Prison Break Series Finale: Review & Discussion

Published 6 years ago by , Updated May 17th, 2009 at 9:25 am,

prison break season 4 Prison Break Series Finale: Review & Discussion


The 4th season series finale of Prison Break ended it’s dying ratings existence in its Friday night slot.

This final season trudged along while everybody was chasing Scylla.  The General wanted it, Christina Scofield wanted it.  China wanted it.  India wanted.  Hell, who didn’t want it?  I wanted it so I can find some dirt to write about.

I tried to break this down in a chronological order, but my new novel adaptation of Fox’s Prison Break was getting way too long.  The closing story became too convoluted with twists, turns and the reappearance of old characters that I felt that maybe I just needed to draw on my emotions about the finale and not try to detail out the episode.  We all say it. Right?

There are some SPOILERS included in one way or another, so you have been warned.

pb wentworth 1436trc Prison Break Series Finale: Review & Discussion

The brothers Michael (Wentworth Miller) and Lincoln (Dominic Purcell) went through a lot through the entire show: from Michael allowing himself to be incarcerated to help free his brother Lincoln for a crime he didn’t commit, to the endless manipulations they were put through to achieve their one true goal: freedom.

General Jonathan Krantz (Leon Russom) was the man who was in control until Michael undermined his entire infrastructure by snagging different parts of Scylla from his control.  The General’s only leverage on people was to have his operatives put everyone’s families and friends under the gun.  Literally.  In the end, his electrical reward was the perfect gift for all his deeds.

Christina Scofield (Kathleen Quinlan) was nasty.  The mother of Lincoln Burroughs and Michael Scofield, she was the nasty nail in everything.  She was a true “Company” operative that did what was necessary to get her job or goals done.  She even gave up her kids to affect her end game.  When all was said and done, her demise at the hands of Sara Tanchredi (Sarah Wayne Callies) was perfect.

pb robert k 1376rc Prison Break Series Finale: Review & Discussion

Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell (Robert Knepper) was the tragic Shakespearean character in this show.  Evil by impulse, he had gotten a taste of legitimate work and loved it.  An honest job was one of the lures that the General used to manipulate him into doing his bidding.

Yet T-Bag had a keen analytical mind that was wasted on crime.  In the end, the General’s biddings seemed to push T-Bag back to his core mode of murdering and “other” things.  Knepper made T-Bag incredibly believable and I couldn’t decide to like, hate or feel sorry for him.  In the end, his compulsive nature to take the easier path of crime landed him back where this all began, in a prison with some poor fool hanging on to his pocket linen.

Alexander Mahone (William Fichtner) was a catalyst of action when he had sufficient inspiration.  I really enjoyed Fichtner’s portrayal of the character.  In fact I like most of what William Fichtner does.  He proves that men with receding hairlines can get the job done!  Though he was forced to become allies with Scofield, things were worked out in the end for him.

Donald Self (Michael Rapaport) was the fed who promised immunity and gave the escapees blank paper for their work.  Who then found himself manipulated back into the fold to be part of this ragtag team of non-criminals (mostly) committing criminal deeds.  In the end, he was getting what he deserved as he found himself in a hospital.

Rappaport made us believe that Self was there to help, until he turned on the brothers.  Then we didn’t know what to think about his loyalties until I decided that Self was loyal to no one but his own end game.  In the end when he was put in a corner so to speak, his written defiance to the feds showed his loyalties finally cemented in with the gang and I’m mixed on his ending.  In some ways he deserved it for all his manipulations.  Then again, who deserves that kind of vegetative state?

Honorable mention though she wasn’t in the finale:

pb jodi 1244rc Prison Break Series Finale: Review & Discussion

Jodi Lyn O’Keefe as Gretchen Morgan.  I can’t remember a time when a character was done so well.  O’Keefe played Gretchen so well that A:  I hated every scene she was in.  B:  Every scene she wasn’t in, I was hoping the scene was producing some end-game to Gretchen’s demise.  Yea, it was that bad.  A kudos to the actress for scarring me for life.

The Finale Of Twists

Everyone had either been kidnapped or had someone they knew kidnapped or was going to be kidnapped.  The other angle that kept coming at me was that every 30 minutes or so, someone else had a gun to Michael’s head.  And everyone was tricking everyone.  At least Michael had dissected that damn Scylla.

All the on-the-sly maneuverings that went on allowed some old faces and other government entities to show up and finally get the upper hand.

