The show took a bit of a beating after the previous episode, especially with the more local critics. A number of people claimed that the flashbacks broke the tension, that it took some of the edge from the characters, and even that the characters were revealed as less interesting than ever before. I can’t really agree with any of that, especially when critics compare it negatively to “24”, which has revealed a number of weaknesses of late.
The fact is (and I’ve said this a number of times), one of the best aspects of the series is the fact that it’s planned out so far in advance. There’s the occasional plot element that seems to disappear, but for the most part, the plot is surprisingly consistent. This entire episode is predicated on several dangling plot threads that suddenly resurge in importance, and it’s quite clear that the writers knew where they were going.
So Michael is forced by his own decisions and circumstance to run through every possible means of remembering what the pattern on his back was, and it doesn’t work. In typical fashion, he works out a way to place himself in a position to get that information by thinking outside the box: getting himself tossed into the psych ward, so he can find out what Haywire remembers about his tattoo. It’s a brilliant direction to take the plot, because it takes Michael away from the center of the Escape Squad, forcing them to act on their own.
That, in turn, leaves them incredibly vulnerable. Sucre does his best under the circumstances, but comes up completely short in the process. And while the threat represented by Tweener is ultimately dealt with (in nasty fashion), the escape plan is completely in disarray. It’s a shock that the guards didn’t find the hole in the wall already, since one would expect the cell to be inspected once Sucre is in custody, but with Michael in the psych ward, everything is up in the air.
Outside of the prison, there were additional complications. LJ’s situation will inevitably factor into the second season, if only because Lincoln will want to protect his son against the conspiracy. Also, one of the big questions about the conspiracy seems to have an answer: Lincoln was selected as the patsy on purpose, because his father was a Company Man and found himself in a position to threaten the Vice President’s objectives. It’s all hanging together quite well, and a lot of my earlier concerns about the plot have been addressed.
Sometimes it’s a good thing to know where the story is going. This was something that “Babylon 5” did extremely well, for example: telling you what would happen and then slowly filling in the context, revealing surprising twists and turns along the way. That’s where we’re at with this series now. The actual prison break has a new timeline (perhaps 10 days at most), which brings us to the end of the season. This episode tosses a number of complications into the mix, and there’s not much time to get them resolved. It’s the perfect way to ramp up to the end!
Final Rating: 8/10