A Case of the…. Prison Break – Episodes 3-11 & 3-12

Anybody who thinks that Prison Break has lost its luster is wrong and stupid. There, I said it.

I have found the last few episodes of Prison Break the most thrilling yet. I was especially impressed with “Under and Out” (which aired on February 4th), as I loved the constant attempts at forming different alliances throughout the episode. The center of these developments, arguably, was with Michael and Whistler. They seemed to come to terms with their past conflicts and finally decided to be honest with one another, ultimately leading to them coming to an understanding, and perhaps even forging a bond. Whistler’s character has been an enigma, and this was an effective way of not only getting back in the good graces of Michael, but the audience as well.

Meanwhile, you had Bellick grasping for straws, trying to hitch his wagon to every horse in the stable. Bellick’s an interesting character, as he’s probably the only person on the show that is truly villainous and unlikable in the eyes of both the audience (while T-Bag is undeniably evil, his slithering personality is popular with viewers) and the other characters. Because of that, it was humorous – and, in the instance of his interaction with Mahone, oddly touching – seeing him try to befriend his fellow escapees.

I was also really pleased that Michael ultimately decided to let Luis join in on the escape. While I do believe that Michael truly felt he was looking out for Luis’ best interests by refusing his request, I’m glad he realized that it is perhaps not his place to make such a significant decision for somebody else. Michael has had to do some morally questionable things in order to accomplish these various escapes, so including these “nice” moments help establish Michael as a genuinely nice and caring guy. And considering that Luis’ dad eventually saves the day, I’m pretty sure Michael was glad he invited him as well.

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the past two episodes was watching everything that happened this season come together. Unexplained tidbits like Lincoln buying the shack, Lincoln and Sucre recording the gunshot in the woods, and Lincoln burying the cooler in the sand were paid off this past week, revealing how truly intricate this prison escape has been from the beginning. And while I can’t wait for Susan B. to get hers, her “Where did you learn that from, Home Alone?” line was hilarious.

Another thing I enjoyed was how Michael’s relationships with Whistler and Mahone have developed a great deal during their time in Sona. While Michael’s association with Mahone is especially complicated, I do think that he understands that Mahone did what he had to do in order to protect his family, and because of that, they’re not all too different. While I don’t believe that Michael particularly likes Mahone, I do think he holds him in a higher regard than the rest of his adversaries, and he recognizes that, despite his past sins, he’s not a bad guy. Along those same lines, Michael’s had to spend a lot of time with Whistler, and in that period he’s come to realize that Whistler is just a pawn in The Company’s game. And, much like him and Mahone, they’re similar in that regard. This was especially apparent when Michael expressed remorse over having to hand Whistler over.

On the other hand, Lincoln hasn’t had the opportunity of getting to know Mahone and Whistler. In his eyes, Mahone is still the man who hunted him down and killed his father, and because of Whistler, his brother is imprisoned in an hellacious penitentiary, his son has been kidnapped, Sara has been brutally murdered, and Sofia – a girl he has come to care for – has been tortured and generally put in danger. With this in mind, it was interesting seeing the vast contrast between how Michael and Lincoln were treating Mahone and Whistler.

Of course, I can’t discuss the escape without talking about how Michael brilliantly turned on Lechero, Bellick, and T-Bag. This scheme echoes what I said earlier about how Michael may not like Mahone, but he still puts him on a higher level than Lechero, Bellick, and T-Bag. While he gave Mahone the opportunity to go ahead of them, I do believe that Michael still regards him as somebody he can count on should something go awry. Consider that Michael did (arguably half heartedly) try to talk Lincoln down when he was going to kill Mahone, and had earlier offered to share his oxygen tank with Lincoln when the latter told Mahone he was out of luck (since there were five people and only four tanks).

Michael’s betrayal of his three villainous cohorts is also consistent with his previous prison break, as releasing T-Bag back into the general public seemed to be his greatest regret. Although now that T-Bag has Whistler’s book, methinks we may not have seen the last of him.

I suppose the big question is, what will become of Sucre? Will they actually bury him alive, like the previews suggest (another one alludes to a character making a selfless sacrifice)? The series so rarely provides characters with happy endings (the only one that really comes to mind is C-Note being reunited with his family and put into witness protection for testifying against Mahone), and with Luis possibly getting the happily ever after treatment this season, things may not be looking good for Sucre.

I’m very impressed with how this series has managed to re-invent itself each season, while still managing to stay true to the original premise. However, now that they’ve done the prison escape twice and the “on the run” story once, next season is going to be their biggest challenge yet. A lot of fans will likely argue that the whole storyline with The Company needs to be resolved and put to rest, and I think that’s a fair point. A lot of shows like Lost and Heroes fall into the trap of stretching out and stalling certain stories (ultimately turning a very interesting arc into something dull and drawn out) instead of resolving them at their peak and moving onto something new. That’s arguably why 24 has remained so popular and long-lasting: While it has a central theme, the storylines remain fresh and new each season. There are particular narratives that last a few seasons (like Nina, for instance), but even those are resolved within a few years.

Nevertheless, a lot of critics were skeptical about this season, saying that the Sona story was rehashing Prison Break’s successful freshman year, and in my opinion those people were forced to eat crow. Therefore, if any (well rested) team of writers is able to come up with an interesting fourth season, it’s this crew. I’m anxiously awaiting this Monday’s season finale.

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