'Escape at Dannemora': Richard Matt slowly taking David Sweat under his wing was the key to their infamous prison break
Episode 2 shows how art connoisseur Richard Matt (Benicio del Torro) and the seemingly timid and subtle David Sweat (Paul Dano) were able to plan a foolproof escape plan
Showtime's new show, 'Escape at Dannemora,' has already garnered rave reviews, but for those who know the true incident of jailbreak that Ben Stiller's dark prison drama is based on, the gradual evolution of the plot would be extremely thrilling to watch.
Especially since the pilot laid down a cardboard cut-out stereotype for every character, which made it hard for viewers to register the people we were seeing on screen, were actually capable of the heinous crimes they committed or, for that matter, any future indiscretions from their end. With episode two, it becomes clearer how art connoisseur Richard Matt (Benicio del Torro) and the seemingly timid and subtle David Sweat (Paul Dano) were actually able to plan a foolproof escape plan and successfully execute it too.
There's a certain kind of bond developing between Matt and Sweat which offers an answer to everyone's question about why among several different prison escape stories, this one was the one that got compared to the likes of Stephen King's 'The Shawshank Redemption.' For those unaware of the true story, both Matt and Sweat were inmates at Clinton Correctional Facility, New York, where Matt was serving 25 years to life, and his partner in crime in the escape, Sweat, was serving life without parole.
Both of them were in for murder and eventually managed to escape by digging out a tunnel using tools from the prison's Harbor Shop. Almost three weeks later, Matt was found at Malone, New York, where he was shot and killed on sight. Just two days later, Sweat was shot and taken into custody too. The manhunt and investigation for the case is said to have costed up to $23 million.
Now every thriller fan would know the amount of suspicious planning that must have gone into the escape. It could never be an easy task when you just burrow out of the thick prison walls. And, this brings us to the light episode 2 of 'Escape at Dannemora' has shed on the situation. Granted, both Matt and Sweat conned Joyce 'Tilly' Mitchell (Patricia Arquette) with sexual gratification in exchange for copious amounts of help for their escape, but it is not just Tilly who was manipulated.
Episode two showed it was primarily Matt whose brainchild was the idea of the escape, and Sweat - without realizing it himself - gets manipulated by the skilled con-man. And, it is this sheer brilliance with which Matt executes the manipulation, and the bond he creates with Sweat - almost taking him under his wing - that leaves no room for doubt in the viewer's mind about the plausibility of their escape plan.
In the second episode, with someone tipping an 'anonymous' letter to the authorities about Tilly taking Sweat to the back room more than once a week, we see there's a breach in their purely physical fling. And, of course, Matt uses that with brilliant scope to manipulate Sweat and strengthen their bond so he could use him as an accomplice, because even an inmate, as in control of the prison as him, knows this is no one-man-task.
So, right after he tells Sweat about his plan and gets snubbed by him, he uses Tilly to manipulate Sweat. Matt takes the matter into his own hands - something that worked brilliantly in favor of their escape plan. Because, let's be real, all Sweat wanted to do was paint and read 'Call of the Wild.'
So, Matt advances in the direction of Tilly's heart knowing full well the impact it would have on Sweat and that's exactly what happens. Sweat sort of automatically realizes he doesn't have much of an option here, and this makes him dive headfirst into whatever plan Matt has for the two of them.
And, even though Sweat doesn't really seem impressed with Matt's initial plan of cutting through the cell floor using a hacksaw so they could drop into the basement and escape, it is Matt's personal conviction that sort of carries them through and gives viewers an inkling that it wouldn't take long for Sweat to be fully convinced.
So, if you really tally everything, Richard Matt, the articulate criminal mastermind that he is, first conned a vulnerable woman with sex, then bought her and Sweat's confidence with a lot of paintings, and seemingly kind-hearted gestures, and sort of just modulated them to fit in as the lost pieces of the one big puzzle that his prison escape plan seems to us to be right now.
And, it is these lengths and efforts Matt meticulously plans, with extreme dedication, that has us convinced for now that the idea of an escape isn't that far-fetched. If Matt could go through all of that just to get Sweat under his wing, imagine what the consequences of the two's joint effort, along with Tilly's contribution, could have been!