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Prison Break: Season 4 - Scylla/Breaking & Entering (Review)

Wentworth Miller in Prison Break: Season 4

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

INDIELONDON singles out notable episodes from our favourite television series for stand-alone reviews. On this occasion we take a look at the season premiere of Prison Break: Season 4 entitled Scylla and Breaking And Entering.

What’s the story? In Scylla, Michael (Wentworth Miller) has tracked Gretchen (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe), Whistler (Chris Vance) and Mahone (William Fichtner) to LA. But just as he’s about to exact revenge, they reveal that Sara Tancredi (Sarah Wayne Callies) is still alive and they need his help in bringing down The Company. During the course of the episode, Michael’s brother Lincoln (Dominic Purcell), and former inmates Bellick (Wade Williams) and Sucre (Amaury Nolasco) are also recaptured and assigned by rogue government agent Donald Self (Michael Rapaport) to work together to bring down The Company, which has now begun a ruthless clean-up operation of its own. T-Bag (Robert Knepper), meanwhile, is out for revenge on Michael…

In Breaking And Entering, the reunited inmates plan the first part of their effort to bring down The Company, while more bodies continue to drop as The Company cleans up…

Was it any good? The fourth season opener of Prison Break set a blistering pace without really concealing the fact that it’s now all but running on empty. Having stretched the concept of the original series to breaking point, the writers continue to expand the storylines to increasingly absurd lengths in a desperate bid to keep viewers enthralled. It’s entertaining… but the show has long since lost the ability to really be taken seriously. Several surprise corpses and one return from the dead didn’t really help matters either.

Digging a little deeper: In looking to keep things fresh and exciting, Prison Break attempted to take a leaf out of 24 (Season 5)‘s book and open with several jaw-dropping revelations.

First of all, the action had leapt forward three months and had relocated from Panama to LA, where Michael lay in wait for the trio of Gretchen, Whistler and Mahone to exact revenge. No sooner did he have them in his sights, however, then he was faced with the revelation that the love of his life, Sara Tancredi, was alive and well – and not decapitated as his brother had thought in the previous series.

In TV comeback terms, it was a revelation to rival the “shower scene” from Dallas, in which Bobby Ewing also came back from the dead after a series in the wilderness.

Prison Break‘s attempt to get round the impossible was to suppose that Michael’s brother, Lincoln (seldom the brightest of sparks), hadn’t taken a proper look at the head he’d found in the box – partly because he was so disgusted, and partly because it was so dark. Whatever, it provided one of several unwanted chuckles.

Moments later, Whistler – one of the most intriguing new characters from the third season – was dead, having been shot in the head by another Company assassin. Beyond that, Getchen was also called back and apparently terminated, while later in the two-parter Mahone’s family (wife and son) were also mercilessly killed.

In between, T-Bag made for the border, got betrayed and was forced to eat his fellow Mexican compatriot to survive, while all of the various surviving inmates from Fox River were reunited by government agent Donald Self (Rapaport) to bring down The Company and save America from one of its greatest homeland threats.

Helping them was a hacker who had also created a device that could read and copy the vital data from anyone’s mobile phone within a close radius, who held the key to locating the mystery contents of the disc known as Scylla.

Needless to say, there was plenty going on and – in typical Prison Break style – viewers were breathlessly catching up with each new twist and turn.

But as contrivance met contrivance and implausibility reigned supreme, the suspicion continues to grow that this once great show is now merely serving time of its own. How much longer the fun and games can continue is a really big issue, as the prospect of another 20 or so episodes seems a very long journey indeed.

It’s hokey, ridiculous fun but one feels that Prison Break‘s best days are a long, long way behind it.

What did you think?

  1. This is entertainment…its there to entertain us…and it is doing an awesome job…maybe you should stop complaining and just enjoy the last season.

    Layla    Sep 3    #
  2. Well yes, Prison Break has long since lost its ability to be taken seriously, but surely now that#s part of the fun? The season four opener was highly ridiculous, but utterly engaging – and some of the humour suggests it knows it’s own limitations and is working within them. Perhaps this reviewer should gauge that too?

    James    Sep 3    #
  3. You’ve hit it dead on. People like Layla and James are the reason anyone with half a wit about them is being so brutally disappointed with Prison Break. It is a shame that the acceptance of such terrible writing is cheating the rest of us out of intelligent entertainment.

