The Company (Prison Break)
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (February 2010)|
The Company is a fictional covert organization, with evil intentions and motivations, featured in the American television drama/thriller series Prison Break. It is a secret group of multinationals known almost exclusively by those who work for them (with the exception of those opposing them). Its influence and power over individuals stretches to the White House, influencing every decision the country makes. Its main goal is to impose a New World Order to maintain control over the country's economy and tyrannize the world. The Company has thus far also been described as a group of multinational corporate interests, and as a cabal of corporations influencing everything that goes on in the United States.
The Company has influence over many agencies of the United States government, especially the Secret Service. With Caroline Reynolds (Patricia Wettig), the former Vice President of the United States in their grasp, The Company held control over the government's sway on the energy bill and subsequently, the country's economy. However, The Company considers every individual who works for them a pawn to achieve their goals.
The Company and its operatives have on several occasions displayed their complete lack of regard for innocent people's lives. Its desperate need to attain control of the country's economy eventuated in illegal dealings through Caroline Reynolds' brother's company, Ecofield. When one of their employees leaked information about Ecofield into the public, The Company went to incredible lengths to capture him. This man was Aldo Burrows (Anthony Denison). In order to bring him out into the open, The Company masterminded a conspiracy and used Caroline Reynolds' power as the Vice President to frame and convict his son, the innocent Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell), of Terrence Steadman's murder.
The Company consists of a great number of corporations and organizations, putting all their resources together to form one large - but clandestine - superstructure. Its leader is General Jonathan Krantz, who has ties with the military-industrial complex. Each leader of every separate organization within The Company answers directly to him. Among the most influential corporate leaders are the ones known as the Scylla Cardholders.
Through its economical assets, The Company has influence of countless individuals within - among other things - the Government, Congress, and various Federal Agencies. Politicians are especially important, as they are influenced by The Company to make decisions and pass laws that suits The Company's needs in return for being paid considerable amounts of money. Vice President Caroline Reynolds was among the more powerful associates aiding The Company in this way. The Company has people in place to monitor her or other collaborators, one example being Samantha Brinker who was assigned to handle relations with Reynolds.
To protect its secrets, The Company stored all the information of their operations into a computer hard drive called Scylla. The information can only be accessed by using six separate cards that are in the hands of the cardholders. These are:
- General Jonathan Krantz, portrayed by Leon Russom
- Stuart Tuxhorn, portrayed by Steve Tom
- Lisa Tabak, portrayed by Stacy Haiduk
- Griffin Oren, portrayed by Shaun Duke
- Nathaniel Edison, portrayed by John Sanderford
- Howard Scuderi, portrayed by Jude Ciccolella
The Lincoln Burrows Operation
Season 1 revolves mainly around the Lincoln Burrows conspiracy. The root of the conspiracy is only gradually revealed to the viewer, and the existence of The Company is at first not mentioned or alluded to at all. In the initial episodes, only Vice President Caroline Reynolds (whose identity is not revealed until episode 8) and her henchmen Paul Kellerman and Daniel Hale represents the conspiracy. Overall, The Company is mostly kept in the background in the season 1 storyline, as a collaborative element to Reynolds and Kellerman. While they had chosen Burrows as the fall guy, they applied a surprisingly hands-off approach in regards to the conspiracy surrounding Steadman's death, preferring to stay out of it as much as possible and allowing Reynolds and her agents to handle things. Reynolds doesn't even notify them at first of the threat posed by Veronica Donovan. Only when her own men fail to do the job does she bring them up to speed. The Company is finally mentioned in the tenth episode of the first season, titled Sleight of Hand when The Company decides to take over the operation to maintain the conspiracy. This starts in Sleight of Hand, when the ruthless Company operative Quinn replaces Reynolds' own henchmen Kellerman and Hale in the pursuit of Veronica Donovan in order to silence her. Quinn fails in this task (with Kellerman, who disliked his taking over, leaving him for dead in the well Veronica and LJ left him in), and the nature of The Company is not explained at this point, although Kellerman makes comments to Reynolds that suggests that they are highly ruthless and determined.
