SPOILER ALERT: This story contains plot details from the first episode of Prison Break‘s season five.
Prison Break cast and creatives were on hand at Paley Center’s PaleyLive event with Wentworth Miller, Dominic Purcell, Robert Knepper, Rockbound Dunbar, Paul Adelstein, Mark Feuerstein, Inbar Lavi, Augustus Prew, Creator and Executive Producer Paul T. Scheuring, EP Vaun Wilmots, and EP Michael Horowitz in attendance to speak on the show’s upcoming fifth season.
Before the panel discussions, fans were treated to a screening of the first episode, ahead of its April 4 premiere on Fox. The episode picks up seven years after season 4 left off as Lincoln (Purcell) discovers his brother Michael (Miller) is alive, although no detail is given as to how this is possible.
When it came to Michael’s resurrection and the season’s storyline, Scheuring looked to the epic classic The Odyssey for inspiration. “I thought about it for a while. ‘How can we tell a story creatively rewarding for the audience in a new way.'” At the end of season four, he continued, “Michael had apparently expired and he had married the woman that he loved and had a child that he’d never seen before. I knew that if we were going to do the show, we’re going to have to say, ‘this is a story of a man coming back to life’. The emotional core of it is him going back to reunite with that woman and see the son he’s never seen, at that point I said,’ I do know that story, that’s The Odyssey.'”
The season opener finds Michael imprisoned in a Yemen jail, under the guise of a terrorist. At the end of the episode, he is reunited with his brother Lincoln, but claims to have no clue as to who he is.
“You could take the position that Michael died in the end of original series,” said Miller about the Michael that everyone knew. “The man they meet in these nine episodes is someone different.”
Despite this, Lincoln is determined to save his brother. “He lost all hope and reason for living,” Purcell said on his character’s disposition. “With the possibility that his brother might be alive and Lincoln decides to investigate that thoroughly, there’s a sense of hope that’s restored.”
Deviating from the topic of storyline, in order to address “the elephant in the room,” Scheuring pointed to a visible scar on Purcell’s head that resulted from a set made of metals, woods, and wires collapsing on him while filming on location in Morocco. The incident left his skull exposed and took 250 stitches to patch up. The Moroccan doctors said he would have been a quadriplegic were it not for the musculature of his neck, Scheuring shared. “What was impressive about Dominic was that within 36 hours” he was ready to get back to work. “He was a testament to fortitude and resilience.”
Getting back to the episode, moderator and Entertainment Weekly writer Natalie Abrams pointed out the show’s references to modern topical issues, such as unrest in the Middle East, but Scheuring insisted that the show has “no interest whatsoever” on making political “commentary in terms of America or the Middle East.”
“There’s plenty of political discourse in this world… and we don’t really want to be a part of that.” He said his intention was to “create a world that is so foreign” where the characters “were the outsiders.” He continued, “moreover, the institutions that they were using to help Michael get out were subsequently collapsing” as they try “to break this person not just out of a prison but also a war zone, that creative abstract is what we were trying to satisfy from the outset.”
When asked about the possibility of a sixth season, Scheuring remained coy. “I think that’s an April 5th question. It all comes from Fox ultimately. Another season wouldn’t happen unless they felt it was within their interest.” On his part, he said, “we as a group have to arrive at a story that we feel is worth telling. Creative integrity is really important and if we could arrive at a story that we felt was worthwhile, then it’s possible.”
Purcell echoed similar sentiments, adding, “only if it was paying homage to the Prison Break legend.” Miller said that “these nine episodes are potentially a satisfying way to fade to black but if there was some idea that was exciting and we were confident could stand besides those that came before then I’d be open to that conversation.”
The new season of Prison Break debuts next Tuesday at 9 PM on Fox.