That’s right…last four recaps of Season 4. Let’s get into it.
Ep. 10 – “Bunny, Skull, Bunny, Skull”
In the most unlikely places a family can be formed. That seems to thoroughly be the case in Litchfield, and for Aleida her family is actually reformed. We open to her last day, and in a not so warm and fuzzy scene, Daya and Mendoza say goodbye as only they can. And someone actually leaves Litchfield in a normal fashion, for once…until Aleida then gets picked up by Cesar’s new girlfriend, which is hella awkward. Way to adjust to the outside, I guess.
Blanca is still on the table, for two days (and counting)! She betta work, honestly! I’m all for it. Piscatella reasserts how much of an ass he is for the umpteenth time now, and reassures the CO who put her up there. I know that he’s a hardass for the sake of being a hardass, but what is his deal?? Considering that Caputo is never around, it sounds like a CO coup might be in the works, or is already taking place…
Meanwhile, the Latinas pull for their girl, because who wouldn’t? The white supremacists, that’s who. Piper laments over creating a white supremacy monster, while Alex makes a point about her not creating white hate. Okay Alex, we get it, you like Piper again. Can you let her realize her mistakes, or are we rooting for Piper again like nothing happened between you two, or in general? The fact that grudges barely last in this prison is laughable, especially ones related to Piper.
As Sister Ingalls goes undercover in the SHU, she does some scouting and gets to hear Sophia’s voice, which is quite a relief considering the last scene we saw with Nichols confronting the bloody state of her old cell. It’s weak, but it’s surely there. Through Sister’s sleuthing, we get insight to the SHU’s mailing system. How Sister figured that out is beyond me, but it’s genius. Sophia’s reaction to the note is so heartwarming, a ray of hope in endless days of nothing. But eventually, Sister does get found out after sneezing in the shower stalls, and having that damn reflex happen when you sneeze too hard. Ladies, you know the one. So, Sister gets busted and shames Caputo for not doing anything in a knowingly shitty situation. Can she write a novel on how to be an ally? Because she’s got it down. But PLOT TWIST: Caputo takes the photo for her, and delivers it to Danny to be publicized. Maybe he’s not completely absorbed in the MCC hive after all.
Nicky is going cold turkey, and she’s doing really…badly. Not even after one scene where she tells Red that she’s quitting, she waltzes into the salon. Thankfully, Red has covered her basest of bases, even going after the COs who are clearly nonchalantly selling to the inmates. Nichols is not going back, not on her watch.
God, my poor Maritza. And the COs just stand there while they effectively realize that Humps is a DICK. Do they do anything? Nah. I would like to think that McCollough will but she’s been just as shitty as the rest of them, complicit by her silence. When Maritza gets confronted by Flaca about Humps forcing her to eat a live mouse, Flaca wants to tell someone higher up…but who? The two girls are essentially left helpless, which gives Litchfield a much more terrifying backdrop than it had in Season 2.
Taystee pushes to have The Wiz played on movie night. It’s a cute little shoutout, with a movie I have many memories attached to myself. It’s even cuter considering Uzo’s live musical debut in it last year. While Taystee is reveling in the fact that she got Caputo to choose it for movie night, absolutely nobody else is thrilled…except Suzanne, which makes it even funnier actually.
Suzanne tries to make up with Kukudio before movie night, if only to try and hook up with her again. It is a flawed apology, and that’s apparent. However, even though it looks like she’s down, Kukudio leaves Suzanne high and…not so dry. Judy seems to do the same when Sankey tries to start shit during movie night. She senses racial tension and leaves faster than my liking for her. Even though nobody knows what side Judy is truly on, she has power in Litchfield that nobody else seems to have, and she could’ve picked that time to use it.
Aleida is NOT adjusting well to life on the outside, as she can’t seem to stand the fact that Cesar’s baby mama is taking care of her. She may be mirroring Taystee, although the latter was only out for parole. Anyway, Margarita is probably one of the most mature characters in this series, handling Aleida’s hostility the way she did. She loves herself and her baby more than Cesar-for abundantly good reason- and refused to go down for him on this go around. Aleida may just have to come to terms with the fact that she went down for a deadbeat who ended up losing her children AND grandchildren in the foster care system. In a series of anger-fueled events, Aleida turns to her cousin, the proprietor of her money and her belongings, only to discover that everything she has is gone, and she is at square one. With her tail between her legs, Aleida and Margarita become roommates for the time being. And even though Gloria is trying to look out for her, it seems like Daya may be picking a dangerous set of friends…hopefully she won’t pick up some new habits either.
