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Prison Break - Phaeacia - Review: "Sluggish stupidity" + POLL



Cliffhangers have long since become an essential part of television production. The essence of a cliffhanger is to leave a viewer on edge, desperate to know the resolution to a particular plot point and thus giving them more impetus to tune in next week. But part of that idea is that there needs to be a substantial hook that more than piques curiosity.

“Phaeacia” did not have that.

Given that the entirety of this revival revolves around Michael being miraculously alive, the chances of him succumbing to the stab wound he suffered while leaving Cyclops to die are zero. Yes, it’s worth wondering quite how they’re going to save him given a lack of a doctor and him having been poisoned with antifreeze as well as bleeding out, but as an endpoint to an hour, it is, dramatically, very poor. It certainly doesn’t help that their non-explanation for him being alive to this point doesn’t inspire confidence over a logical explanation for recovery here.

Perhaps most abhorrent, though, is Lincoln’s suggestion that if the doctor is in Sana’a, then they need to go back. Aside from the brainless thinking of trying to drive 300 miles, presumably without the fuel to make it the entire way, into a war zone with Michael probably dying before they make it, it’s concerning to even contemplate returning to Sana’a because the story of them trying to escape is more than exhausted. If this season is about breaking out of a country, fine. But “Phaeacia” had actual movement, with the group making their way out of the falling city and to Phaeacia. They aren’t out yet, but there is, at least, progress.

And Prison Break is desperately in need of some progress, a concept that will likely be achieved now that they have escaped ISIL fighters and Cyclops is dead (*), because the sluggishness with which the story has chugged along thus far is frustrating.

(*) If he’s still alive and manages to somehow find and catch up with the group, this show will reach new and unfathomable heights of stupidity.

It comes back to a point I made a few weeks back about where this season, and the series in general, is going. If the idea is to tell a compact story in these nine episodes, it would appear as though that is now improbable given how few episodes remain and how far from any sort of resolution the show is - and it would require a substantial change of pace to alter that. So we can assume the plan is to leave threads hanging; the success of this choice can only be fully determined by the end of the season, but it seems to be the right idea at this moment.

There isn’t a lot to dissect in Yemen because so much of the episode consisted of the exact same thing: ISIL nearly killing the group who drive through the desert to find safety. In and of itself, that isn’t great. Couple it with the fact that Cyclops, who spent the majority of the episode chasing them, is quite possibly the worst and most vile excuse for a character to hit the small screen this millennium and it is a recipe for disaster. His apparent death was something to cheer…

…or, at least, it should have been. Instead, Michael raised questions over whether he truly is smart by getting himself into a fight with Cyclops. Although it’s understandable that he felt Cyclops needed to die or be left for dead as he was, even if the chances of him following with no car for miles in the desert were slim to none, Michael ultimately achieved neither of his two options. Why bother getting into the car if he needs to die? Conversely, why not just drive away as quick as possible rather than trying to kill him? He is solely to blame for his stab wound since doing quite literally anything other than what he did would see him in good health. And although he did note early in the hour that improvising isn’t where he wants to be, Michael is supposedly smart enough that he should be able to have escaped that without suffering injury. He managed to lead Cyclops into that trap, after all.

In Sara’s absence back in the U.S., A&W and Van Gogh received something resembling character development as they continued their quest to kill Michael. Along the way, we learn that her real name is Emily and that she once had a relationship with Trisha, an NSA operative who helps them track Michael via drone. Having been put into an identity parade for their role in shooting Jacob, the pair were released hastily on bail by Poseidon - him first; “I thought I was his favourite,” she says - and set about continuing their work.

Between her backstory - she worked at NSA for ten years before being recruited by Poseidon - and his concern over why Michael killed Ramal and his overarching desire to ask questions, the two assassins have become slightly more than identity-less killers-for-hire, which is good to see. Their pursuit leads them to the man Michael video called (Duncan Ollerenshaw, looking like Prison Break crossed over with Vinyl) with little indication as to who he is or what his connection to Michael is.

It’s almost unsurprising that the confusion as to his identity is a better cliffhanger than Michael being near death. This was an episode mostly devoid of excitement with an even more drastic sense of slowness than recent hours, and although the ending did little to rectify that, it will hopefully set up some more engaging story in the final three instalments of the season.

Notes:

Most of my notes about Cyclops this week were expletive-filled requests for him to disappear permanently.

Ja giving the kids at Phaeacia fireworks seems highly unsafe.

Hands up anyone who was surprised that Omar set the group up when asking them to get his other vehicle. Anyone?

Whip’s anger towards Omar for cold cocking him was fun.

Sheba is going to buy Lincoln a drink when he gets back because that’s a thing between them now.

Did they have water or food or any non-clothing protection from the sun while driving through the desert in what looked like a thousand degrees?

What did everyone think of “Phaeacia”? Leave your thoughts in the comments and be sure to vote in our poll below!



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