Prison Break season 5, episode 7 review: Sucre's back!
Last week's rather dull runaround, it turns out, capped off Prison Break's ill-advised odyssey to Yemen. After hammering home the whole Homer analogue for weeks – Poseidon, Ogygia, Phaeacia, even Cyclops – the revival series finally takes us to Greece this week.
'Wine Dark Sea' (another Homeric reference) leaves skirmishes with Abu Ramal's goons in the dust, the show gaining far more than it loses with this change of location. While it's a pity to see Rick Yune's intriguing Ja depart, the whole Isil angle had been milked totally dry, and was arguably misguided to begin with.
Having Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) on the brink of death also lends the early part of the episode an added tension – our hero's in a bad way after a violent struggle with the late Cyclops and desperately needs a blood transfusion.
Cue another benefit to the relocation beyond just a change in visual aesthetic, with Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies) reintroduced to the narrative as Michael's saviour – unable to take his fugitive brother to a hospital, Lincoln (Dominic Purcell) turns to Dr. Tancredi as his last hope.
After following their romance across four years of the original show – over 80 episodes total – such is our investment in the characters of Sara and Michael that seeing them reunited delivers a satisfying emotional punch. (It's a nice touch also to have the reconciliation take place under these circumstances, the pair returned to their former positions of medic and patient – as they were when they first met at Fox River all that time ago.)
But it's a happy reunion tinged with heartbreak, as Michael learns that Sara's not only remarried but wed to his malevolent employer. Yes, it turns out Jacob Ness (Mark Feuerstein) actually is Poseidon after all, a reveal which finally provides us with an interesting out-and-out antagonist, after inflicting his dull goons on us for much of the season.
It does make you wonder, though, whether there was any point to this double-bluff – establishing his guilt, then apparently absolving it, then proving it beyond doubt – other than to stall for time. Even during the brief period when Ness was established as apparently innocent, it was a tough pill to swallow, simply because story logic demands that he must be up to no good.
His villainy paves the way for Michael and Sara to get back together and we never thought Prison Break would be adventurous enough to have Tancredi pick her dangerous ex-husband over a safe bet voluntarily.
The path to Michael and Sara's happy ending (raising Mike Jr together as a united family) is now very much in sight and while it's more than possible that they'll be torn apart once more, it doesn't feel like that's where the show's headed when it's worked so hard, and engineered so many unlikely twists, to guarantee their happiness.
Bringing Michael and Sara back together is the first of two major get-togethers this week. 'Wine Dark Sea' finally reintroduces Sucre (Amaury Nolasco) to the series, six long weeks after his brief appearance in the premiere.
[Here's a promotional image of Sucre. He's in this new season so little, there aren't even any shots of him from any of the episodes.]
That cameo, in case you've forgotten, established that he's working on a cargo ship these days – exactly the mode of transport his old friends now need to carry them across the Atlantic and back onto US soil.
Painfully convenient, yes, but within minutes, it's clear that Sucre's naive charm is a vital ingredient that's been missing from previous episodes. And it's a thrill to see him share the screen with his "papi" Michael again – as with the episode's other reunion, our investment in the characters is crucial when it comes to playing out emotional beats.
By comparison, Prison Break's just expected us to care about newbie Whip (Augustus Prew) from the off, without giving us any real reason why we should – though 'Wine Dark Sea' does go some way to making the character less obnoxious, as he shares frank emotional exchanges with both his mentor Michael and later Lincoln.
It's one more sign that, while this episode might lack some of the popcorn thrills of previous weeks, what it has instead is more heart than the whole rest of the season put together.
With two long-awaited gatherings driving the story in new directions, 'Wine Dark Sea' returns us to the kind of tight, punchy storytelling the show exhibits at its best, a far cry from last week's directionless outing.
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