In the penultimate scene, we get what seems to be a show of solidarity. Throughout the episode, Piper has been feeling bad about the much, much worse form of racism that she’s invoked, and tries to make peace with the protesting Blanca by feeding her. While she says “she won’t stand by” and watch somebody starve to death, a CO insists that, in fact, she might. Piper joins Blanca on the table in order to stick it to the m(e)n, and in her own way, heal her conscience. Boy, do I like a good old fashioned uprising.
And finally, we seem to dig up our demons—and a body—in the garden, after the construction crew runs into a “snag”. This should be fun.
Ep. 11- “People Persons”
It’s day 3(?) for Blanca, which means day 2 for Piper. While Blanca is still standing upright (albeit swaying a bit) Piper’s already down on her haunches, and about to tap out. In a not-so-subtle display of privilege, Piper gets some help from Nichols, while Blanca is allowed nothing.
But shortly after, a lockdown alarm is sounded and the standoff is officially over. I’m still chalking this one up as a win for Blanca, but none of it seems to matter once a guard’s body is discovered in the garden, something that Healy is made aware of…for the second time. This news compels Healy to escape Litchfield, against Piscatella’s orders.
Meanwhile, Piscatella goes full on Vlad the Impaler and discusses torture strategies while the guilty parties convene to make sure that the game is played properly, and none of the associates “squeak”. Everyone, that is, except for Lolly. She is cut from the loop, with Red speculating that should she crack during interrogation, she will take everyone down. There seems to be a tone of ableism in this episode, no?
While Suzanne and Kukudio share an exchange after an awkward session the night before, we’re launched into more of Suzanne’s backstory, which—just, yes. Uzo’s development of her character is probably some of the best that I’ve seen throughout the entire show, so more of her backstory and how she had to assimilate mentally and physically is SO welcome. The pure joy she receives out of being named Employee of the Month at a standard big-box retail store is enough to brighten a whole room.
Then, as Suzanne is suddenly taken in as a questioning “suspect”, her next flashback takes us to her sister Grace delivering the news that she will be taking a weekend vacation. Suzanne panics, considering she has never been alone before, but after multiple attempts to console her, Grace finally departs.
The next time we see Suzanne, she is keeping herself busy over the weekend by greeting people in the park, which is absolutely adorable. She runs into Dylan, a boy he knows from the store, and he’s astonished at how cool she is (so am I, let’s be real). She invites him back to her place, which instantly puts an “Oh no” feeling in my head. And sure enough, it follows through. Suzanne panics because Dylan wants to leave her, and he tries to escape through the fire escape…and trips. We’re not given a resolution to the story, either.
To be honest, I am not sure of how to handle the culmination of Suzanne’s flashbacks this time around, and especially how they happen as parallels to the fight with Kukudio. I remember in the beginning of the season that Suzanne was speaking about hurting someone, but it took a little bit to connect that it would be Dylan. She becomes overbearing to Dylan because she cannot handle being alone, but she’s also trying to protect him from his fall. Also, he seems old enough to know where he could be going, or escape in another way. It was just harder to connect the dots, I think. Did anyone else get that vibe, or is it just me?
When Red gets put on the chopping block, we already know this isn’t her first rodeo. In fact, she may have more go-arounds than Piscatella, considering she’s in there for quite a while. Their subtle rivalry finally comes to a head during her interrogation, and it’s a weird combination of fun and uncomfortable to see Red dodging these bullets like it’s nothing. That is, until a guard finds the keys that belonged to what is now fertilizer.
Pennsatucky offers help to Nichols in the form of a drug counselor, which is really sweet. Suzanne and Tiffany are holding places in my hard solely f or their dynamic attitudes. And as Nichols says, she has become a lot better since being inside the pen.
