After last week's poorly executed and written episode, and humdrum performances from Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell, it was delightful to witness that this week's Prison Break episode, “Five the Hard Way", was fun, funny, and proved an absolutely fantastic piece of television to watch, complete with dazzling performances from the entire cast.
Moving at a nice, brisk pace, this episode sees the gang splitting into two, as Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies), Lincoln (Dominic Purcell), Sucre (Amaury Nolasco), and Roland (James Liao) head off to Vegas in order to get access to the next card holder. Amidst an unexpected twist, Sucre steps up to the plate to try and acquire the Scylla card.
Meanwhile, Scofield (Wentworth Miller), Bellick (Wade Williams), and Mahone (William Fichtner) get a tip regarding T-Bag’s (Robert Knepper) whereabouts and unbeknownst to the gang, Gretchen (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe) has made contact and has teamed up with T-Bag. Through a series of highly engaging turns and captivating scenarios, Scofield and his gang go after T-bag, enabling Scofield to figure out the truth behind the bird book.
Filled with both beguiling and mirthful moments, this episode was thoroughly pleasurable and gratifying. Although the comedic moments seemed somewhat misplaced in a show that has never been this light-hearted before, these little hilarities were very welcome. It was like a dress that you knew didn’t follow the current trend, but that you just for some rhyme or reason loved!
Along with a proficiently written script and well paced and ingenious direction, this week also saw some vast improvements in the acting.
Miller and Purcell were almost phoning in their performances last week, with nary a variant in emotive display or any nuances within their delivery. However, this week, these men have both managed to ignite the small screen with pretty fine depictions, especially Miller, who often oscillates between being a terrific thespian and being just a person reading from a script, and in this episode he was the former.
Miller was just fascinating to watch because he not only held his own next to Robert Knepper who plays T-Bag with such aplomb and credibility, but he also brought a lot of color and nuances into the execution of his portrayal of Michael Scofield as well as in his delivery of the dialogue. In short, where Miller was just pedestrian and banal last week, he was eloquently dramatic and spectacular this week!
Purcell isn’t as brilliant an actor as Miller can sometimes be, but even Purcell changed up from his usual one-note acting mannerism in this episode, as he took charge dealing with the conflicts of the gang in Vegas. Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, who usually struggles when her character deviates from being menacing and evil and usually performs in an overly exaggerated manner, managed to give a good portrayal without going over the top this week.
Of course Knepper and Fichtner displayed the superb and unrivaled prowess in acting ability that we always see week after week, but the stirring difference was seen in the rest of the cast as they gave performances that were noticeably more compelling than previously, and that were indeed stellar.
One has to wonder if it was the change of setting, grouping and pace of this week’s episode, or the work of a more enlightened director (Garry A. Brown) and refreshing scribe (Christian Trokey) that brought about this sudden spectacle of renewed and rejuvenated performances.
Brown, having served as second unit director for some time had never directed an entire episode aside from this one, and Trokey had only co-written a past episode prior to this. Perhaps all that Prison Break needed to reinvigorate the show were some fresh eyes and proficiently skilled people at the helm driving the entire series, instead of relying on the tired hats who usually take charge of the production of this program.
After all, a television series is the sum of all its parts, and as seen in “Five the Hard Way”, when all the parts are working harmoniously and cohesively, Prison Break proves it can be a stunningly grand affair!