• Sat, May 16 2009

Matt Olmstead Talks Series Finale

422pbfinale_Sc51_0064.jpgMatt Olmstead answers a LOT of questions about the series finale! TVGuide.com and EW both have interviews with Matt that they have revealed.

I can now somewhat understand their reasoning for killing off Michael. But you know what – everyone’s hands were dirty. Even Sara killed someone. It doesn’t mean they needed to kill off everyone!

TVGuide.com: At what point during the four-year run did you decide that Michael would die in the end?
Matt Olmstead: At the beginning of this season, we had a debate about it. I was on NYPD Blue and I came on during Season 6, which was Jimmy Smits’ last arc — and it was some of the best TV ever. They had the thought that when a character goes that’s beloved, if you drop a safe on his head, the audience is going to hate you, because they haven’t had a chance to mourn. So let’s show up early that the character has a [health] problem. [NYPD Blue creator] David [Milch] did it brilliantly [with Smits' character dying of heart failure], and I always remembered that. So when we met with the writers after the [WGA] strike, we asked ourselves: Is Michael going to last? Either way, let’s [give him] a nosebleed in Episode 1. That way we can kind of suggest that something’s up, and it also gives us the opportunity to play some scenes — if we want to go down this road — where Sara can mourn it, Lincoln’s aware of it, and the audience is aware of it. Then they too have a chance to mourn the loss.

TVGuide.com: What was Wentworth Miller’s take on the matter?
Olmstead: He ultimately liked it. He had heard rumblings, and when that script went out, a complimentary email came back from him, because he saw the merits of it. The idea of Michael not making it stemmed from a conversation he and I had in Season 2. He said that at this point [Michael's] hands were as dirty as anyone’s, and that was something we addressed along the way, this mounting guilt. “I broke my brother out of prison, the ramifications of which have included people getting killed” — neither he the actor nor the character were ignorant or dismissive of that. So the idea of a finale where [in the coda] he doesn’t make it but everyone else does was the right ending for him as an actor. For Michael to have traipsed off into the sunset with Sara may have seemed a little like, “Hey, good for you guys.”


TVGuide.com: But the network fought you on the death, right?
Olmstead: It was split over there; half the people wanted to see Sara and Michael together, and half saw the merit in Michael not making it. Once they saw the scripts, they agreed unilaterally that it was the right move to make.

TVGuide.com: It should be noted that Michael is alive in Prison Break: The Final Break (a two-hour standalone movie slated for a July 21 DVD release).
Olmstead: Right. The Final Break takes place shortly after everyone’s exoneration, so we go back and see Michael alive.

TVGuide.com: That was a nice little wink you had there with Michael Jr. getting a fake tattoo.
Olmstead: Yeah, it was [writer/co-executive producer] Nick Santora who had that idea.

TVGuide.com: Let’s talk about the returns. Did Paul Adelstein (now on Private Practice) foresee your phone call coming? I have always told him that Kellerman would one day resurface.
Olmstead: I’ve run into him occasionally, and I’d say, “One day you’ll get a phone call.” He was always enthusiastic about it. We didn’t know obviously what the storyline was going to be, but we increasingly wanted to save it for the finale.

TVGuide.com: Rockmund Dunbar [who plays C-Note], I have to imagine, was a bit more surprised.
Olmstead: I think so. We knew that this was [the end], and who did we the writers want to see back? Who would make a nice impact in terms of the viewers? We didn’t want to just bring him back in a service role; we wanted him to come back for a plot twist.

TVGuide.com: Did you consider bringing back Patricia Wettig’s disgraced President Caroline Reynolds?
Olmstead: No, no…. That character is done.

TVGuide.com: And were none of the various Maricruz actresses available?
Olmstead: We thought about it, but all that we really see is probably her holding the child, or saying one line. It just wasn’t worth our while — and I doubt the actresses would have been interested either.