Deeper in Litchfield, things are not faring well in the interrogation cells. Tensions are rising quickly, which normally happens when you put white supremacists and any other race in the room. The guards seem to be on high alert, even though none of the new ones would even know who the guard was. Hell, none of the old ones know either. But the tensions rise even higher (if that’s possible) and I’m wishing for the old Litchfield every second.
It’s no surprise that now that these guards are free to do whatever under Piscatella’s supervision, they give not one flying shit about the women. Humps is taking advantage of the situation, since he’s clearly inhuman and a simmering pus hole. It gets to the point of straight masochism as Humps wants to restart Fight Club, even though HE is the one riling Sankey up. After assaulting and picking on her (for what exactly, is unexplained), Humps pits Suzanne against Sankey for laughing at her- which she was not alone in doing. Again, OITNB pulls another attempt to humanize someone with repugnant morals, with Sankey refusing to hit Suzanne (because of her mental disability). But someone else takes up the opportunity…Kukudio.
And here is where I don’t exactly understand what happened. The prisoners seemed to be against it, and yet almost immediately rallied up. Hell, Kukudio wanted to make up with Suzanne like 2 scenes ago, calling their skirmish even. Sure, Kukudio is obsessive. Yes, Suzanne slighted her. But how did we go from “I need space” to “I want to punch you in the face”?? And all Suzanne tried to do up until she actually assaulted Kukudio is de-escalate the situation. These guards do not know what she’s capable of, but they started some shit that HAS to end. I hope Caputo doesn’t lay a hand on her. (On another note, Uzo Aduba keeps slaying me with these performances)
Yeah, fuck that guard. And Kukudio. She tried to abuse power that was never meant for her, and deserved what she got. It is by no means a triumphant scene- in fact, it’s horrifying.
While Caputo wants to head back to Litchfield after being summoned to MCC’s headquarters for virtually nothing, Linda subconsciously reveals that she’s never actually stepped inside Litchfield…or any other prison. While I’m not really surprised, it seems to have an affect on Caputo, albeit subtle.
Healy is going through some shit, which is unexplained up until he decides to take a dip in the river. His mental struggle to out Lolly for her confession, and his outright failure to listen to her are doing battle in his brain. Eventually, though, his obligation overrides his suicidal stint (for now) and he returns to Litchfield, just in time to save Alex…whose anxiety is getting the best of her the longer that Red stays in interrogation. And even though Lolly pulled some mental acrobatics that made Aydin and this whole situation a fantasy to her, Alex has to be the one to pull her back to reality. She stays quiet though, and hides out in her time machine until everything blows over.
But it is Healy who pulls the trigger just as Alex goes to confess. He discovers Lolly in her time machine, she confesses to the guards right behind it, and we get the harrowing scene of Lolly being taken to Psych. I’m heartbroken, because once again our mentally ill characters are abused and justice is not in fact served. But what else is new?
Also, the entire Judy King molly-induced-threesome thing…I…was that supposed to be funny? Because it wasn’t. It was just weird. Honestly, most of OITNB’s attempts at comedy have not hit for me as well as they have in previous years.
Bonus: Outside of Litchfield, the president of MCC is confronted by Danny with Caputo’s photos of Sophia, which serves as proof that she is in the SHU. Either his website (dannytalkstruth.com) is about to blow up, or our queen may be back with us yet!
Ep. 12- “The Animals”
SO, we open to…CO Bayley flashbacks. I’m sorry, he hasn’t been on this series long enough for me to care. It’s undeserved, so why are we seeing him get thrown in jail for being on a water tower? I guess we will find out.
The scene jumps from juvenile delinquency to Bayley telling Caputo about the shitty COs and their cage match last night. Caputo is rightfully pissed, but does he have the balls to do anything about it? When Caputo asks who was in the fight, we cut to Suzanne in a catatonic state. Taystee and Poussey try to snap her out of it, but honestly there’s nothing they can do. Suzanne has to break this one herself. But Sankey has other plans for the person who did this to her.
