Wednesday, March 28, 2007

“Que paso, Scofield” – Prison Break

So, at a time when Prison Break should be doing what it does best, it instead disappoints on almost every level. ‘Fin Del Camino’ (Spanish for 'End of the Road') wasn’t an awful episode, but considering it was the penultimate offering and dealt with the (final?) fate of Theodore ‘T-Bag’ Bagwell, it felt disappointingly inconsequential. Its premise – all of the main characters (apart from Sarah and Kellerman) converging in Panama, all with bloody intentions – was full of promise, but the episode was even duller than last week’s ‘Panama’ (an episode that existed mainly as a lead-in to this one).

First off, T-Bag’s scenes were a major disappointment. The writers have done nothing with the character all season – beyond having him spout various rape euphemisms and lick his lips a lot – although lets face it, this character was never going to work outside of a prison setting anyway. Lately he’s spent most of his time lugging around Westmoreland’s millions while evading various pursuers, although he did find time to make use of that $50 million by buying himself a quite fetching straw hat. This week he ran away from people a bit more before finally facing off with Michael, who displayed a rather random aptitude for close-combat and brought T-Bag down in a matter of seconds. Personally I was expecting a particularly gruesome death for T-Bag – the only possible satisfying conclusion for his character, in my opinion. But apparently the writers disagreed, so instead Michael administered his own personal brand of justice by driving a knife through T-Bag’s left wrist, most likely leaving him handless. Kind of clever, I guess, but also an extreme let-down. One can’t help wondering, ‘That’s the best idea you could come up with? Really?

The same thought came to mind during Mahone’s scenes. The show has often tried to soften previously villainous characters and make them more sympathetic to the audience, with varying degrees of success. It worked with C-Note, mostly because he was so likeable and charismatic (a lot of credit for this should go to Rockmond Dunbar, who always maintained his character’s credibility). In the case of Mahone, however, I ain’t buying it. His relationship with his wife (Callie Thorne, sleepwalking through a tiny role) feels vague and underdeveloped, while his apparent remorse at his crimes comes and goes at random intervals. If the writers need Mahone as a straight villain, that’s all he is; when they’re in an especially ‘deep’ mood, they revert him to a tragic soul who only commits horrible acts of necessity. There’s no continuity to it at all, despite the best efforts of William Fitchner, who deserves better material than this.

The redemption of Paul Kellerman, on the other hand, has been more successful. I’m not sure why – his sudden remorse at all his crimes has basically come out of nowhere, and even after it was introduced he’s still killed a fair few innocent bystanders. Yet this plot is, for me, by far the most arresting at the moment. I can only put it down to Paul Adelstein’s fantastic performance. His delivery, his physical mannerisms, everything about him in season two has impressed me to no end. This week his suicide attempt was foiled by his gun jamming, leading to a confessionary scene with his amusingly decent sister where he lamented all his sinister deeds. Finally he stepped forward to testify at Sarah’s trial (just as she was about to be handed down a twelve year sentence). Personally I liked all of it – though it did benefit from the dullness of the other storylines.

Last week I made a point of stressing this season’s atrociousness because I felt it needed to be said before I was distracted by what I assumed would be two lively final episodes. It appears I was worrying prematurely – but I sincerely hope that I did have some cause for my expectations. Still, few of the strands set up for next week’s finale (‘Sona’) seem especially exciting. At this point, maybe I’m just hoping against hope.

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