TVGuide.com: Robert Knepper told TV Guide Network’s Hollywood 411 that the fate you chose for T-Bag was the “greatest” of all the options.
Olmstead: I think it was very poetic. For us [the coda] was the right combination of people getting just desserts, sweet surprises and tragedy. People were saying that you couldn’t have T-Bag still on the loose, that you couldn’t do the Hannibal Lecter version of it, because that would put a black mark on Michael. That he unleashed this monster on the world. Nor could you kill T-Bag, because ironically he was too loved by the audience. So we put him back where he started, but with a heartache. He overhears this thing about GATE and it strikes a chord. It reminds him of what he almost had.

TVGuide.com: That was an interesting romantic twist you did there with Mahone.
Olmstead: That was one of the surprises. Here he is, sending a birthday card to his ex-wife, yet now he’s with his former [FBI] colleague [Felicia Lang]. We provide more “what happened” information on that in The Final Break.

TVGuide.com: When last you and I spoke, you said that Michael’s overnight tattoo removal was your least-proud moment. Looking back on the show’s run, what are you most proud of?
Olmstead: The thing I am by far the most proud of is that the [writing] staff was pretty much the same through all four years. There were people who were there from the beginning to the very end — Zack Estrin, Nick Santora, Karyn Usher — and we had other writers who came up through writers’ assistants and then got staffed — Seth Hoffman, Kalinda Vazquez, Christian Trokey…. It was a very tight group, and everything was done collectively, because it is such a serialized show. Every outline was tabled as a group, every script was tabled as a group, every cut was watched as a group…. We got to see people evolve and flourish and evolve, and as luxury to me, I had eight people who were all heavy hitters. At the beginning of this season, we were at a crossroads with the network and the studio — it was post-strike, an accelerated process — about what we were going to do. We had to really show them something, and everybody pitched in and we solved it.

TVGuide.com: Is there any ratings number you can hit with the series finale that will get The Final Break broadcast on Fox?
Olmstead: I really don’t know. I don’t even know if they’ve seen it, being busy preparing for the [May 18] upfronts. But we’re really proud of it, and I hope you like it.

EW also chatted with Matt…

Why’d you have to kill him?!
MATT OLMSTEAD: It started as a discussion with Wentwoth [Miller] around Season 2. He brought up a good point: His character’s hands are as dirty as anyone’s. If you look at the initial act that he committed — robbing a bank to get into prison to break his brother out — there were ramifications to that; a lot of people got hurt. Not by them, but when they rattled the cage of the company that was after them, the body count started to pile out. And Michael was aware of this. And we’ve addressed his guilt throughout the show. But at a certain point, it felt nobler to have the character die so that others could live. It just felt a little weird for us to have Michael and Sara holding hands on the beach walking away — though that would be gratifying in the moment. Knowing that there was pretty much a scorched path behind them in terms of what happened, [having him die] balanced the books for us. He also paid the ultimate sacrifice and, in doing so, everyone else close to him wa! s able to live, including his child.

Michael-Sara fans will argue that they deserved a happy ending after watching these two go to hell and back for four seasons. What would you say to them?
OLMSTEAD: For me, it is a happy ending. Look at the very first episode of the season when Michael realizes Sara’s alive. They have a chance to run away, and they both elect not to because, as two people of conscience, they can’t live with what they both now have experienced. And at the end of the finale, when they’re on the beach and talking about the baby that’s coming, that’s a huge victory in that they both stood their ground and, with the help of other people, brought down the ultimate antagonist. So they have their moment.

Can we assume that we’ll learn more about the ultimate sacrifice Michael made in the two-hour direct-to-DVD prequel movie [due July 28]?
OLMSTEAD: Yes, it dramatizes what happened to Michael. The nose bleed that reared its ugly head at the end of [tonight's finale] was a factor in his ultimate demise in that he knew that he probably didn’t have that long to live, but it wasn’t the sole factor. It informed certain decisions that lead to his demise.

The two-hour movie picks up right after the finale, right?
OLMSTEAD: Yeah, it takes place fairly soon after they’re exonerated.

What’s the premise?
OLMSTEAD: Sara is on the hook for [killing] Michael’s mother and she gets locked up while pregnant. The tables are turned  once a doctor in prison now imprisoned, and Michael’s on the outside. The majority of the cast is back. It’s Michael, Lincoln, Sara, Sucre, T-Bag, Mahone… all the heavy-hitters.

