I'm so glad to talk to you about this because we literally get floods of emails about Sarah Wayne Callies and her character Sara Tancredi. 'Sara, Sarah, save our doctor, oh my god we miss her so much,' so there's some seriously happy people out there right now.
Matt Olmstead: Good.
Sarah Wayne Callies, the actress will be back, but does that mean Dr. Sara Tancredi be back? Is it really her evil twin? What is this all mean?
Matt Olmstead: No, she's the real deal. Sara Tancredi is back.
And it's in the present day? It's not a season entirely in flashback-she'll walk in the door, and she joins the story in progress?
Matt Olmstead: Season four is jumping-forward, hit-the-ground-running storytelling. But we are dropping back, in flashback, and explaining how the characters got to where they are and the situation with her, certainly.
So by the middle of the season you'll be caught up, story-wise?
Matt Olmstead: We'll be caught up sooner than that. It's not like a 50/50 thing where it's half present-day, half in flashback. The flashbacks are much more economical, and you'll get it fairly quickly. There are some mysteries that we're going to extend out, but it's not going to be the bulk of the season.
Now, internally are you planning Season Four as a 22-episode season?
Matt Olmstead: Yes.
As I said, we've gotten emails galore about Sara(h), and I'm sure you've gotten a few of your own. Was this decision made because the fans were so vociferous about how much they wanted her back? Or had this been part of your overall plan for the character? How did this come about?
Matt Olmstead: It wasn't because of the fans that we did that, but it was the combination of the fans' reactions on the boards and emails, and people we, the writers, know personally would ask about it. And that led us all to have conversations internally, about the fact that there were a lot of people out there asking, "Is she really dead?"
We knew internally that when we didn't get Sarah Wayne Callies to come back in season three and be there to portray her character's death, as soon as it was written and filmed and we saw it on screen, we knew that it was actually a way you could describe how this wasn't Sarah's head in the box, basically. But at that point, we were going forward with other stories, so we kind of put that on the back burner.
But throughout that time we watched how people externally were really talking about what we thought might be the case, internally: The question of, "Is Sara Tancredi really dead?" So throughout season three we were mindful of references we'd make to and who took credit for killing her and all kinds of stuff regarding her death.
Ultimately, we came back after the strike to talk about season four, and that's when a bunch of things kind of came together, and we then had the big conversation. Is Sarah really alive and can we bring her back? And once we opened it up, it happened really quickly.
How did Sarah Wayne and Wentworth (Miller) feel about this?
Matt Olmstead: Wentworth is abroad promoting the show and I sent him an email, I have yet to hear back from him, I'm sure he's going to very excited about it, but in terms of Sarah Wayne...Initially, the way these things work, there has to be an offer first, so once our pitch about how the Sarah character would be a part of the season was approved and met enthusiastically, the offer went out. And once the offer was on the table, that's when Sarah Wayne and I spoke, and I told her what I had in mind creatively, because what we have in mind is something she can definitely sink her teeth into creatively.
It's not just you pick her back up, and she's there as the loyal girlfriend and "Michael, go do your thing, and I'll be waiting for you when I get back." Again, we're jumping forward story-wise. There will be a bit of a mystery period where we cover what happened. It becomes about Michael trying to figure out what happened to her. It's his attempt to reclaim her, and her trying to figure out what happened and dealing with it. So laying all that out to Sarah, the actress, she liked that, and so she slept on it, and then we made a deal.
The end of season three seemed to imply that season four would have something to do with Michael avenging Sarah's murder. How does her return change any plans you had and what can you tell us about season four?
You know, the strike through a wrench into things in that there was no back nine for us, telling about all those stories, so we were asked to go right to a season four, instead of just picking up moments later, we took that opportunity to be ambitious about it, so we're jumping ahead picking up down the road. There's a fresh aspect to it, but there's a mystery aspect to it.
How did these people get there? How is that person talking to this person? And then we're dropping back and answering those questions, so it becomes about slowly discovering how Sarah got back, how Michael found her, those type of things.
If Sarah's back, will there finally be some romance and maybe some sex for Sarah and Michael?
Matt Olmstead: Yes! They are finally together, but like I said there have always been these physical barriers between them. He was incarcerated, she worked in the prison hospital, so obviously there's a barrier. He was on the run, she was in another part of the country, there's a barrier.
Here they are finally able to be together, but we are jumping ahead [in time], so there's that period that's unaccounted for, so what happened to her, what happened to him and hope they both help each other get past that, get past these...invisible barriers.
There's no physical barriers anymore between them, but they're both pretty banged up when they see each other, and it's about how they get past that to really find that real intimacy.
So they're not necessarily living together in suburbia with a dog and a baby, but they reconnect and we're sort of watching them get to know each other again?
Matt Olmstead: I mean it's Prison Break, so they're all still trying to clear their names avoid jail time avoid death and so there's still that locomotive feel to it, storytelling-wise, and while that's going on on, on the fly, these two people are trying to save each other.
I know the women's prison spinoff was under consideration for a while. Is that still something you'd think you'd want to do?
Matt Olmstead: Very much so. We're working on a script, but right we're focused on Season Four Prison Break, and then we'll spin that off.
We'll have more on Prison Break as soon as we get more information.