Review: Prison Break Season 5 | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Review: Prison Break Season 5

Prison Break is back for another season, but will this one be any different? TV critic Mollie Johnson reviews

As we fast approach the half-way point of Prison Break’s fifth season revival, the question seems to be – does it live up to its previous four seasons or was it all a massive flop?

The show which first premiered in 2005 has recently released a new series, shattering all perceptions that fans had of the season four finale in 2009. The supposedly dead Michael Schofield (Wentworth Miller) is shockingly revealed as actually alive in the season’s premiere. As this demonstrates, much like the previous four seasons, season five is built on ridiculous plot twists, the suspension of disbelief and of course, a prison break.

The series so far has received a mixed reception, with plenty of people embracing the return of popular characters such as T-Dog (Robert Knepper), Lincoln (Dominic Purcell) and Sucre (Amaury Nolasco): old-favourite characters newly imagined. The nostalgia that the season offers is appealing, but it’s ultimately the same story with a few surprises thrown into the mix. We’ve already had four seasons of prison breaks and government conspiracies… How will this one be any different?

The nostalgia that the season offers is appealing, but it’s ultimately the same story with a few surprises thrown into the mix

The story-line of breaking a brother out of prison is reiterated as Lincoln finds out that Michael is imprisoned in Yemen. The first series begins with Lincoln imprisoned and Michael seeking to break him out… sounds familiar, right? It would be an interesting reversal with Lincoln repaying Michael the favour if it wasn’t for season three dealing with the exact same issue with Michael being imprisoned within Sona and requiring his brother’s help to escape. The tired and repeated plots might appeal to longstanding fans but it seems to border on the ridiculous at this point.

The difference between this season and the previous four, aside from the age of the protagonists, is the setting. Michael is imprisoned in Yemen and identifies as a dangerous terrorist named Kaniel Outis… It’s not obvious whether the producers are attempting to make a political statement through this or whether it’s just a plot device, adding yet another twist to the already complex story-line. Although they are in Yemen, a country in turmoil which is portrayed as especially dangerous for white Westerners, Michael communicates with Lincoln by writing riddles on paper airplanes and throwing them through the prison bars. This employs a generic motif which has run throughout the series, but it doesn’t seem to fit in this context. It all just seems a bit OTT and borderline absurd. Yet I guess that’s the nature of the show.

Is the series' success reliant purely on its familiarity? Lincoln is still tough and impulsive, as we all remember him, and Michael is still, well, Michael. The return of the notorious T-Bag and the lovable Sucre, alongside C-Note (Rockmond Dunbar) and Sara (Sarah Wayne Collins) all contribute to the easy-watch nature of this series and it seems that will people carry on watching to find out the answers and see the faces they know and love.

Season five is true to the original story, following the beats and patterns of the previous seasons in its typical fast-paced approach, recapturing its old urgency. The ultimate question though is: do we really need another?

Final year English Language and Literature student. (@mollieajohnson)


6th May 2017 at 7:31 am

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