In the episode "By the Skin and the Teeth", we learn that Samantha Brinker, The Company's intermediary to Reynolds, has taken a firm interest in the Burrows case, and that The Company has significant authority to tell the Vice President what to do, implying that The Company is more powerful than had been previously alluded to. In the episode "J-Cat", we learn that they had a hidden agenda regarding the framing of Lincoln Burrows: to draw Burrows' father, an ex Company employee, out of hiding in order to eliminate him. Kellerman is dismayed by this news. Thus, the organisation had become a bigger plot point, and in "The Key", The Company's true nature is revealed when Lincoln's father Aldo explains that they are a group of multi-national corporations that effectively controls politics in America.
Samantha Brinker continues to be the primary representative of Company authority in the first season, although executives with a higher standing are briefly seen in episodes "Tonight" and "Go", where they become increasingly worried about Caroline Reynolds' chances at winning the presidential elections after her support starts to plummet in the polls. After Reynolds loses President Richard Mills' confidence and the support for a key energy bill in the episode "Tonight", The Company decides to cut her off and advises her to drop out of the race, or they will have to make her. They are greatly surprised when Reynolds has the President killed shortly thereafter (disguising it as a heart-attack) and was then sworn in as the next President of the United States. This happens in the season finale "Flight", and the future of the Reynolds-Company co-operation is left hanging at the end of the season.
The Fox River Eight Operation
In the second season, the conspiracy is at first only represented by Kellerman, but the fifth episode "Map 1213" introduces Agent Bill Kim, a member of The Company. In part because of the absence of Patricia Wettig (the actress playing President Reynolds), Kim plays a major role throughout the season. Reynolds is clearly shown as still collaborating with The Company, and in the aftermath of the Fox River Eight escape, The Company's nefarious operatives take charge completely and isolate her from the conspiracy operation and tell her to attend to other matters, as even her own men now report to The Company directly (thus explaining Wettig's absence for most of the season). This scheme was effectively in practice by the time of the episode "Map 1213", where Kellerman is told that he can no longer speak to Reynolds. Kellerman is frustrated by this, beginning his character arc that eventually leads him to abandon his cause. Kim and Kellerman form an antagonistic relationship that continues throughout the first half of the season, and The Company itself is a bigger plot point in the second season, with Kellerman and Kim sharing roughly equal screen time. Season 2 also introduces the most powerful man in the organization that the viewers have seen until this point. This is Kim's superior, the mysterious old man referred to as "Pad Man", first seen in the episode "The Killing Box". He is not a prominent character in the second season, however.
The Company takes a direct role in the hunt for the Fox River Eight, and appoints Kim to lead those efforts. It is finally revealed in the episode "Dead Fall" that the leader of the FBI manhunt, Special Agent Alexander Mahone is under blackmail from Kim, Kellerman and The Company to ensure the death of all the fugitives, fearing that they know too much about the conspiracy, even though during their time in Fox River none of the escapees had any knowledge of it besides Michael and Lincoln. It even seems that Kim, through his connections with President Reynolds, arranged for Mahone to be the one to spearhead the pursuit. There would only be three deaths: John Abruzzi (Peter Stormare), David Apolskis (Lane Garrison) and Charles Patoshik (Silas Weir Mitchell). Mahone also attempts to coerce Benjamin Franklin (Rockmond Dunbar) into killing himself in the episode "Wash", but fails. His failure leads to Mahone being compromised as an Internal Affairs investigation offers C-Note exoneration from all charges for testifying against Mahone. Before he can be indicted, however, Kim arranges for Mahone to leave the country, as The Company still thinks he has value. The opposite is true for Kellerman, who continues to chafe under The Company thumb until Kim finally disavows[clarification needed] him in "Disconnect" for repeated failures and suspicions of disloyalty. Pad Man then tells Kim to "retire" Kellerman because his loyalty to the conspiracy is all too uncertain. This plot backfires horribly when Kellerman, aware of the impending betrayal, shoots his would-be assassin and allies himself with Michael and Lincoln in hopes of bringing down The Company and the president.
