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. I started watching Prison Break on Netflix 2 weeks ago…I was so engrossed that I couldn’t stop watching and finished all 4 seasons in that 2 weeks time. I don’t know if it was because I consumed my life with the characters…but the ending made me absolutely cry my eyes out and I seriously was “boo-hooing”. WHY?! I don’t care that the writers say “we thought it was an appropriate end because Michael did bad stuff during the series too.” Well if that is the case then there are PLENTY of other characters to kill off. I wouldn’t have even been that upset with ANY other character.
    To have Michael walk on the beach with sara, talking about what a great dad he is gonna be and “most informed dad ever” and all that…and then he doesn’t even get to meet his son! BS!
    It’s been 3 days since I watched the finale and the “second” finale…and I’m still depressed. In my expert fan opinion…there was no need to do that. The show could have ended just as good with him living. WHY BREAK OUR HEARTS?!? :(

    • And I totally agree with Bruce Simmons take on Gretchen…I absolutely HATED her and wanted her to die a slow torturous death.
      But I do like how Alex got his revenge on the guy who killed his son.
      …as far as Sara and Michael’s love story…I didn’t really see the connection untl the last season so of course that made it harder to see Michael die.
      So glad Sucre made it to the end. He had a special bond with Michael and he came through so many times.
      ok that’s my rant…for now !

    • I was the same as you! watched it all in 10 days (felt like a bit of a no life, but i was hooked) and then when they killed him off it set me into major depression :( i absolutely loved the first and second series and will definitely watch them again but it will make me so sad knowing what happens

      • Same here saw the entire series on Netflix in like 10 days. Damn I was sooo hooked on it that I stayed up until like 2 30 in the morning. I barely got like 3 hours of sleep during this time cuz I just couldn’t stop watching it. With all the twists and turns the series took I just couldn’t stop watching. It always kept me on the edge. Damn I swear I had no life the whole time I watched the series lol I would just get home from work and start watching it and neglect to clean my house lol

    • i just finished watching the series on netflix and totally agree with you. i was extremely up set over the way it ended, and think that they could have found a better way to end the series.

    • BTW…It was NOT lost on me how Michael died the same way he saved his brother from dying…by electrocution…BAD FORM! :(

    • the ending was not as it should be, but really it brought my teras out fr first time fr any tv progrm

    • The writers ruined the ending by killing scofield. Even if it had been their intention to make it a tragedy by killing a protagonist, season 4 had been too much of a plane crash to end it with such a big disappointment. The finale was sloppy and looked mostly like an under-done script just to end it all. Its funny how small mistakes and wrong choices destroyed such an amazing plot.

  2. WOWWWW I WAS TOOOO OBSESSEEDDDD. i watched this non stop day and night. I cried and punched things while completing the seasons. After putting 4 seasons in 8 days, I HATEEDDDD ITTTTTT. he shoulda never diedddd that broke my heart and made me so depresseddddddddd :( but he’s soooooo cuteeeeee <3

  3. I just finished watching every episode of prison break in seven days time. I have to say season 1-2, 4 were great but 3 just wasn’t as mind consuming as the first 2, my view on the ending is that it was very depressing to find out that Michael had died, I actually cried and I’m a dude, the writers could have him being a father to his son and it would have been much greater than killing him off. It’s good that they ended it when they did though because it would have been to drawn out like lost, and end up losing it’s interesting feature. Perfect actors, perfect performance, perfect show. Loved it

    • hey michael, oh my i can totally believe u cried it was so sad.. indeed the ending was very disappointing

    • Hey man, totally agree with you, couldnt of picked any more perfect characters to portray the roles given. and dont beat yourself bout the crying part. im a “tin man” type of guy and i balled my eyes out at the end, and even when Brad died too. sad stuff. amazing series, and in my opinion ranks up there with Lost as one of the all time great series ive watched over a course of 20yrs

  4. prison break is the best series to ever exist .,. i’ve never watched a series better then it.. I’m a hard core obssesive fan of prison break, and the through out the whole series i never complained i just cried a few times .. but in the final break when they killed michael, that was just too much for me to handle. its crazy how could they do that!! they ended prison break in a terrible way, after all his done michael shouldn’t have been the one to leave.. no :(

  5. I just finished watching Prison Break, all 4 seasons in about a month and I agree with all the other comments, how could they kill off the gorgeous Michael. What an absolute hunk and a great actor. Maybe they just wanted everyone to know that there would never be another season happening. Maybe he could do a “Bobby Ewing” and it was all a dream and he is still in prison in the shower! Phew. The last season was a bit mad though, all that running around, chasing each other with guns. I don’t think there was one character that didn’t get beat up at one point. However still a really enjoyable show which I will miss. Maybe someone can start a Bring make Michael page.