    The Wulf    Sep 5    #
  4. Yeah , I agree , felt I was watching a different show …like a lastminute patchwork based on the A-Team , 24 & Da Vinci Code! Did they lose writers after the strike or do they just not care as much & are they cashing in on a half-baked last season ..?

    Mark    Sep 12    #
  5. You really hit the nail on this one. I was getting worried when reading other reviewers praise for the series. My husband and I loved this show and were so excited to see it return but instead of being enthralled by the story we watch it pretty much to laugh at how implausible and ridiculous it is. The writing is horrid, the directing and acting is cliched and melodramatic and the editing is an epic failure. Scenes are choppy and episode 3 left me feeling like I was watching a bunch of youtube clips from various movies glued together.

    We will watch it until it is no longer fun to laugh at or this train wreck gets back on track.

    MM    Sep 12    #
  6. I agree with Mark and MM’s comments. As an avid Prison Break watcher (As a University Student I followed this show from Season 1 in New Zealand to Seasons 2 and 3 in America), I have never missed an episode and own the first 3 seasons, I was quite disappointed with the premiere of Season 4. The formula felt all off in the opener, and didn’t get any better as the season progressed. The music, title scene, even the episode “cliffhanger” (which it wasn’t) was too new for me to enjoy. Also, I really missed the emotion. I feel the slower momentum of how things happened and how the characters not only handled the situations, but the inner tortured psyche of the characters is what made the show so worth while in the first three seasons. I loved the struggle.

    While each Season has been a bit different, each one up until now has kept that original feel- the raw, anxiety, of being one of the characters- and at any given moment a person could feel where that character was coming from. Two steps forward, one step back. But this season, it feels like the show is trying so hard with ratings that it sacrificed that indie feel to become more mainstream. If you want my honest opinion, let 24 and the A-Team and Ocean’s 11 and 12 and 13 be what they are and let Prison Break go back to what it was for the people who loved it for that. In three years I successfully got four different groups of people addicted to the show.

    As for me, I think I will stop Michael and Lincoln’s story at Season 3- there was a sort of poetic irony to Michael driving away with the gun and origami rose, Lincoln reuniting with his kidnapped son, Sucre sacrificing his freedom for a friend, and T-Bag becoming “King of the Jungle” again. In fact, I saw Michael’s driving away scene as parallel to the opening act of the pilot; the gun and the vengeance against the system. And, even while it didn’t answer my questions about the company conspirators at least there was some closure to the characters. I’m not going to deny I wasn’t waiting for the return since last winter, or checking every TV spot on the show since the beginning of the summer, I, like all the other fans wanted the story to continue, but I was sorely disappointed when it did. Season 4 is just too implausible, choppy, and commercial for me to enjoy. Yes, off course it’s fiction but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have certain expectations to fulfill to it’s devoted audience. Like someone else commented, it feels much more like a spinoff of Prison Break then the original.

    I guess I just don’t understand how characters that have invested so much in certain things in previous episodes (Lincoln and LJ for example) can just forget about them with the turning of a new season. I don’t mean offense to any of the actors or what-not (Prison Break has an exceptionally talented cast and crew), it’s just something was lost, something is missing, in this new season, it’s no longer believable.
    For the past three years, for me, Prison Break was like a book I couldn’t put down, but with the dawning of Season 4 it is one I can’t bare to pick up. Or, maybe it’s just time for me to get a life, move on, and leave this show behind me. I hear HEROES is good. Until the show can convince me otherwise, I will say goodbye to Michael Scoffield.

    Jen    Sep 12    #
  7. this is very ridiculous. Like Layla said its entertaining now enough said! How many other series are entertaining now a days? Heroes to start with is gone from an excellent original plot to a rushed, too many abilities round (God knows how many abilities to come) far too streched serie. It's a shame but i still watch it coz i dont wanna judge it based on its silly sneak peeks. Moving on, Smallville is another horrendous series that should’ve stopped while being at the top once. And don't even get me started on other silly new coming series like 90210,Ugly betty, Samantha Who. Look people just admit that the days are gone for good old fashioned story lines. In this decade people just want to be entertained, that's all!

    H    Sep 17    #