There were a few fresh faces of old in the mix.  Fernando Sucre (Amaury Nolasco) and Benjamin Miles “C-Note” Franklin (Rockmond Dunbar). Sucre and C-Note show up as C-Note has a way for everyone to get himself or herself out of this endless spiral of legal trouble they keep finding themselves in and they work their way toward finding Michael and Lincoln.

And suddenly there’s Paul Kellerman, (Paul Adelstein) offering a legal way out of this whole debacle, as it seems he’s backed by the United Nations.  Man, everyone was in on this.

In the end, Kellerman had the power to exonerate everyone.  Sucre keeps the pen he used to sign his freedom.  Everyone bids farewell.  Everyone’s loved ones are safe.

The End Let A Steam Out Of My Bag

As everyone is settling into normalcy, Michael’s nose starts to bleed again.  You’ve got to be kidding me.  Then we jump to four years later and Michael is dead.

pb sarah 1 0858rca Prison Break Series Finale: Review & Discussion

It’s four years later and we watch Sara and Michael Jr. gather together with Sucre, Mahone and Lincoln to pay a remembrance visit to Michael’s grave.  Lincoln leaves the ever-iconic origami crane on top of the tombstone.

My Quick Take

This finale had to pack a lot into two hours.

Quick nit:  Did you notice the Verizon commercial showing off their streaming video in the first hour?  They were showing scenes that weren’t going to happen for another 45 minutes?  Just brilliant.

I think the show took a ton of extra turns and twists and steps to get where they were in the finale.

It felt like the writers never had an end game, but they let the writing take them wherever it did.  That works for some, but then in the end, it feels like writers are scrambling to account for things they hadn’t fully explored or finalized.

Even though I enjoyed watching the finale, there were so many different twists and turns in it that it got old for me.  At one point, we were just waiting for the close. It felt like an over-hyped James Bond action flick.  Sometimes there’s so much action that it is no longer exciting to see yet one more explosion.  Whoopee.

Michael’s death almost seemed to suck the emotion out of me.  It distracted from the entire journey of these four years.  It disappointed me that after all that work and effort, his only real reward was his own death.  Does that mean he’s truly escaped and is free now?  I don’t know.

I was hanging out on Twitter before and during the show and Twitter was aflame with frustration and anger toward the ending.  It seemed anti-climatic after all was said and done.

pb dom 8x10flat Prison Break Series Finale: Review & Discussion

For me, the image I can’t get out of my head, when all is said and done, is Lincoln putting the origami crane on Michael’s tombstone.  For me, that sad and touching scene will probably be my memory of this whole series.

At least my emotions were invoked one last time and they managed to engage my imaginative depression one last time before closing credits.

I thought the first two years were fantastic.

After that, I know that Fox wanted to keep a ratings winner in their pocket, but the stretching of the feasibility started after the gang got manipulated into helping Self and then everyone else and their mother (literally) after that.  If I stick to the first two years, I say fantastic.  The third year, well, yea, OK, it was still good.  But then this last season I was on-board solely out of sheer loyalty.  Loyalty and the hope for a great end game kept me watching.  I could not abandon Michael.  I needed to see how he came out of all this.

How did you feel about the finale of Prison Break, the season as a whole or the entire 4-year run?  Let us know.

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  1. It was the wrong ending for Michael, they could have written it any other way keeping him alive and it would have been aceptable, Michael was a great act but the writers ruined it, the whole show summed up how to be a single parent and screw over a woman who devoted herself in every way to the man she loves to just have him die. I followed this from the pilot and was hooked by Wentworth and Sarah Wayne Callies by how they portrayed their acts so strongly, but feel cheated, disapointed and god damb wasted time investing in people who in essence the writers didnt give a damb about.

  2. Yep Nicky. I’m bummed too. I’m thinkin’ no sequels with that kind of ending!


  4. The finale was so disappointing. What was wrong with Sarah, Michael, the baby and all their friends together as a big happy family in a beach walking freely into a beautiful sunset? Michael’s death leaves you feeling like the whole thing was all for nothing, with an empty feeling. Michael was the martyr from beginning ’till the end. Sure, the finale involves the viewer emotionally one more time and to that end the writers succeeded.

  5. great show i hope fox bring us more show like that


  7. the really sad thing is it means either they always intended to do tis all along,
    Or they had no idea what to do with Michael,
    So, they just kiled him off .

  8. First year: great. Second year: fantastic, with a brilliant season finale, third year: the show dragged a little. Fourth year: suddenly everything was about Scylla. Data. A disc (or 7), Michael and Lincoln should’ve found a way to get out of their deal with Don Self instead of working for him. Halfway into the final season the show picks up speed, but the last couple of episodes were dragging again.
    I think a more open ending would’ve served the show better. I agree that the fact that the writers killed off Michael leave a lot of (moral, ethical) questions. Never save your brother from a death sentence because in the end you’re gonna die?

