Prison Break S05E01 “Ogygia” REVIEW
- Lincoln Burrows was framed for murder. The only person who believed he was innocent was his brother, Michael Schofield. Michael was a genius and an architect who had been instrumental in the renovations on Fox River, the prison Lincoln had been sent to.
- In other words, Michael could get him out. But first he had to get IN.
- Concealing his escape plan in elaborate, coded and beautiful full-body tattoos Michael did just that. In trying to get Linc and himself free he accrued a motley and not entirely helpful crew of other prisoners to him. These included veteran C-Note, Michael’s fast talking cellmate Sucre and T-Bag, a murders, lascivious psychopath.
- Against all odds, the men escaped. Against all expectations, most of them lived. Unwinding the conspiracy that had blighted their lives led Michael and prison doctor Sara Tancredi to fall in love and Michael to discover he was terminally ill. Sacrificing himself to save his brother, his wife and his unborn son, Michael Schofield died.
Essential Plot Points:
- But if Michael Schofield died, why was a photo of him sent to T-Bag?
- At Fox River, T-Bag is released after serving the remainder of his sentence. Amongst his belongings is a piece of correspondence that will change his life forever. The photo of Michael.
- Elsewhere, Lincoln is a hundred grand in debt with no way to pay it. Heading home after evading his debtors, he’s met by T-Bag who shows him the letter. A letter which appears to prove that Michael Schofield did not die seven years ago after all…
- Lincoln flies to New York to visit Sarah. Seven years on she’s re-married, made her peace and moved on. Her new husband, brilliantly, is not a colossal asshole. She’s adamant that it’s not Michael in the photo.
- T-Bag’s computer tells him he has an appointment with a prosthetic replacement specialist. He’s deeply weirded out by this but takes it.
- Lincoln says goodbye to Michael at his grave. As he looks at the letter one last time he notices a few letters are much bolder. He erases the others and finds the word OGYGIA.
- Ogygia Prison
- Michael’s telling him where he is.
- T-Bag visits Doctor Whitcombe. Whitcombe explains that he’s essentially building cybernetic limbs. He’s deeply weirded out by the fact that he got the money to develop a fully articulate cyber hand. The anonymous donation that allowed him to do this had one condition…
- T-Bag was the first recipient.
- T-Bag refers to the quote Michael left on the letter, “By your hand you shall know the glories of your progeny” and leaves.
- Lincoln exhumes Michael. Or rather, Michael’s funeral clothes.
- He’s alive.
- Linc breaks down, hugging his brother’s jacket in the open grave.
- Later, Linc’s car is hacked. It speeds through an intersection, hits a barrier and careers into a lake. Linc is thrown through the windshield, lands in the water and is somehow unharmed. He hides from the assassin and calls Sarah to give her the news. As Lincoln warns her that a black pick-up was following him… a black pick-up pulls up outside Sarah’s house.
- She tells her husband to load the gun she’s concealed downstairs as a kill team head in. Sarah grabs her son as her husband is badly wounded by the assassin. Sarah has her son hide in the bathroom as she rips the towel rail off to use as an improvised weapon.
- She prepares to defend her son as the assassin stands outside the door and… the cops show up. The assassin evacuates and Sarah finds Jacob bleeding out. As the cops roll up she screams for an ambulance.
- Linc shows up at the hospital to comfort them. Mikey gets it. He knows that this has something to do with his real dad. Sarah and Linc compare notes. Linc knows Michael’s alive. Sarah, absolutely reasonably, wants to know why the HELL the father of her child abandoned her and their son for seven years.
- Linc wants to go to Yemen to go to Ogygia. Sarah can’t leave. So Linc goes for her. But on the way he needs to pick up an expert…
- C-Note, it turns out, has converted to Islam. He’s on the up and up, working in his own way to help the peace process. And because C-Note is awesome, he helps out. His staff find the prison and confirm the photo is almost certainly real in about two minutes.
- They call the prison. Michael Schofield isn’t there.
- Then they call up Michael’s records. None of them are Michael. He’s being erased.
- Linc is all set to walk into the middle of a country where it’s a bad idea to be a white guy on an American passport. C-Note talks him round and suggests he have at least some of a plan.
- T-Bag volunteers for the operation…
- At the hotel Linc gets Michael’s jacket dry cleaned. Someone sneaks up on him, Linc punches him out and… it’s Sucre! Yaaaaaay! The chirpiest cast member is back! And C-Note decides to come along too! C-Note and Linc persuade Sucre to be their backstop and he agrees to leave them to get the job done.
- Unnoticed by all three, the man who tried to kill Lincoln and the assassin that almost ended Sarah’s life watch them leave…
- In Yemen, C-Note and Linc arrive. Linc notices they’re the only people coming in. As an explosion triggers nearby the two are picked up by their driver. Except their real driver shows up as they leave…
- The two men are taken to a garage where they’re ambushed. C-Note tries to talk them down but a surprisingly burly fight ensues in which Linc basically suplexes a guy part of the way through a car. Linc grabs one of their would be assassins’ phones and sees the photo the assassins took of them in the US.
- C-Note’s real driver, Sheba, shows up. Linc has them throw their phones out of the window so they can’t be tracked as Sheba explains just how dead they almost were…
- T-Bag wakes up. With an entirely robotic hand. He threatens Whitcombe who explains that he got a single word identifying his benefactor: “Outis”. Greek for nobody.
- As central casting really kicks in, everything goes deep yellow and the same call to prayer that every show set in the Middle East uses echoes across the world, Linc checks Michael’s jacket. It’s name tag reads Kaniel Outis…
- Sheba’s contact explains that they can get Linc in to see Michael. The price is his passport. C-Note and Sheba are both against it. Linc hands the passport over.
