(Note: This review covers the second half of the series finale event. A previous review covered the first half.)
The irony of this series finale is that it's technically not the series finale. The upcoming direct-to-DVD release, "Prison Break: Final Break", presents two episodes set in the period before the epilogue in this episode. It's not necessary to see those extra episodes to get the gist of what happens, but it does present a slight disconnect in terms of closure. It would have been better if FOX had agreed to air those two episodes and tack the epilogue onto the very end. (As such, based on the separate nature of the release, those episodes will not be counted as part of the fourth season.)
My biggest problem with this episode was the resolution of the fight against the Company. The entire fourth season has been a reflection of the second season, in that it was about escaping the metaphorical prison of the Company's power over all their lives. As such, there was the logical expectation that Michael would be the one to make it happen, as the troubled genius at the heart of the series.
Instead, Michael is bailed out twice. First, he is saved by Sucre and C-Note when all his other options have evaporated. It makes for a great moment, and it harkens back to Michael's admission that his plans would never succeed without the right people in the right places, but he was completely unaware that they were coming. I can see what the writers were going for, in terms of unexpected twists, but it was disappointing.
But far worse was the decision to have a reformed Paul Kellerman come to Michael's rescue with a deal that came out of nowhere. While it's certainly true, as Michael admits, that there was no other option left, especially with Mahone and Sucre in federal custody, it's a huge deus ex machina solution to the problem. Perhaps worse, this issue could have gone away if the writers had seeded the season with hints that the organization founded by Michael and Lincoln's father was still viable and they were moving in the shadows.
This is unfortunate, because otherwise, the writers did a fairly good job wrapping up the main plot points, particularly in terms of the character arcs. I'm thrilled that Mahone survived and found some measure of happiness, Lincoln gets his freedom, all the villains end up dead or back behind bars where they belong, and Sara and Michael get some short measure of happiness.
The only quibble I have is Michael's fate. The epilogue was very well done, and I love the idea that those particular characters go to Michael's grave every year and pay their respects. I was most gratified by the presence of Mahone, who seems to be on very good terms with the rest of the Escape Squad now. My problem is that his death seems unnecessary out of the context of the struggle to break free of the Company. Why let him survive that, only to kill him (in a supposedly ironic move) with a condition that was supposedly cured?
I can certainly understand that the writers didn't want to go for the 100% happy conclusion when all was said and done, but there were far more elegant ways of making it happen. And while I get the thematic intention of having Michael lose his life after metaphorically giving it up for the sake of his brother in the pilot, it just wasn't satisfying to have it happen in that specific way. But maybe that's the perfect ending for a show that is best remembered for its mixture of wild creativity and inexplicable plot contrivances.