This Prison Break review is spoiler-free.
The opening episode of Prison Break Season 5 is an attempt to take the show back to its roots.
Yes, obviously they set up a new prison to be broken out of but it’s more subtle than that. The premiere episode, which was screened at WonderCon to a crowd of adorning fans, starts the show where it was in season four. The characters are all trying to move on from their pasts but the world just won’t let up. Lincoln has fallen back into his old habits and Sara is trying to move on from Michael.
In fact, if you wanna get meta with it, Sara represents the show as it was in season four. The series was trying to find a new identity for itself but deep down it knew something was wrong.
Lincoln on the other hand can’t move on from his old life and in that way he brings back in the element the show was missing in its last two seasons. Dramatic stakes deeply rooted in the characters. But which side wins out?
At first you think it’s the storytelling of season four. Too much government conspiracy and not enough of the characters we love getting out of impossible situations.
Then a twist happens. The show tosses away the confused misfire that was season four and the magic of Prison Break is back. For the rest of the episode, as we meet all our old favorites, a new and engrossing mystery is introduced. A mystery that is deeply tied into not only the new season prison break but why Michael is alive.
Michael not being dead was the biggest hurdle for the show to jump over and while later episodes could change my mind on this, one line totally makes it all work. One line sucks you in and makes you want to keep watching. The magic of Prison Break was keeping you hooked and wondering, “how will they get out of this?” Well this season looks like it’ll finally be able to up the ante.
To do this Michael isn’t in the premiere as much as some fans might like, but it totally works because Dominic Purcell carries the whole episode. It’s kind of shocking after seeing him as a borderline cartoon character on Legends of Tomorrow to be back in such a dramatic role but it works. There’s a scene in this episode that may be some of Purcell’s finest acting work to date and it’s all done without any dialogue.
Some fans will point out the series has already done Lincoln trying to break Michael out of prison in season three but the key difference here? It actually works because the story is focused on Lincoln. At least for now. The other Prison Break characters do show up around the edges but this premiere is very much Lincoln’s story and it’s damn compelling. I always loved Michael more in the original series but the new season has a real shot of Lincoln becoming the fan favorite.
While the other characters don’t get quite as much, everyone feels right at home. Honestly if you had told me this shot after season four I’d totally believe you. It feels like the Prison Break of old. No sooner do you get that feeling then when you see T-Bag. He’s still a guy you love to hate but his place in the broader mystery leaves you with another burning set of questions you’ll want to tune in for.
The action is also on point as well. Since the series starts off without certain characters being in prison they make the most of it.
If you fell off the Prison Break train around season two or three like most people don’t worry, the show is still fairly accessible. There’s a quick recap at the start that fills you in on all you need to know. For hardcore fans, don’t worry. The show doesn’t forget about everything that happened in its less successful years, it just pushes it to the periphery.
The premiere shows a lot of promise for the new season. It may take a little while to get going but trust me; it’s worth the wait. By the end you’ll be wishing you could binge watch the whole season on Netflix. It has all the elements that made Prison Break a hit and it finally takes the show back to its roots without feeling like a retread.
Prison Break Season 5 Episode 1, “Ogygia” airs on April 4th at 9 p.m. on Fox.
Shamus Kelley was expecting at least one hilariously dumb Legends of Tomorrow reference. Oh well. Follow him on Twitter!