Shaun Munro reviews the fourth episode of Prison Break season 5…
The second act of the Prison Break revival kicks off with ISIL’s reach expanding in Yemen, causing Ogygia’s prisoner contingent, led by Cross (TJ Ramini), to panic and plan to take terrorist leader Abu Ramal hostage as a bargaining chip, much to Michael’s chagrin.
Seeing Linc desperately trying to get into Ogygia to rescue Michael as Yemen crumbles around him meanwhile has fun potential, initially seeming to present the urgency the series has been mostly lacking so far, but he unfortunately ends up spending most of the episode figuring out a way inside, which reeks of transparent filler plotting.
Naturally, the drama inside the prison is more intriguing, as Michael’s staging an escape plan is juxtaposed opposite Cross’ attempt to reach Ramal. Michael getting Ramal in on his MacGyver antics is mildly amusing but also pure generic fare for the show at this point in its life; it’s never not obvious where it’s all going, so pretty low on tension as a result. As Cross and his prisoner horde plans their attack, Whip gets to fire off the riotous one-liner, “It’s a freaking Mexican soap opera out here!”
Elsewhere, it was fun seeing Kellerman on edge this episode as he came face-to-face with T-Bag, who we learn isn’t the biggest fan of Kale. T-Bag’s out-of-nowhere belief that Kellerman himself is Poseidon fell almost totally flat, and honestly, who bought this for even a second?
At least the ensuing exposition dump from Kellerman explains the hilariously lame meaning of the antagonist’s name (he’s “so untouchable you couldn’t find him with a nuclear sub”). This thread inevitably ties back to rent-a-thug assassins Van Gogh and A&W, who are still stamina-draining bores, but their dull pursuit of T-Bag and Kellerman was basically worth it for giving fans a sight they thought they’d never see; T-Bag calling 911.
Back in the prison, Abu Ramal remains a cartoon terrorist caricature and Rick Yune’s Ja continues to be frustratingly under-utilised, but in a bizarre moment he does get to quote Woody Allen, which is pretty much the least Prison Break thing ever. Conversely, the episode’s climax feels like pure Prison Break concentrate, serving up two ridiculously convoluted twists (one entertainingly absurd, the other a total eye-roller), shoving Linc in front of some very crappy green screen (for God knows what reason), and finally moving things forward with a significant upping of the series’ scale.
Dispensing with a few elements that have been weighing the show down while emphasising the ISIL and Poseidon threads, “The Prisoner’s Dilemma” achieved a more enjoyable balance of tongue-in-cheek humour and action than prior episodes. And Sara was totally absent from this episode, which probably reflects not-so-coincidentally on its superior quality. It’s still a show struggling to escape that desperately contrived initial setup, but this week it mostly stayed on the right side of entertaining.
Now just keep your fingers crossed that, as this season approaches its mid-way point, it can continue bounding forward.
Shaun Munro – Follow me on Twitter for more TV rambling.