The long awaited return of Prison Break is here. The landscape of Television entertainment has vastly changed since the previous season in 2009. There’s far more choice for audiences to pick from, Netflix has boomed and taken over. So with that being said, the question coming out of most people’s mouths, is whether this show can successfully be revived and satisfy the hardcore fans, as well as drawing in new ones.
If you haven’t seen Season four of Prison Break, then I will warn you there will be significant spoilers ahead for how that season ended. There’s one major question that this season needs to answer, How is Michael still alive? He seemingly killed himself at the end of the previous season and even if he didn’t, he had a brain tumour that was going to finish him off anyway. The show attempts to give us an answer for how Michael avoided death’s door and to be honest, for me personally it was not good enough. I won’t go too hard on the show for the reason they produce just yet, because based on some of the new plot threads constructed in this episode, there’s a chance we may get a stronger understanding of how he’s survived in future episodes.
So with that little bit of exposition about Michael aside, the episode kicks off with Lincoln trying to outrun some people who are pursuing him. It’s clear that he is back to his old ways and owes somebody a lot of money. In another early scene T-Bag receives a letter with a recent image of Michael, after confronting Lincoln with this, it sets Lincoln on a trail to find the whereabouts of Michael’s location and guess what? He’s in yet another prison. This time in Yemen.
Now this episode does capture the essence of Prison Break rather well, it certainly doesn’t feel like it’s lost it’s identity. But that is both a good and a bad thing, it feels familiar but almost too familiar. Now I wasn’t expecting for them to reinvent the style of the series or anything like that, but a few changes would’ve been welcome.
The action set pieces are still shot and edited in a really frantic manner, shots are cut together at such a pace where it can either be dizzying, or just flat out difficult to keep track of what you are looking at. It would’ve been nice if they adapted to a more cinematic style of presenting the action, a way in which you can easily see who’s punching who. There is one sequence in a house towards the middle of the episode that does takes a slower more suspenseful approach and as a result, it’s by far the best moment in the entire episode. That scene felt like it was directed and edited with more conviction than the rest.
As far as the performances go it’s just more of the same, that’s the best way I can describe it. Nobody goes above and beyond what you expect them to do and they all fit back into their roles with ease. Robert Knepper’s T-Bag once again stands out from the rest just as he always did, in terms of screen presence. As for the script, it has clear problems, the dialogue is pretty generic and at multiple times there are jokes made about skin colour that just don’t land at all. There’s a separate plot thread developing with T-Bag as well, which at this current time feels completely unrelated to the main storyline. I am intrigued to see where that goes and if it connects within the main story further down the line.
The pace of the episode is fairly brisk, it doesn’t dwell on any of the scenes for too long. Just as the episode was reaching the peak of it’s intrigue, it abruptly cuts off in a way which does successfully make me want to see the next episode, despite it ending in such a jarring manner.
So, Season Five of Prison Break has arrived and whilst retaining the style of the original series, it plays things a little too safe instead of doing a few things differently. Regardless of that it was still relatively entertaining and I am looking forward to the next episode.
(3 Stars out of 5)
Prison Break; Starring Wentworth Miller, Dominic Purcell, Robert Knepper, and Sarah Wayne Callies
Directed by Nelson McCormick. Now airing on TV in the US. Due to air on TV in the UK on April 10th.