Seeing Paul Adelstein back as Kellerman was a nice surprise. How’d that come about?
OLMSTEAD: We reached out to Paul and pitched him the idea of what his character would be doing, and he liked it very much. And then I told him that we would be jumping ahead four years to show where all the characters are, and I asked him where he would want [Kellerman] to be; he was included in the [creative process]. We traded a lot of e-mails and the ideas ran the gamut. We ultimately arrived at what it was, which is he rose to a position of power, but that the widow of his [former] partner that he killed revisits him. In the scene I wrote, she spits on his shoes. [On the day of shooting], I got a call from the director, Kevin Hooks, and he said, “Paul’s here, and he [thinks] she would spit in his face.” And I said, “Have at it.” So she spit in his face. And then he’s in the limo afterward and you can see that private moment where [he realizes] he can never outrun his past. That’s one of my favorite sequences in the flash-forward. He played the self-loathing and regret be! autifully.

Did you encounter any problems getting ABC to loan him to you since he’s now on Private Practice?
OLMSTEAD: Everybody was very accommodating, and I think it all stems from a universal goodwill towards Paul as a person. He’s a really good guy and people wanted to do him a favor. And we were able to get all his scenes done in one day.

Was there anyone you wanted to get back for the finale and couldn’t?
OLMSTEAD: The only person we couldn’t get was Marshall Allman, who played Lincoln’s son. We would have loved to have gotten him.

Looking back on the four seasons, anything you would have done differently?
OLMSTEAD: I don’t have a whole lot of regrets. [Another journalist] wrote that we left it all out on the field by the end of the series, and I feel the same way. Every story was exhausted. Every creative juice wrung out. It was a completely worthwhile experience, and I know the other writers [agree]. It was a difficult show to pull off, and we did it.

©2009 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Greg Gayne/FOX

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  • ses

    i wanna say Thank matt bcoz he done a terrific job for making this show..for me this is the greatest tv show in the world…but killing michael is so wrong very very very wrong..wat the loose if u keep that guy alive..everyone got they happy ending including mother from hell christina..and for me as a fan feel cheated , i watch this show for 4 years and this is how u thank us..i still watch the show eventhough u kill sara…everything about the finale is far beyond great except the part u kill the hero.. i feel sad and betrayed right now.. i wish matt make different storyline. this is far from satisfied ending but for u it is and for the fan it sucks big time.. :(

  • Susanne

    Yes, I agree! It so wrong! i did NOT like it! Sure, Sara, Linc and the rest seemed fine, BUT WHAT ABOUT ME?! I am NOT FINE!

  • ses

    nobody fine now..im still waiting the epd online..but i already see the picture michael grave..im crying everytime i look at it..no word can described how i feel right now.. :(

  • pbfan

    I don’t feel that the show ever gave the fans time to grieve Michael’s death…..personally I was left with more questions than answers and as a devoted fan of the series who promoted it to everyone,I felt cheated. that last scene at the gravestone did not ring true..why??? I wonder if it is because there is another ending to the story…I will not buy the two hour DVD if I find out that it is only to watch Michael die..no thanks..I have watched too many real friends die of cancer..give me a break from reality!! That’s why I watched this show too!

  • rustico

    Matt, you choose to write against the fans’ will, wishing to prove that you are mentally superior to the fans or that you are somewhat cool and smart, which can only show that you are a loser.

  • huhu

    Can we assume that we’ll learn more about the ultimate sacrifice Michael made in the two-hour direct-to-DVD prequel movie [due July 28]?
    OLMSTEAD: Yes, it dramatizes what happened to Michael. The nose bleed that reared its ugly head at the end of [tonight's finale] was a factor in his ultimate demise in that he knew that he probably didn’t have that long to live, but it wasn’t the sole factor. It informed certain decisions that lead to his demise.

    ugly head? ouch :( mike is not ugly!

  • MB

    I am very disappointed and sad that they chose to have Michael die at the end. After all the running, cheating death, saving everyone…this is what he gets? I thought that he was saved by the company with his surgery! This was not the way for him to go…he should have rode off into the sunset after being the hero. How sad!

