Shaun Munro reviews the fifth episode of Prison Break season 5…
With “Contingency”, Prison Break‘s fifth season reaches its half-way point, and mercifully hits the ground running after last week’s shock reveal that Sara’s husband Jacob just might be the shadowy puppet-master Poseidon.
Refreshingly, writer Vaun Wilmott doesn’t force the audience through perfunctory scenes where Sara disbelieves T-Bag’s revelation about Jacob, and Sara wastes no time confronting her hubby about it. This is such an inherently absurd show that Jacob’s allegiances really could end up going either way, so we’ll have to wait and see. It’s just a relief that the Sara-centric scenes didn’t stink the episode up this time or just feel like blatant filler.
As Linc and Michael meanwhile attempt to escape Yemen, Linc asserts himself over Michael and demands answers, resulting in a gigantic exposition dump which finally reveals exactly what Michael’s been up to this whole time. The reasoning itself, that Kellerman’s original deal was a bust, isn’t particularly interesting or unique, but it does suffuse Michael’s actions with a sure moral ambiguity; he’s had to do some very questionable things to protect those he loves, and one could certainly argue from a utilitarian perspective that they weren’t really worth it.
The gang fleeing from ISIL has plenty of urgency, and this week’s set-pieces are fairly diverse, even if fans are likely to groan at the return of Sheba’s one-eyed near-rapist antagonist, Cyclops (Amin El Gamal). His brief appearances so far have been more irritating than menacing, and that continues to be true here, with him unfortunately dominating several of the episode’s key moments.
Though Michael’s prison pals have been curiously malnourished in the character development stakes so far, they get some much-needed time to shine here; Whip gets to dress Michael down for his intentionally obtuse manner, Sid has a terrific scene where he details the grim fate of his first lover, and Ja gives a riotously entertaining rendition of Queen’s iconic “We Are the Champions” during a fiery action beat. Sadly it’s none-too-surprising that Sid ends up dead by episode’s end, because if you’re dropping a sob story bomb on the audience in Prison Break, it probably means the end is nigh.
This episode’s general turmoil combined with his friends and family demanding answers sees Michael in a rare state of emotional vulnerability, giving Wentworth Miller a solid chance to show off his acting chops beyond his usual cheesy breathy whisper and steely cold stare. The performances on this show are rarely praised much and generally with good reason, but Miller clearly relished the opportunity to do something less-ordinary with Michael this episode.
As for how it ends? Almost nobody will be shocked to see Linc and Michael’s plan go up in smoke once again, with the pair returning to square one in line with the most rote Prison Break formula. It’s mildly frustrating in its repetition, but the next four episodes need to get filled somehow, right?
The show may basically be playing its greatest hits in a new setting at this point, but for many fans, that’ll be enough, and for all the bad you can say about the new season, at least it’s pretty far from boring right now.
Shaun Munro – Follow me on Twitter for more TV rambling.