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TV Review: “Rate of Exchange” and “Killing Your Number” – Prison Break Has No More Story To Tell

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Prison Break ended its official run by airing two episodes back to back, “Rate of Exchange” and “Killing Your Number.” It was evident by the content in both these episodes that Prison Break really has no more story to tell, as both episodes comprised of Scylla pointlessly exchanging hands too many times, and old adversaries and enemies needlessly coming back to help the regular characters tie up loose ends.

“Rate of Exchange” starts with Scofield (Wentworth Miller) and Mahone (William Fichtner) trying to come up with a plan in order to save both Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Lincoln (Dominic Purcell). Scofield tries to trick his mother, Christina (Kathleen Quinlan); however his plan backfires, forcing him to come up with an alternative course of action. Mahone and Scofield then hoodwink the General with an empty case, while Scofield rappels the building and rescues Sara from T-Bag (Robert Knepper), who is about to rape her.

Mahone in the meantime goes to Christina with part of the real Scylla which is connected to a bombing device. As Christina toys around with the device, Mahone is locked up with Lincoln, and pushes him to the side of the room to prepare for the blast.

Meanwhile, Self (Michael Rapaport) is in hospital, recovering from his injuries, when he is visited by two federal agents who want to know the whereabouts of Scofield and Lincoln. Self tries to trace Scofield by making a call on his cell, but is unsuccessful in keeping him on the line long enough. Christina’s henchman shows up, disguised as a doctor, and injects something lethal into Self’s arm.

Elsewhere, in a fit of anger at losing the deal with the Indian prime minister due to her tardiness in bringing him Scylla, Christina tells Lincoln that he’s not her son and explains that that’s why she could send him to death row without any qualms. She also tells Lincoln that he is to be an uncle, and that Sara is pregnant. Lincoln tells Scofield this news during one of their phone calls.

Also, Sucre (Amaury Nolasco) meets C-Note (Rockmond Dunbar) who tells him that “someone” (turns out to be Kellerman) wants Scylla, and so they need to find the brothers in order to get immunity and freedom for all.

“Rate of Exchange” was just a lot of smoke and noise for the benefit of providing a full set of episodes in this season to fans who have loyally followed this contrived and absurd show for the last four years. The entire episode focused on Scofield and Mahone dodging Christina and/or The General, providing no movement plot-wise whatsoever.

The scene between T-Bag and Sara went on for far too long; however it gave Sarah Wayne Callies the opportunity to finally show us her acting abilities from her vault of emotions and expressions, as she stoically tries to fend off her lecherous offender. For so much of this series, Sara was merely window dressing for Scofield and the show, and occasionally she was even a burden to him. She didn’t have any purpose in this series beyond the first season, other than to be Scofield’s love interest, in what turned out to be a rather lacklustre and passionless relationship. Hence it was nice at least to see some acting chops from the actress who has been playing Sara all this time, even if her character still remained purposeless.

Part two of this two-part finale was entitled “Killing Your Number.” Ironically, the over-usage of various characters’ cell phones in this episode might not have been intended to have any association with the title, but nonetheless it seemed to fit it nicely!

We left Mahone and Lincoln in the room, with Christina and her henchman in the other room with Scylla in “Rate of Exchange," and “Killing Your Number” picks up with that scene. Mahone calls Scofield to tell him that the bombing device didn’t go off, only to be told he’d have to tend to it manually. Mahone does just that, the bomb goes off hurting Christina and her men, and Mahone runs off with Lincoln to a waiting car with Scofield and Sara in it.

Kellerman (Paul Adelstein) somehow or other tracks down Scofield’s number and calls him on his cell, telling him about how he can get the boys' freedom at last. Kellerman explains to Scofield that he works for the same company that Scofield’s father worked for.

Sara and Mahone head off to the hospital to steal some drugs to treat Lincoln‘s bullet wound. However, Mahone is caught and apprehended there. The General‘s henchmen trace the brothers' whereabouts through Lincoln‘s phone and manage to apprehend Sara, Lincoln, and Scofield, as well as Sophia (Danay Garcia) who is being held in a remote location.

Sucre and C-Note capture T-Bag whom they torture into telling them The General’s location. Sucre and C-Note then go to The General‘s residence, where Sara, Lincoln, and Scofield are being held. In an ensuing shootout, The General‘s men are killed and Sucre handcuffs The General and leaves him there to be arrested by the police. Sophia is also let free. However, as the Gang tries to flee, the police show up, prompting Sucre to surrender himself so the rest can get away.

Back at Scofield’s hideaway, Christina and her men show up, and after a shoot-out, Scofield is left with the gun in his hand pointing at his mother, but unable to shoot her, Sara does the deed of shooting Christina in the back, thus killing her.

As Sara rushes Lincoln to the hospital, Scofield is left with Scylla, which he must hand over to Kellerman. However, Scofield turns suspicious, wondering how Kellerman’s United Nations’ contact is able to exonerate the gang so easily. Kellerman tells Scofield that he wants this to end, and Scofield also realises that he doesn’t want to run anymore either, leading him to trust Kellerman in the end and he hands over the missing piece of Scylla.

