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Prison Break: A Slow Premiere Doesn't Bail Out the Franchise

Did anyone break out of prison yet?

Tim Surette

Prison Break returns to Fox after almost eight years off the air, because... well, because Fox. Fox loves to revive things and work off of established properties, so a new round of Prison Break it is. This fifth season is being billed as an event series/miniseries and will run only nine episodes, so it's a bit concerning that the premiere episode spent almost its entire hour merely catching us up with the old gang and setting the stage for Michael Scofield's (Wentworth Miller) miraculous resurrection, as his character "died" in the fourth and faux-final season.

But as a "let's try on this old pair of comfy shoes so we can see if it still fits" episode, "Ogygia" did the trick of reacquainting us with the rough-and-tumble, bulky-and-sweaty and frequently convoluted Prison Break universe. Let's review what happened.

Okay, so Michael is alive. Alive enough to give us a speech about Talking Dead -- or more accurately, the fact that the "dead can talk if you listen," an allusion to his faked-out demise. There's also a glimpse of something that would make a lot more sense later: someone is taking a picture of Michael in a really grungy prison.

Prison Break: Everything you need to know about the revival

But first! It's T-Bag (Robert Knepper) getting his walking papers from prison! And he gets a special gift on his way out: a mysterious letter, which he takes over to Lincoln's (Dominic Purcell) pad. Lincoln isn't jazzed to see T-Bag given their checkered past, but he's content when he learns that the contents of the letter feature a picture of Michael!!! Alive and, well, probably not well in the sepia-toned jail.

Lincoln heads over to Sara's (Sarah Wayne Callies) new house in Ithaca, New York, to ruin her new suburban life, as she's moved on from Michael and married the guy from Royal Pains (Mark Feuerstein). Sara doesn't believe the photo is real and thinks someone's playing a cruel trick. It appears that just the thought of Michael still being alive is too much after the pain she went through of losing him, or maybe she knows that if it's true, everyone will get involved in another prison break again, and she thought her prison-breaking days were over.

That hits Lincoln right in the feels, so he goes to Michael's grave to have a chat with his ghost and ends up realizing that there's a code in the letter that reads: "Ogygia," which is the name of a prison in Yemen. Curious, he does what any sensible man would do and DIGS UP THE CORPSE OF HIS DEAD BROTHER. Only -- you guessed it -- there's no body, just a fancy suit and a dummy.

Now Lincoln is really on to something, and when these guys get on to something, bad guys start popping up, including one who hacks Lincoln's car and makes him drive off the road into a lake and another who shoots up Sara's house, injuring her hubby Jacob. Only one thing to do... GO TO YEMEN! Now we're Prison Breaking, folks!

Rockmund Dunbar, Prison Break

Rockmund Dunbar, Prison Break


Lincoln doesn't know the first thing about Yemen, so he sought out someone who might know... C-Note (Rockmund Dunbar)! But C-Note isn't the prison pharmacist he once was, he's found peace through Islam. Still, a pal is a pal and C-Note and a friend authenticate the photo of Michael and figure out exactly where Michael is being held. Two tickets to Yemen, please!

Sucre (Amaury Nolasco) runs into Lincoln -- or more accurately, runs into Lincoln's fist because Sucre snuck up on him and when you sneak up on Lincoln you get socked -- and says he's also going to Yemen to find Michael (C-Note is a blabbermouth). Lincoln says no, saying he'll need him in a later episode, and C-Note and Lincoln are on their way.

I imagine the next part of the script went something like this:

It is REALLY crowded. Lots of people are going the way Lincoln and C-Note came from, there's lots of shoving and pushing and yelling. And huge explosions! Yemen is terrible, basically. FADE OUT...

Of course the first thing that happens is Lincoln and C-Note get picked up by someone pretending to be their driver who drives them into an ambush, but these two manage to put down a dozen or so guys and C-Note spills out this gem: "Greetings from the U.S. prison system, bitches." We are now at full Prison Break.

C-Note's contact in Yemen just so happens to be an extremely attractive and tough as week-old bread woman named Sheba (Inbar Lavi), who continues to tell them that this is a really bad neighborhood as if they didn't already know that from nearly dying within five minutes of landing in his hellhole.

Lincoln finds a tag that says "Kaniel Outis" in Michael's jacket, which is also the name of a bad, bad terrorist no one seems to like. It's also the name that Michael is registered under in the prison, so that's not a good sign. Hmmm... it would appear that Michael is up to something, or someone has framed Michael. It also seems like it's one of those TV clues that's an anagram for something else. "Anus Kite Oil" anyone?

Sheba introduces them to yet another contact who can get them into the Ogygia prison, so they go. "I told myself I'd never step foot in another prison," C-Note says, oblivious to the fact that he signed on for Prison Break Season 5. "As long as you walk out of it," Lincoln says. My bet is they will walk out of it.

Robert Knepper, Prison Break

Robert Knepper, Prison Break


While all this was going on, Prison Break was also cutting back to T-Bag, who was getting a new prosthetic hand courtesy of a mysterious benefactor. I'm new to the Prison Break franchise, so I don't know if people getting prosthetic limbs is a show trend, but to me, I was like, "What is going on? Can anyone help me?" Admittedly, it was a real state-of-the-art robot hand, so I'm glad for T-Bag! The other bit to note? The doctor who gave him the hand said the benefactor was only known as "Outis," the same name that was on Michael's jacket! What a coincidence!

If you thought Yemen was bad, Yemeni prisons are even worse! People are getting beaten by guards, there are stains of whoknowswhat everywhere and not a single Sodastream in sight. Lincoln finally gets someone to bring Michael out to the visitors' area, and Michael shows up and says, "My name's not Michael and I don't know who you are, sorry." Say what!?

Is he being brainwashed? Is he undercover with a bigger score to pull? Is this just a cool way to end an episode on? Maybe all three!

Prison Break is a very special roller coaster ride that lives by its own rules, and not much seems to have changed from the franchise's later seasons. That's a good thing for fans of the original, but for everyone else? I'm not sure.

What did you think of the Prison Break premiere?

Prison Break airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on Fox.