Prison Break recap: 'The Prisoner's Dilemma'
An original character says goodbye... again
Prison Break: The Event Series
Tom Brady. Meryl Streep. Michael Scofield.
What do these people all have in common? They’re the greatest at what they do. Need a game-winning drive in the Super Bowl? Brady to the rescue. Need an amazing performance that will guarantee an Oscar nomination? Streep’s in the building. Need to break out a framed brother with a conveniently different last name or an Osama bin Laden-type terrorist? There’s only one man you’re gonna call.
We’ve seen Michael defy the odds not once, not twice, but three times now. And that doesn’t even include the alluded-to breakouts he staged in between seasons 4 and 5. The man is uncontainable. That being said, we would be remiss not to note that this escape wasn’t his finest work. Let’s recap: He failed his initial attempt, resulting in being put in solitary for four years. Then, when he finally got his second chance, he left a man behind and got caught on the roof. The third time may have been the charm at Ogygia, but really it only worked because the city and country were falling apart around the prison. So in summary, while the end result was a success, it was a bumpy ride. I’d compare it to Peyton Manning’s recent Super Bowl win. An all-time legend didn’t deliver his best performance throughout, but he came up big when it mattered.
Even if it wasn’t flawless, the expedited escape delivered the best episode of this reincarnation of Prison Break. The non-stop action and tension made up for the nonsense of Lincoln running around in circles and laughably bad special effects. With the prison now in the rearview mirror, the series shifts into a structure more similar to the underrated season 2, paving the way for Yemen Break.
The long day featured in “The Prisoner’s Dilemma” begins with Sheba awakening at the hospital. Sitting by her bedside, Lincoln shows signs of concern. “I didn’t know you worried,” she says, to which he replies, “About the right things.” As the great philosopher Nelly would say, “It’s getting hot in here.” Being the worst wingman ever, C-Note pulls Lincoln aside and says they need to start thinking about an exit strategy, especially considering the airport could soon be closed off. “I’m not leaving Michael,” Lincoln declares. Like I’ve said, he’s basically all in at this point. Lincoln tells C-Note to leave and take Sheba’s family with him. But Sheba’s dad isn’t quite ready to flee yet. Very thankful to Lincoln for saving his daughter, he has struck a deal with a childhood friend, who is now a judge. Papa Sheba trades his car for papers granting Michael a full pardon. I’m thinking that was a little too easy. I mean, it’s a cool car and all, but still.
Whether it’s legit or not, the news of Michael’s impending release comes in the nick of time. Explosions are destroying the city and sending Whip into complete panic mode. It’s all good, though. Michael “I’ve always got a plan” Scofield has got a plan. He left something in his old solitary cell and orders Whip and Ja to look for an S carved on their wall. Nothing. Uh oh — an evil laugh coming from Ramal’s cell can only mean one thing: He’s got the S. And he’s not inclined to help his fellow inmates out due to the whole “left him behind on their last escape attempt” thing. “I will miss you when you’re dead… but only for a minute,” he says to Michael. Cold blooded, but understandable.
Back in the U.S., two of Prison Break‘s greatest villains are headed for a showdown. T-Bag is hot on the trail of Kellerman, the man he believes to be Poseidon. Breaking into Kellerman’s house and holding him at gunpoint, T-Bag has two big gripes: the popularity of kale and why all of his Fox River comrades were exonerated except him. He does have a quick change of heart on one of those, telling Kellerman he wants answers and a kale shake, which he promptly spits up. Kellerman insists he’s trying to help Sara, and he gets a good laugh out of the theory that he’s Poseidon. “He’s one of those myths you hear about in the system,” he says. “He’s an operative so untouchable, so deep you couldn’t find him with a nuclear sub. Hence the nickname.” I’m gonna be honest: kind of a badass name.
Just as Lincoln and Papa Sheba arrive at the prison, the guards begin fleeing. It dawns on Papa Sheba that the pardon was only given because it’s useless. “I’m going to get my brother,” exclaims Lincoln, running into the prison. More like Prison Break-in, am I right? Right as Lincoln enters the prison, he learns that he needs to get the keys from Mustapha, the not-so-nice guard he just bumped into on the way in. Lincoln follows Mustapha through the dangerous streets until the guard is confronted by ISIL soldiers and shot dead. Not above risking the lives of children, Lincoln uses the conveniently present Tic Tac kid to distract the soldiers and grab the keys off Mustapha’s body. The kid’s reward for such a brave mission? More Tic Tacs and money, which Lincoln continues to hand out like candy.
