May 17, 2006

Finale Report: Prison Break - "Flight"

Prison Break had a phenomenal debut season. It quickly became one of my must see weekly dramas, and for the second half of the year made a great lead in for 24. I love the high concept that has driven the show. The show has a nice mix of personal drama, and more epic political intrigue. The focus has clearly leaned towards the personal side, and it has worked beautifully.

If you are not familiar with the show, allow me to give you a brief overview. Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) fakes an attempt to rob a bank with the express intent of being arrested. His desire is to be incarcerated at the same prison as his brother, Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell), who is sitting on death row, convicted of murdering the Vice President's brother. Michael is convinced of his brother's innocence, and has constructed an elaborate plan to break him out. The season follows Michael as he puts his plan into motion, often with the unlikeliest of allies. The show has a great deal of suspense as the plan has to be malleable as problems arise. An interesting thing to note is that Michael has hidden the blueprints of the prison in a large tattoo, that completely covers his upper body and arms. On the outside, it is revealed that there is a conspiracy, involving the VP, and Lincoln was indeed framed, but the plot goes far beyond that.

This episode is what hs been built up to all season, or rather, a continuation of the event that occurred at the conclusion of the penultimate episode. To say that more simply, they have finally executed the plan that is the show's title, they broke out of prison. We begin the episode with the ever growing group of escapees getting over the outside wall to the outside world. One of their number did not make it. The recent addition, the heavy set Manche, is caught by the guards and forced to give up the names of those who did make it out. Across the yard, Bellick is found, and he is not very happy. He is brought out of the hole that Scofield and his crew made. He gets out and demands his shotgun, saying that they just signed their death warrants. Pope, is ahead of Bellick, already getting the hunt started.

Outside the wall, Scofield keeps the group's anxieties in check, as they wait for the authorities to get out ahead of them. As soon as it is clear, they move out to a farmhouse where Abruzzi arranged to have a van left for them. Michael needs to thin the group, which he does by shedding their most obvious member, the mental patient nicknamed Haywire. They speed off in the van leaving Haywire looking through the trash. The plan is to take the can to a nearby airstrip, where Abruzzi figures prominently again, arranging a plane to fly them out of there. Before they get there, Abruzzi plans on settling an old score with T-Bag. Abruzzi retrieves a gun left under the seat for him, with plans to aerate T-Bag's cranium. The target is ready for it, using a pair of stolen handcuffs to attach himself to their fearless leader, then swallowing the key.

They run into more trouble, as a roadblock is discovered. They quickly get off the road to attempt to circumvent the blockage, but they get stuck in the mud so they take their flight by foot. They make it to a barn, taking a brief refuge while they attempt to get T-Bag and Scofield apart. Abruzzi takes drastic measures, using an axe to sever T-Bag's hand, freeing Scofield.

Meanwhile, it appears that there are problems brewing in the conspiracy camp, as they turn on the Vice President. She takes matters into her own hands, wishing to protect her spot. It is revealed that she poisoned the president, killing him. Soon after she is sworn in as President, pretty much leveling a big "Take that" at those who sought to remove their backing.

Pope is frantically trying to find the escapees, as well as figure out how they got out. The primary suspect is Dr. Sara Tancredi, the facility's doctor, and daughter of the governor. They ultimately find her at home, presumably dead from an apparent overdose. She had feelings for Michael, and did help them escape. This seems to have pushed her back to her drug addicted past. Hopefully it will be revealed that she is still alive, I liked the budding relationship.

Back on the field, Michael tells Tweener to take a hike, or else he may tell the rest what Tweener did (he revealed the escape plans to Bellick). The remaining members continue towards the airfield. At the airfield, Abruzzi's men feel the pinchers closing in and decide to take off without the escaping crew. Scofield and the rest get to the airstrip just in time to see the plane fly overhead, and watch the police find them standing on the strip.

“What do we do now?”

“We run!”

The finale comes to a close.

Let me first say I love the series. The characters, and their development have been great. The dialogue has been colorful, the story intriguing, and overall a very suspenseful show. I love how the show has no real grounding in reality, yet has a clear world of its own to exist in. This allows the series a bit more freedom in the realistically ludicrous developments. I eagerly look forward to what happens next season.

Now let me say that I did not care that much for this finale. Sure, we got to see them get over the wall, but the end with them being chased into the woods by the police struck me as very weak. I was so looking forward to this, my expectations were pretty high, so maybe it's my fault. Perhaps I should have kept those expectations in check, but based on what had come before, I did not think that was the case. I found the suspense lacking and the characters that had been so carefully constructed over 21 episodes were mostly foregone in favor of running.

Now, I am left to wonder what direction they will take the show in next season. They suggest a large scale manhunt. Does that mean they will spend the entire season on the run? Will some or all of them be recaptured setting up another prison break? The mind boggles with possibilities.


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