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Prison Break: Season 4 - The Mother Lode (Review)

Wentworth Miller in Prison Break: Season 4

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 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 mid-season return of Prison Break: Season 4 entitled The Mother Lode.

What’s the story? Michael (Wentworth Miller) and Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies) journey to Miami while Lincoln (Dominic Purcell) meets with his mother (Kathleen Quinlan). T-Bag (Robert Knepper) and Self (Michael Rapaport)‘s mission to locate Scylla takes a dramatic turn. The General (Leon Russom) comes under pressure.

Was it any good? It’s little wonder that Prison Break has finally run its course as far as US TV chiefs are concerned. The show has increasingly lots its way over the past two seasons and this opening instalment of the final six episodes failed to repair the damage.

First and foremost, Prison Break has outstayed its welcome simply by virtue of the fact it has fallen foul of its own concept. Season one was tightly plotted, claustrophobic, tense and all about breaking out of prison.

Season two, somewhat predictably, was all about the escape… or failure to complete it.

But season 3 took a backward step by placing Michael back in another prison (albeit this time below the border), and Season 4, well…. Season 4 has involved government conspiracies, secret organisations, disloyal agents, ghosts from the past, medical dilemmas – you name it.

Unfortunately, not a lot of it has made much sense, or stands up to much scrutiny. Supposedly tense situations and brilliant twists now border on the comical, while there’s a very definite feeling that the show’s creators had run out of ideas.

The Mother Lode promised to up the ante as the show enters its final straight in readiness to “go out with a bang”. But, once again, the plot developments appeared increasingly desperate and utterly absurd.

The emergence of the Scofields’ mother as a potential friend and foe is just a step too far and feels like a desperate attempt to raise the stakes emotionally. While the collision course that Michael and Lincoln appear to be on with each other is just plain silly.

We’re still watching because, having devoted this much time to the series, we feel obliged to find out how it ends… and just who survives the mayhem. But right now, without much in the way of emotional investment, it’s a countdown to the finish.

Plot developments in The Mother Lode included a new prison-style environment for Michael to break out of – this time a moving lorry, which he did in a Macgyver style, as well as a new threat to the loved ones of each surviving member of the prison break team.

There was a failed attempt to blow up The General, which was so badly conceived it was laughable – why wait to detonate a bomb when you have your finger on the trigger and your enemy right where you want him?

And the cliffhanger ending, while admittedly shocking and suitably enticing to get us to the next episode, felt like an unlikely stretch. Obviously, it involved one of the main characters – Lincoln – being placed firmly in the sights of a sniper. But our money’s on a temporary escape or reprieve.

Just whose side Mama Scofield is on remains a debatable point, particularly as she was heard to give the order to fire upon Lincoln at the end of the episode. But, at this point, we’re getting past caring.

Indeed, if the show persists in trying to out-dumb itself with each new ridiculous twist, it’s viewers who’ll be cheering once they’ve finally escaped the silliness, whilst lamenting the gradual decline of a once great show.

What did you think?