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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 15 - Going Under

28 March 2012

Synopsis: Lincoln agrees to retrieve Scylla in exchange for the Company operating on Michael. Sara stays with Michael as the Company use an advanced medical technique to remove the tumour. Michael has a vision of Charles Westmorland who tells him that perhaps not all is at is seems. When Michael wakes up he works out that Scylla is the Company’s plans for solar energy cells. Lincoln and Sucre catch Self and Gretchen trying to sell Scylla and the buyer manages to steal it and escape. Lincoln tells Michael that their mother also worked for the Company. Sucre leaves. Mahone escapes from Agent Wheeler thanks to Lang letting him go.

The Good: Lincoln’s brutal tooth extraction is a viciously plausible way of getting T-Bag to talk. Michael talking to Charles about how guilty he feels (for those who have died) is good recognition of his morality. The idea that Scylla is more than the Company’s little black book makes sense, given the huge security measures. It should also provide an interesting story to explore in the rest of the season.

The Bad: However the rest of the episode is so contrived and convenient that it is annoying to sit through. It’s annoying because the writers seem to have given up on all their care they once took and here write such generic foolish action sequences that it takes you out of the moment and makes you think about all the contrived developments.

Michael has a conversation with himself while in surgery, personified by old friend Charles Westmoreland (from season one).  This type of internal dialogue seems very out of place in the down to earth setting of Prison Break. The idea that Michael while in surgery can suddenly remember pieces of the puzzle which he has never thought about before is far too convenient. The connection with the advanced surgery helping him access his memories is about as ridiculous as it gets. The advanced surgery magically curing him is another convenience even if the Company can plausibly have access to this type of resource. There is also no tension in the surgery and Sara’s angst is largely futile because there is zero chance that Michael is going to die now.

The trouble with Lincoln’s brutally effective interrogation of T-Bag is that it sets the bar very high. In a show where interrogation and gun point threats are common, viewers will now ask themselves why characters don’t just rip people’s teeth out to get information quickly.

Lincoln’s new assignment with the Company makes no sense and seems the most stupid development of the lot. He discovers from T-Bag that Scylla, the most important thing in the world to the Company, is being sold at Arlington pier. Now remember that in the previous episode the General dispatched a squad of men in fast cars to retrieve Scylla. Now though he sends Lincoln and Sucre. Why weren’t teams sent to the pier and the surrounding roads immediately? It makes no sense. The new story will be Lincoln leading Gretchen, T-Bag and Self to recapture T-Bag. Again why would the General put that gang of criminals together instead of sending his own disciplined, well trained employees? The answer is because it wouldn’t make as good television. But when that is the obvious answer a show has failed to suspend the disbelief of its viewers. That is unforgivable because it takes you out of the story and back into the real world.

Agents Lang and Wheeler look like complete morons. They give Mahone fifteen seconds to pee and let him out of their sight. If all he is doing is peeing then why not stand behind him? Again because then he couldn’t have escaped, but it made no sense. At least he couldn’t escape without Lang’s help and didn’t outsmart two armed FBI agents.

The Scylla buyer arriving alone seems bizarre. Especially as he then steals it and runs away. Why didn’t he just bring accomplices to kill Self and Gretchen?

The Unknown: What did Michael and Lincoln’s mother do for the Company? What is the nature of the Company’s energy work? What were they planning to do with it?

Best Moment: That tooth extraction looked really painful.

The Verdict: It’s difficult to remember a show which stumbled so badly in the middle of a season. The writers had managed to craft a simple plot with clear protagonists and a plausible enough break-in story to enjoy. Now the story is so contrived it has lost all credibility. I hope the producers can pull themselves together in time to give the show a proper send-off.

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