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All good things...
on 16 May 2009
Prison break enters its fourth and final year having trouble finding it's footing, but brings it back with a strong conclusion.
The story picks up with Michael is in pursuit of Gretchen and Whistler, following there break out of Sona, eager to get his hands on the whistler's book and payback for Sara's 'death'. However bigger problems loom overhead, as the company come gunning for anyone sticking there noses into their business. Reluctantly Michael and Lincoln along with Sucre, Bellick, Mahone, Sara, and Ronny (a new and incredibly annoying addition)join an off the books Homeland security operation, headed up by agent Self, and aim to bring down the company by getting their hands on Scylla. However things rapidly spiral out of control as Michael's becomes ill, forcing Lincoln to make some tough decisions as the race to find Scylla comes to a head in Miami. The players make one last desperate scramble to get themselves out of the mess they find themselves in.
The first half of season four revolves around the team getting their hands on the key cards and Scylla itself. It just doesn't quite gel, while its a natural progression for the show, its so far removed from its core concept it feels somewhat misplaced; coming across a a mix between and Oceans 11, the A-team and Mission Impossible at times. Another recurring problem is, a lot of the time, the stories feel somewhat strained, every episode something goes wrong with the plan and as such they have to work around it and at times it just feels like padding slowing down the main story.
The writing itself doesn't seem quite as good as it has been. For example remember season three where the company makes all the effort to get Michael into Sona because he's the only man who can break out? Well in the first episode, over the radio, we hear the prisoners started a riot and all escaped. Its incredibly lazy and Sona is just brushed under the carpet so Sucre, Bellick and T bag can interact with the other cast.
Thankfully the characters remain as interesting as ever (though it does take sometime for T-bag to come into his own again). The rapport between the brothers is strong and while in the other seasons, being on the run or breaking out, this season has it's quieter moments developing the characters a lot more; particularly the relationship between Michael and Sara, Gretchen's past, and Mahone's vengeance sub-plot giving a broader look into the characters as well as introducing new ones.
The final season pulls no punches either. A lot of characters bite the dust, be they introduced this season or being present from day 1. At times its truly shocking and gives that buzz of anything could happen.
Following the mid-season twist the fourth season stalls a bit, the episodes loose their focus and the direction of the story seems all over the place, notably for episodes 13-18, much like how season 2's story began to meander around. Michael's head trip reunion with Westmorland, the hunt for Scylla making no progress and characters simply disappearing.
Regardless the last 4 episodes bring Prison break back for an exciting finish, the story kicks into overdrive as we are treated to a fast paced race to the shows conclusion. The tension returns along with the 'must watch next episode' feeling which had been absent for the majority of this season.
As for the finale itself it's rather good, Prison break goes out on a high as were treated to a cast reunion, including the long overdue return (if rather improbable, but hey it's prison break) of my favourite character as the story reaches it's conclusion, some of the plot devices seem a little eleventh hour but it brings about a satisfying conclusion. The final scene skips ahead four years, with one last trip to Fox River, and ending on a bold and bitter-sweet note.
It's been quite a ride, the show could have easily ended after season 2, and as such the this season lacks the overall quality of the first seasons, it feels a little out of place, some mid season episodes stall the story and its as far removed as possible from its original premise; but regardless it makes a enjoyable and solid conclusion to a good show.