Well, that might be the end of Prison Break. We rightfully thought that same thing eight years ago, considering you know, the main character died and all. But yet, here we are. And if this was the last we’ve seen of Michael, Lincoln, Sara, Sucre, T-Bag, and C-Note, then they went out on a high note, at least compared to season 5’s earlier episodes.
When a revival doesn’t live up to expectations, many wonder if it was worth doing or if the show’s legacy has been damaged. I would say, “Who cares?” Yes, this fifth season didn’t come close to the epic first season or exhilarating second season, but I would contest it was at least better than the dreadful third season in Sona and probably on par with the Ocean’s Eleven-style reboot of season 4. Whether you view this new installment as a disappointment or a competent follow-up, it doesn’t take away from the previous iteration.
Did I love this Prison Break? No. Am I glad it exists? Hell yeah. As a fan of the original, why wouldn’t I want to hear Sucre call Michael “Papi” again or see the brothers back together or continue to be conflicted over loving the detestable T-Bag? This isn’t an all-time Mount Rushmore series like Lost or The Sopranos. It’s Prison Break. So if they want to make a nonsensical limited series every few years, then count me in. Just two conditions: Come up with better villain names (see A&W, Van Gogh, Cyclops) and more Sucre.
Last week’s penultimate episode ended with the cliffhanger of who got shot in the house, plus the question of Lincoln’s status. “Behind the Eyes” picks up six minutes prior to that bloody conclusion. We already knew that A&W, Michael, and MJ were in the house, but here, things shift downstairs to reveal Sara tied up across from her “psychopath” husband. Jacob is trying to rationalize his actions, and he admits that the sole purpose of sending Michael to Yemen was to set up his romantic rival to die. “You’re too busy trying to be the smartest man in the room,” says Sara. “And then you met my husband and you realized he’s smarter than you.” Shots fired! Then, Van Gogh joins the party, making things even more awkward. Not even knowing about Van Gogh’s recent discovery of his conscience, Sara begins trying to get the assassin on her side by telling him it was Jacob who killed the former CIA director. This prompts Jacob to slap Sarah. I mean, as if we didn’t already hate this guy enough, am I right? Van Gogh looks shaken. Jacob leaves when he sees Michael pull up, initiating the plan to burn the house down with Michael and Sara inside it.
We then catch up to where we left off in “Progeny.” As Michael is reunited with his son, A&W emerges, but now, we see Van Gogh interrupt. He’s trying to convince her that they need to be sure they have the right guy. “We get this done the right way,” he contends. “Emily, is it really even a choice?” His pleas for them to disappear together fall on deaf ears. “No… because there’s no leaving 21 Void,” she declares as she shoots her partner. Michael and MJ use this diversion to make a run for the garage, where Michael tries to hold the door shut and sends his son to go find safety with Lincoln. A&W bursts through the door and is ready to kill Michael, but Sara has broken free and knocks her out. Unfortunately, it isn’t all good news since MJ never made it to Uncle Lincoln. Instead, he’s scooped up by Jacob, which causes Sara to rightfully freak out. Moments later, Sara and Michael find a bloody Lincoln, which causes us to rightfully freak out.
As he’s being carted into surgery at a local hospital, Lincoln apologizes to his brother, “I let you down, Michael.” Little brother doesn’t want to hear it, replying, “You didn’t let me down. You got me home.” Lincoln has been stabilized, so Sara and Michael split to avoid the authorities and to hopefully get their son back.
Speaking of sons, new acquaintances Whip and T-Bag are having a nice father/son bonding trip. Things are predictably a little weird. Whip wants some fatherly advice on “dealing with a father that’s… you.” Well, it might not be fatherly advice, but T-Bag does correct his son’s mispronunciation of progeny. The teaching has already begun! Next thing we know, it will be time for lessons on how to get someone to hold your pocket. The boys are headed to meet with Michael and give him his creepy jar of blood, which is surely part of the plan he tells Sara has long been in motion.
When Whip and T-Bag join up with Sara and Michael, we finally get the answer to the reasonable question of why Michael reached out to T-Bag of all people. He did so because Poseidon wouldn’t be monitoring his communication with people he despised. “Give it to me straight, how you really feel about me?” cracks T-Bag, causing Whip to smirk. Awww, he loves his new daddy. Michael asserts normal lives are within reach for all of them, but Poseidon stands in the way of that. “Someone has to make him let go,” Michael tells T-Bag. “Do you understand?” Oh, we all understand, and we sign off on it.
