"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Prison Break: Five the Hard Way

After last episode's mediocre and poorly plotted and badly written episode, Prison Break returned to top form with some long anticipated developments. Watching T-Bag and Scofield finally confront each other was well worth the wait. T-Bag's obsession with trying to understand Scofield is part of what makes their scenes so entertaining. He can't fathom that Scofield could really be as selfless as he is, and tries to reduce his motivations down to something he can understand - like going after Scylla for the money. T-Bag's obsession with Scofield is analogous to what a super-villain would feel towards his arch-nemesis.

T-Bag doesn't have it easy in this episode. Between being tortured by Gretchen and then outwitted by Scofield once again, his luck seems to have run out. One thing I've learned over the years, however, is that T-Bag's ability to survive should not be underestimated, and I haven't seen the last of him for sure. I learned more about Scofield's nosebleed, and what it might mean for the character. Does Scofield have a brain tumor? This story thread, while predictable, has been handled very well and it will be interesting to see where the writers go with it.

Another extremely welcome development is the much needed injection of comedy in this episode. The darkly hilarious Sucre "taking one for the team" angle is handled brilliantly, and the final swerve was completely unexpected, and a nice diversion from the heavy-handed serious tone I've been subjected to so far this season.

Roland's a bit of a difficult character to get a handle on. He is annoying, but hard to tell if it's because this is how the character was meant to be, or if it's an actor issue. Getting caught trying to steal from the casino and then losing the one device that makes him useful to the team puts the entire mission at risk. Will he have enough time to create a new device, or will the team have to find a new way to get a hold of the final piece of the Scylla puzzle?

Self's act of self-preservation was well handled, and the scene where he tucked tail and asked Mahone for advice on how to handle Wyatt was fun to watch. Mahone realizing that he would have done exactly what Self did if their situations were reversed was a nice touch.

With so much going on at once, and all of it entertaining, this episode is a fine example of what can be done with this new series format. The dark humor involving Sucre paid off extremely well, and hopefully the writers will find a way to add more of this during the rest of the season. If you're going to take your audience on a mindless rollercoaster ride, taking the time to make them laugh is very welcome bonus. Add a bit of intelligence and character moments to the mix, and it's a recipe for a fantastic episode.

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