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TV Review: Prison Break – “Greatness Achieved” Doesn’t Achieve Greatness

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This week, Prison Break aired its ninth episode, “Greatness Achieved”. Unfortunately the title is ironic since greatness was the last thing this episode achieved.

In this episode, Wyatt (Cress Williams) faces torture and turmoil as he was captured at the end of the last episode and is now being forced to cooperate with the gang. Gretchen (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe) meanwhile seeks out the General, as Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller), Sucre (Amaury Nolasco), Lincoln (Dominic Purcell) and Bellick (Wade Williams) find a way to get through a concrete wall that stands in the way of where they have to be.

One of the great achievements of season one was watching Scofield plot, scheme, and carry out some manipulative orchestrations that made his escape all the more enticing to watch. However, these scenes of Scofield flexing his cerebrum have become scarce as the other seasons came into play.

In season four, we had a few intriguing sapient Scofield moments; however, in this particular episode it was sorely lacking. Scofield is someone who is bewitching whenever he is seen using his brains as his modus operandi, not his physical prowess. Scofield is hardly a character whose strength lies in his biceps, but rather his attractiveness to the viewer lies in his encephalon, his medulla oblongata, his grey matter. People watch Prison Break in order to see Scofield as the genius mad scientist, duplicitously designing his crafty maneuvers. Anything that deviates from that and shows him banging concrete with a sledge hammer spells boredom to the viewer. Thus, this episode ended up being dreary and plebeian.

Another point of contention is that Prison Break has been relegated to being inconsistent yet again. Bellick has never been one to sacrifice anything, not even his lunch, and here he sacrifices himself, but not before the writers gave us over the top, blatant signposts that seemed so out of character but whose purpose was to explain (or rather excuse) Bellick’s actions. It was sloppy writing at best.

Gretchen, the unmoving, unemotional antagonist of the program, who wouldn’t even flinch at a puppy being killed, acts all queasy and weak kneed as soon as the General looks at her with his puppy dog eyes. Again, this proved to be running inconsistent with what we’ve been made to believe about Gretchen. Unless it’s all Gretchen’s ploy to pull the carpet from under the General, for now it seems that Gretchen has a heart that belongs to the General, and is so taken with him she’s willing to believe anything he says, which is totally not in keeping with her character and personality.

The only halfway engaging scenes were between T-Bag (Robert Knepper) and the cop who had come down to question him, and between Mahone (Willian Fichtner) and Wyatt. Fichtner shone as always, as he tried to bring some reconciliation into his life by treating Wyatt to the same experience his son went through. It’s always a pleasure to see Fichtner at work, although the scene was a little too dragged out and extended a little too much. T-Bag had excellent lines this week, but the dialogue was wasted on a sub-plot that led nowhere relevant.

All in all, this episode was dreary and lacking in thrills. Prison Break needs to return to what it does best, which is use Scofield’s acumen and sagacity at full capacity because that is the pleasurable and thought-provoking machination missing in this episode.

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About Sharmila Melissa Yogalingam

Ex-professor, Ex-phd student, current freelance critic, writer and filmmaker.
  • Grim

    As critical analysis goes the article is well crafted, but I disagree with most of your points. The show is no longer in a prison, so coming up with what ever they have now is pretty amazing. Its taken a whole new dimension, therefore instead of Michael having a sudden flash of brilliance being the only climactic moment of the show, we have a lot of other things to look forward to. Albeit those moments on their own were nothing short of brilliant TV.
    I’m someone who finds that prison break exceeds even well on the outside as Season 2 blew my mind.You talk of Brad Bellick going out of character. But we have been seeing this gradual change for a long time now. He’s always had his good sides. Especially from what we saw in Season 3.He was never a one-dimensional character.Helping out Sucre,then vouching for Mahone when he got locked at the LAPD.
    And Michael’s situation is obviously what a lot of us had been thinking about for some time now.He’s had to be in a state of constant pressure to make life or death decisions for such a long time now. Anyone would crack under such circumstances.Though the show does show it to be a hereditary problem.
    And I doubt there has ever been an episode of Prison Break that lacked thrills,except maybe that review episode in Season 1.