Viewers of Fox's drama Prison Break got an unpleasant gift last night (giant spoiler ahead): The fate of Sara, played by actress Sarah Wayne Callies, was revealed when a bloody box was opened, containing her decapitated head inside. Lest Break fans assume the character's gruesome demise was the product of writers' room revenge after a difficult and failed negotiation (Callies had a baby recently and reportedly declined producers initial offer of 13 episodes), EP Matt Olmstead explained the creative process that left them with no option but to serve up their star's head in a box:
TV Guide: Let's discuss the way you killed her off. Some might view it as you guys exacting revenge on Sarah for not returning. Olmstead: We really had no way of using her image other than the existing images that we had. Those Polaroids we used are old wardrobe shots from Season 1 and 2. She didn't give us any new photos. So [we had to devise a way to] kill her [and still] show a body....
Olmstead: Obviously she wasn't going to fly down and be a DOA for us. We just wanted to go with the most dramatic way to do it, a way that you could do it and not need the actress. TV Guide: So Sarah's refusal to return essentially limited how you could kill her? Olmstead: Yeah, basically. Could you have seen a [body] double's feet being shoved into a meat grinder? Sure. Could you see a wide shot of a female body being dumped in an ocean? Probably. But dramatically, this allowed us to get the most out of what little we had to work with.... We used her not coming back to our advantage.
While Olmstead's explanation may seem reasonable, something about the series's abrupt turn into Fincherian macabre—particularly when it involves carving up one of the last female leads—isn't likely to sit well with fans, who have invested three seasons into the blossoming love affair between the beloved prison doctor and her blueprint-covered boyfriend. But it's her fellow series regulars who truly have cause for concern (see them skittishly answer the probing questions of an outraged E! reporter here), the cast now having fully come to realize any one of them is just an oozing UPS package away from T-Bagging for the very last time.