Prison Break works best when it has compelling villains. The first two seasons — unequivocally the high point of the series — featured strong antagonists like Kellerman, Vice President Reynolds, and Mahone. The story lines that put them in pursuit of our heroes kept viewers invested and interested, not minding the time away from Michael, Lincoln, and Sara.
I knew Paul Kellerman and Caroline Reynolds and Alexander Mahone. They were favorites of mine. Cyclops, A&W, and Van Gogh, you’re no intriguing villains.
On paper, this could have been a great episode of Prison Break. Michael and Lincoln on the run, making their way through unknown lands with enemies in hot pursuit? Count me in. Oh, Cyclops is the one following them? Hard pass. For some reason, the creative team behind the series has positioned this poorly crafted caricature as a crucial part of their revival. And in “Phaecia,” when we weren’t spending time with Cyclops, who was kept alive last week only for plot reasons, the less than captivating duo of A&W and Van Gogh were getting a spotlight. We can at least be thankful Jacob got the week off.
Luckily for us, the episode at least begins with people we care about. Michael, Lincoln, Whip, and Ja have found yet another abandoned structure to hide in; these ISIL guys are pretty terrible at their building sweeps. “I’m exactly where I don’t want to be — improvising,” says Michael, whom I’m now picturing doing terrible improv at UCB. Mr. Always Has a Plan gets a break from decision making as Lincoln suggests they go see Omar, the same guy who previously screwed him over on the passports.
The boys find Omar loading up his truck to get out of dodge and head to Phaecia, an old smuggling town in the desert. Although he’s not happy to see these wanted men, Omar says for the sake of Sheba they can go with him if they fetch his other car, even teasing the possibility of getting a boat from the oceanside location. Considering the battery on the second vehicle is dead, he suggests they all go because they might have to push it. Nice try; Whip is left behind to keep an eye on their shady friend.
Unsurprisingly, Omar is a liar. The car starts right up, which seems like goods news, but ISIL has them trapped in the garage… or do they?! Once again, Lincoln goes full Fast & Furious mode (I’m determined to mention the franchise every recap), driving them through a makeshift wall. They head back to give Omar a stern word or two and find that he knocked out and tied up poor Whip. Once saved, Michael’s angry whip hand showcases his increasingly noticeable temper. “I can’t wait to kill him,” declares Whip, who isn’t getting the chance yet since Omar is their map to Phaecia. The five-man group heads off on the long journey in Omar’s two vehicles.
Back in the U.S., we’re getting our first real introduction to Agent Kishida, whom we last saw talking to Van Gogh and A&W before they killed his former coworker Kellerman. He’s quite the snake, already making himself at home in his deceased boss’ office. His new position comes with great responsibility, including looking into Poseidon’s rogue CIA group 21 Void. Kishida’s higher-up is demanding to see Kellerman’s research, which the squirmy agent insists is useless. He gives her the file — a file it seems to me that he switched out.
The suggestion of this being a possible inside job has Kishida spooked, prompting him to call A&W and Van Gogh. He wants an update on the “situation in the Middle East” from the just-out-of-jail pair. A&W promises they will meet when she’s back in town. We get a little background on the female assassin: Her real name is Emily (such a seamless transition to A&W), and she worked at the NSA for 10 years but grew tired of just watching from afar, so she jumped at Poseidon’s job offer. She’s now back at the NSA to procure a favor from a former lover, who will help them track Kaniel, a.k.a. Michael. Quite the favor; A&W must be one hell of a female lothario.
Let’s get back to the boys on the run. Omar is apologizing to Whip for the whole “hit him from behind and tie him up” thing. But Whip doesn’t want to hear it; he’s much more interested in why the car is full of fireworks. And speaking of fireworks — Sheba calls Lincoln to tell him they’re in Jordan awaiting a flight to the U.S., and it’s all thanks to him. If Lincoln manages to make it out of Yemen alive, then he’s got a hot date waiting for him. As sweet as the phone call is, it ends up backfiring; the NSA is tracking C-Note’s phone and quickly has a drone hovering over the crew, who are making a gas stop. Van Gogh creeps into the corner of the NSA’s room to secretly call one of Ramal’s prominent followers to share the location of the terrorist leader’s killers. How did he get the number of this random Yemen ISIL member? Don’t hurt your head by asking these reasonable questions.