Revolution-omics is what I’m about, okay, and the next three scenes finally show that these women are ready to put racial bias behind them (mostly Sankey, if we’re honest) and go after their shit authority and the abuse of power. So far it’s Sankey, Taystee and Maria representing three factions of Litchfield that want to save the sinking ship this prison has become. They gather up a few more, including Red and Hapakuka, and agree on a protest. Their progress halts, though, when a leader has to be decided, and the whole meeting ends up dispelling over that and a myriad of racial epithets.
Although it looks like that could’ve been avoided if the captain of the shit ship could have just balled the fuck up and actually suspended his COs. Piscatella is threatening to walk if Humps gets suspended, which comes as a surprise to me- they never seemed that close. But, he is still a CO and a veteran, and that forms more respect for Humps than Caputo, in Piscatella’s mind. Caputo (understandably) doesn’t want another walkout, but for the love of God, THIS is the time to fucking pull the plug. It’s a huge reminder of Caputo’s disconnect with Litchfield, where he trusts the COs that he barely knows more than the inmates that he used to police on a daily basis. But considering the circumstances, I guess it would be too much to ask for Caputo to have more compassion than suspicion. At least, not enough to make a difference.
Amongst all the uprising of course, is love. As Alex said last episode, it’s “eyes open or legs open”. Out of the two couples I’m gonna have to hand it off to Pousoso for their adorable future. Maybe I’m just desensitized by Alex and Piper…
Speaking of a future, Poussey goes to meet with Judy about being a professional chef after being released, and Judy promises her a spot in any kitchen she desires. This hits me hard, as we recently saw Aleida try to adjust to life on the outside, but Poussey is pursuing that passion with a vengeance, which just lightens my heart. Unfortunately, Poussey’s excitement for the outside overshadows Brooke’s need for change on the inside and once again, they fight and separate.
We’re given a small couple of segments about forgiveness between Boo and Pennsatucky, which rehashes Pennsatucky’s staunch belief in God, something that has been absent since last season. She convinces Boo that hating Donuts is pointless, and she needs to forgive him, so that they can both move on. While I cannot speak for sexual assault survivors, I would like to know if/how this scene and the subsequent one between Donuts and Boo worked for y’all. Was it effective, or just strange?
Back with a vengeance, Sophia returns to Litchfield, and surveys her salon opened without her. Wait until she finds out it’s a drug front. Either way, Gloria tries to welcome her back but Sophia feels like a fish in the murkiest, most unfamiliar waters. And, a note here—even though the actresses felt like a more amicable scene should have been incorporated, I like this one, if only for the sake that we don’t just push Season 3 to the side. Gloria wronged her and used transphobia to get Sophia out of the way. It’s only natural that a little ill will is kept between them. Regardless, a resolution is on its way as Gloria takes back the salon, if only for a short time, to crown Sophia once more.
Caputo shows up at Fig’s doorstep. That’s right, old warden Fig. I’m not gonna lie, I liked seeing her again? Especially now that she’s more relaxed. It seems that Fig never really left Litchfield, and knows all about the going ons- even more than Caputo, it seems. Even worse, he acknowledges how bad Linda really is, which just makes him seem like he’s accepting the futility of this system.
After continuous surveillance, Piscatella breaks the last straw as he manhandles Red and pushes the sleep strike WAY too far. Blanca basically says fuck it and gets back on that table, starting strike number two. This time, all of the women are involved. It’s beautiful, because finally the women come together, with no need for a leader. They are all done.
It’s peaceful for all of one minute, until CO Humps starts taking people down from the tables and triggers Suzanne.
And then, the worst thing happens.
I’ll be honest, this scene was traumatic in a deeply personal, hurtful way. I have many, many more words for why, but…this trope is just getting disgusting. Poussey did not have to die, and definitely NOT in the way she did. And frankly, I don’t care how many flashbacks of Bayley that you give us OITNB, it won’t justify this. Sure, it will humanize him but it won’t justify a damn thing. He was under duress, sure. But the damage is done: this penultimate episode gives us a crushing blow, as Litchfield loses a beloved member.
Ep. 13- “Toast Can’t Never Be Bread Again”
Just like twisting the knife, the last episode opens with Poussey’s life before Litchfield, and her first time in New York with her friends. She looks so happy and peaceful. The contrast between the tension in the prison and the surreal, wonderful experience that New York can be pulls on the heartstrings in a rather particular way. The more I see Poussey’s backstory, the more I wish she was alive, to grow out her hair again and live in New York, not as an inmate but as a dazzled citizen.
