Showtime’s Escape at Dannemora
Directed by Ben Stiller
Written by Brett Johnson & Michael Tolkin
* For a recap & review of Part 4, click here.
* For a recap & review of Part 6, click here.
David Sweat (Paul Dano) keeps on working behind the walls of the prison, leaving a dummy in his bed to make it look like he’s fast asleep. He spends his nights in the hot, cramped spaces beyond the cells, each night getting closer and closer to his and Richard Matt’s (Benicio del Toro) hopeful freedom. Just him getting to the area where he’s cut the second pipe is a trek in and of itself. But it shows exactly how far they’ve been getting, how near they are to the final stages of their plans at the prison and before the next leg of their journey begins, and David times every step.
And now it’s come to David peeking out of the manhole on the street— they’ve arrived. It’s the first breath of fresh, free air Mr. Sweat has had in years. Not long, then he and his pal will each get the chance to breathe freely. He heads back to his cell, where they quietly celebrate the fact they’ll soon get out.
Things with Tilly Mitchell (Patricia Arquette) and husband Lyle (Eric Lange) are no better. She chastises him for “being a fucking pussy” when she wants to get a donut before work, potentially making them late. She’s generally awful to everyone around her, whether it’s the guards at work or the lady at the doughnut shop. She has no real time for anyone around her. She’s totally consumed with the dream of being with David and helping the two inmates get to Mexico.
It’s June 5th, “Fried Chicken Friday,” and the plan’s ready to go midnight.
Tilly’s nervous, though her prison lovers are set on taking action. The workshop’s tense with yet another guard manning the place. There’s also ole Hacksaw Matt’s prison troubles. His nemesis – perfectly named Murder (Michael Beasley) – is out of the box, and the racist white dudes want to help Richard with his problem. Matt tries to keep a lid on things until the next day, potentially offering an incident to take heat off their approaching escape.
Gene Palmer (David Morse) shows up at Matt’s cell, apologising for how things went between them recently re: the burger meat from Tilly. He doesn’t want things to be nasty. He offers the prisoner a nip of booze from his flask as a way of reconciling their differences. The two men share a drink together in Matt’s cell. The inmate starts asking Gene about if he ever thought of “leaving town” in a permanent sense. Is he laying groundwork to convince the escort guard to help in some way with the breakout.? Is he just gauging how Gene feels?
Well, there are other things he has to deal with anyway, such as the situation with Murder. Matt doesn’t listen to Sweat on the night of the 5th. David would rather avoid the yard and any possible fights, but Matt heads outside. This is when the white nationalist gang decide it’s time to start a near race war on the yard, resulting in brutal violence and utter chaos. Tear gas is deployed and lots of guards are called outside. The administration decide whether or not it’s time for a lock down, and this could adversely affect the inmates’ plan. “Too much overtime” results in no lock down. All the prisoners are gradually taken back to their cells.
Out for Chinese, Tilly’s debating whether to spike Lyle’s drink with the drugs she was given by Richard. She’s conflicted to the bitter end. She really doesn’t even seem to love her husband anymore, she only wants this life out there with David, with the two escapees in Mexico someplace. And she’ll do whatever it takes to attain that life. Even if that means hurting the man she married, the stupidly loyal, child-like Lyle. She has a breakdown at the table, saying she’s having “a heart attack.” Lyle rushes her to the hospital, where a doctor checks her out.
Meanwhile, the inmates are on their way towards freedom. At midnight, they’re right below the manhole cover, and Tilly is being put to sleep for the night in her hospital bed. Richard and David make it onto the street, trying to act natural while a car passes and a man yells at them for wandering into his yard. They don’t know Tilly isn’t coming. They’ve got to decide what to do. David suggests they go to the mountains and cross into Canada when they’re able, but Richard doesn’t like the idea. They have 5 hours until bed check at the prison. Either way, right now, these men are outside the walls, and they’ll enjoy it as long as it lasts.
Nice ending with “Carefree Highway” by Gordon Lightfoot. Classic tune!
“You’re a good man, Lyle Mitchell.”
What an episode! This series has been top notch, all the way through. The slow build is part of understanding the characters. Things have gotten so intense gradually watching the three leads progress. Part 6 is next time.