Prison Break’s fourth episode this season, “Eagles and Angels,” was fun to watch, much like the preceding episodes in this new season. There were some exciting moments, some thrilling scenes, and it all added up to a pretty enjoyable way to spend the evening.
Sarah Wayne Callies, who plays Dr. Sara Trancedi, was given a larger role in this episode, and the thespian brought all the emotive displays and underlying sense of tribulation needed in order to make the audience actually feel the sorrow and danger her character was going through. Callies did a pretty good job in the emotional scenes she shared with Wentworth Miller on the boat, as she told him she is to be blamed for Bruce’s death. It’s a pity that the same can’t be said of Miller, who last week brought his emotions perfectly to the surface to show a firm and in control Scofield, but this week Miller seemed to have gone back to his blank, expressionless way of acting. I’ve noted before that Miller is more than capable of carrying the scene when his character is feeling extremes of emotion; he is, however, not quite capable of playing “ordinary” yet.
Despite Callies giving us a more than decent performance in “Eagles and Angels”, one can’t help but wonder what her role in this whole series actually is. Aside from being Scofield’s girlfriend, and the return of Sara being widely used by FOX as a publicity tool, there doesn’t seem to have been much point in bringing her back. Whilst I enjoyed seeing her little dramatic scenario unfold, and the sweet romantic gestures between Sara and Scofield was a nice touch, Sara’s story this week really didn’t help move the plot along, and neither did it add any dimension to her character since we already knew she had an addiction in her past. The audience also would’ve been able to work out that she only had Scofield to fall back on now, and we didn’t need her story to show us that.
Another gripe with this episode is that the holes in the storytelling are starting to get so big that it might just be a short while before the fun that Prison Break brings may not satisfy any longer. A relatively astute person cannot go on ignoring the blazing holes that lie in the plot. It all boils down to this — sloppy and lazy writing makes for a puerile and amateurish series. And we saw very jejune and dull writing in this episode.
For instance, it is assumed that Scofield, Burrows, and Mahone got their police officer uniforms from a costume shop. Their uniforms looked mighty official, complete with a gun that apparently looked bona fide enough for one of the Company employees to think it was the real thing. So authentic and genuine looking was this outfit (again it has to be repeated – complete with a gun in a holster) but yet we are meant to believe that the one tiny missing detail was that the uniform lacked a metallic badge? As if that was not enough of a stretch of the imagination, we are then meant to understand that just for the sake of this small little metallic badge, the boys then risked life and limb to break into a police facility to conveniently find a box full of newly minted badges. Because all police facilities have such storage of extra badges lying around? As they say in our informal vernacular – as if!
Another point of contention is the question of how a well known antagonist and sworn enemy of the Company, Michael Scofield, could stand right next to a woman who is clearly a Company associate and converse with her with no mask covering his features. How did the woman remain oblivious to whom she was speaking with? It's not as if Michael Scofield has an ordinary, forgettable, Joe Blow face that she might not have recognized! The insipidness of this notion is all the more glaring given that the woman's colleague cum bodyguard recognized Lincoln Burrows earlier, and yet she didn't know what Scofield looked like? Again… as if!
Colossal and prominent plot holes aside, another instance of discord lies with the lackluster writing. The same formula is being used as a plot device each and every week. We already saw Roland’s gadget, and the gang reading people's Scylla cards, used in a couple of earlier episodes, and its use again in this episode indicates a laziness on the part of the scribes. Is this what we are going to be seeing for the rest of the 18 episodes? It might then not be any wonder that the viewership for this week’s episode went down by about a million people from last week. Surely the writers and producers of this series can come up with more compelling plotlines and story devices without lazily falling back on past formula repeatedly?
The same feel is experienced in the scenes with T-Bag. He has the bird book, and too conveniently all the clues in the book point directly and straight forwardly to the very circumstances he finds himself in. It's all a little too tailor-made, too simplistic, and too effortless. Such an uncluttered plot is an uninvolving one, and the audience is left unattached to this part of the story, which is a pity seeing the aplomb Robert Knepper brings each week in his role as T-Bag.
This brings me to the whole entire story arc that is season four. Are we expected to spend the whole entire season watching Scofield and gang try and get six Scylla cards? And that’s it, as far as the primary plot is concerned? That would be the most unwise thing the show could do, since that premise is not wide enough, nor complicated enough, nor exciting enough, to hold any viewer’s attention for 22 episodes. Either the makers of Prison Break need to come up with a different story angle or a bunch of inter-changing premises, or they need to shorten this season.
Since Prison Break this week stole so blatantly from the series 24, by bringing in the Chinese mafia-could be-government agent into the story, they might as well purloin something else from 24 — the ability to know how far a story angle can travel.
With 24, the series wraps up storylines every six or seven episodes, before introducing another set of circumstances for our hero to face, thus keeping the series novel and invigorating. Prison Break might want to learn from that, since watching Scofield and gang use that phone-like gadget to copy the Scylla cards week after week after week slowly becomes humdrum and tedious, and takes the fun away from Prison Break. And if this is how the series is going to go on for the rest of the season, with this inert and juvenile main storyline amidst massive voids in logic, then the “fun” is going to turn to “weary and irksome” by the next episode, because everyone knows "fun" has to remain fresh and fascinating, and at this stage Prison Break is wearing thin on both.