[Prison Break Primer in 100 words or less, because I know it's not everyone's cup of tea: Season 1 was about Michael breaking his brother Lincoln out of prison because Lincoln was set to be executed for a murder he didn't commit. Several prisoners they needed favours from ended up tagging along. Season 2 was about the fugitives' (mostly unsuccessful) attempts to avoid recapture or death, and Michael's and Lincoln's attempt to uncover The Conspiracy that framed Lincoln. Season 3 finds Lincoln exonerated, but Michael in a Panamanian prison where The Company needs him to break someone out.]
A show like Prison Break doesn’t set itself up for having a lot of major female characters, considering the original setting was a men’s prison. Which is fine, since it fits the situation and they had at least a few relevant female characters. But as the show starts its third season, it’s becoming very clear that the female characters they do have are treated far worse than the men.
The first season started with two significant female characters: Dr. Sara Tancredi and Veronica Donovan, a lawyer (and old girlfriend) trying to help Lincoln. 4 episodes into season 3? They’re both dead. Now many people have died over the past 2+ seasons, and the majority of them have been male, but none of them were treated in the grisly manner that Veronica and Sara were.
Veronica died in the second season premiere, having already been kidnapped once and nearly killed several times in season 1. I’ll admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of the character, but that’s because the writers had her do so many patently stupid things that I couldn’t understand how she was still alive. Then she wasn’t, which cleared up some of the mystery.
At first it seemed she was going to wind up dead after being betrayed by Nick, the lawyer who was helping her with Lincoln’s case who was actually working for Abruzzi (a mobster set to break out of jail with Michael and Lincoln). Obviously a woman can’t be counted on to be a decent judge of character, despite the 9,000 red flags that he was playing her- luckily, he had a last minute change of heart. Eventually Veronica managed to track down Terrance Steadman, the man that Lincoln had supposedly murdered. And called the police, despite the fact that Terrance was the President’s brother, and since he was on federal land all 911 calls went directly to the Secret Service office. Oops.
Veronica was not only shot by agents protecting him, she was removed from the house in no less than 4 garbage bags. A woman who should have been intelligent was dumbed down at every possible juncture, and then killed, dismembered, and discarded like trash. Literally.
Sara lasted a season longer. At the beginning of season 2 she was, like Veronica, fooled into becoming friends with someone trying to kill her, this time for The Company. (She gets a pass here, since Kellerman is far better at his job than Nick could ever be. Still, it’s an unfortunate pattern.) After her father, the governor, was murdered, she ended up on the run as well. For most of the season she was working with little information and no experience, and handled herself well, which is part of what makes her ending so very disappointing. At the beginning of season 3 she’s been kidnapped along with Lincoln’s son LJ, and being held hostage to force Michael to break out of prison for them.
Until her severed head was delivered in a box to Lincoln after a failed rescue attempt.
Characters in this show have a high mortality rate, but the men haven’t been treated like this.
Fugitives who died? Abruzzi was shot by FBI agents while attempting to kill the person who sent him to prison, Tweener was shot by a bad FBI agent and made to look as though he was attempting to escape, Haywire jumped off a water tower rather than be recaptured. Others? Kellerman was shot after turning on The Company, Steadman committed suicide rather than face his crimes, Governor Tancredi was hanged in a faked suicide.
All more standard crime show deaths, and most of those were bad guys by this show’s definition. Some of the men were set up to look decent, even ones who were guilty. Kellerman’s was redemptive. The two major female characters in the show however, have both been murdered and mutilated and used as a tactic to horrify characters or the audience. Reduced to nothing more than body parts, degraded, completely powerless. If I was Susan- this season’s antagonist- I’d be awfully nervous.