Michael Scofield watches a tattoo artist add the finishing touches to a section of his arm. She marvels at her masterpiece. In just a matter of months, Michael has tattooed his chest, back and both arms down to the wrists. The tattoo artist tells him that it takes most guys a few years to get that much ink done. Michael cryptically replies, “I don’t have a few years.”Michael hurries back to his apartment, passing a small origami swan perched on his desk. Every inch of wall and window space is wallpapered with papers, maps and newspaper articles. Some article titles read: “Lincoln Burrows’ Final Appeal Denied,” “Governor’s Daughter Wins Humanitarian Award,” and “Life Sentence for Mob Boss Abruzzi.” Michael methodically tears the web of information off the windows, and then turns to his computer. He pulls the hard drive out and steps out onto the balcony. Michael rears back and throws his hard drive into the Chicago River below.
The next day, Michael stands inside a bank, arm raised high with a gun pointed toward the ceiling. Bank personnel and clients sprawl across the floor, covering their heads. Michael fires his gun upward; the people cower. He points the gun at a bank employee behind the counter. “The vault. Open it.” She tells him that she can’t because the bank manager is not around; he’s at lunch. Michael aims his gun upward again and fires twice. “I’m not playing games, open it.” The bank employee tries to convince him that the half million he has in his bag is more than enough for him to just walk away. She trails off at the sounds of sirens. Squad cars surround the building. A police helicopter circles the bank. Michael drops his weapons, raises his hands and slowly turns around.
Inside a courtroom, Michael sits behind a table. His lawyer and longtime friend, Veronica Donovan, stands beside him. The judge is baffled by Michael’s no contest plea and suggests that he rethink it. When Michael says he is sure of his plea, Veronica steps in and tries to convince him otherwise. But Michael refuses to change it. The judge calls a recess to determine Michael’s sentence. As the bailiff leads Michael away, Michael sees his nephew, LJ, sitting in the courtroom. “Go home LJ. I didn’t want you to see this,” Michael tells him.
Veronica follows Michael to a jail cell in the courthouse. “He’s not going to take this well,” Michael says, referring to LJ. “Can you blame him?” Veronica snaps back. She tells him that LJ is beginning to feel like everyone he cares about is going to end up in prison. Veronica adds and LJ isn’t the only one who feels that way. Veronica interrogates Michael further about his behavior in the courtroom and the behavior that landed him there. This isn’t like him. But Michael insists, “You’ve got to let me deal with this.”
Back in the courtroom, the judge announces her decision. She was inclined to give Michael probation. But, because he fired a deadly weapon during the attempted robbery, she wants him to do time. She notices that Michael has requested a prison close to his Chicago home and places him at Fox River Penitentiary, a maximum security prison. The term of his sentence will be five years, beginning immediately.
Fox River Penitentiary is an old prison. Guard towers and forbidding razor wire line the perimeter. Inside, a correctional officer barks out orders as new inmates walk through their welcoming process. Here, inmates shower and receive prison uniforms. Michael is coldly greeted by the head correctional officer, Captain Brad Bellick. Bellick reads over Michael’s forms and lays out the rules of the prison. There are two commandments at Fox River. “One, you’ve got nothing coming to you,” Bellick gruffly states. When Michael inquires about the second commandment, Bellick replies, “See commandment number one.” Michael tells Bellick he’s just trying to do his time and get out, fly under the radar. Bellick looks down at Michael’s form again; the words “Type I Diabetes” are written and circled.
In his cell, Michael studies the hundreds of prisoners milling in their cells. “I suggest you take a seat, fish,” Fernando Sucre, better known as simply ” Sucre,” tells his new cellmate. Michael watches inmates walk across the floor below. Suddenly, one of them is stabbed by another. The victim falls to his knees, bleeding and screaming. The inmates holler in excitement. Sucre calls over Michael’s shoulder, “Welcome to Prisneyland, fish.”
Late at night, Veronica is at home staring out the window. Her fiancÃƒÂ©, Sebastian, wanders down the stairs looking for her. There’s something on her mind. Sebastian asks, “You want to talk about it?” Veronica tries to brush it off, but she is troubled by Michael’s case. She says she shouldn’t talk about it and Sebastian heads back to bed.
