In the previous episode of “Prison Break”, Mahone was revealed as a murderer, dispatching Tweener with relative ease. Sucre seemed to turn on the rest of the Escape Squad, and Sara was facing down an assassin from the conspiracy. Not all of these plot elements were appreciated by the audience, and one major question was hanging over this episode: would the writers fall into the predictable traps, or would they manage to surprise everyone with the unexpected?
Mahone’s motivations turned out to be uninspired at best and utterly cliché at worst. Initially, there were indications of an unstable individual with serious mental problems, especially when the agent from internal affairs started ripping him apart about his track record. Very quickly, however, it became clear that Mahone was a tool of the conspiracy. His background suggested some kind of black ops training, but taken in context with Tweener’s messy execution, that doesn’t quite make sense. Nor does it make sense for the conspiracy to open themselves up to public exposure, which the systematic deaths of every member of the Escape Squad would do!
Slightly more effective was Sucre’s gambit with Michael, which was a nice touch. Even better was the revelation that T-Bag, the least deserving member of the Escape Squad, managed to run off with all the money. This plot thread quickly devolved when Sucre’s leg became trapped in the middle of a rising river, forcing Michael to choose between convenience and loyalty. It’s no surprise that Michael chooses to save his old cellmate, based on his psychology, nor is it surprising that the two of them narrowly escape with barely a scratch. (Wouldn’t Sucre’s leg be badly hurt, given the weight of that log?)
Sara’s plot thread was hobbled by the fact that many fans, especially on the internet, already decoded the majority of Michael’s messages, making that slow revelation mind-numbing to watch. It’s one thing when the writers lead to a surprising twist with a clever spin on established continuity. It’s quite another when the audience is several steps ahead of the game, and they can see the plot progression coming a mile away.
The only real surprise in this episode came from Bellick. While his return was inevitable, his activities in this episode are promising. Since it appears that T-Bag will be running off on his own subplot for a while, paying off a loose thread from the first season, it makes sense for Bellick’s quest for the money to follow along. This has potential, but given how fragmented the season has felt, this may not be the best move.
Overall, this episode continues the slow slide from quality that began at the beginning of the season. Considering how much I liked the first season, I’m a bit disappointed with the sloppy and lazy plotting since the premiere. Making Mahone a tool of the conspiracy was a horrible idea, and I’m not sure that the series will survive it.
(As a sidenote: I also have a new podcast associated with my various reviews called “Velocity TV”. Current episodes cover the “Prison Break”, so it might be something of interest. Go to http://entil2001.libsyn.com if you want to listen!)
Final Rating: 6/10