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Prison Break

Prison Break is a drama about Michael Schofield, a gifted engineer who deliberately gets incarcerated in order to try and break his brother Lincoln out of prison. FOX 2005-2009

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Episode 13 - Deal or no Deal

28 March 2012

Synopsis: Self fakes his own murder and it takes a while for Michael to convince Homeland Security that Self has been playing them. Stanton and Senator Dallow are now looking at jail time for allowing Self to carry out this unauthorised operation. They decide to kill Michael instead but a Company agent is on hand to prevent that and Sucre then kills him. Self leaves T-Bag at Gretchen’s sister’s house while he and Gretchen go to find a buyer for Scylla. The General kills Scuderi in front of his employees to reassert his authority and sets about retrieving Scylla. Self discovers a piece of Scylla is missing and Michael had it all along.

The Good: Lincoln’s fury and Sucre’s denial are perfectly natural responses to the shock of learning that Self has betrayed them. Self gives nothing away as he uses T-Bag and Gretchen to get a buyer for Scylla.

Michael keeping a piece of Scylla maintains him as the smartest man in the show. It also helps explain his ice cold demeanour even when betrayed.

The decision of Stanton and Dallow to write off the whole operation to avoid jail time does make some sense. From what we have been told it is not unreasonable that the operation would have been kept quiet – what with Company employees spread out over all parts of government. Now that they face prison for what they have done it would seem reasonable to have a bunch of criminals murdered and forget the whole nasty business ever took place.

The Bad: Apart from those few moments though this is not an encouraging episode. The story has become so complicated and with so many characters turning on one another it has the feel of the worst episodes of 24 where everyone will turn on one another just to get to the season finale without a resolution having been reached yet.

There is a real lack of definition to the characters and their motivations. The General murders his colleague Scuderi in front of all his employees in order to maintain order. This makes him look like a mob boss rather than the head of this supposedly sophisticated and persuasive organisation. We saw him coerced at the prospect of his daughter being harmed last episode, but he has no problem killing an old friend. Worse than that it is in front of twenty witnesses. Where is the plausible deniability and the Company’s ability to solve problems by putting the necessary pressure on individuals?

Similarly Dallow and Stanton presumably know how powerful the Company is or they wouldn’t have risked their careers to bring it down. So now they decide to wash their hands of the whole things and slink home quietly. Aren’t they worried about the Company coming after them if they track down Don Self? Does the morality of murdering a group of people to save their careers not bother them? What about the agents working for them? Don’t they have a problem with their bosses murdering unarmed men? Sucre returning is of course nice and convenient – no guards were watching the exits. And again Lincoln commits murder (401, 404) – the crime he escaped prison after being framed for.

Then there is T-Bag. What is his motivation here? The second he and Gretchen stepped out of GATE she was ready to kill him. So he should have learned his lesson about those who want to sell Scylla. But he seems comfortable working with Self even though he just betrayed everyone he has worked with. Self and Gretchen then leave T-Bag in the house with a gun. What’s to stop T-Bag running for the hills and never coming back? It doesn’t seem likely that Self would spend time tracking him down – especially considering everyone will be after Self soon. It all feels like plot convenience to keep the major characters interacting with one another.

Why doesn’t the “Conduit” just kill Gretchen and Self? Yes I know in this particular instance he doesn’t have all of Scylla, but I mean in general. Self rolls up with no weapons, no backup and no leverage. If the “Conduit” had wanted to kill him and take Scylla, what would have stopped him? The honour system?

The Unknown: Who is Don Self and why is he doing this? Seriously we need to know.

Best Moment: Self telling Michael “You’re a smart guy, unfortunately for you I’m just a little bit smarter.” Michael replies “Yeah? We’ll see about that.” By the end of the episode we know who is a little bit smarter.

The Verdict: This is quite the comedown after the previous episode. The writers expose the fact that they had not planned this very thoroughly. Instead this is the bad side of Prison Break. All the chess pieces are being relocated to set up another titanic collision. But after a big twist we needed logic and explanations and real characters on display. What we got was a confusing mess. Disappointing.

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