  • eli

    they can still bring micheal back!
    just think about it… its possible and not to far fetched.
    However after the 2 hr final break dvd comes out i am certain they wont be able to bring micheal back:(

  • zaid

    PLZZZ BRING PRISON BREAK BAK I CANT BEAR THE FACT THAT MICHEAL IS DEAD!!!!!!!

  • Carla

    I agree!! I still can´t believe…all the things he done to be free and to be happy..and then..this end…watch Prison Break were moments that I didn´t thought in nothing more and I just lived that story…so I think that would be great if in that fictional story we could watch to an end that make us smile…i know that was a drama but was a drama every episodes!!

  • Mary

    I hate the finale!!!
    Why did Michael have to die?
    All fans wanted to see a happy end for Michael.
    The producers are so sadistic!!!
    Yesterday I wrote to FOX that I do not buy the DVD of season 4 and of course I do not buy “Prison Break: The final break”.
    Write to FOX the same. We can only hurt them when we do not buy a DVD.

  • https://huuuh Heba

    I do agree with all of u guys..I don’t understand what is the writers’point about killing Michael??
    Matt says he has done mistakes and deserves that ending..so what about the rest of all Linc,Alex,..etc everybody got his happy ending and their faults r more way way from Michael..but they lived happy & Michael didn’t even get any chance to live even just a little while with Sarah and see his son!!!
    I’m sorry this’s not fair at all to him.
    Michael was a very good guy and he killed 2 men as a self_defence.He was not a criminal to deserve this!!
    So I’m not satisfied with this ending..
    He could have a happy life and it would be still realistic imo.

  • Pat

    you dont build a graveyard of a hero next to a beach, matt…. after what wentworth have done to save you all this 4 years?? are you serious?? Geez…

  • Gemma

    For that Michael’s tomb is in Mexico? For that Sara says ” we are going to see to papi “? .. and despues they all go away to the beach?.
    I do not believe that Sara is going to the jail and Michael to rescue her, estan freed all.
    If the operation of brain worked with the mother of Michael, for that to kill him to?.
    Michael’s essence, seguia being that of the hero for whom to kill it without it(he,she) knows his(her,your) son?
    If this one is the end, it(he) is very unjust.

  • mad4mike

    hang on a sec..
    mike can’t have died- because like someone said before; it could be reversed- hello? sara’s head in a box?

    also- does it, or does it not say that mike is in the film?????

  • Paul

    Just watched the finale and I have to say that even though I would’ve liked to see Micheal Alive and Not his grave Im not disappointed by the ending. Dead or Alive Micheal’s true intention was freeing His Brother, His Wife, Sucre, C-note and Mahone. And since it was 4 years ahead of time at least he spend that 4 years being a free man. He sacrificed himself and in the end he won (dead or alive) I loved the scene where the General is the electric chair. That to me proves Justice Just Got Served. The ending was heart-breaking but Micheal died at the end of 4 years ahead of time a hero. Prison Break the best show I’ve seen, well written, and been with for the last 4 years. You guys did a good job.

    To all those that didn’t like the ending i tell you one thing, don’t narrow your mind to Micheal being dead, Open wide to the fact on what Micheal Had Done for the last 4 years since season 1, and it Payed off big time.

    General – Dead
    Christina – Dead
    T-bag – Back in prison without Freedom
    Self – Half a vegetable

    Justice Has Been Served.

  • mad4mike

    i love the comment above..
    fan-bloody-tastic.. LOL

    its true though- look at all that he HAS done.. also, do we know the name of sara and mike’s aby?? did they get married then??

  • PrIsOnBrEaK101

    sooo is michael really dead or is it just a twist, i mean because sarah wasnt even crying, she was smiling with michael jr. and sucre told his little girl he’l be back in 2 days they only put the flowers on the stone and left whats gonna happen on the next day?

  • PrIsOnBrEaK101

    they can bring michael back, they killed his mother but look she was alive all along, i mean there’s loads of twist’s in this movie, michael and lincoln arent real bro’s.. its possible that he can be alive they just dont want someone to be like the general and who knows wants sylla we dont no wats gonna happen they can come out of no where and re create a new prison break with michaels son michael. or michael is alive. many many twist’s.

  • alia

    micheal we will miss u i feel sorry that sara will be dating some1 else

    i had a feeling that sara will be dating kellerman haha!