  9. I found the finale to be perfect in every way…

    Michael dying at the end had a powerful emotional impact that I didn’t expect. Having his son in the last scene seemingly carefree was very symbolic as I felt he was reborn through his son.

    Agent Self’s ending was tragic as hell, he looses his family and then is chemically lobotmized by the corrupt FBI agents. The last scene with him looking out his hospital room balcony, (powerful!) As you know deep in his mind he wanted to jump and end it all but he was trapped in his own mind. Man that was a powerful scene.

    The final scenes showing all characters and how they ended up was brilliant. T-Bag not killed off as I expected but back in Jail!!! Lol, great loved it!!
    Kellerman the one who started this, ends up as the savior ,,, I didn’t expect to see him again, and he was great!
    The General ends up where Link started off, in the chair awesome!!
    Great writing I have no complaints at all the series was superb in delivering amazing performances by some great actors. The writing was great, and I’m really going to miss these characters!

    Sad ending, great ending,, ;-(

  10. I think the whole series was fantastic. At first I thought when they started going on the run after they got out of prison,Im like oh wow this is going to be ghetto. But in the end it turned out to be a really good show.I love how the writers took one concept and spanned it over a length of 4yrs.I think it was great.The Series finale was very disappointing though.i was very upset to see micheal die.i mean after all he went through and after all the talk of him and sara being together and him being a good father.wayyyy better parent than his mother was.and on top of that sara stayed by him thru thick and thin literally and they werent even married! she said by her mans side.that takes dedication and then Fox just kills him off.I mean geeze. having all the character(sucre,micheal,lincoln,sara,and c note)live a happy life would not have been would have been a perfect ending to all the trials and tribulations they went through.

  11. Did any one noticed the dates… Get away crisler minivan was of year 2008 on rental agreament… Energy confrence was heald on Wednesday, August 2nd, that can only be 2006… Michal’s tomb-stone says 1974-2005??? Does it mean we have more to see of Michal

  12. excellent review, thank you!

    I’ve just finished watching the last others said, I too find it sad that the series has ended, and the fact that Michael’s death marked the ending.

    The ending was sad, but not bad, as Michael’s death wasn’t in vain. He started this journey to save his brother’s life but he touched, and saved so many other’s lives..

    Good show overall but i must agree with the article’s author: season 1-2 were great, the rest -not so. Still I followed it through to the end.. and now I’m sad that it’s over :(

  13. This was a perfect show, perfect ending in every way… The ending was not bad at all. Michael dying near the birth of his son, was him being reborn as his son, and himself finally being able to rest. It sucks he doesn’t get to rest with his family, but he can watch over them from heaven. I just hope his son is as smart as him =] and i’m glad that all the characters ended up the way they did, self’s ending was very tragic tho =[ and so was brads, but you can’t keep all the characters living good and being happy to not realistic. But in the end great 4 seasons! enjoyed the breaking out of a high grade prison and then a low down one, and then breaking into a facility. Season 4 did drag on a lil, but Michaels character kept me entertained, just to see his next move!

  14. I’m thinking of taking a holiday to England for next week just so I Can see the final two episodes (which’ll be the movie here in America in a few months)…

  15. Prison Break sucked me in from the very first episode. Although there was alot of unnecessary ‘chasing’ … everything added up in the end.

    The cast was REMARKABLE..and they all did a great job portraying their characters. I too thought that the end was unjustified for Michael…the only true ‘hero’ in the show dies in the end? I’ll admit I sat through the ending of the show in tears.

    Anyway…KUDOS to all involved in the series. We can only hope that FOX will come through with something else at least half as good.

    I still can’t believe the series is over….dammit! :o)

  16. I’m not sure if that’s (Prison Break, The Final Break) still going to happen ???

  17. I’m a big prison Break Fan. I started to watch this since day one until today that I ended after 4 yrs of Stress in what would happen if….. Very sad and disappointing that Michael died…. Pudimos esperar mas de los escritores ya que la audiencia latina le gusta la acción y el suspenso, pero ese cambio tan drastico no es el credito que el personaje de Michael merece. No considero que Kellerman, a pesar de haberse pasado del dark side al lado bueno debio quedar como gran heroe. A great idea of an ending would be Michael leading Scyla with the UN and developing and creating new energy. From there, it can give the writers more room to expand a new season or end it there. Happy ending.