After Kellerman switches sides, the conspiracy story arc becomes represented mainly by Kim and the reluctant Mahone. Kim pressures Mahone in the episodes "Chicago" and "Wash" to ensure the deaths of fugitives that he has in his custody in these episodes. However, Caroline Reynolds herself returns in the episode "Sweet Caroline", when Michael successfully blackmails her into a Presidential pardon for him and his brother with a tape revealing her incestuous relationship with her brother. Kim tells her just before the press conference that The Company could expose her secrets just as easily as Michael. As a result, the President instead announces she has a malignant form of cancer which will cause her to resign the Presidency and drop out of the race. In addition to this, Pad Man himself begins to have a larger role in the season's later episodes and upon learning that Scofield and Burrows have fled to Panama, he orders Kim to ensure Scofield's incarceration at a Panamanian prison, Sona Federal Penitentiary, where a former operative of The Company named James Whistler is. Initially it was never known who Whistler was and why the company wanted him out. [This will be explained in the next topic]. Kim also orders Mahone to travel to Panama to assist in the operation. Kim dies in the season finale and Mahone goes rogue, but Pad Man's agenda is secured and Michael arrives at Sona in the season's closing moments. At the same time, the viewers are shown that Pad Man is a General running a top secret research facility on Long Island, hinting at a new angle to the plotline.
At Sara Tancredi's trial in the episode "Sona", Paul Kellerman comes forward as a key witness. He reveals everything: the existence of The Company, the President's role in the framing of Lincoln Burrows, etc., and he has documents to prove it. It is not known how severely this affected The Company's operations.
The James Whistler Operation
With Kellerman's departure and possible assassination, The Company now completely dominates the conspiracy storyline of the show, and a new angle is presented: Michael Scofield's ability to break out of maximum-level penitentiaries seems to have garnered the interest of the organization. It is revealed that their intention behind his incarceration at Sona was to break out another inmate, which comprises the third season's main plot. They are extremely interested in a man named James Whistler and thus they appoint one of their operatives, Gretchen Morgan, to kidnap Sara Tancredi and Burrows' son L.J. in exchange for Scofield helping Whistler to break out of Sona, due to the fact that before Whistler got incarcerated he somehow acquired access to a Scylla Card which he supposedly was going to sell but in the end it appeared he sold a copy to keep the original and bring down the company. To ensure this, Gretchen Morgan went to great lengths to seemingly get Sara killed, claiming to have personally decapitated her, thus showed the brothers that she, and the Company meant business. Just as Brinker represented The Company in season 1, and Kim represented it in season 2, Gretchen is the main Company authority in the third season. She is also the first Company character whose portrayer appears in the opening credits, another sign of how much The Company has begun to dominate the show's storyline. Gretchen functions as a liaison to the brothers throughout the season, using Lincoln Burrows as her contact. The relationship is very unstable, with both sides plotting against each other.
With Gretchen as the main Company element in the outside plotline (the General making only one brief appearance), much of Whistler's scenes in Sona are dedicated towards evaluating his possible connections to The Company. Although Whistler claims to be just an innocent fisherman, Michael is suspicious. In the episodes "Vamanos" and "Bang & Burn", Whistler is shown as being in league with Gretchen and that he is very important in the Company's eyes. Michael later arranges for the escape of himself, Mahone and Whistler from Sona, and exchanges him for the life of his nephew. In the final episode of the season, "The Art of the Deal", Whistler makes a deal with Mahone to seemingly work for The Company and they drive off in a car along with Gretchen.
Whistler and Mahone are later discovered to be working against the Company.
