Shaun Munro reviews the third episode of Prison Break season 5…
“The Liar” signals the end of the Prison Break revival’s first act, as Michael and co. stage an escape attempt from Ogygia, and if you don’t know where all this is heading by episode’s end, you probably haven’t watched enough Prison Break.
This week, tension ratchets up in Ogygia ahead of Michael’s break; savage fundamentalist Abu Ramal (Numan Acar) attempts to institute Sharia Law; a former cellmate of Michael’s throws a major spanner in the works; and an agitated Whip begins to question Michael’s friendship (after all, the guy is trying to break a terrorist out of prison).
The central prison scenes are easily the strongest on offer here, actually daring to develop Michael and his inmates as real people, even if you’ll probably still struggle to care about most of them by the time the break kicks off later on.
The questions about Michael’s (or should we say, Kaniel’s) allegiances have been eye-rollingly transparent from the up, so it’s a relief to see them quickly dealt with head-on here, yet we also get to see a more tortured and put-upon Michael emerge than we’ve arguably ever seen before when he’s backed into a corner during the final escape.
Subplots are, well, less-good. Sara ends up taking her hacked phone to an electronics store in order to deduce the origin of the hack, a plan that even her husband Jacob hilariously later describes as a “hackneyed attempt at counter-espionage”. But of course, this was really just a clever ruse by Sara to lure pursuing rent-a-thug assassins to her location, apparently with little care about what they might or might not do to the poor store clerk (but conveniently, he survives, so her conscience can be mostly clear).
Back in Yemen, Linc and Sheba attempt to secure him and Michael passports, but of course, nothing is ever simple in the world of Prison Break, and a resulting suspense sequence once again nods towards a wildly unnecessary romance between the two. This was a total damp squib.
At least T-Bag is back for a brief spell, showing up to get re-acquainted with Sara, who asks T-Bag if he can go the distance with helping her, setting him up to retort with the gloriously dumb, Breaking Bad-aping one-liner, “I am the distance.”
Momentum for sure picks up during the climactic prison break (bar one incredibly lazy mid-scene exposition dump), and though intermittently capturing some of the original series’ tension, it’s ultimately too predictable to be truly suspenseful. Furthermore, one final push to be poignant only rings half-so, while also half-unintentionally comical.
The first third of Prison Break‘s fifth season sees it returning to square one in the most formulaic means possible, essentially hovering in a holding pattern until acts of real consequence can start taking place in another three-or-so episodes time. There are a few scattered, tantalising teases towards the wider mystery – the repeated mention of a shadowy figure named Poseidon, and Kellerman having a link to it all – but three episodes in, the show really should be trying much harder and not repeating old tricks quite so keenly.
Shaun Munro – Follow me on Twitter for more TV rambling.