And then…we’re thrown back into Litchfield. And now we’re watching Piscatella try to make a story that covers every guard’s ass, of course. Caputo chooses now (which is, of course, too little too late) to send Piscatella home and attempt to maintain control once again over Litchfield.
From there, Caputo discovers Bayley, understandably distraught and slumped against a wall.
I know, I know he didn’t mean to do it. He shouldn’t have even been there. He wants to apologize, to find a way to atone, but it seems to be all in vain right now. So CO Dixon drives him home, but not without a fucking weird recollection of raping and killing people during his deployment. Fantastic.
The black dorm is ablaze with questions and sorrow, and everyone is trying to find a way to make it through the night. Suzanne seems to have come alive, and is thankfully not in Psych, where Piscatella tried to force her one episode prior. However, Taystee has to stop Suzanne from attempting to suffocate herself, and then gets lost in her own grief. Even though it was kind of overshadowed with Brooke this season, I’m reminded here just how deep their friendship went.
If I’m going to be brutally honest here, the last episode of OITNB kind of goes everywhere in an unorganized manner, from meaningless conversations to poignant, heartbreaking snippets (such as Norma singing to Soso) that should truly get more screentime. But the main focus is Poussey’s past, her end, and how it is handled. Her body lies there overnight, and an investigation is halted, if not stopped completely. I repeat: the body lies there. All. Night. And her father is not contacted. The Latinas (especially Flaca and Maritza) act like nothing has happened to a fellow inmate, and they’d rather be famous. The meth heads keep getting high and drunk, and attempt to tell jokes. And I blame the writers there—I get that there was limited interaction between them and Poussey, but there was no need for these scenes, and in my opinion, quite a few more. While everyone has their form of grieving, it feels like the black girls hauled that weight almost completely. They continuously go from sobbing to laughing to reminiscing, which can definitely be relatable. But it all comes crashing back down to Earth when we see Poussey being brought out on her gurney.
MCC’s involvement is unfortunately…necessary. It was disgusting, yes, but necessary. This death happened in their prison, where they could twist the story however they liked. But Poussey was too damn good for them. So they turned their eyes to Bayley, who is also good but a screw-up. His past will come back to haunt him sooner than he’d ever like it to. Now, this isn’t for the sake of getting the truth- it never was. It’s a case of liability, which MCC does not ever want to claim. The question is, will Caputo respond in kind?
Instead, Caputo not only neglects to mention who was murdered in the conference, but stands by that this was an accident, and actually SUSPENDS Bayley instead of outright firing him, which would have been a gentle sentence. This, coming from the same man who encouraged him to leave the episode prior! Through all their bullshit, I have to agree with MCC on one thing: Bayley should’ve been gone. It would be best to release him. His reputation is also on the line, however, so he goes rogue. To save whose ass? I can’t exactly tell. But timing is crucial here, and Caputo screwed Bayley and the Poussey. I doubt, even after the suspension, he would want to step into Litchfield again.
And for good reason. After hearing the press coverage, it’s actually Taystee who absolutely steals the whole episode and propels it into overdrive. Beforehand, Taystee single-handedly pushes Caputo to inform Poussey’s dad of her fate, reminds him of her humanity. And now, she sparks a revolution post press conference.
The prisoners flood the halls, and Humps the human trash can brought a gun onto the premises just for this. As soon as the march commences, he pulls out the gun…and gets disarmed by Maritza, flinging the gun straight over to Daya.
Now, here comes the impasse. Does she shoot? It’s the question that we won’t know the answer to for about a year. But do I think she does? No. I don’t want to put anything in your head, but I think someone may take the wrap for her. She has a child to think about. Would I be sad if Humps got neutered by her though? Well…no. I just hope it isn’t Daya who does it.
There’s quite a bit to unpack here, and that will be coming up in my next article. But the season leaves us with Poussey giving us a final smile. Goodbye, it was so amazing to watch you.
Images Courtesy of Netflix