Prison Break Season 5: The original binge-watch show is back, but the magic is waning
Remember the days before Netflix made binge-watching a way of life? In 2005, you had to actually wait days for each new episode of a TV show, sometimes even weeks if not months. It was a happier, simpler time.
Then Prison Break dropped. And with it, our jaws. It was, arguably, the first binge watch show in history. Ironically, online streaming was not even a gleam in Netflix's eye at the time. They were still in the DVD rental business.
I can still remember the sheer audacity of its premise. Michael Scofield, a structural engineer, gets himself sent to prison. His brother happens to be in the same jail, languishing on death row, convicted (perhaps, wrongly) for the murder of the brother of the vice-president of the United States.
Michael is a genius. He's also convinced of his brother's innocence. He isn't going to let him die for a crime he didn't commit. So he comes up with a plan: Breaking his brother out. And carrying the prison's blueprints by literally tattooing them on his body. It was bananas. It was perhaps, the most entertaining first season of any TV show in history.
That momentum carried to Season 2, which dealt with the aftermath of the escape. It was very, very good, although it fell short of the original season. The less said about seasons 3 and 4, however, the better. The writers couldn't handle their runaway train, which veered off tracks. The show finally ended, not with a bang, but the worst of all whimpers: A made for TV movie. Oh, the humanity!
It makes sense to revive Prison Break now. We are living, after all, in the age of sequels and prequels. Studios know that, above all, what the audience is looking for is the familiar. Why go through the rigmarole of creating new, intriguing characters when you can have the never ending adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow or any number of X-Men.
The plot for Season 5 then: Seven years after Michael sacrifices himself for his family to ensure their escape, Thedore 'T-Bag' Bagwell is released from prison. He receives a mysterious letter containing a picture of Michael Scofield, alive and well. Naturally, he approaches Michael's big brother Lincoln, who begins to investigate. A quick couple of assassination attempts later, Lincoln follows the clues Michael has left from "beyond the grave" to a prison in Yemen. It gets worse: A civil war is brewing. The city is under siege by Islamic State fighters and Michael is accused of being a terrorist himself, in league with the Islamic State.
As for the first two episodes, there's good news and bad.
First the good: It's delightful to see the gang back together, effortlessly slipping into the characters we've all come to know and love.
Wentworth Miller, whose career was on a fast track to nowhere before it received a much-needed boost in CW's The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, seems to be having the time of his life. Perhaps, like Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers or David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Miller will, for good or bad, always be associated with the role of Michael Scofield.
Ditto Robert Knepper as Theodore 'T-Bag' Bagwell, everyone's favourite bisexual racist, pedophile, rapist (can't believe I'm typing those words). Quite how Knepper made, and still continues to make, viewers care about such a despicable character while showing glimpses of his humanity and hurt is a mystery. You can't take your eyes off the screen as Knepper slithers around, chewing the scenery and advancing the plot.
Dominic Purcell as Lincoln Burrows and Sarah Wayne Callies as Sara Tancredi, may not be the greatest of actors, but they provide able support to their brethren.
Also returning: German-Iranian composer Ramin Djawadi, infusing a hint of the exotic in the iconic Prison Break theme.
Now, the bad news: You can see the plot twists coming a mile away, never a good thing in a show that relies so heavily on plot twists. In its debut season, the writers had the privilege of time. There were tons of deft touches and clever set-ups. Sadly, Season 5 is a limited run with only nine episodes, so time is a luxury they don't have. They can't plant seeds and wait for them to grow, so everything feels rushed.
As we received screeners for only the first two episodes, it would be unfair to make pass judgement just yet. But already, some of that magic is waning.
Prison Break Season 5 airs from 8 April, 2017 onwards every Saturday at 9 PM only on Star World and Star World HD.
Watch the trailer for Prison Break Season 5 here: