[Warning: This story contains spoilers for Tuesday's episode of Fox's Prison Break, "The Prisoner's Dilemma."]
"This one's for real."
Those four words represent the harsh reality for longtime Prison Break fans, now that one of the show's longest running characters is finally off the board - and that's straight from creator and showrunner Paul Scheuring's mouth.
In the fourth episode of Fox's revived series, Paul Kellerman (Paul Adelstein) finally reached the end of the line, though not for the first time: Kellerman was seemingly killed off back in season two, only for his death to be revealed as a cover-up in the final stretch of Prison Break's original run. When he first returned, Kellerman presented himself as a changed man, whose days as a killer were behind him. The first four episodes of the Prison Break revival proved that Kellerman was a man of his word, which wasn't enough to stop an assassin from putting a bullet in poor Paul's brain during a home invasion.
"I always have wanted blood," Scheuring tells THR about why Kellerman had to go. "If you kill characters, then when you have action sequences, you think the other characters might die, too. It naturally fills those sequences with more stakes, because the audience knows we're willing to kill people. So I knew that at least two characters had to die this season. Kellerman was a good first one to go, because in some ways, he was finding out [the secret behind Scofield]. He was getting too close to the truth on the government side. Once you start finding out the truth, and you're starting to kick out exposition that's too early in the narrative, you can't sustain that. You gotta die! When you know too much too early, you die."
For those keeping track, by the way, Scheuring said "at least two characters had to die this season." Does that mean another original Prison Break-er will die this season? Scheuring's enigmatic response: "I will remain purposely vague, but there will be more deaths."
As for losing Kellerman, one of the more complicated and verbose characters in the series, Scheuring said it was important to send him off in style. "Paul is a joy to work with," he says. "You should see the paragraphic lines we were giving him. It's this massive expositional download. Generally when you write it and you look on the page, you go, 'Gosh, this is a lot.' But there are certain actors like him who can deliver very critical exposition in such a dynamic way. He hammered those scenes."
With that in mind, Scheuring made sure Kellerman would have one final line to knock out of the park. Before he's killed, Kellerman tells the younger assassin that he's been on the other end of the gun, and knows what awaits this man later on down the road. With that, the killer does his job, and puts Kellerman down for good - with no ambiguity, and no reversals of fortune coming anytime soon.
"We wanted to make sure on some level that he died with a certain amount of integrity and wisdom," says Scheuring. "In a lot of ways, he's saying, 'I was you once. There's been a lot of water under the bridge since, but I know what's going to happen to you.' He's kind of the Ghost of Christmas Past here."
But Kellerman didn't die without speaking toward the Ghost of Christmas Future - in other words, the mysterious agent known as Poseidon, the lone entity with a vast network, and the person who seems to be at the heart of this season's action. Scheuring says it was important to move past Company conspiracies this year, and instead hone in on individual forces, especially given the season's parallels with The Odyssey.
"It becomes a much more interesting story if it's about a person," he said. "It's one person's agenda, as opposed to an incredible conspiracy. That's also in keeping with that wrathful Greek deity, where one specific antagonist with a lot of power is trying to sink your ship as you're trying to get back to your wife. I wanted this to be a battle between individuals, rather than some far-reaching conspiracy."
At the end of the episode, it looks as though Poseidon may have been unmasked: Jacob (Mark Feuerstein), the same man who is currently married to Sara Tancredi (Sarah Wayne Callies), aka Michael's (Wentworth Miller) wife. Complicated, right? Well, while it's hard to imagine how Jacob walks away from this situation completely clean (or how he walks at all for that matter, given the bullet wound to the leg from a few episodes ago), those who are automatically assuming Jacob and Poseidon are one and the same might be in for another curveball.
"It looks pretty damning for him," says Scheuring. "But if you're an astute viewer you might think, 'But you're showing me the face of the antagonist in episode four?' That's about all I'll say about that."
What do you think about Kellerman's death, and the potential Poseidon reveal? Sound off in the comments below, and keep following for more Prison Break news and interviews.