Sucre and Michael head out to the yard. Sucre serves as a tour guide, telling him whose turf is where. They walk by an older man holding a cat. Michael inquires about him. Sucre tells him that while the man will deny it, he’s the infamous D.B. Cooper who parachuted out of a plane thirty years ago with a million and a half in cash. Sucre begins chatting with some other inmates while Michael’s eyes scan the yard. He focuses on two yellow fire hydrants and a grate expelling steam. Next to Michael’s foot is another grate, he forces a magazine down it. Then he turns back to Sucre and the inmates. “I’m looking for someone. His name is Lincoln Burrows.”
Sucre takes him to a part of the yard where they see Lincoln squatting against a wall, far removed from the general population. He’s known in the prison as “Linc the Sink.” He’s a death row inmate awaiting execution for the murder of the Vice President’s brother. Sucre asks Michael, “Why do you want to see Burrows so bad anyway?” Michael boldly replies, “Because he’s my brother.” Sucre tells him that the only way he can get close to his brother is through “P.I.” or Prison Industries. But former mob boss and Fox River celebrity John Abruzzi has a heavy hand in P.I..
Michael folds another origami swan in his cell. He flashes back to a conversation he had with Lincoln a few months ago, where they talked about the date of his execution. Separated by glass and steel in the visitation area, Lincoln swears to Michael that he did not kill the Vice President’s brother. Lincoln tells Michael that he doesn’t know how they did it, but it was a set up. Back in the cell, Sucre is writing a letter to his girlfriend, Maricruz. He wants to propose to her.
LJ and a friend ride their bikes through a dark alley in Chicago. They arrive at a set of doors, push a buzzer and a well-dressed man exits. They follow the man to a car, where he opens the trunk and puts a large bag of marijuana into LJ’s backpack. LJ and the man finalize the details of the transaction and the boys ride away. But undercover officers are watching. Before the boys can flee, the police close in on them.
Michael makes his way across the yard where John Abruzzi sits, playing cards. Michael boldly tells Abruzzi that he needs to be hired for P.I., but Abruzzi is not interested in this new fish. Someone like Michael has nothing to offer someone like Abruzzi. Michael quietly says, “I wouldn’t be so sure of that,” and places an origami swan before Abruzzi. Abruzzi’s goons stand up, signaling Michael’s exit. “Come find me when you want to talk,” Michael says as he backs away. Abruzzi flicks the swan away from him.
Inside a warehouse, giant slabs of meat hang from the ceiling and butchers stand about, chopping beef. Mobster Gavin Smallhouse enters, carrying an envelope. Maggio, a heavy set man in a butcher’s outfit, walks over to Gavin. Inside the envelope is a photo of an older man, taken from a distance. The man in the photo is Fibonacci, a mob informant whose testimony put Abruzzi behind bars. Smallhouse and Gavin are very interested in where the photo came from. But there’s something else in the envelope. “What is it?” asks Maggio.
In the prison infirmary, Dr. Sara Tancredi sinks a hypodermic needle into Michael’s arm. “I’m Michael, by the way,” he says to her in a mildly flirtatious tone. “And you are?” Sara replies, “Dr. Tancredi will do.” Michael asks her if she is the daughter of Governor Tancredi, but Sara doesn’t answer. If this humanitarian award winning idealist is in fact the daughter of the tough-on-crime governor, it is not a fact she likes to advertise. Dr. Tancredi exits the room for a moment, and Michael jumps up, sneaking another origami swan into the drainage grate in the infirmary floor. He’s back in his seat before Sara returns. She tells him that since hypodermic needles are not permitted in an inmate’s cell, he’ll have to come to the infirmary for his regular insulin shot.
In Washington, D.C., Special Agent Hale enters the office of Special Agent Kellerman. Hale tells Kellerman that everything is in place for Lincoln’s execution, except for Bishop McMorrow. Hale worries that the Bishop has a lot of influence with the Governor and may persuade him to grant a stay of execution. Kellerman realizes Hale’s point. “Maybe it’s time we arranged a visit with the good Bishop then.”
