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TV Review: Prison Break— “Mother Lode” is Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing!

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After a long four-month hiatus, Prison Break returns to our screens with its 17th episode, “Mother Lode”. The ill-conceived hiatus proved too long a break because viewers needed their memories jolted in order to catch on as to what was happening in this episode. That was probably why Episode 16 ("Sunshine State") was re-screened. However, mid way through “Mother Lode”, it was pretty evident that nothing important was happening at all! Absolutely nothing.

“Mother Lode” starts off with Lincoln (Dominic Purcell), Mahone (William Fichtner), Self (Michael Rapaport) and T-bag (Robert Knepper) finding manila envelopes outside their abode. The envelopes contain photographs of their respective loved ones, a tactic used by The General in order to scare the Gang into doing his will.

The Gang then traces the bunch of keys they found on Scott (the one who met Gretchen during episode 16’s scuffle in which Gretchen is shot) to two possible venues: an empty house, and a holding area filled with guns and fake IDs. Through a photograph left in the empty house, Lincoln and Mahone figure out a location to meet Christina (Scofield’s and Lincoln’s mother), whom they suspect might have Scylla. Lincoln meets Christina (Kathleen Quinlan), who is unable to give a justifiable reason for her past actions but asks Lincoln to give her two days to take over the Company, thereby ensuring complete freedom to her sons thereafter. Needless to say, the rest of the Gang are suspicious about Christina’s true intentions.

Meanwhile Scofield (Wentworth Miller) and Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies) are on the run, trying to outsmart and escape from some people sent to assassinate the both of them (presumably henchmen of Christina’s). Christina tries to get the General killed, but fails, and she then turns her murderous designs to her son Lincoln instead.

This episode provided for plenty of shoot-outs, foot chases and it even had a big blow up scene. Unfortunately in this blur of noise and chaos, the plot and storyline went absolutely nowhere! This episode just seemed pointless and moot.

“Mother Lode” was so lacking in direction and content, the writers had to throw in scenes of Scofield expositing about his past relationship with his mother. Aside from being misplaced and unnecessary, these scenes stood out like a sore thumb due to Wentworth Miller’s inability to bring any nuance and layers to his delivery of the dialogue. Miller is not an actor with range, and neither is he an actor who is able to show subtleties in expressions. Hence for these melancholic scenes, all we got was Miller reciting his lines with just one or two varied expressions on his face. As a result, those scenes were rather cringe-worthy to watch and difficult to sit through!

Miller thrives best in scenes that are pure adrenalin and action based, that call for him to brood and be moody, rather than in expository scenes that call for sentimentality and feelings, which he struggles to portray effectively. Giving him such rich elucidative material only further shows up the lack of skills that Miller has as a thespian.

Dominic Purcell, who plays Lincoln Burrows, is also an actor with limited means and range, and in the scene where Lincoln meets his mother for the first time in 23 years, Purcell is unable to convey the magnitude of emotion his character was undoubtedly feeling. Purcell's portrayal was wooden and puerile at best, in this episode.

However, the lackluster acting aside, “Mother Lode” unfortunately is, as the Bard of Avon himself, William Shakespeare, penned in Macbeth, a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing!” While the Bard’s wordplay is a reference to death, the phrase is suitable for Prison Break which is also on its last leg of life, and is most significantly appropriate for this particular episode “Mother Lode” which was full of noise and clutter that didn’t advance the plot any which way at all!

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About Sharmila Melissa Yogalingam

Ex-professor, Ex-phd student, current freelance critic, writer and filmmaker.
  • zyshan aly jayed