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If Trey Songz is “Mr. Steal Your Girl,” then Jacob is officially “Mr. Steal Your Son.” After telling his stepson that Sara is dead, he begins working his sleazy game on the kid. “Why are they trying to hurt me?” cries MJ, to which Jacob responds, “It’s because I love you.” Excuse me while I throw up. Jacob reveals his secret spy career to the boy, even showing him the not-so-secret lair. He convinces MJ that the man claiming to be his father is a phony by the name of Kaniel Outis.
And with perfect timing, Michael calls and sounds pissed. “He’s not your son and he never was,” declares Michael. Jacob smartly put the call on speaker phone, meaning MJ hears this and defends his evil stepdad: “Stay away from my dad, you hear?” Oh, he heard, you confused son of a genius! Jacob sure liked that response. But T-Bag wasn’t a big fan. “A man like that… you’re right — he deserves to die,” proclaims the one-armed convict. Whip, who has grown quite attached to his dad of one day, doesn’t like the idea. “I want you free and clear,” argues T-Bag. “And if that’s the only way to do it, I’ve got to be the one who does it. Scofield ain’t gonna do it, he don’t got the killing gene.” Not a bad gene to miss out on. With that settled, everyone splits up to handle their own tasks: Sara is going to check on Lincoln; Whip and T-Bag will collect a “wildcard”; and Michael is headed to “where this all started.”
Theroux is currently pulling double duty, trying to decode Michael’s new tats and tracking his phone. Job No. 2 leads Jacob and A&W to the zoo, where in flashbacks we saw Michael secretly watching Sara and MJ. Theroux then gets to the bottom of job No. 1, telling Jacob that the quote from the tattoos is “Never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake.” Right at that moment, a scary and creepy owl turns and looks Jacob dead in the eyes. Quick flashback to Michael telling Jacob, “It’s what’s behind the eyes that counts.” Back in the present, Michael walks up to the facial scan at Jacob’s not-so-secret office and puts his hands in front of his face, revealing the tattoos on the front of his hands make out Jacob’s face! Best tattoo use yet. Once in the room, Michael calls Jacob to tell him he’s got the incriminating hard drives. They agree to meet tomorrow for an exchange.
When Sara arrives at the hospital to see Lincoln, she discovers that he checked himself out against doctor’s orders. But it isn’t a lost trip, since she overhears that Van Gogh is upstairs on life support. She goes to talk to him, and he’s in pretty bad shape. She hands him a pen and paper to tell her where MJ is, but, instead, he writes, “Let me die.” She continues to beg for help, and while we don’t see what he jots down, it appears that he does share MJ’s location. While Sara doesn’t pull the plug like Van Gogh clearly wants, she does show him some compassion before leaving. Probably R.I.P., Van Gogh. You may have had a corny name and killed Kellerman, but you grew on me a bit.
We finally catch up with Lincoln. Where was he in such a rush to go? Find Michael? See Sheba? Maybe see if LJ is still alive somewhere? Nope; he heads back to Luca’s warehouse. He sneaks up on the drug dealer, trying to persuade the young Abruzzi to agree that they’re even. Upon Luca’s refusal, the real police show up and take him away. Lincoln manages to sneak away. Not sure why it was necessary for him to be there, considering he obviously called the cops ahead of time, but let’s not nitpick on the little things.
The bonding continues for Whip and T-Bag as they discuss the Bible and killing. You know, classic father/son stuff. “Sometimes certain sons of bitches, they just need to be plain ol’ eradicated,” preaches T-Bag. “But for the most part, killing is just bad.” T-Bag’s Life Lessons: coming soon to bookshelves near you. His poetic knowledge continues: “I just don’t want you to get the wrong idea about me. Murder the dark so the light can be born.” Whip cracks that papa is a little crazy, to which T-Bag responds, “Now you know where you got it from.” Man, this guy is on fire today. Their orders from Michael have led them to Blue Hawaii. The mysterious Elvis impersonator is just hanging out in a hotel room and passing the time by making a very complex model of the Dallas plaza where John F. Kennedy was killed. You know, classic Elvis stuff.