In the prison chapel, Lincoln gazes up at the chaplain. When he stands to exit, he turns and sees Michael for the first time. Lincoln can’t believe it. “Why?” he asks Michael. Michael tells him that he’s going to get Lincoln out of prison. Lincoln tells Michael it’s impossible. Michael replies, “Not if you designed the place it isn’t.”
Sebastian and Veronica flip through a book of wedding invitations. Sebastian tells her that they need to make a decision soon. But Veronica wants to take her time and do it right. Sebastian feels like Veronica is having second thoughts. Veronica reassures him that he’s the man she wants to be with.
Sucre is panicked about his letter to his girlfriend. She’s supposed to meet him for a conjugal in a couple days, but hasn’t called him to confirm that she’s coming. A C.O. bangs on the cell door. “Scofield, The Pope wants to see you.” Sucre tells Michael that no one gets an audience with The Pope unless he’s really interested in what you have to say.
Warden Henry Pope peels off his glasses and reads Michael’s academic accomplishments. “I can’t help but wonder what someone with your credentials is doing in a place like this.” Michael brushes it off. “Took a wrong turn a few months back, I guess.” The Pope noticed that in Michael’s file, he claimed to be unemployed, but Pope isn’t fooled. “I know you’re a structural engineer, Scofield.” Pope leads Michael into the next room where a massive model of the Taj Mahal made out of toothpicks sits atop a work table. The model represents his love for his wife, Pope explains, and he hopes to give it to her as a fortieth anniversary present in two months. The problem is, Pope has built it without proper reinforcements, and he needs Michael’s help to keep it from collapsing. Pope offers Michael three days of work a week in Pope’s office. Michael rejects the offer. The Pope is stunned, “Son, it’s better for me to owe you one in here than for you to owe me one, I can promise you that.” Michael says he’ll take his chances and Pope calls for the guard to escort Michael out.
LJ is being scolded by his mother, Lisa Rix. “Two pounds of pot? Were you trying to set a record?” LJ cracks a smile, but Lisa pounces on him. “It’s not funny LJ, you could be going to jail!” LJ’s stepdad, Adrian, enters. Lisa says that LJ needs guidance, and LJ mutters that he certainly won’t get it from Daddy Warbucks. Lisa doesn’t understand why LJ is misbehaving, until she thinks about Lincoln. Maybe a face-to-face with his father will set LJ straight.
Veronica visits Michael. Michael seems determined to stay put in Fox River, even telling Veronica not to appeal his case. Veronica knows something is going on and she demands to know what he’s planning. The conversation turns to Veronica’s relationship with Lincoln. She tells Michael that she gave Lincoln every chance to make it work when she returned from college and Michael points out that maybe Lincoln was hurt that she left in the first place. She begs Michael to stop what he’s doing. Michael tells her that if they want to save Lincoln, she needs to find whoever is trying to frame Lincoln.
As Veronica signs out, Lincoln is being led through a parallel corridor. He sees her, but she does not see him.
Hale and Kellerman meet Bishop McMorrow at his home. Kellerman attempts to convince the Bishop to separate himself, no matter what, from Burrows’ case. The Bishop is firm; if an inmate on death row asks for help, the Bishop will intervene. Kellerman plays his last card, and accuses the Bishop of committing fraud. The Bishop stands strong and says he will not be bullied.
Abruzzi leans against a payphone, on the other end is Maggio. “You heard me. Someone found Fibonacci.” Abruzzi’s eyes light up and he wants to know who sent it. Maggio says he doesn’t know, but in the envelope was a “folded up bird.” This registers with Abruzzi and he hangs up the phone and walks away.
Michael stands in the yard over the grate he dropped the magazine into. When he looks down, he sees the swan from the infirmary resting against it. Behind him, Charles Westmoreland watches; his cat, Marilyn, is wrapped in his jacket. Michael sits down next to him. Michael tells Westmoreland that he knew his wife. After testing Michael to ensure this new fish can be trusted, Westmoreland relaxes. Michael asks if Westmoreland is D.B. Cooper. Westmoreland smiles and replies, “Every new fish that comes in here, first thing they hear is that Charles Westmoreland is D.B. Cooper.” Westmoreland denies it. Abruzzi approaches, flanked by his goons. Westmoreland takes off.
