Prison Break boss shares alternate ending to heartbreaking finale
Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the Prison Break revival finale. Read at your own risk!
Michael Scofield was finally able to take down Poseidon during the Prison Break finale — but not without some losses.
While it appeared that both Michael (Wentworth Miller) and Lincoln (Dominic Purcell) had perished in the penultimate, the brothers survived with a little ingenuity.
First, we learned that though Jacob (Mark Feuerstein) initially went rogue to help the country by cutting through the red tape, the Yemen mission was purely to get Michael out of the way so Jacob could keep Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies) all to himself. While Sara was able to sway Poseidon henchman Van Gogh against Jacob, A&W shot him in retaliation — that’s who was shot in the penultimate.
Lincoln also survived his wounds, but Jacob took Mike Jr., leaving Sara and Michael on their own to get him back. Fortunately, T-Bag (Robert Knepper) still owed Michael a favor, delivering a jar of blood — what Whip (Augustus Prew) fished out of the lake during the penultimate — and agreeing to kill Jacob.
Michael’s tattoos finally came into play in the finale, forming a replica of Jacob’s face, thus allowing Michael to access Jacob’s facial scanner to get access to his hard drives and make a trade for Mike Jr. Unfortunately, during the standoff, Whip is killed, and T-Bag is subsequently arrested for A&W’s murder.
Sara and Lincoln are then able to save Mike Jr., while Michael is able to re-frame Jacob for the murder of the Deputy CIA director, thus clearing his name and getting Jacob arrested — Michael had planted blood evidence in Jacob’s office. While Michael, Lincoln, and Sara get their happy endings, Jacob meets a grim fate at the hands of T-Bag in Fox River. EW turned to executive producer Paul Scheuring to get scoop on that grim, but hopeful finale.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The main trio make it through the revival mostly unscathed. Did you do that because you wanted to leave open the possibility for more or because you wanted to course-correct how the original ended?
PAUL SCHEURING: Neither. I don’t have any intention of bringing the show back necessarily, but after the end of season 4, Michael was technically dead so we always know that you can bring it back, so we didn’t have to have a happy ending just to bring people back. My feeling was that, in the way that the Odyssey ends with the man who’s gone through hell to be able to be with his family as a reward, I thought that was something never seen on Prison Break. So I wanted everyone to, for a moment, feel like life is normal again, because we’ve never seen that in the show. That makes the audience uncomfortable, which I like and moreover, we actually had a slightly different ending, but it ultimately wasn’t shot exactly how we wanted.
What was that alternate ending?
The idea was Michael comes back and he’s apparently got a normal life, but with that comes a creeping paranoia that things can’t stay good like this. Unfortunately, that’s not on screen, but the idea that he’s always going to be looking over his shoulder. There was a scripted page where they said, “Michael, you can stop looking over your shoulder now, you’re free,” but then he looks over his shoulder and you can see the whole world out there and all the people in the park and everything, and any one of them might be a threat and you realize that a man like this could never go back to a normal life, but again that didn’t end up happening exactly how we wanted it so this is what we got on film. I think it still emotionally lands them in a good spot, and hopefully the audience gets the subtext that life will never be normal for Michael Scofield.
Would you want to bring the show back for more?
I don’t make the show go on just because we want the show to go on. I have a fairly high standard to what the stories need to be, and it’s a very hard show to come up with new stories for because it’s Prison Break and how many prisons can you break out? How do you make it not redundant? I felt this season was different in that it was based upon the Odyssey. I felt like that was a strong narrative to do for nine episodes. To do again, I think we’d have to find an equally strong or even stronger narrative and I think that’s very hard with Prison Break. Never say never, but we’re just not going to do it just to do it; it has to be great. I know that the actors are very keen on doing it, but at this very moment, I don’t have an idea what it would be. It’s possible it could come from other sources, but right now there’s nothing in the old noggin.
