Early Release is the 12th episode of Season 3 of My Name Is Earl, and the 59th episode overall. After Earl discovers that the Warden has destroyed his time off for good behavior certificates, he turns to his friends. After Earl goes crazy with sixty days in solitary confinement, Randy and Frank devise a plan to get Earl out of jail. With the help of Darnell, Joy and Catalina on the outside combined with Randy and Frank’s help on the inside, Earl decides that it is time to break out of the prison.
Earl packs to leave prison, while Catalina, Darnell, Joy and Randy wait for him in the parking lot. Earl is shocked when Ron tells him that he's not on the list of prisoners being released today, or the extra pudding list. In shackles, Earl confronts the Warden, demanding to know why he reneged on their deal. The Warden has a new deal: Earl scratches his back, it won't itch, and he won't throw Earl in solitary. Earl makes the deal, but knees the Warden instead of his shaking his hand, and is promptly led off to solitary.
The point of solitary is to break down a prisoner's mental state by keeping him alone for 24 hours a day. Earl feels fortunate the state allows him prayer service once a week, and a shower and hour of recreation daily. Still, it's not going very well since the Warden had him locked in a metal box with only a small hole to look out. Earl decides to stay in his cell and find better ways to fill his time, like charades and going crazy. Finally, on day 60, Earl caves to the Warden's demand to get the prison ready for Christmas.
Sensing Earl's delicate condition, Randy offers to take him to the yard or let him lie down, wishing there were more options. Earl decides it's time to bust out, and gets the old gang back together with Randy, Frank and Paco. Frank had made several failed escape attempts, and warns Earl not to disguise himself as too pretty of an infirmary nurse, or try to hide in a pile of discarded mattresses. While doing the Warden's errands, Earl is inspired by a rat tunneling in the ceiling, and decides to vanish down the rat hole.
In order to find where the rat hole leads, Earl and Randy break into the Warden's office, where Randy draws the prison blueprints on Earl's back. They can get through the ventilation system to the loading dock, but they'll still have to make it past the front gate, where all vehicles are searched. Randy points out that not all the vehicles are searched. Ron refuses to search the local church van, because the last time he did, he got the runs for two weeks, and he's not taking any chances.
Frank has made a zip gun with only one bullet, but Randy accidentally shoots it off. Franks melts down Earl's bedsprings to make another bullet, and the escape plan gets underway. Catalina shanghais the church van, and Darnell and Joy disguise themselves as a nun and priest to sneak into the prison and hold a very loud church service. Randy follows Earl, Paco and Frank into the ventilation shaft. Sadly, Earl and Randy fall through the ceiling onto the Warden's desk.
Earl grabs the gun, and holds the Warden hostage. Randy plays video games while Earl tries to figure out what to do. Meanwhile, Paco and Frank escape to the loading dock, where Darnell has taken out a guard with a "Vulcan Neck Pinch". When Darnell goes into the ventilation shaft after Earl, Paco and Frank steal Joy's nun outfit, hijack the van and escape. Earl has taken the Warden's clothes, but can't bring himself to complete his Warden disguise by shaving his moustache, when Darnell falls through the ceiling on top of Randy.
The Warden tells Earl that he will now spend his life in prison, when Darnell recognizes the Warden as a 1980's porn star who once shot a movie in his apartment. Knowing that this information could ruin his wife's career as well as his marriage, the Warden releases Earl, who passes Paco and Frank being returned to prison on his way out. Seems that when Paco caught a glimpse of Catalina on the road, he steered the van into a police car.
Outside the jail, Earl reunites with Randy, Joy and Darnell. Earl can't help but think about karma, since he'd done bad things and was being rewarded for it. But for the time being, he doesn't question it as he basks in his new-found freedom.
- Prison sign seen in this episode:
- - Available for film locations.
- Having the prison blueprints drawn on Earl's back was a parody of the first two seasons of Prison Break.
- Warden Jerry Hazelwood's porn name is revealed to be Richard Jammer.
- "We've Gotta Get Out Of This Place" by The Animals
- "Mickey" by Tony Basil
- "I Shall Be Released" by Bob Dylan
- "Hocus Pocus" by Focus
- Catalina: Maybe if you had as many jobs as you do illegitimate children, maybe you wouldn't live in a camper.
- Earl: Frank had a lot to teach us. Things like, if you're going to disguise yourself as an infirmary nurse, don't look too pretty.
- Prisoner: FEMALE!!
- Ron: Earl, we got a problem. You're not on the list of prisoners getting out today.
- Earl: What!?
- Ron: And I hate to kick you when you're down, but you're not on the extra pudding list, either.
- Joy: Don't tell me you're here to pick up Earl, too. You don't even have a car. What is he going to do, ride bitch on a donkey?
- Catalina: No, if he wanted to ride bitch, he'd climb on your back.
- Joy: You look sweaty. Is that from cleaning or stripping?
- Earl: Shhhh, I've traded my legs for magic beans... And I've disguised them as legs.
- Joy: Excuse me, where are my husband and ex-husband?
- Frank: Oh, they're pretty screwed, but don't worry, me and Paco could still escape. Come on, you're driving.
- Earl: I can't do it, Randy. I just can't do it.
- Randy: We can't pretend you're the Warden if you have a mustache.
- Warden: What's the big deal? Mustaches are so twenty years ago!
- Earl: It wasn't hard to find the prison blueprints. The warden got lost so much he had them laminated so he could take them on the way to the bathroom.
- Joy: Man, we haven't stood outside prison this long since we went tailgating at that guy's execution.
- Darnell: For the record, I was protesting.
- Earl: But we had a deal. We shook on it, remember? Both our hands were a little damp so they made that farty noise and we both giggled!
- Earl: I almost had an idea, but now I lost it!
- Randy: That happens to me all the time.
- Joy: If you give the lord just one little tiny hey he will give you a hundred hoes in return!
- Jason Lee as Earl Hickey
- Ethan Suplee as Randy Hickey
- Jaime Pressly as Joy Turner
- Nadine Velazquez as Catalina
- Eddie Steeples as Darnell Turner
- Larry Joe Campbell as Ron
- Kevin Symons as Father Tadone
- Bryan Krasner as Boom Mic Operator
- Darcy Donovan as Hot Housewife
- Doug Wax as Guard