Binge TV – Prison Break

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In a new season of articles, ‘Binge TV’ is going to bring you some old favourites that are worth the price of the box set, allowing you to kick back and binge to your heart’s content. You can get all of these seasons cheap enough online, or even cheaper if you invest in Netflix.

This week we bring you Prison Break, which ran for four season of varying success between 2005 and 2009.

Prison Break revolves around Michael Scofield (played by the gorgeous Wentworth Miller) who gets himself incarcerated in Fox River State Penitentiary in a bid to free his brother Lincoln Burrows, who was wrongly sentenced to death for the murder of the Vice President’s brother. Scofield, a brilliant structural engineer, has orchestrated an ingenious plan to free his brother.

Season one is Prison Break at its best: we are introduced to some brilliant characters in the shape of Robert Knepper’s deliciously evil T-Bag, Peter Stormare’s ruthless Abruzzi and the mysterious yet enigmatic Kellerman, played by Paul Adelstein. The scope of the season is impressive enough to keep you entertained throughout all 22 episodes, and the season finale is truly breathtaking. On top of that, who doesn’t love a prison drama?

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The intrigue continues in the equally impressive second season which sees various inmates on the loose, all of whom were integral (well, most, anyway) in the escape. We watch some fan favourites die as William Fichtner’s Alex Mahone battles internal demons and Scofield’s cunning. This season does lag in parts, but it is certainly entertaining nevertheless. Come the season end, we lose five key players, leaving some big boots to fill.

Unfortunately, season three fails. The infamous Writer’s Guild Strike resulted in only 13 episodes being produced and you can tell the affect this had upon the rather rushed story. Four new characters are introduced and only one of them is memorable.

Yes, you guessed it. Jodi Lyn O’Keefe plays Gretchen Morgan with relish and she completely steals every scene she stars in. She’ll become one of your favourites instantly. Other than her, the others aren’t as worthy. Lechero doesn’t stick around long enough to make much of an impact, Sofia is simply wet, and Chris Vance’s James Whistler is hyped up as someone of vast importance but the show fails to follow up on this.

The entirety of season three revolves around James Whistler, but he’s murdered rather quickly in season four, which renders the entirety of season three rather pointless. Another casualty of season three is Captain Brad Bellick, a character that was amazing in season one but suffered afterwards. The showrunners simply had no idea what direction to take him in, and as such he should have been retired after the show left Fox River. Additionally, the female lead Sara Tancredi was brutally hacked to pieces, as Sarah Wayne Callies’ real life pregnancy resulted in an inability to keep her in the show. Her death, however, helped motivate Lincoln and Michael throughout the entirety of season three, so it was worthwhile really. Wasn’t it?

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Falling ratings brought us to the final season and Prison Break went out on a high – mostly. It turns out Sara didn’t die after all. Her death is retconned and swept under the carpet in one of the show’s most zany moments. The first half of the series follows the hunt of Scylla (I’ve seen this show a few times and I still don’t understand what Scylla is, so there’s no way I can explain it here) whereas the latter half reveals Michael and Lincoln’s mother is alive and that Michael and Lincoln aren’t actually brothers at all. In other words – Prison Break has been COMPLETELY POINTLESS ALL ALONG. But it doesn’t matter by this point, as we have become far too invested in the characters.

The series finale, ‘Killing Your Number’, ends in a beautiful epilogue showing where all of the main characters ended up four years after the events of the show. Fittingly, the show’s trademark origami swan acts as the swansong for the show, as it is placed tenderly upon Michael’s grave.

Two months later saw the release of Prison Break: The Final Break, a television movie which helped wrap things up. To be honest it wasn’t completely necessary, but it did fill in the blanks surrounding Michael’s death, and it made his death more heartfelt because of it. And it was nice to revisit the characters anyway to see them all (apart from T-Bag) have a happy ending.

Prison Break, like a lot of shows, was a bit uneven, but for the most part it was great. Seasons 1-2 and 4 were brilliant. It deserves a watch – even if it’s just for the amazing first season.

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