"Bull True " Orange Is the New Black S6 E11 “Well This Took A Dark Turn"
“Well This Took A Dark Turn” Orange, Black or Bleak? Season 6 Episode 11 (Netflix)
Yup, this is recap number 75
Last week on Decarceration Nation I did an interview with Law Professor Brandon L. Garrett about his book “End Of Its Rope: How Killing the Death Penalty Can Revive Criminal Justice.
It is easy to check Decarceration Nation out. We are on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher and Tune-In. You can also find every episode at DecarcerationNation.com.
If you have not watched OITNB before *Spoiler Alert*
5 Things About Season 6 Episode 11 “Well This Took A Dark Turn”
Only two episodes left after this one (where did the time go). I can’t decide if I am glad there is only one season left or not...Part of me still likes it, but at the same time...well, it could be so much better (Also kind of bizarre that I am right this very second watching the Netflix seier Maniac and Gloria from OITNB is in it).
5. “This is a living breathing human being we’re talking about”
Ryder Black, the Mormon CO, summed up the ethics of the entire show and the root from which - I suspect - most of us in criminal justice reform would agree a new system could emerge. He talks about hurting a bird when he was young (in a conversation with Maria Ruiz, saying:
“When I was hurting it I was a piece of shit...when I was healing it I wasn't. God doesn't make good people or bad people, that's a myth, he just makes people. Sometimes they do good things sometimes not so good but the beauty is you get to wake up and choose everyday.
Some of my good friends killed someone.
I am not saying that just to be shocking, it is factually correct. They - as well as my other formerly incarcerated friends - are now nicer, more caring, and often more considerate than almost anyone else I know.
Crime is almost always a moment in time, contextual.
Let me give you a few examples. When I was in college I knew a guy who got in a bar fight and punched a guy ONCE..that guy fell, hit his head and died.
Technically, he is a violent criminal, that is manslaughter at the very least. But didn’t most of us get in a fight when we were young?
He wasn’t particularly cruel or mean or brutal.
But, under our systems rules, most likely, he is a forever criminal...beyond redemption...no longer entirely human to the rest of the non-felonious public.
Here is another one, I had a cube mate (we were in 8 person cubes) in prison who shot someone. It was in a single moment of anger. When he talked with me he took full responsibility for what he did, he wasn’t trying to deflect at all.
He had no reason to lie.
I could not help him improve his situation or lessen his sentence.
The thing that he explained to me is that he snapped, he had no idea that he was even capable of doing something like that until it was done and that he wishes ever day he could take it back.
He had been in fights before, tough situations, and under incredible stress...but for some reason, this one time, he just snapped.
He lost it.
I believed him then and I believe it now.
Don’t get me wrong, I know plenty of people who committed violence on purpose and with malice too, and I know many people who have done that and entirely turned their lives around.
I am sure there are some that never do as well.
But the idea that most violent people are “forever violent” just does not accord with my experience. People are complicated mixtures of possibilities and at any moment all of us can be great or we can be terrible.
And we know from extensive research that people age out of crime, that therapy works, and that people can (and do) often change.
I suspect that part of the reason we are so committed to banishing people who have done things that were wrong is that it insulates us from the possibility that THEY could be US.
One other thing, only looking at the other (the thing below your consideration or care) also makes us blind to the terrible thing that we participate in every day:
Most of the CO’s, who are supposedly better than the inmates, are so invested in fantasy inmate that some of them are literally trying to make violence happen.
Linda is so absorbed in her own climbing the corporate ladder fantasy that she is trying to bribe people NOT to do the right thing.
Badison is so offended by Piper’s very existence she almost kills a girl just to destroy her kickball project.
The woman in Florida is willing to kill Frieda for Carol just for the price of some Doritos and ramen noodles.
Meanwhile, outside the world of Litchfield, we live in a country where everyone routinely conflates justice with punishment, celebrates when people are found guilty or put to death, and see nothing wrong with maintaining our criminal justice system despite its unbelievable racial disparities.
The brutality of our prisons says as much about the people outside of them as it does about the people sentenced to stay inside them.
4. “My Only Responsibility Is My Wife and Son”
Sophia has always been one of my favorite characters so it is very sad to me that in the face of an opportunity to “make a difference for the hundreds of other” transgender inmates, when offered by the lawyer Caputo brings to help her, Sophia says no, takes the money, and waits to get early release and a pile of MCC money.
Especially given Laverne Cox’s real life activism in this area.
Don’t get me wrong, it would be insane for Sophia to turn down the money and the early release (more on that in a second)...but, it is still very sad.
I want Sophia to be a crusader for justice (like her dear friend Sister Jane Ingalls was (at least at the end of her time on the show).
Oh well, everyone has a story and hopefully, there will be more to Sophia’s.
3. “Never Trust a White Woman with a Wig”
By the way, how in the HOLY HELL does Linda from Purchasing (or anyone at MCC) have the ability to get Sophia or ANYONE else an early release.
Did the writers forget MCC is a private prison company not a court, not the Bureau of Prisons, not a prosecutor, and not a judge?
Seriously, what the hell is Linda talking about?
Also, remember when I said none of the inmates (not Red, not Taystee, not anyone) would have been tried for the Piscatella nonsense...guess what would be discoverable for their lawyers? Yup, the $300,000 and a pardon MCC have to Sophia.
Did anyone at OITNB actually even talk to a lawyer? I mean I know they have consultants, am I crazy here? Did they fire the continuity people at Netflix?
2. “They See Shit They Never Had”
Look I don’t know what in the world Piper has been doing...By now she has done more than enough time to know better than pissing off Badison. But this is getting ridiculous.
Badison is crazy, willing to seriously injure of kill anyone, and literally her cellmate.
Badison is doing a long bit, and she is kind of nuts, so there is no guarantee she wouldn’t attack Piper in her sleep and just take the new bit.
I mean Piper would 100% no better and would have backed off a really long time ago.
Is kickball worth getting stabbed over?
Obviously, this doesn’t bode well for Alex who is going to have to make a deal with Carol to protect Piper from getting her release snatched (the scene where Alex is thinking about taking business courses was a bit too obvious of a tell).
1. “Ms. Hayes, is that correct?”
Don’t have much of a take here, but it was heartbreaking to see Taystee realize Cindy had sold her out to save herself on that bus.
Really amazing acting by Danielle Brooks.
Kind of an odd place to end this week off, but I wrote so much on #5 I don’t feel too bad.
Unlocking The Gates
New recaps will come out once a week (usually on Sunday mornings).
I am a member of a Criminal Justice Reform organization called Nation Outside (The Voice of the Formerly Incarcerated) but I am not speaking for Nation Outside in any official capacity.
If you are interested in criminal justice reform or are formerly incarcerated yourself, please consider joining the fight (if you are a Michigan resident - you can sign up by clicking on the hyperlink above).
Leave comments, let us know what you thought! We will answer any questions you have (that are civil).
Josh is the host of the Decarceration Nation podcast and is a blogger and freelance writer who writes about criminal justice reform, television, movies, music, politics, race, ethics, and more.