‘Prison Break’ Plots Mysterious Return to Gritty Glory

prison break

Fox’s gritty TV thriller, Prison Break, returned to the screen for a limited fifth season entitled The Event Series, and the show’s characteristic mix of sentimental drama thrown into a harsh and violent world created an entertaining episode. Many of those watching the premiere were fans of the show when it was on almost a decade ago, and have returned with tentative optimism to find out what happened after the protagonist, Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller), was unceremoniously killed off by a brain tumor in the original series finale. Given the massively unpopular ending to a show that was once so compelling, the episode made up for some lackluster history and delivered a new story of conspiracy and action that will restore dignity to a once gripping show.

The action begins upon T-Bag’s (Robert Knepper) cringeworthy release from prison after the time he’s spent as a “model citizen,” which is a grotesquely amusing statement coming from a sadistic and ruthless convicted killer. Nevertheless, he receives a crinkled envelope from an unknown source, which contains a blurry-looking photo of the supposedly dead and buried Scofield. When T-Bag appears at the house of Scofield’s brother, Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell), the danger and confusion of the characters’ former lives on the run seep into their shiny new ones. This becomes most evident when Scofield’s wife Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies), her son, and her new husband are thrown into turmoil by the pursuits of a mysterious hit squad.

The show proceeds to show us what we already know: Burrows exhumes Scofield’s grave one night to find, not a corpse—but an empty business suit. As pathetic as this substitute for closure seems, the viewer warms to the implications of this finding, as that suit reminds them of Scofield’s first quest to break his brother out from behind bars at the start of the series. With Burrows reeling, some cliché codebreaking and online searching ensues, and the viewer begrudgingly tolerates it as they’re told that Scofield has actually been detained in a Yemeni prison. Yemen is a strange choice to set the impending events of the series, but seems as good a place as any to opaquely lock up an undead protagonist. While this choice of setting gives the viewer a sense of déjà vu given the slew of exotic prisons the characters have fled in the past, this iteration of the show attempts to stay relevant by involving the issues surrounding Middle Eastern terrorism. Pulling together a host of atrocious phenomena, such as armed street gangs and an inescapable prison, the characters seem to have their work cut out for them as the show moves forward.

The revival of viewers’ old favorite characters serves as a crucial thread of constancy in the midst of an ambiguous storyline. T-Bag has retained his snakish charm, C-Note (Rockmond Dunbar) is still levelheaded and stoic, and Lincoln has once again become wrapped in some unspecified web of disaster, which paints the events to come as organic continuations of the characters’ lives. What is less clear is how any of these characters ended up in their current situations. Frequently one of the show’s main antagonists, T-Bag seems to be getting a life full of sunshine and roses. Why anyone would let him out of prison is beyond the realm of comprehension, and furthermore, the loose cannon character receives an invitation to have surgery on his prosthetic mannequin hand to replace it with a fully functioning bionic hand, which looks like it belongs on a cyborg. As long-time fans of the show will know, T-Bag’s hand was sawed off during his first prison escape, and restoring it has unnerving implications for what the man will try next.

For a show that has a lot of explaining to do, the episode left the viewer with a lot of unanswered questions. While expected from the first episode of the sequel series, the viewer obtained an even more burning set of questions through the episode’s skirting of long-standing inquiries. Given the neat progression of events, the viewer develops a sense that someone is pulling the strings, while remaining in the dark about whether Scofield has a master plan or if some evil, omnipotent force is to blame for the complicated, dangerous landscape that the characters must muddle through. Paired with the anticipation of discovering how Scofield went from literal death to metaphorical death, the show is sure to entertain viewers by prodding their favorite characters just a few episodes more.

Featured Image By 20th Television