What came first, the bad guy or the method of how to use Michael’s tattoos this time around?
I think the bad guy was probably born out of designing the tattoo idea, because ultimately the tattoo is a misdirection. The whole idea of the Pygmy owl through the whole story is that idea of strategic deception and making the antagonist think that you’re doing one thing so that they go down the wrong road when, in fact, you’ve been manipulating them all along. Prison Break has a history of a man with his plans and his tattoos, and subsequently other shows have used encoded plans or information in tattoos. So it’s kind of an old idea, and so I felt like you couldn’t just play it straight forward. It has to be, “Oh no, the entire thing was a lie to manipulate an antagonist who thought he was smarter and Michael knew was very shrewd,” so I like the idea that the tattoos are supposed to be legit, but the very end you realize it’s a misdirection, because I felt like that was new. So I guess Jacob was born out of that.
Is it safe to say Lincoln ended up with Sheba?
Lincoln’s always tough with women, you know? He’s not too forthcoming emotionally and so we want to make sure that the possibility is there. But the other thing is that it’s very hard for them to have a legitimate romance over the course of the season because of the chaos. It’s just not realistic to go through all this and see a woman for a few days and be madly in love and consummate that love over the course of a few days they’re together. But clearly they have a chemistry, so at the end of the season the insinuation is maybe there’s something here, but let’s find out. I mean, she’s also in America as a refugee and that’s something she had to do with her family members from Yemen. I don’t know that it’s going to be the Sheba and Linc team if there’s another season, although Inbar Lavi is just unbelievable. She’s one of my favorite parts of the season, so she’s one of those characters that would be welcome back in a heartbeat, so maybe I’ve answered my own question.
Can you talk about why you decided to kill Whip?
Well, that was irony. It was that I wanted Jacob to think that he’d outsmarted the system again and that he was going to get away even when he went to prison. I wanted this final moment where it’s a poetic ending where we’re back in Fox River, where we started the season, and Jacob is now in Fox River. Irony of ironies, who’s his cellmate but T-Bag. We infer that T-Bag has killed Jacob in the cell, which is nice in a lot of ways than just seeing him die on camera, but T-Bag’s truly got to be motivated. You have to have no doubt in that scene that T-Bag will kill him, and if Jacob has done something so insidious as to kill the son of T-Bag, who just found out he had, then you’re pretty certain that T-Bag’s going to kill him. Also, in a lot of ways, you could never have a happily-ever-after moment for T-Bag. He’s too cursed. So it’s supposed to be heartbreaking, but it also leads the ultimate justice for Jacob.
You semi-redeemed T-Bag at the end of the revival, though he kills Jacob in the end. Did you not want to fully redeem him?
No. There’s no fun in T-Bag if he’s wearing a button-up shirt and he’s the good dude down the block. He always has to be the broken man. He has to be the sinner, he has to be the criminal and a killer. I think that’s what makes people keep coming back for him. With that, at the same time, the duality is that you have empathy for him. In a lot of ways, we accomplished a lot at the end of the season, which is, “Oh wow, we feel so bad for this man who lost his son he just realized he had. Well, he’s a killer again.”
Is there anything you wish you had gotten to do this season?
That’s a good question. No, this was all outlined pretty copiously before the season started, so we shot exactly what we intended. Obviously you always want bigger action sequences and more time to film and that sort of stuff, but I feel like given the very tiny window we had to make this, I think we’ve got to do what we want to do, so I feel pretty good about that. One thing that’s funny is, I will say that a lot of fans are really clamoring for Sucre because they haven’t seen him since episode 1. I love Sucre, I wish he could’ve been in the season more, but again, all characters had to be organically within the series and he didn’t really have a role other than being the sidekick running around in Yemen, which he really didn’t have a skill set for. So I guess I wish there could’ve been more Sucre, but that would have been creatively disingenuous to include him more than that, but if there’s another season maybe there’s way more Sucre.