  • eris

    I still hope for a twist in final break where we discover Michael isn’t actually dead. A LOT of people come back in this series… Just think Sara, Kellerman, Christina, Krantz, Mahone… In many scenes they show something slightly ambiguous that in theory means someone’s dead and in the next episode you see that person alive again…
    Plus in the dvd there is a kind of slogan that says: Prepare yourself for the truth. So I guess something of what they’ve implied in the last episode is just fake. It could be Michael being dead what’s a lie!!
    Also in the graveyard scene nobody looks too sad. And there is one thing I noticed yesterday when I watched that final scene again: As sara leaves she just pats the gravestone twice… It doesn’t even look emotional or anything…
    I don’t know maybe I’m paranoid. If in the end Michael is really dead I’ll just use my imagination and pretend he’s not lol.
    Please people who want him to be alive write your theories down, I’m sure there are many things I didn’t notice!!!!

  • fan41

    Matt I still don’t get your reasons of killing MS we spent 4 years watching a good show for this? I waste my time. This is everything but a happy ending. And you expect from us to buy a DVD when we already know it has a tragic end. At least you should give us a happy ending in dvd we deserve it. I lost my first husband and believe me be alone with a kid is sad. If you want this kind of end for Michael you shouldn’t brought Sara back. This end is for someone like Jack Bauer who is a lonely guy. I demand my happy ending. You don’t give MISA even a year. MS didn’t even know his son. And if he had to pay for what he did then don’t show him as the good guy saving the world. All the show I thought the bad guys were the company. Actually MS should run the company at the end. He would make the chance. So far I feel very dissapointed.

  • Ethio

    How about looking at the ending from Sara’s point of view! Leaving that door open at Fox River cost her trust in the penitentiary, her job, her father, her freedom and now her love – MS. And that’s justice served?! Matt, you should have given Sara at least MS, and let her live a happy life after all the sacrifices she has made. After all, of the sacrifices were made for MS. All you gave her is a son – which will always remind her of MS – T-Bag’s proposed punishment in a different form!
    Also, I do not believe justice is done for T-Bag – prison is where he belongs. He is good at it in all terms. He has proven to me that he cannot live a freeman outside prison neither; which means that he deserved to die!

  • jisel west

    Please bring prison break back. We can’t accept Michael is dead!!!

  • mandie

    i can’t believe some of the comments about michael’s death.

    i think it was a fitting ending. i wouldn’t of been satisfied with sara and michael living happily ever after in the end. it doesn’t fit with everything they’ve been through. on some level they may have deserved it and we think this because of our love for the characters. but ultimately sara did kill christina and although we understand the circumstances, to the cops – she killed someone. and i think the attitude she received in the prison from the guards adds a lot to the story, because as the general said a lot of people would still be alive if she didn’t leave the door unlocked. since the first season sara has been looked at as leverage and a victim in it all but really she played her part.

    although i am happy with who lives and who dies, and who is back in prison, i am not completely satisfied with the final break. i was really happy with the ending of the fourth season. it was a great ending. and of course a lot is left unknown, so some may feel the final break is needed. i am undecided on this factor. obviously michael’s death changes with the audience knowing what happened, since i had assumed it was the brain tumor that killed him. which after seeing his willingness to die feel that it fits as well. there is more meaning to his death which is easier to accept. what i didn’t like was the amount of time it took to break sara out. in the other prisons we worked with it took a whole season to break out, i think that would of been too long for the ending, but i felt it was rushed and could have been put together better. i guess i just don’t like the unrealistic side of it. even though the whole show was quite fabricated, michael crawling under a vehicle to get inside the prison is a little desperate.

    all in all i loved the show. and would consider myself quite addicted. and am happy with the outcome. i think watching it from the beginning again knowing the ending will give me a different perspective.

  • Vincent

    I dont know what u guyz were thinking abt killing Michael!!!! To know hw bad u are, I’ve never watched the finale break n will never do coz I can’t watch Michael die after wht he went thru… It was one of the unfair thing u did to the viewers i think

  • roger

    i didnt care for the end,really ,i mean the filmmaker huru me deeply. michael cant die in that way !