  6. I like everyone else here became hooked on Prison Break on Netflix. I am devastated that Michael died. I feel so cheated that the sacrifices Michael made for everyone to have their “happy ever after” eluded him? So unfair.

  7. I was so hooked on this and watched it in about two weeks, sadly someone spoiled the ending for me but I still had to watch it to figure out how it got to that point. I can’t stop thinking about that scene where everyone goes to Michael’s grave, seeing his son and everything made me so emotional. After season 1 and 2 though, I was getting a bit bored of it but overall it was an amazing series.. just didn’t think that things should’ve ended that way at all.

  8. The end bit, the writers screwed up in a very big way, so disappointed!

  9. I agree with all the others posting on the ending – it was terrible! Michael should not have died. It ruined the whole series for me. Guess I just like feel-good endings. Very depressing and unnecessary!

  10. I just came across it on telly a few weeks ago, ended up buying the box set and engrossing myself in the series with my husband, it is by far the most riveting and addictive show I have ever watched. The cast was perfect! but the ending, I cried my eyes out!!! not Michael, awww the fact that he had freedom, true love and a child to look forward to made it harder to accept that he died. I would have loved a happy ending…

  11. This is total bull. I honestly teared up at the ending when we found out that Michael died. He probably got to see his son though. He didn’t die in vain. I guess they got what they wanted a sad ending. I would of liked it a lot better if he didn’t die.

  12. I’m so depressed. I truly loved every minute of Prison Break. The last 30 seconds of the second last episode where they showed Michael’s gravestone destroyed every beautiful scene of the last four seasons. Okay, so he died of the brain tumour. That was heartbreaking. But then the season finale showed us how he died. He got fried. In a prison. He never got to see his son. That was beyond heartbreaking. It felt like the bad guys won and there was no hope or justice in the world. I still love the show but that last bit had me grieving and depressed.

    • Hey, doesn’t it take 5 years to achieve syndication (and therefore bigger residuals for all)? If so, why didn’t they do one more season?

    • My feelings towards the entire series same as you. It is extremely sad to see how were the most affected characters at the end Sara and Michael. After all did good for everybody, no intention to kill anybody. Finally they were the most unfortunate charactors. They could not enjoy their life a bit, with their family. Is there any message to be given – no bit of justice in this world ?

      • I agree with your comment.

  13. I have not started watching prison break, but the saddest part when i read the comments i understood that Michael is gonne die,, but i don really wanna know that :-(

    • word of advice… then you should not go and start checking out posts and forums about the show before you actually watch it… especially when they clearly say “spoilers” on top. ;-)

  14. I just finished watching Prison Break all 4 seasons again, and even though I knew the end and soo didn’t wanna watch it again…I still did. And to be fair it still doesn’t make any sense. I totally agree with all the other comments above, the writers or the director didn’t really have to do this. I still can’t find a reason WHY?? there was already overdose of emotions nd thrills going on that this wasn’t required. I think, to show the one of the most amazing character on TV and the strongest one who has been standing tall like a wall throughout the series.. to eventually die a brutal nd sad death that too in prison, where he spent all his time breaking from seems a bit too dark. I was depressed as well for days the first time nd kept thinking his soul would keep roaming in the prison forever because that’s so not a good way to go. I’d like to believe good things happen to people who help others and hav a good heart. But, seems like someone convinced the director that if he doesn’t kill might have to make another season. So this way he can concentrate on the next thing…It was a total mistake to kill Sarah like he did before and he “unconvincingly” tried to correct it later , and it was a mistake to kill Michael as well, that sadly can’t be corrected now. But the show overall is truly amazing.

  15. The entire epioses remind us a Shaekespearen drama – his all characters are in it. Isn’t Michael is a “Tragic hero”???????? I believe the the prodcuers wanted to stage a modern shakespearan drama.

  16. I hated the ending. Yes, of course it’s good to have a little sob and years watching a tv show, but even watching videos on YouTube of Sara and michael tributes makes me bawl for hours, not even going to start on the final break… Actually I am. It was brilliant in so many ways, but I think in a way, michaels death kind of ruined the best show I’ve ever watched. He was by far the most loved character and he died. I watched the finale about 2 months ago, and I still cry thinking about it. Definitely should have done another follow up where Michael is actually alive and working in the army or something.

