Prison Break Season 5 Episode 4 Review: The Prisoner’s Dilemma

Prison Break bounces back with an episode that reminds us of the series' best traits.

This Prison Break review contains spoilers.

Prison Break Season 5 Episode 4

Oh, hell yeah.

This is Prison Break right here. High stakes, near deaths, and dare I say character development? After the last two weeks I wasn’t sure this season could live up to the Prison Break legacy but with everything that went down in this episode and everything it sets up? We’re in for a wild rest of the season.

Let’s face it; the fans wanted a prison break. I applaud the show for trying to open up its world a bit with all the political turmoil but that was only ever a backdrop to give the escape a little flavor. While it took up too much of the last two episodes, here it supercharged everything. Abu Ramal constantly trying to betray the team was a real treat. Our team wanted to dump the guy but nope, he ends up in the cell with Michael’s contingency plan. Forcing our “good guys” to work with a horrible killer is the kind of character tension Prison Break used to excel at so I’m glad to see it on display here. 

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We also had the ticking clock of not only the bombs but also some overzealous prisoners trying to take control. I’m going to ignore the fact they all could have easily gotten more guns from the guards’ office and chock that up to being swept up in the pursuit of Michael and Abu. All these twists and turns start to really do the legwork of making us care about these new prisoners. Little moments like Sid stabbing the guy, Ja stopping to get food, or Whip confronting Abu makes the next big leg of the escape all the more engaging. We want to see them escape and we want to see Michael help these people out.

It’s fascinating to watch Michael work his way out of these problems. He may have had a backdoor contingency plan this week but now that they’re out in the wild will they be so lucky? More than ever before he’s scared his plans won’t work. Maybe it’s that he didn’t think this whole plan through as much as he did in the past or it’s that he has a kid and sort of wife now. Before it was just his brother but knowing you won’t be there for your kid adds an extra layer of fear.

I’m eagerly awaiting the explanation for why Michael hasn’t contacted them for years. I’m sure it’ll be seven layers of insane and won’t make much sense but hey, that’s Prison Break. More about the spectacle and less about the substance.

Lincoln was also on top form this week. His little side quest of getting the prison doors unlocked seemed useless but it was high energy and provided a dramatic entrance when Abu was about to kill Michael. Lincoln works really well with this huge, desperate, action beats. Dominic Purcell again shows he’s a much better actor than most give him credit for.

It might be telling that Lincoln’s plot finally worked once C-Note was out of the picture. Yeah, love the dude but he was more of a plot device to get Lincoln near the prison. All of Lincoln’s solo scenes in this episode worked way better than any of his shared scenes in the last two. Especially when he, without thinking, runs right into the prison. Gotta admire a guy who does that, especially after the hell he went through in Fox River.

This episode was also improved by a distinct lack of Sara. I don’t know what the trade off is here but if more T-Bag means less Sara then I’ll take it. Sara just isn’t involved enough in the action right now to make for a gripping character right now. T-Bag on the other hand (HA!) is.

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Come on, T-Bag vs. Kellerman? That’s amazing! It’s one of the few elements so far in this season that’s really pushing the characters relationships forward. Of course T-Bag would be pissed he didn’t get let off like the others did at the end of the fourth season. He also gets some information about who’s toying with him, so bonus points!

Everything about the face off works, but I want to zero in on one bit. T-Bag is mystified why everyone has suddenly taken a liking to kale. That’s what’s all the rage after so many years in prison? It’s a humorous bit that perfectly illustrates how much can change when you’re locked up for so long.

I never thought this could happen, but when T-Bag scrambled to get the photo of the person helping the two agents who tried to kill him? I leaned in. Yeah, that “lean in” moment you always hear writers and executives talking about. They totally got me! It was a great little build up and pay off! Sure it’s a guy we’ve only met a few episodes ago but that’s fine. It’s a good mystery to keep us coming back for more.

Speaking of, how about the cliffhanger? The guys are out of prison but now have to escape a war torn country with a whole terrorist group after them. If the first half of this season was attempting to replicate season one, then I can see the back half going for season two. That’s perfect (season two never gets enough love) and I can’t wait to see how Michael gets them out of it.

Okay but honestly this whole episode was worth it just to hear T-Bag call 911. Perfect.

Shamus Kelley is still waiting to see where that shot of Michael stumbling across the desert is going to figure into the seasonFollow him on Twitter!  

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4.5 out of 5