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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 16 - The Sunshine State

28 March 2012

Synopsis: Michael is held at a country estate. A Company psychiatrist attempts to brainwash him into joining them and working with his mother. Michael manages to escape and is rescued by Sara (who was tipped off by Lisa). Lincoln leads the other criminals in a search for the Scylla buyer. T-Bag is reporting back to the General and Mahone finds them to help. Gretchen tries to double cross them all, changes her mind and kills the buyer. She is shot in the process and left for the police. It turns out Michael’s mother has bought Scylla.

The Good: Michael and Lincoln’s mother showing up certainly seems like something of an appropriate end for the show.

The kid with three joints in his bag running away (leading Lincoln and company to assume he has Scylla) was a nice touch. It’s the sort of reminder of real life which often gets ignored when these unlikely operations are being carried out.

Michael using the same trick as he used in Fox River (104) would have been a nice touch if it weren’t so contrived (see The Bad). The General hanging up on T-Bag in the middle of a conversation was an appropriate moment to remind us who has all the power.

The Bad: This is another terrible episode for those contrived ridiculous moments. We have Lincoln beating up some bar workers and firing his gun in the street with no ramifications at all. After emphasising the need to keeping a low profile all season this seems needlessly attention grabbing. We have Sara driving up at the exact moment Michael needs her to rescue him from the Company agents which was just stupidly convenient. Michael escaped by using his old cute poison trick but why exactly he chose that moment to enact it is not clear. He had no idea that they were coming to get him in his room. Nor could he have timed the chemical reaction more perfectly which made the whole thing look absurdly convenient.c

But worse than these conveniences is the lack of characterisation or at least the poor writing of characters. Why exactly did we sit through Michael being persuaded to join the Company if they were then just going to drug him? I know why the Company did it, I mean from a viewing point of view. The verbal jousting was rendered completely useless by their attack on him, making me feel like it had been a big waste of time to watch. The Company’s motivations aren’t clear at all, how would a lobotomised Michael have been any good to them?

Don Self remains frustratingly undeveloped as a character. It would seem he went to extraordinary lengths just to earn money from selling Scylla. Now he is happily working with T-Bag and others having cut some kind of deal with the General. There was a sense once that he looked down on criminals like Gretchen and T-Bag (408) which made sense. It made sense that even as a sell out that old law-man prejudice would still exist. But now he has become another generic thug with no other distinguishing characteristics.

Meanwhile both Gretchen and T-Bag behave in irritating ways. T-Bag again hints at his new found conscience (sparing Gretchen on account of her daughter) but no mention of how he feels having been duped by the Company and forced into the life of criminality he had (albeit briefly) decided to leave behind (414). Meanwhile Gretchen was clearly out for revenge on the General for having her locked up and tortured. Yet she suddenly decides to put herself in deep trouble with the Company here by helping the seller get away just for a few million. Not only does it go against what should be her motivations but it makes no logical sense. From all we know, ten million couldn’t save her from the Company’s reaches. Even more bizarrely she then changes her mind and kills the seller. Lincoln and company leave her to be arrested which seems a strange anti-climactic end to her story (if indeed it is).

Even Mahone’s motivations aren’t explained well. Yes he might owe Lincoln one for helping him kill Wyatt (409) but surely the bigger issue is that the FBI are looking for him? And indeed shouldn’t he still want to take the Company down after all they have done to him? The threats Wyatt made to Pam haven’t been mentioned either, is she under threat still? The strong character based stories of earlier in the season seem to have been dropped entirely in favour of mindless twists and gun fights.

In general the dirty half dozen (or five of them anyway) working together seems implausible after they have all had guns on one another screaming threats only last week. The endless double crosses and alliances have become tiring to care about.

Lisa’s motivation for helping Sara is that she doesn’t want innocent people to be hurt by the Company. Again I ask what about the people in Laos and all the other people the General has clearly ordered killed over the years? It’s not clear if she has been kept in the dark, believed once in a greater cause or most likely is just an illogical plot device.

Didn’t Michael just have brain surgery? Not only should he be more out of it but he should have some scars on his head. That’s an awful oversight.

The Unknown: Is Michael’s mother still working for the Company? We assume not if she just bought Scylla? What does she intend to do with it? What deals did the General cut with T-Bag and Self?

Best Moment: Self introducing Mahone as Bruce Liberace in a rare moment of fun. “No relation” Mahone quips after frowning.

The Verdict: I hope from here the producers plot more carefully where the show goes. These last few episodes have done tremendous damage. All in all the endless twists, escapes and gun fights have made for distinctly uninspiring viewing. The lack of characterisation is what really galls here, particularly compared to the effort put in earlier in the season.

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  • You have hit the nail on the head with your last comment Bruce. While in his jail cell we as viewers knew how he could get caught and what the consequences would be for him. So because of the strict rules of his incarceration the tension level was high because we knew exactly what might happen to him at each stage, Where as out in the big wide world there are so many more excuses which extricate Michael from tricky situations. Thus the whole show becomes less tense.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 20/02/2009 2:50am (10 years ago)

  • I believe that their mother is still working for the company, but she wants to steal Scylla to use it's good qualities without all the negative actions of the company.

    Agreed with the "endless twists" - she'll go from good, to evil to good.

    Prisoner Break started great with the engineering feats and planning. Now it is too fast paced, trying to be 24. How can a show make it so tense entirely based in one small cell.. yet fail to maintain that feeling with the world as their oyster?

    Posted by Bruce, 06/02/2009 1:33pm (10 years ago)

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