  18. I also have doubts about the dates on the grave… all PB happened on 2004-2005? can someone explain

  19. Hey folks.
    I’m still dizzy with the finale. Does anyone else have that “what now?” feeling after you’ve known you’ll never see it anymore?
    Well, agree with most people here. 1st and 2nd seasons were something else. 3rd was ok.
    4th… well, it seemed they were pushing harder and harder. Like there was nothing else to do then they made the whole Scylla thing, on a desperate move no make up something cool and regain audience. It seemed much faker than the other ones.
    The finale, though, recovered some of the magic of the first 2 seasons. C-Note and Sucre back, they were working as a team again… you could nearly feel the tension in the air.
    About Michael’s death, it was all too sad but I can’t convince myself that it was bad. I was shocked when they rewe in the cemetery and paralised when I read Michael Scofield on the grave. I guess that was spectacular from the point of view of the writers! They made it, they run the extra mile and squizzed the last drop of emotions out of all of us right in the last second.
    Now I’m anxious to see the 2 episodes that will come up. Hope I get a chance soon!

  20. About the dates on the grave, if you see Sara’s father grave on an old episode, you’ll read 1st of June 2005.
    On Michael’s grave, it reads 11-4-2005.
    One might get confused and think it was an error (how come Sara’s father died after Michael?).

    It might really be an error, but you’ve got to remember the whole american thing about months coming before the day in dates. So it could as well mean November – 4th – 2005.

    That is also rather strange since in the series it seems much longer since Sara’s father assassination.

  21. The ending scene makes me cry, I never expected a finale like this, why did they kill Michael? He’s the lead in this movie and the reason why i keep following the series…

  22. my dvr ran out of space, and i just watched it on HULU. i am just sad the show is over. this is truly the first series i have ever followed from start to end and never missed an episode. i am left feeling like some of you, a loss that the show and characters are gone. i like the idea of having scoffield leading the UN etc that someone else wrote. i think the ratings dropped, bc the show did drag so much, and placing it friday night didnt help. we all knew they couldnt be on the run forever, but they could have developed it into a 24 type of concept, a family concept…. etc…. not sure about the movie coming out to dvd that shows the four years leading up to his death and sarah in jail for killing christina, but at least we will get to see him have a relationship with a son, and perhaps then the ending will be more satisfying.

  23. We had it recorded, just watched the last show, I was crying hysterically! We never missed an episode. I am glad everyone is safe and with their loved ones…. I wont think Michael should have died though, very very sad, and to leave his little boy behind, that kills me. Whatever happened to LJ?

  24. I thought it was great to kill of Micheal, otherwise it would turn out that suddenly everything is perfect and happily ever least him dying added some emotion and realisticness

  25. and how the hell can Micheal be so young it is just completely unbelievable after seeing his tombstone i think he was like 21 that is soo unrealistic its not even funny

  26. Abubaker Haroon:

    “Michal’s tomb-stone says 1974-2005″

    I was going to mention the dates on the tombstone but the logic of it all made me doubt things. So I didn’t mention it. Nothing was making sense so I thought I was having delusions!

    Yea… they made themselves a blooper indeed.

    Thanks for helping clarify my sanity is not slipping.

  27. i have to say—of all the reviews I’ve read, yours perfectly describes how I felt about the finale.
    anyway, Ive watched this show since day1 and I even have the DVDs.I dont have complaints about the ending.Im just happy that they answered all my questions.If MS lived in the end,it would have been corny.
    Overall,great show,great actors,I will be a PB fan forever.

  28. Agreed.. all questions were answered excepts where is LJ? And very sad what happened to Don Self, but very good story. Big Prison Break fan, we even named our son after Lincoln, but spelled Linkin. Only 2 people have ever asked me if I got the name from the show. Yes I did.

  29. @Tasha,
    I remember seeing LJ with Link and Sofia at the end.

    “Prison Breaks” ending was very powerful. The show has a lot of fans and its tough to see the main character get killed. It was probably the beer but I was really saddened at the end. It was so bittersweet and the way it was filmed it just hit you like a brick! We see Michael Jr, and then we realize that Michael’s not in the flash forwards, then when your about to ask yourself is Michael dead?,,, they’re walking into the graveyard and bam! It just hits you that Michael died,,,and the show is over,,,forever,,,

    I agree that seasons 1 and 2 were the best but seasons 3 and 4 were better than any other CSI bs crap drama out there. Really gonna miss it. :-(

    I remember when it used to be on before “24” man those were the days,,,

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