- The pair walk into, again, the exact terrible prison you’d expect and Sheba and C-Note talk to the guards. There is no Michael Schofield. Linc is furious, convinced it’s a plan to get his passport. C-Note shows the guard the image and the guard identifies it as Kaniel Outis.
- Michael’s alive.
- Sheba is FURIOUS when she realises who she’s there for and storms out. C-Note explains Kaniel is a terorrist who had been working with ISIL…
- Cutting between Sarah and Mikey in the US and C-Note and Linc in Yemen, we hear Sarah describe Michael like a storm, one that may be changed when it returns.
- Michael and Linc are reunited. Michael has tattoos on his palms. He also claims not to recognise either of them, apologises and demands to be taken back to his cell. Linc begs his brother to talk to him as he walks off but Michael doesn’t and Linc breaks down, sobbing on the prison steps.
The most joyously pulpy Lost-alike in TV history is back! And that’s mostly a good thing!
Seven years after Michael Schofield died, he’s alive again. He’s also mostly absent from this episode which has been cited as a bad thing by most reviewers. We love Wentworth Miller’s work here at MyM Towers and his fierce honesty about mental health issues too, but on this one, we’re breaking with the pack. Michael barely being in this episode is its strongest point. Not because Miller is bad, he owns the screen in his two minute appearance but because this can’t be about him. Not yet.
The original series of Prison Break cast Lincoln Burrows as the world’s burliest damsel in distress. Framed for murder, running from a criminal past, Linc was an ideal rather than a character. Michael sacrificed everything for his brother so this time, it only makes sense that Michael be the one in trouble. Not only because the reversal makes sense but because it builds in a huge amount of tension. Michael had a family, a life. Why the Hell did he fake his own death? What could possibly be more important?
Right now, we don’t know. What we do know is Dominic Purcell’s Linc is the perfect new lead for the show, all physical bulk and raw emotional nerves. Linc feels like he failed his brother. He probably did. Linc feels like his brother abandoned him. he probably did. Seeing him navigate this latest maze is going to be great fun, especially as he’s being accompanied by C-Note. Rockmond Dunbar always turns in the best work and the evolution of C-Note here is genuinely refreshing. He and the staff of his Mosque are a force for good in a genre where they could and have so often been the bad guys. It’s especially important given just how terribly lazy the show gets once it reaches Yemen. Not a stereotype is left unembraced and it feels a stylistic and physical world away from the interesting, assured and gloriously pulpy conspiracy show we got half an hour of.
In the end, that’s what works here. Prison Break was always a great conspiracy show and that’s still present. But given that we get ambushes, civil war, a possibly implied terrorist bomb, corrupt prison guards and an overcrowded medieval prison in one episode? It gets lost in the churn. There’s still fun here and Purcell and Dunbar in particular are great, but we get the horrible feeling even as Michael escapes, the show will wander resignedly back into the same cell very nearly every Middle East-set drama ends up in. And Gods knows it’s getting really crowded in there.
- “I’m a raconteur.”
“I don’t think that means what you think it means.” Amaury Nolasco is just effortlessly charming and he lights the episode up here.
- “I’m BROWN! That means something!” See?! Especially given how rapidly the episode runs headlong at every single Middle East stereotype this line has extra resonance.
- Dominic Purcell. We’ve got so used to him being growly broadstrokes Rory on the wonderful Legends Of Tomorrow that seeing him do dark, emotional stuff here really hits home. The redemption narrative Lincoln has looks to be the meat of the show and based on this episode, it’s in the right hands.
- Sara Tancredi has clearly been preparing for something like this. Nice to see a female character with agency in a show like this.
- Jacob isn’t an asshole! And he really likes Linc! And Linc really likes him! I mean he’s almost certainly a bad guy, we’ve seen this show before, but right now that’s a refreshing change.
- Rockmond Dunbar. One of those actors who is effortlessly good in everything and he knocks it out of the park here. We love that C-Note’s converted to Islam and we especially love how positively the faith is shown here. C-Note as the moral conscience of the show could be really interesting.
- That is a surprisingly burly and well-put-together fight scene.
- Top puzzle fun! We especially loved the pencil code on the letter. And was Michael trying to signal Linc with his palm tattoo at the end there?
- Lincoln recovers suspiciously well from that car crash.
- Why replace Michael rather than erase him?
- The entire third act is just awful. The colour palate shifts to that deep yellow that says, “Back lot pretending to be the Middle East”; the characters are all either cowards, monsters or caricatures. We know, the prison being awful is actually the point of the show. We also know that the current situation in Yemen is horrific. But one episode in there is not a single piece of Middle Eastern low hanging fruit left on the tree. This plays like Homeland at its absolute worst and that’s a place no one wants to be.
And The Random:
- Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell are best known these days, of course, for their work on Legends Of Tomorrow and the other CW shows as Captain Cold and Heatwave. It’s a genuinely pleasant surprise to see them back in their old, iconic roles.
- Mark Feurstein, who’s Jacob is SURELY too good to be true, is best known for his work on Royal Pains. However, to us he’ll always be Clifford Calley on The West Wing, the best not-quite boyfriend Donna Moss almost had.
- Nelson McCormick directed the remakes of Prom Night and The Stepfather. He’s also directed for a raft of great TV shows including Daredevil, ER, Third Watch, Criminal Minds and The West Wing.
- Paul Scheuring developed Prison Break from an idea given to him by a female colleague. He returned to this particular well with 2010 movie The Experiment and also created the short-lived and magnificently loopy Zero Hour.
- We just couldn’t help it. Every time someone mentioned the name of the prison and where it was we heard, “When we get to Yemen can I stay with you?” God bless you, Chandler Bing.
Review by Alasdair Stuart