  17. Absolutely loved the show. I even understand that Michael was completely selfless so the writers figured have him end that way in a selfless manner. However, that was a horrible ending,to kill the best, heroic character ever and where he was killed, ironic yes, but terrible. Ruined the whole show for me, being the end of the series they could have given him a happy ending or even had him fake his death to save everyone from the general’s revenge as fake deaths were a theme of the show. Sometimes a happy ending is needed. Michael was the best and Wentworth miller played him spectacularly!!!! The writers messed up with the end.

    • I meant to say loved the show until the ending; ruined the whole thing for me.

  18. f****** Americans..You want every hero-person in the end to live..Prison Break had an amazing end..It was Michael heroic death that made this series legendery.

  19. I agree. I am an American thank you. But I do agree I thought his death was actually a good ending, even though it broke my heart. What I don’t understand and hopefully someone can shed light on is why in the series finale part 2 ended that way and then there was an extra final prison break episode. I watched the ending part 2 seeing his grave and then on Netflix is has an extra 89 minutes final prison break epsiode. So what was that? An alternate ending? Bc I was pissed he died and then had to watch a whole episode knowing what the ending already was. It almost left like it was out of order. Why wasn’t the 4 years later piece after the ” final break epsiode?”

    This is really bothering me because I just finished it on Netflix

  20. If they had ended the series, after they were all exonerated, at that beach party, it would have been perfect in my opinion. Great ending.

    The whole thing with Sara getting imprisoned, and BS with that video angle only showing her, was just so horrible. Grrr.
    I could go on.. but you all saw it. :)

    Great show in many ways. Also quite annoying.

  21. I just finished all 4 seasons on Netflix and this is the best show I’ve ever seen! I had seen season 1 and 2 when they came out and never finished the last 2 seasons! So to refresh my memory I watched 1 and 2 again lol…seriously I wish Michael didn’t die that was so sad/depressing. I understand why the writers did it but I would rather have him alive and enjoying his life with Sarah and the baby :( it made me cry so much! I just wish it didn’t end that way Michael was so wonderful

  22. I, like mostly everyone else just finished watching Prison Break on Netflix in 2 weeks. And I’m really really really upset that Michael died. There was absolutly no need for that. I mean the man practically gave his life for everyone else on that show and for him to die in such a cruel manner was irrational. I literally cried my eyes out on episode 22 when I saw Linc and Sarah at his gravesite…so unfair. :’(

  23. I watched parts of the series years ago when it was on tv. I never knew what happened in the beginning or the end so I watched all 4 seasons within a couple weeks. I was obsessed as well. It takes a lot for me to cry, but the ending definitely made me. I don’t think they should have killed Michael off. I was hoping that maybe they faked his death so the Company would give up looking for them. I think my favorite part of the entire series, is that enemies became good friends (such as Mahone and Lincoln). I want to already watch it again in case I missed any good deals.

  24. I watched the whole thing in 5 days. I ended up spending 11 hours just to stay there till dawn to see the end and I thought it was all gonna be okay and that they are gonna be free but then Michael died.. I had to bite onto something to stop myself from screaming with tears. Never came across such a disappointing ending. I’ve cried for days and in major depression. But overall, Prison Break is the greatest TV series to run on television. I absolutely loved every bit of it, especially season one. Just wished for a better ending honestly. He was the reason I kept watching it cos I would’ve stopped watching it when they went into Sona cos it was just pointless.

  25. I watched the whole thing in 5 days. I ended up spending 11 hours just to stay there till dawn to see the end and I thought it was all gonna be okay and that they are gonna be free but then Michael died.. I had to bite onto something to stop myself from screaming with tears. Never came across such a disappointing ending. I’ve cried for days and in major depression. But overall, Prison Break is the greatest TV series to run on television. I absolutely loved every bit of it, especially season one. Just wished for a better ending honestly. He was the reason I kept watching it.

  26. I just wished for a better ending. I had to bite into something to stop myself from screaming with tears cos I did think they were gonna be free at the end but overall, great show! Loved almost everything.

  27. I still wonderin’ what a sad ending after Michael showed his gud humanity!!!thus touching guys!

  28. I wished Michael to survive en share some lovely moments btwn his brother,sara,sucre,kid,but it all get ruined tha entire en quiet movies series when he died!!!

  29. I could never take the General seriously, he reminded me so much of Leslie Nielsen so I always laughed like crazy when he did a certain facial expression.