With the guards having abandoned ship, a new leader has emerged in Ogygia. Cross is a pretty bad dude, but he sure knows how to rile up the troops. He convinces his fellow prisoners that their best chance at survival is to get to Ramal and hold him for ransom. Despite overhearing this, Ramal is still rebuffing Michael’s pleas to help, telling him to go to hell. “We are in hell, Ramal,” insists Michael. “The question is: Do you want out?” Ramal is back in! Quite the ragtag bunch Michael’s putting together. The terrorist immediately gets to work with his three tools: a spoon, string, and water pipe. This is a two-man job, hence Michael’s long stay in solitary; Cross had refused to participate. The former army man is continuing to be a thorn in Michael’s side, killing the remaining guard and taking his gun.
Ramal may have agreed to be on the team, but he’s not being much of a team player. Ignoring Michael’s orders, the bad guy is instead trying to free himself first. While he eventually relents, it could be too late, as Cross and company continue to try to smash or shoot their way in. The suspense continues to build with Ramal getting the hinges off and freeing Michael, who then lets Ja and Whip out. “We work together or we both die,” he tells Ramal, demanding the terrorist provide safe passage out of the country in exchange for being let out of his cell. “You have my word,” proclaims Ramal. That’s good enough for Michael. The four inmates begin their journey through the prison with Cross in hot pursuit.
We take a break from the prison break to check in on the adventures of T-Bag and Kellerman. I’d watch that spin-off. Things pick up right where we left them: Kellerman is still talking about how scary Poseidon is. Basically, he’s the GOAT of rogue CIA spies. Considering Poseidon’s pursuit of his own ideology, Kellerman assumes he wants Ramal free to fight Iran and Russia. “Compared to them, me and you are a couple angels,” the G-man says to T-Bag. “Maybe your fate is to be a patriot.” Could be; that was practically the plot of The Fate of the Furious. Then, BOOM! Kellerman is shot through the window. It’s A&W and Van Gogh, who were recently spotted talking to Kellerman’s coworker. As he hides in the basement, T-Bag does the one thing we’d never expect him to do — call 911 for help.
Cross is still tracking Michael and crew when they run across Sid. Fearing they’ve been cornered, they decide to hide. Michael is ready to possibly sacrifice himself for the team, asking Whip to find MJ and tell him his father loves him. Sid beats him to the punch, grabbing a nearby knife and stabbing Cross. That’s the last obstacle for the Ogygia Five. They’re next seen climbing out of the prison just as Lincoln makes it back in. Dang, this guy is really getting his cardio workout today.
“I was you once, killing for a lie,” a bleeding-out Kellerman says as Van Gogh stands over him. “It’s human nature to find stuff out, so you will or she will. And then, a lie has to kill a truth. Which one of you is going to die next?” The immediate answer is Kellerman. Van Gogh puts a final bullet in him, officially ending the run of a Prison Break original. R.I.P. Kellerman, the bad guy we loved to hate and also kind of actually liked. Approaching sirens force A&W and Van Gogh to flee the premises, not knowing T-Bag is now following them. The duo soon stop for a meeting with a mysterious someone, whom neither we nor T-Bag can see. He gets out of his car to get a closer look and… it’s Jacob! “Behold the villain,” quips T-Bag. I knew my hate for Jacob would pay off.
Finally on the outside, Michael and the boys are headed for the auto shop. One small problem — Ja is missing. They find him casually eating some fruit, unbothered by the explosions around him and the fact that they just broke out of prison. Michael throws the junkie hacker to the ground, declaring Ja’s out of the group. But it’s all for show, as he slides Ja a note with instructions. He books it and makes it to the auto shop first, finding guns underneath a work bench. Unfortunately, Ramal’s men aren’t far behind.
Soon, Michael and his cellmates are all trapped and forced to their knees. With Ramal holding a knife to Michael’s throat, things aren’t looking great… until Lincoln comes out of nowhere and takes control of the machine gun on one of the terrorist group’s cars. “Step away from my brother,” he yells. Everyone puts their guns down, but Ramal hasn’t dropped the knife. It’s a classic Prison Break Yemen stand-off. Whip has officially lost it, jumping in the middle and sharing the story of the crime he was arrested for. Once again seeing red, he grabs the knife and stabs Ramal. This prompts Lincoln to shoot all of the bad guys. For a low-level Chicago con, dude looks right at home behind a massive war weapon.
The guys duck into a building, and Whip is rightfully curious who this new fella is. “He’s my brother,” cries Michael as he and Lincoln embrace. Michael insists he will explain everything later (let’s hope so). But the good times don’t last long. Footage of them killing Ramal is being broadcast on the news. “The entire army of ISIL just declared war on us,” announces Sid. I don’t know; Country Break doesn’t have the same ring to it.
What did you think? How did this escape stack up against the others? Are you glad to finally see Michael and Lincoln reunited?
Read EW’s interview with the episode’s big victim, Kellerman himself, Paul Adelstein.
Prison Break: The Event Series