The Scylla Operation
Season 4 focuses on the highest echelons of The Company, and some of the entities that make up the organization are presented in greater detail than in previous seasons. The General, whose name is now given as Jonathan Krantz, is revealed to be the leader of The Company. Gretchen Morgan is suspected in the season 4 premiere of having assisted Whistler's betrayal, and she is tortured until she escapes and turns against her former employers. Thus, General Krantz himself becomes the primary Company authority figure in the season, taking a far more active role and has a much bigger screen presence than in past seasons. He authorizes the Company assassin named Wyatt to kill Scofield, Burrows, Mahone and anyone else that might have dealt with Whistler. In "Scylla", Michael Scofield is told by Homeland Security agent Donald Self that Scylla is the name of The Company's little black book, and that it is the key to bringing them down. Scofield and Burrows are told that they will be exonerated of all charges if they help the government obtain Scylla. To do this they work with Mahone, as well as former associates Fernando Sucre and Brad Bellick. Scylla's secrets are shown as being stored on six data cards, each in the hands of one of the six most powerful members of The Company, called the Scylla Cardholders (including the general himself). Stealing the information on these cards, as well as finding the secret Company location where the information can be decrypted, forms the plot of the season's first 13 episodes.
The Company has an evil plan of its own that unfolds as the season progresses. Eventually, the viewers are informed that they are intentionally ruining the economy of Laos by flooding their market with counterfeit money, allowing the organization to go in and offer to rebuild the country, thus profiting from the destruction and "rebuilding the country in their image". Ten thousand people are implied as having died as a result of the Company activities in Laos. In the episode "The Price", it is revealed that Laos was a guinea pig and that this operation was merely a first stage in a bigger scheme. The Company now intends to use the same method on the United States itself. In the same episode, General Krantz is made aware that Michael and Lincoln are after Scylla and orders it moved. The general is later tricked into thinking that Wyatt has killed the brothers, but nevertheless decides to go ahead with moving Scylla.
Scylla's true nature initially remains uncertain, though it is supposedly a "black book" which contains all data of every operation executed by The Company, as well as the names of the agents and all information on The Company in general. Gretchen hints that there is much more to it than that, and Scylla is later revealed to also contain The Company's future operations. These include energy development plans for nuclear, solar and wind energy, and well as a new type codenamed "BARGAIN", which can supposedly harness the full potential of solar power, with the letters standing for the elements of the periodic table:
During a meeting Christina Scofield has with Naveen Banarjee, she mentions that Scylla also contains:
- A Solar Cell prototype
- A desalination technique that can yield potable water in seconds
- A way for bio-engineered crops to subsist in the harshest of climates
- Revolutionary vaccines
This technology grants The Company vast power. However, Michael and his team are successful in stealing Scylla from The Company in the episode "Selfless". Although he is killed in the season 4 premiere Whistler makes this possible, as clues in his bird book inform the team of how to gain access to The Company's secret headquarters. They hand it over to agent Self thinking that they are now free, but Self ends up betraying the team and sets out with Gretchen to find a new buyer for Scylla. Season 4's later episodes will focus on The Company's need to get Scylla back; after they help Michael by performing brain surgery to get rid of his tumor, Lincoln is told by the General that he can save Michael's life in exchange for the return of Scylla. After capturing Gretchen, Self and T-Bag, Lincoln is forced to work with them to reacquire Scylla for The Company. In the final episode, it is revealed that Paul Kellerman survived and joined the anti-company movement to destroy it. Michael hands Scylla over to Kellerman, who gives it to a United Nations employee. Scylla boots up on his computer. General Krantz is arrested. The Company is finally shut down.
- Dialogue spoken by Anthony Denison as Aldo Burrows, Prison Break season 1 episode 19, "The Key".
- Dialogue spoken by Dominic Purcell as Lincoln Burrows, Prison Break season 2 episode 15, "The Message".
- Dialogue spoken by Summer Selby as the Prosecutor, Prison Break season 2 episode 22, "Sona".
- Dialogue spoken by Paul Adelstein as Paul Kellerman, Prison Break season 1 episode 10, "Sleight of Hand".
- Prison Break's official site at Fox.com