Abruzzi wants Michael to talk. Michael only asks, “Say you could get outside those walls. Would you have the people in place to make sure you disappeared forever?” Abruzzi says he would, but that’s not what he came to talk to Michael about. He demands to know where Fibonacci is. Michael makes a threat; if someone comes for him, he’s going after Abruzzi. Abruzzi’s goons take offense to the statement and jump Michael. Michael lands a punch on Abruzzi before one of the goons unleashes a sock filled with batteries and begins whipping Michael. A C.O. in the guard tower takes notice and fires warning shots into the yard around Michael and Abruzzi, ending the skirmish.
In Pope’s office, the warden threatens to throw Michael in the SHU for ninety days for fighting. But Michael thinks fast and offers to help fix the Taj instead of doing time in isolation. Pope agrees.
The Bishop is fast asleep in his massive bed. A shadow moves across the wall. A floorboard creaks. “Who’s there?” he groans. He sits up, eyes wide. A gun with a silencer fires once.
In Veronica’s office, her assistant enters and tells her the news of the Bishop’s murder. As it dawns on her that the one person who could have helped save Lincoln’s life has been murdered, Veronica mutters, “Michael was right.” She removes a copy of Lincoln’s trial deposition from a file cabinet.
A guard walks Lincoln to the visitation area where Lisa and LJ wait. Lisa informs Lincoln of LJ’s arrest and tells him that LJ needs some fatherly advice. She leaves the two alone. Lincoln tries to tell him that he needs to fly straight because he doesn’t want to end up in a place like Fox River. LJ has no interest in taking advice from his deadbeat dad. “They’re putting me to death LJ. In a few months time, I’ll be dead. You get that?” Lincoln tells him. LJ snaps back, “You’re already dead to me.”
Sucre paces in the conjugal area, nervous that Maricruz isn’t coming. A guard opens the door and Maricruz enters. She giddily accepts Sucre’s proposal.
Michael visits the infirmary. Sara reads his chart; something is strange. His blood glucose isn’t reacting to the insulin the way a diabetic should. She asks if he’s sure he has Type I diabetes. He says he’s sure, ever since he was a kid. The phone rings, saving Michael momentarily. He gets up and looks out the window at a telephone wire that runs from the infirmary roof to the prison wall. He looks down and his hands are shaking. Sara tells him she will run some tests the next time he’s in.
Back in the conjugal area, Sucre asks Maricruz how she got to the prison. When she answers, “Hector,” Sucre explodes. He doesn’t like Hector. He thinks Hector’s trying to steal her away. Maricruz tells Sucre that he has nothing to worry about.
Michael approaches an inmate named C-Note, he’s the “local pharmacy.” Michael asks for PUGNAc, an insulin blocker. C-Note says that kind of medication should be available at the infirmary, but Michael sets him straight. He can’t get an insulin blocker from the infirmary because he’s already going there for insulin shot. C-Note wonders why anyone would fake a condition to get insulin they don’t need, but when Michael hands him the cash, he stops asking questions.
Michael is in his cell. A C.O. walks up and taps on the bars with a P.I. work card. Michael smiles.
After a session of painting the halls, Michael and Lincoln walk in together. Lincoln asks about Veronica, “She still engaged to that guy?” Lincoln comments that it could have been him. Lincoln knows he pushed a lot of people away in his life after he broke up with Veronica. Abruzzi watches them from a distance. Michael and Lincoln talk quietly about Michael’s plan, “Getting outside of these walls is just the beginning,” Lincoln tells him. Lincoln grills Michael about the plan, Michael smiles and briefs Lincoln about the prison retrofitting job in 1999. “You’ve seen the blueprints,” Lincoln says quietly. Michael removes the top half of his work jumpsuit, “Better yet. I’ve got them on me.” Michael stands before Lincoln, his chest, arms and back covered in a massive tattoo. Michael tells Lincoln to look closer. Lincoln is amazed as he sees that Michael has concealed the prison’s blueprints in his tattoo.