We then see the entire gang — Sucre, C-Note, Mahone, Scofield, Sara, and Lincoln — sign papers that leave them exonerated and free. (Remarkably Lincoln, who hours before was dying from a punctured lung due to a bullet, has on a clean shirt and seems unhurt as he moves around with such liveliness in this scene!) The Gang take a vote on the fate of T-Bag, and they decide to send him off to prison. Sara and Scofield then have a well-deserved relaxing moment at the beach where they talk about their upcoming parenthood. However, Scofield’s nose starts to bleed, and the scene finishes with Sara looking concerned.

The episode ends with a flash forward of four years (which brings the series to our present time since Prison Break is on a protracted time table) and we see where everyone is. Lincoln is with Sophia, Sucre is with his daughter, C-Note is reunited with his family, Sara is with her son named Michael, Self is paralyzed in a semi-vegetative state, The General gets the chair, Kellerman is a congressman who’s tormented by his past victim, T-Bag is his usual self as he’s incarcerated in Fox River once again, and the biggest surprise is seeing Mahone coupled up romantically with Agent Lang (Barbara Eve Harris).

The biggest shocker though is finding out that Michael Scofield ends up dead! He apparently dies in 2005, which means that he probably doesn't get to see the birth of his son. The last scene is of Lincoln, Sucre, Mahone, Sara, and her son Michael at Scofield’s grave by the beach.

“Killing Your Number” was just as its preceding episode “Rate of Exchange” in that the cat and mouse game for Scylla, between The General, Christina, and the gang was simply tiresome and was too dragged out. It was evident that Prison Break had no more stories to tell and hence the writers were simply taking Scylla out of one hand and putting it into another, and throwing in shoot-outs and chases in between just to fill up the time.

The over-usage of the cell phone as a plot device was a problem in last week’s episode of “Cowboys and Indians” and this seemed to be an issue in these two episodes as well. Kellerman manages to track Scofield down on his cell phone, and Amaury manages to call Sara’s cell too — feats that are unconvincing because Sara and Scofield are on the run, probably with pre-paid phones that are hard to track. Also, the calls seem to always come at the most opportune of times. This showcases the immaturity, weakness, and laziness in the writing that has plagued the last few episodes of this series.

Having said that though, killing off Scofield was an unpredicted move on the part of the writers. It certainly was a brave ploy that involved a lot of moxie to kill off a character who was the main protagonist of this show and who also clearly had such selfless intentions from the start of his journey in the first season to the end of his days in this season. It seemed that if there was anyone in the series who deserved a happy ending, it would’ve been Michael Scofield. He might not have been pristine and pure towards the end, and he caused a lot of deaths along the way, but Scofield was always about doing the right thing within a set of very unfair circumstances. However, bad things happen to good people all the time, and Scofield dying was simply one such example.

Of course, by killing off Scofield, this leaves the series without any avenue to return either to television or to the big screen. That might work out well though since the actor who plays Scofield, Wentworth Miller, seems to have walked away from acting and has turned to modeling in far east Asia instead, and is no longer attached to any current acting projects. Also, the series deserves some permanent closure, given that it has told all the stories it ever can tell within its very limited premise and in that sense Scofield’s death is not in vain and absolutely makes sense in sealing this series' fate once and for all.

While the resurgence of old characters barely made much sense within the scope of the story, it is imagined that this was done for the fans of the show rather than for the creative element. Fans of Prison Break have dwindled over the past four years, in large part probably due to the story being less and less engaging as the years went by. This series started off really strong, offering up enticing stories and plots that left hooks in its audience with each episode, only to go off the rails in its attempt to stretch this series into one that lasted way too long in the end. So, returning old characters to this last episode was a nice “thank you” to the people who followed this series, with all its nonsensical plots and implausible stories, into its final run. Television critics should perhaps ignore the relevance of the return of Sucre, C-Note, and Kellerman and chalk it up to being a lovely door prize for loyal fans as the series exits.

Which brings me to the prodding question of what killed Scofield? We know that his tumour seems to have returned, but it is out of the norm to have a character, who has fought against the government and all its ills, be killed in the end by a disease! Hence episodes 23 and 24, which are either to be aired at a later date or to be included only in the DVD of the series, will lure loyal viewers eager to find out this missing piece of the puzzle.

With a series that already had no more stories to tell even in the last few episodes, there is a wonder as to what more could episodes 23 and 24 have to offer plotwise. Prison Break producers have in recent days hinted that these extra episodes are about another break; this time Sara gets thrown into prison and the gang has to rescue her. But will a different character being incarcerated mean a fresh story, a new angle, or a bewitching plot? Will Prison Break have one more story to tell? Or has it told its last story already?

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About Sharmila Melissa Yogalingam

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

    Great article Sara was pointlesss and that’s why her return this season was so bad and the tv audience left.Season 4 is by far the worst season of this show and it even ended with a who cares feel to it.The writers ruined everything from making Sara a love interest for Michael to her return (that’s where the show jumped the shark).As for the DVD’s they just put those extras eps because they know there are gullible people who would buy it so they want to make more money.The ones who will buy it maybe expecting something so great but in reality it’s the same dragging all over the place with stupidity just like the rest of this season.Alot of people probably are going to waste their money buying that garbage!!