rage this season (and watch as many of the freshman serialized shows crash and burn before mid season). I’m hoping that Prison Break won’t try to overstay its welcome by stretching out a story that by all rights should wrap up in the third season. Much like The Fugitive, chase shows should know when to end. In season two, our “heroes” find themselves still seeking freedom by their own means. One of the keys to the show is to not get too attached to anyone because, like 24, anyone can go at anytime. On its face, Prison Break is completely ridiculous, but it is quite entertaining.