[Editor’s Note: The below contains spoilers for “Prison Break” Season 5, Episode 1, “Ogygia.”]
The world of television is a very different place than it was in 2005, when America first met Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) and Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell), two brothers whose inability to break out of (or into) prisons was the center of an often wildly entertaining conspiracy thriller, featuring outlandish characters and over-the-top plotting that remains memorable to date.
But while TV in general has changed, “Prison Break” really hasn’t, as seen in tonight’s season premiere. Billed as an event series, the show remains true to its goofy nature, with just a few surprises thrown into the mix. You can break out of a prison, but “Prison Break” can never escape being “Prison Break.” Here are just a few reasons why.
The action still moves fast.
The best parts of “Prison Break’s” early years were the over-the-top “24”-esque conspiracy thrillers, invoking all the paranoid fun of a classic John Grisham potboilers. By the end of the first episode, Lincoln has dodged multiple attempts on his life, figured out that Michael faked his own death, and traveled from Chicago to New York to Yemen to try to track his brother down — all culminating in the final twist, as Michael refuses to acknowledge knowing his brother. It’s a crazy hour of television, and…
The tattoos remain equally crazy.
Lest you were bored with Michael’s original ridiculous assortment of tattoos from the original series, never fear: He has new and even more ridiculous tattoos to admire, as we see in the final scene of the episode. What secret meaning they include is just one of the mysteries to be unraveled over the course of the season.
There’s a badass lady assassin.
Following in the proud tradition of previous guest stars like Michelle Forbes and Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Marina Benedict plays A&W, an ice cold gunwoman with her own personal style. “Prison Break” is a show that’s only as effective as its antagonists, and A&W sets a solid example early in.
Dr. Sara Tancredi also remains a badass.
While ostensibly living the life of a normal suburban mom (complete with an aggressively normal new husband, played by Mark Feuerstein), Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies) can still throw down, as seen when A&W pays her family a visit. Literally ripping a metal bar off the wall — and taking aim to use it as a deadly weapon — might seem like mama bear protective instincts taking over, except that Sara was just as hardcore in the show’s original run.
T-Bag’s missing hand is still hilarious.
In the first episode of the new series, T-Bag gets a robot hand. Let us repeat: T-BAG GETS A ROBOT HAND. No word yet on whether or not it becomes evil. The purpose of this plotline (beyond giving Robert Knepper more to do) isn’t totally clear, but the best thing to happen to Knepper’s malevolent molester character in the original series was getting his hand cut off, so continuing that bonkers narrative is truly delightful.
It remains a tale of brotherly love.
While both Lincoln and Michael had their own love interests over the course of the original series, with Michael and Sara’s love story standing out as ostensibly the show’s most epic romance, “Prison Break” was always a story about two brothers, and the length to which they’d go for each other. Prisons may go, prisons may come, but that always remains the case.
Everyone remains really, really bad at actually breaking out of prisons.
For a brilliant engineer, Michael Scofield sure creates terrible plans for prison breaking, which continues to be one of the most amusing aspects of the series. Someday, Michael might come up with a relatively simple plan for breaking out of a prison, as opposed to a convoluted and deeply flawed approach highly susceptible to human error. But then the show wouldn’t be “Prison Break” anymore.
“Prison Break” prison breaks Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on Fox.