While Lincoln is filling up the gas tanks and Ja is basking in the open desert, Michael heads inside to use the internet. What for? Is he going to finally update his fantasy team? Change his relationship status to “It’s complicated”? Nope, he’s video chatting with Blue Hawaii. Who is this man? No idea. Conveniently, the video isn’t loading on Michael’s end, so we can only hear this mystery person. The conversation doesn’t last long since somehow Ramal’s men have already caught up to them. Michael has Blue Hawaii take a screenshot of him and his new palm tattoos. The guys are facing quite the odds against the ISIL soldiers, especially since they only have one bullet. It turns out, though, one bullet is all Whip needs, shooting a gas truck and causing an explosion that knocks out all the baddies. That’s the good news; the bad news is that Omar was shot. They load him up and head for the desert. Not long later, Michael stops his vehicle because they’re officially lost. Their map, a.k.a Omar, is dead.
Thinking they’ve ditched all of the people on their trail, the boys take the time to give Omar a proper burial — quite the gentlemanly move considering how many times he tried to screw them over. Attempts at figuring out their next move are interrupted by Cyclops. Yes, Cyclops is back and as terribly useless as ever. He’s been able to track them through their tire marks. Cyclops also has the added benefit of more gas than they have, which leads Michael to continue to live up to his nickname: Mr. Always Has a Plan. One person will cause a diversion and prompt Cyclops to follow them, leaving the other three to safely find Phaecia. They’re going to draw rocks to see who the (un)lucky winner is. I would bet my life savings that Michael sets this up where he’s the one. And that’s exactly how it plays out. All he asks is that they leave tracks so he can find them once he hopefully loses Cyclops. Good luck; this guy is unkillable, unlosable, and uninteresting.
Just because Cyclops isn’t trailing them anymore doesn’t mean Lincoln, Whip, and Ja are home free. They’re still lost until a clearer-than-ever Ja (goodbye drugs!) spots gulls flying around, indicating the birds are headed for the seaside — and Phaecia. The bird GPS works perfectly, and the trio arrives at the beautiful and peaceful town. The people are bummed not to see Omar, but they still take in the newcomers, and there’s also mention of that boat Omar teased! Cue the soon-to-be inevitable and welcomed reappearance of Sucre.
Good for them that they’re safe and sound, but Michael is still in trouble, even more so when he begins to run out of gas. But don’t worry — he’s got that look in his eyes. Our man has a plan… again. Cyclops spots Michael’s car completely stopped, so he slowly makes his approach. There’s no one in the vehicle, and that’s because Michael comes flying off the top rope like John Cena. As the two brawl, Michael grabs a screwdriver, eventually stabbing Cyclops in his one good eye. His fellow terrorists will really pick on him now! It’s not all a victory for Michael, as the no-eye bad guy manages to stab him back. Michael escapes, leaving a still-alive Cyclops behind. For real, we better not see this guy again.
Having been booted out of the NSA offices, A&W and Van Gogh are investigating Michael’s mysterious internet chat. They’ve traced Blue Hawaii to a mansion is Portland, Maine. Who is behind the door? Mahone? L.J.? Nope, an Elvis impersonator. Blue Hawaii should have been a dead giveaway.
Ja’s loving his time in Phaecia. He’s traded in drugs and Queen for fresh air and fireworks. I guarantee he decides to stay there for good. Lincoln is rightfully feeling pretty bad about leaving Michael behind, so he’s determined to go find his little brother. “Doing nothing’s not an option,” he says, to which Ja responds, “I didn’t say do nothing.” Oh snap. I’m starting to think we might need to be calling Ja “The New Mr. Man With a Plan.”
Hopefully it’s a good plan, because the former plan master could really use some help. Michael is in bad shape, bleeding and stumbling his way through the desert. Soon, he falls for what may be the last time, as flashbacks of the good ole days appear. That’s usually a precursor to death. But, wait… his eyes fly open upon a loud sound. FIREWORKS! Lincoln is lighting some and calling his brother’s name. Seeming resigned to it not working, Lincoln declares, “That’s it.” That’s not it! Michael found them, only to instantly collapse. And that’s what they call a cliffhanger.