Review: Prison Break (Season 5, Episode 1)

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The cracks are already emerging in Prison Break's final season.

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Say what you will about the quality of the progressive seasons of Prison Break; but each escape has been more death defying than the last, with the stakes just keep getting higher. Set seven years after the last season and what seemed to be the death of the main character, Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller), there is suspicion that he may not have perished, and Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) will have to risk entering war-torn Yemen to follow a lead given to him by none other than resident villain T-Bag (Robert Knepper).

Unfortunately, Prison Break seems ultimately to be a one-trick pony – one of the brothers is in a jail, so Michael must figure out a convoluted and seemingly impossible escape plan that, despite what seems to be devastating setbacks, the brothers manage to pull off. This season has set itself up to be exactly the same and this tired formula does nothing for the rapidly declining lasting impression of the show upon viewers’ minds. It was with excitement that audiences learnt of the REAL last hurray for the brothers (although, this is said with trepidation as producers have claimed to be done with the show multiple times before), and a final chance to see Michael and the gang in action. What does promise to be interesting this time around is Michael Junior’s presence (son of Michael and Sara Tancredi, played by Sarah Wayne Callies) and the fact that Sara has remarried. However, there is evidence of a convenient spousal death as husband Scott Ness (Mark Feurstein) lies in a hospital bed after being shot by the show’s trope of a sketchy looking man/woman in a black suit with a gun.

There were suggestions of terrorist plots as Michael is imprisoned in the middle east and carries the name of an infamous terrorist. The show is seemingly moving in uncharted territories; before the espionage has been kept state-side. This plot has allowed for a slightly too convenient reintroduction to Rockmond Dunbar’s character ‘C-Note’ who has apparently converted to Islam, with knowledge of Arabic too – very handy details when it comes to navigating Yemen without detection.

The main thing that keeps viewers coming back to Prison Break is its characters. Well constructed, believable and given excellent dialogue, it is the strong cast that has kept the franchise afloat when the plot lines have sunk more and more into the implausible. Very little screen time was given to Scofield and Sucre (portrayed by Amaury Nolasco) which will hopefully mean they will feature more heavily in episodes to come, as their brotherly friendship is more emotional and believable than that which exists between Scofield and Burrows. However, to give credit it where it is due, the writers should be commended for insinuating that Lincoln had returned to his old ways and distanced himself from good characters like Tancredi, as that seems to fit with his personality; to suggest he was now a man of utmost morality would be betraying the character development observed through seasons 1–4.

For the fans who have stuck with Prison Break through thick and thin, let us hope that the show does itself justice in its final season. Whilst there have been attempts to make this new season exciting and different, old habits are already emerging that suggest a rehashed, tired formula. Michael, Lincoln, Sara and the gang will have to pull something spectacular out of the bag for this escape to be any different to the others already seen. It is with baited breath that viewers wait and see what the truth is behind Michael’s mysterious incarceration and if he is still the moral man we left behind 7 years ago.

Prison Break airs Monday nights at 9pm on FOX UK.

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A second year English student and Netflix enthusiast.

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