Saturday, May 16, 2009

"Prison Break" series finale recap: "Rate of Exchange/Killing Your Number"

The Fox action drama "Prison Break" came to a close last night after four seasons and, I must say, the ending was a fitting one for this often-overlooked series.
Unlike other recently concluded shows, such as "The Shield," "The Wire," or "ER," "Prison Break" has never been called iconic or groundbreaking. In fact, most critics eschew the series as fast-paced, brain-dead trash. Point well-taken.
But I've always had a soft spot for the show, and not just because of the stunning good looks of series star Wentworth Miller. "Prison Break," which focused on a gang of lovable criminals on the run from both the law and a nefarious agency called "The Company," was just plain entertaining.
With its crazy plots, pulpy dialogue, and ridiculously macho characters the show was often hilarious. Unintentionally, perhaps, but entertainment is entertainment. Besides, I can't believe the series' creators didn't have their tongues just a little in cheek. I mean, come on -- the show had a character named T-Bag! Clearly, no show with a character named T-Bag is meant to be taken with complete seriousness.
However, the show also had moments of genuine quality, mainly centering around the character of disgraced ex-FBI agent Alex Mahone (William Fichtner). Fichtner was by far the best actor on the show, and is one of the best character actors around, able to convey the huge reserves of pain under Mahone's often-stoic exterior. Miller also brought a lot of grace to the character of the highly intelligent and overly empathetic Michael Scofield, the ultimate crook with a heart of gold. And a lot of the action sequences on the show were well-shot, quick-moving and thrilling (in many ways, I think it's actually a better action series than "24," but I might be alone in that).
Anyway, the show came to a poignant, and appropriate, end last night. Escaped con Michael Scofield and his friends finally were exonerated, and escaped the grasp of The Company (and of Michael's evil ex-Company agent mom, Christina). It looked like everyone (with the exception of my beloved T-Bag) would get to stop running and live a life of freedom. Even T-Bag, who went back to prison, got a sort of happy ending, finally finding the respectability that had escaped him in the outside world.
It also looked like Michael and his lady love Sarah would finally get to settle down and be parents to their unborn child. But, just as they're gushing over that fact, Michael's nose bleeds. Yes, in spite of the surgery he had earlier this season to fix his rare brain ailment, Michael was still sick. Yet he and Sarah decide not to focus on that. They embrace (though Sarah is noticeably upset) and vow to start their new life together. We skip ahead four years and see T-Bag in prison, the General on death row and our beloved ex-cons off to some mysterious engagement. Turns out they're -- gasp! -- visiting Michael's grave.
Sigh. Poor Michael. He died not long after freeing his brother, lover and friends (I'm hoping he at least got to see his son, also named Michael, before he died). It was sad, but it made sense. Michael was so concerned about others, it's no shock that he would drive himself to an early grave. After all, the whole show started with Michael purposely getting arrested so he could break his lunkhead brother Lincoln out of jail.
But it was sad nonetheless, and it's a testament to the show that I actually cried a little when I saw Michael's headstone. I hadn't realized that I'd gotten that attached to him.
Anyway, here are some more of my thought on the two-hour series finale of "Prison Break," titled "Rate of Exchange/Killing Your Number."
* Though he said good-bye to his buddies in the middle of the season, I was pretty sure we'd see Fernando Sucre again before the show ended. However, though I dreamed we might get to see C-Note again, I didn't think it would actually happen. But it did! I almost squealed when it was revealed that the big C was the mysterious person following Sucre through the streets of Chicago.
All right. I did squeal. Loudly. I'm only human!
* Refresh my memory -- was C-Note always such a badass? I remember him being tough in the first two seasons, but not necessarily kill-happy. Yet here he was, dispatching company men left and right. Maybe he was always that way, but I remember him being a bit more sensitive. After all, the whole reason he went into witness protection was to help his sick little girl. It's hard to believe he all of a sudden became a cold-blooded killer. Oh well. I guess someone had to be the heavy, and with T-Bag working for the general and Lincoln bleeding to death, C-Note was the toughest of the remaining Prison Break-ers.
* So, not only did we get to see C-Note and Sucre again, but Kellerman popped up. Woo-hoo! I loved Kellerman, and the show hasn't been the same since he was killed off. Wait. That's right. He was killed. did he come back to life? Michael does ask that, but doesn't get much of an explanation. Oh well. I loved that he came back, and that he was the one to give the gang their walking papers. After all, he was turning on The Company right before he "died."
* Though C-Note, Kellerman and Sucre all returned, there was no sign of Gretchen. Not that I'm complaining, really. I was never a big fan of Jodi Lynn O'Keefe's character. But I was pretty sure we never saw her die after she got shot in that parking lot. It would have been nice to have some closure on that story.
* Aside from the return of some beloved characters, there were few other nice callbacks to the show's early seasons. For instance, T-Bag asks a captive Sarah to take his pocket, just as he did with the boys he dominated at Fox River (and just as he would do again upon his return to prison). Also, it was nice touch that the widow of Kellerman's old partner -- the one Kellerman killed -- showed up to spit on him at the end. Nice reminder that, though Kellerman has changed, he still did some pretty terrible things once upon a time, including trying to kill Sarah.
* Quick note to Christina: when starting a day that you know could possibly end in bloodshed and explosions, maybe a white suit isn't the best wardrobe choice.
*Glad that Mahone hooked up with his ex-partner, Lainie. She always had his back and my Mahone deserves to be taken care of.
* So, are Michael and Lincoln really brothers or was Christina telling the truth about Linc's adoption? I think it's the latter, but Michael doesn't seem to care. He's devoted to his brother no matter what, which gave a nice weight to this sometimes silly show.
* Loved Sucre asking Kellerman if he could keep the pen after signing his exoneration deal.
* Also loved that our first glimpse of Michael Jr. is of him getting a fake tattoo. Like father, like son.


Anonymous said...

C-Note was from the military. Killing people is nothing to him.

TV Writer said...

Ah, that's right. It's been so long that I forgot about that.