    Prison Break is yet another drama series which has been gracing the screens courtesy of American producers. Over the past couple of years there seem to have been more and more shows coming over from America, all of a considerably high standard, and once again this one is no different. Prison Break. I’ve never really been a fan of the hit show Lost but always enjoyed the show 24 and so was eager to see what Prison Break would be all about. The first series of Prison Break hits the screens of America back in January 2006 and not yet finished, we are currently awaiting the fourth series which is now showing in America.
    Prison Break basically follows the life of Michael Schofield who committed a bank robbery in order to be sent to prison to rescue his brother Lincoln Burrows who was facing the death penalty due to killing the Vice President’s brother. Despite there being a great deal of evidence connecting Lincoln to this crime, Michael firmly believes in his innocence and along with their old friend and Lincoln’s lawyer Veronica, goes about trying to prove his brother’s innocence and get them both out of Fox River state prison.
    The series is based solely within the prison and shows the hatching and planning of the escape procedure and route. Of course nothing goes smoothly in the world of television and along the way there are multiple difficulties and scares which all add to the drama of the programme. The show also incorporates life on the outside including Lincoln’s son and how he is seemingly dragged into the whole mess, which almost adds the whole soap opera element to the show. The series ends with the men, along with several others who have all become central to the plot, attempting their dangerous escape out of the prison.
    The show is quite different to any I’ve ever really watched before; if you’ve seen the film The Life of David Gale or The Shawshank Redemption then you will see great similarities in the stories. The show is screened by Fox and was premiered as the new 24 but in all honesty it’s not quite the same – it’s more nail biting in my opinion but lacks the alleged thrill of 24. It’s a hard hitting and honest American drama which will have you on the edge of your seat, it’s one you also need to be paying attention to as if you miss an episode they’ll be a big gap in your knowledge as so much seems to happen in every single episode.
    In all honesty Prison Break is ridiculous, immensely ridiculous. But if you can see beyond the ridiculousness on the surface you’ll actually discover that it’s incredibly clever and unbelievably addictive. Each episode lasts about 45 minutes minus the commercial breaks and I find I’m literally on the edge of my seat for about half that time. No episode is complete without several cliff hangers and the cliff hanger at the end of each episode will leave you hammering on the TV screen begging to be told what happens next. Each episode will typically open with a recap of the previous couple of episodes to keep you up to date with what is going on.
    The acting is brilliant, the coolness and suaveness which Wentworth Miller employs in playing Michael is brilliant, he makes Michael taciturn and determined in such an endearing way that you’ll be batting for him throughout the series. The show is strictly embedded within the drama category and it isn’t really easy watching drama either, more of a serious drama. It isn’t a comedy in the slightest although in some rare occasions the producers have introduced a little sarcastic, downbeat humour that does add a break to the dramatic mood that overhangs each episode.
    But sincerely, It seem to be full of praise for the show so far but on the other hand the first series is 22 episodes in length which sees Michael continually plotting their escape, but them never actually escaping. I did feel towards episode 16 or 17 that the series was being dragged out a little in retrospect, although at the time I loved every single minute of it and would quite happily have watched them plotting with growing tiresome.
    However the show has also received great criticism from some of American’s main critics including: –
    The Washington Post “Prison Break would come off as more cruel than unusual. The somber pretentiousness of it, reinforced by performances uniformly overwrought, make it a heavy weight to bear, yet one resolutely empty-headed.”
    What I would say is go into watching this show with an open mind, you have to accept the large and somewhat false coincidences otherwise you’ll just grow exasperated with this show. And remember, the main reason most of us watch TV is normally to escape reality and therefore, being a little far away from realistic surely cannot be a bad thing.
    My final word, I have to be honest and say I loved the show, and am already craving the second series an abnormal amount! As long as you can disengage from looking for the plot holes and the ridiculousness of the plot then you’ll enjoy the mystery and sheer addictiveness of the show.
    by zyshan aly jayed

  • muhammed shahbaz

    its great

  • Gillian

    To the commentor above me — I don’t understand why you are posting a review of season 1 here!!! Especially considering that you’re not even a writer here! AND, this is a review of season 4, not 1 !!

    Having said that, yes season 1 was indded very exciting and fun, but you’ve clearly NOT seen the other season where this series turns to rubbish and garbage!

  • Gillian

    To zyshan aly jayed (the first commentor) I don’t understand why you are posting a review of season 1 here!!! You’re not even a writer here!! AND this is a review of season 4, not 1 !!!

    Having said that, yes season 1 was indded very exciting and fun, but you’ve clearly NOT seen the other season where this series turns to rubbish and garbage!