Before everything goes down, the teams meets up one last time. Michael thanks Whip with a nice bear hug, prompting the protégé to reply, “It’s me that should be thanking you. You gave me a family.” And right on cue, in walks Lincoln. It’s go time! The action shifts to the University of Ithaca, where Theroux is looking after MJ. Jacob must be pretty desperate if this guy is now his No. 2. Sara is sneaking around campus when Theroux surprises her and pulls a gun, but Lincoln saves the day by knocking him out from behind. They grab MJ and get out of there.
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Meanwhile, Jacob and Michael have finally come face to face. In a warehouse, they are talking in circles about game theory and other nerdy stuff. Just say what you mean! Michael pulls a gun, which leads to a long line of other people coming out of the shadows with guns, including A&W and Whip. A&W takes the standoff to the next level when she shoots Whip in the hand, prompting T-Bag to also emerge. Whip’s patented and genetic psycho temper begins to come out, even as Michael and T-Bag try to talk him down. “Some sons of bitches just got to go, and we’re the only ones who can do it,” he screams. “Ain’t that right, pop?” He rushes A&W, and as the two struggle, she gets a shot off, sending Whip to the ground. As T-Bag holds his boy, Jacob makes Michael take him to the hard drives.
With the FBI, whom Jacob called with an anonymous tip about Kaniel Outis, approaching, A&W is distracted, giving T-Bag an opening to grab the assassin and snap her neck. T-Bag goes back to his dying son. “I’m glad I got to see your face,” Whip utters with his last breath. T-Bag smiles and whispers, “Go easy, son.” Whip dies and T-Bag is arrested, again. I know he’s done a lot of bad stuff, but, man, this guy can’t catch a break.
A&W isn’t the only one distracted by the FBI; Jacob is also thrown off, giving Michael an opportunity to run away. I’ve seen a lot of weird runners (see Phoebe on Friends), but this is a first, as Michael changes jackets as he runs. Priorities, bro. Jacob catches up enough to shoot Michael in the back. I’m not going to say it was because of the jacket change, but surely it didn’t help. Oh snap, hold on… it’s a recreation of the CIA director’s murder, complete with fake snow and the outside of the same cabin. Blue Hawaii to the rescue! And in even better news, Michael gets up, as Jacob learns (and we do) that the gun was loaded with blanks. “You’re better than I thought,” says Jacob.
They’re standing in a truck, which Blue Hawaii is about to drive away, but before he can, Jacob throws himself and Michael back inside the warehouse. The duo engage in an impressive fight, especially for two brainiacs. Mike is working Jacob over bad, punching him in the face nonstop. “This is for the last seven years,” he declares. The FBI quickly ends the party, though, and Michael is loaded into a police car. A cocky Jacob believes he’s gotten away unscathed, until he’s placed under arrest for the murder he had framed Michael for. It’s revealed that when he was in Jacob’s office, Michael planted the blood from the jar. Mr. Always Has a Plan strikes again!
After being cleared of killing the former FBI director, Michael meets the man’s successor, who is a tad curious if Michael might be manipulating him. Luckily, Theroux cracked and confessed to everything. “It means you’re free to go, Mr. Scofield,” says the G-Man. “You don’t know how long I’ve waited to hear someone call me that,” admits Michael. Before leaving, he’s offered a job that he smarty declines, but Michael does have one favor to ask.
It’s finally time to kick back and relax. At the park, Sarah, MJ, and Sheba are hanging out as Michael and Lincoln sit and watch. “It’s strange… being alive again,” shares Michael. “Not running.” If Michael hadn’t already been a good enough brother (see Prison Break season 1), he’s now playing wingman, and he got Sheba there for Lincoln. As Lincoln goes to join the others, the brothers share an “I love you.” No, you’re the one crying!
While that would have been a great ending, it’s only fitting that we return to the place where this season — and the entire series — began: Fox River. Surely at Michael’s request, Jacob is the newest inmate at the prison. He’s smiling, telling a guard that he’s not planning on staying long. After sitting down on his bed, his new cellmate jumps down to introduce himself. AND IT’S T-BAG!!!!! Jacob isn’t smiling anymore! He’s actually screaming as T-Bag grabs him and the fellow prisoners get riled up.
What did you think? Did you enjoy this round of Prison Break? Do you hope to see more?
For more on the finale, read EW’s postmortem with creator Paul Scheuring.