Prison Break: Resurrection Episodes 1 and 2 Reviews
By: Jaclyn Cascio (@jaclynator)
Episode 1: “Ogygia”
If there’s one thing you can expect from Prison Break, it’s a prison. And someone is going to break out of it. The first episode of the revival season of Prison Break: Resurrection, titled “Ogygia”, is the opening act and it delivered pretty much exactly what you thought it would. Whether that is good or bad remains to be seen.
Episode one of Prison Break: Resurrection brings us back to the characters we know, but it is now seven years later. The players are the same as the days of old, but some of them have evolved and changed. Someone is in prison, but there’s a plan in place, and you know there is more than meets the eye. This is absolutely representative of how the opening episode of the revival season of Prison Break feels. Some things, like breaking out of prison, will never change. But it doesn’t mean that the old roots can’t sprout some new leaves and surprise us!
Speaking of roots, it’s hard to deny that Prison Break: Resurrection’s “Ogygia” was heavily dependent on nostalgia. Every familiar character was brought back, even if only for a few scenes, almost in an effort to let viewers know that their beloved characters are remembered. While this is something that fans of the show are probably happy about, it faces the danger of alienating new viewers. Prison Break was still one of the top ten most viewed shows on Netflix in 2016, so it’s fairly safe to say that there’s already large fan base built in. But denying accessibility to a new audience may not be a smart move either. Without knowing the characters, it can be hard to understand why everyone is ready to race off and find a man who was supposedly dead. Without background and context, new viewers may be able to jump on board with the idea of the show, but they’ll likely miss out on the depth and intensity of the relationships – which some might argue was the heart of the show. If new viewers aren’t invested, will they come back for another episode?
The mystery is the central reason for viewers to keep watching. While the show recaptures the vibe of its earlier seasons, which is a wonderful homage for Prison Break veterans, the new conspiracy might be the reason viewers stay for more. Have we had conspiracies before? Absolutely. Have they been realistic? Doubtful. (I can’t say for certain as I’ve never been the center of a conspiracy myself…that I know of.) It doesn’t mean a little trouble can’t make for some great entertainment!
“Ogygia” certainly laid the groundwork for the new intriguing story, even if it didn’t do much else. I’ll freely admit that the first episode of Prison Break: Resurrection wasn’t entirely exciting. But I can forgive a slow start because the truth is that an expository first episode to lay down a foundation for the rest of the season is necessary. It’s all about the trail of bread crumbs, folks! Meanwhile, the main characters are asking exactly the same questions as the audience. They wonder how and why Michael faked his death (if that’s indeed what happened). They want to know what the big picture is and how they have been pulled into it. As an old viewer, I trust that all the questions and groundwork are going to build an interesting story. Will it predictably attempt to surprise me? Yes. But as long as it’s a thoughtful attempt to bring something new to the table, I’m in!
Ultimately, the first episode of Prison Break: Resurrection was slow. However, I don’t think the series, being a revival, could have opened in any other way. In fact, they did a good job of concisely telling us what each character had been doing for the last seven years and containing it within one episode, while also setting up the skeleton frame of a new plot. That’s not an easy feat to accomplish, but it was done; I have high hopes that with the basics out of the way, the upcoming episodes will have the time and freedom to explore the mystery we’re all curious about.
Episode 2: “Kaniel Outis”
It’s not Prison Break without going on the inside, and episode two, “Kaniel Outis,” finally took us in. Now, it’s time for plans to be set in motion to get out.
In the episode, we learn that time is short for Michael and his fellow cell mates in the Yemen prison Ogygia. They have plans to escape, but they must do it soon, for fear of the rebels moving deeper into the city and closer to the prison. Even behind bars, they are affected by the civil war occurring in the country outside. They are afraid of the death that is likely to follow if they don’t get out while they still can. Meanwhile, it seems that Michael has other fears of his own and tries to warn those he loves to find shelter from the coming storm. “Kaniel Outis” gives us a timeline, and effectively drills into us how urgent matters have become. Being on the clock makes the journey all the more pressing, while a civil war raging in the country adds a certain degree of danger to the mix to keep things fresh.
Speaking of the dangerous country, the setting of this season, and in particular this episode, is actually one of the best things about Prison Break: Resurrection. It takes the story from a small prison cell to an entire country, particularly the war-torn city the main characters are in. A tiny story about breaking out of prison (as per usual) becomes something bigger and grander when placed in a naturally tense setting. It’s season five of the show now, so it would honestly be surprising if any prison could hold Michael Scofield. (He’s a lot like Pitch Black’s Riddick in that way.) But the prison isn’t the real obstacle. Yemen itself could be the biggest barrier for all the characters.
While an entire country is tearing itself apart, the entire episode feels very much like the children’s story about the fox who is just trying to get his tail sewn back on. The fox has to do a long series of favors for various characters, linking a long chain of events back to accomplishing his initial goal. “Kaniel Outis” was the same, as Michael engineered a series of events from a single piece of gum to accomplish a goal, while outside the prison walls Lincoln finds himself going through a similar chain to find the “Sheik of Light.” This is creative and interesting, but somehow still feels like it is just groundwork without progress in the story. How far can the story go when the entire episode begins with point A and comes back around full circle to point A once again?
A personal critique of the episode (and the premiere episode) was lack of Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller). Taking the show into new directions has meant also looking at the story in different ways. In this case, the story has thus far revolved much more around Michael’s brother, Lincoln (Dominic Purcell). However, when the genius mastermind who has made the plans and moved the story along in past seasons doesn’t have as much screen time, it feels like there’s something missing. This is not to say Purcell isn’t putting on a great performance – because he’s actually carrying things along well (and in a much less dramatic fashion than his role in Legends of Tomorrow). It simply feels like the story is revolving around Michael, but so far doesn’t really feel like it’s truly involving him.
With the lack of Michael comes another issue of “Kaniel Outis.” It feels a little dumbed down. There’s a lot to be said for actions on screen. Not everything needs to be explicitly said. However, with Michael on the screen less than desired, we miss pieces of the puzzle that he is probably putting together. Watching a character allows the audience to put together puzzle pieces to try to solve the mystery themselves, before their predictions and ideas are confirmed or not. Instead, the answers are being fed to the audience by other characters’ dialogue, piece by piece. We are denied the opportunity to find the answers for ourselves. While this set-up is likely due to the season being only nine episodes long, it removes some of the suspense and mystery surrounding what could be an extraordinary enigmatic story.
Overall, “Kaniel Outis” was a great example of the pieces that the writers can lay down to tell a story. They also set a precedent for creating a world to operate in, an environment which could measure up to the hijinks we come to expect. However, we are not allowed the time to revel in the story-telling unfolding before us (or the new characters introduced). We are instead swept along as observers, but not so much as participants. With so many pieces moving, and in what felt like a convoluted way, we see a lot but get only a small reward. Perhaps it goes to show that less really can be more.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to keep watching, possibly in part because I really want to be shocked by Michael actually going dark side. After Sara’s (Sarah Wayne Callies) new husband (played by Mark Feuerstein) likens Michael’s actions to game theory, I’m halfway hopeful he’s right. Eventually the story is going to come together, and it’s probably going to be spectacular. I mean, who doesn’t love a conspiracy, prison, and a civil war, all rolled into one show?