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!