Rest In Peace: Orange Is the New Black S4 E12 “The Animals” (Netflix)
Orange, Black, or Bleak S4 E12: “The Animals”
Well, after over a year of putting out OITNB recaps from the perspective of a formerly incarcerated person, we are almost at the end of the journey (at least until S6 starts up). If you have not seen all 63 of my other recaps, here is a link to the complete guide.
Thank you to everyone who reads these recaps and a special thank you to so many of you who have followed this odyssey since the very beginning.
In celebration, I am republishing all of the OITNB posts on the Medium platform (the goal was always to help educate people about what prisons are really like). So if you are on Medium, I am Josh H.
I want to alert you to two exciting new things coming. On Tuesday, I am posting my “Decarceration Nation” podcast interview with Lauren-Brooke Eisen of the Brennan Center. She is the author of the book Inside Private Prisons which is obviously very germane to what we have been discussing throughout Season 4.
Second, I am going to do an interview with Kathy Morse who is a former women’s prisoner who is part of the amazing Bill Moyer’s documentary Riker’s: An American Jail (You can watch the documentary for free by clicking on the hyperlink). Kathy is also a tireless advocate for criminal justice reform who tirelessly campaigns to bring attention to the unique issues women face in prisons and jails.
I am so excited to share these with you!
“The Animals” is the most important episode in the entire Orange Is the New Black series IMO. It still brings me to the brink of tears every time I watch it (and I am not a cryer).
If you have not watched OITNB before *Spoiler Alert*
Some Things About Season 4 Episode 12 “The Animals”
OITNB S4 E12 “The Animals” was about:
* CO Bailey’s backstory. He was always someone who, despite having a good understanding of whenever something he did was wrong, still always did wrong under the influence of peer pressure.
He does, unlike most of the law enforcement types on this show, attempt to take some action, he tells Caputo about Humps ordering inmates to fight and about Piscatella carrying out investigations against a direct order.
Caputo, to his eternal shame, backs down entirely after confronting his Correctional Officers and being dressed down by Piscatella.
Caputo is also asked by the FBI about his “hiring practices” when they come to investigate the death of Aydin (Kubra’s enforcer who became a CO in order to kill Alex Vause) who, as it turns out, had multiple identities and had not been given a meaningful background check before being hired as a CO.
* Alex and Piper deciding, yet again, that they really love each other (sigh).
* Sophia returning from months in the SHU. Gloria helps her get her wig back on by demanding all the Latinas leave the barbershop.
* Judy King and Yoga Jones talk about the threesome and Judy offering to help Poussey find a job when she gets out (we also find out Judy was supposed to be released early but something went wrong).
* Boo and Doggett reconciling. Boo makes peace with Doggett but threatens to kill donuts, after slapping him in the face, if he ever hurts her again.
* Morello going full-on jealous crazy about Vinnie and her sister (who she asked to look-in on Vinnie). In short, Vinnie says he likes caramels, which Morello’s sister also likes. So, since Vinnie now likes caramels, Vinnie and Morello’s sister must be having sex together (by the transitive property). Vinny finally gets that Lorna, his wife, has a few mental health issues.
* Red finding Sam totally in what appears to be a semi-catatonic state. She tries to snap him out of it only to realize that he has totally snapped. Later, we see Healy checking himself into a mental health facility.
* The slow unification of Litchfield around joining a peaceful protest to demand Piscatella resign or be fired. This action brought together the Nazi’s, the Blacks, the Latinas, the “Others,” and Red’s family until infighting broke the truce. When Piscatella abused Red in front of the entire cafeteria, however, unification happened and everyone stood on tables and refused to follow any directions until Piscatella resigned.
Unfortunately, this triggered Suzanne, who created such a ruckus Poussey tried to intervene with the CO’s to help Suzanne. In the resulting fracas, Poussey was killed by CO Bailey (in one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in the history of the show).
There were some touching scenes between Poussey and SoSo and a short fight, but talking about it just makes me sadder.
Rest In Peace
Let’s start at the end.
Why do I, a “tough” and seasoned formerly incarcerated person tear up every time I watch CO Bailey trying to fight off Suzanne at the same time his knee on Poussey’s neck slowly but surely ends her life?
It makes me sad because I have seen Correctional Officers in jails (known as Goon Squads) beat down prisoners so badly that they left pools of blood behind.
It makes me sad because I have been woken up in the middle of the night and found myself covered in blood as someone got brutally Slocked (lock in a sock) down right in the hall adjacent to my bunk.
It makes me sad because I saw a friend get beaten down and have his jaw broken because a powerful gang member decided that he didn’t like that my friend was gay.
It makes me sad because I watched a group of four inmates wearing their winter hats as mass walk right past a Correction Officer at our units front desk, grab a guy, grab a pool cue from the Rec Room, break the cue in half and repeatedly stab the guy they grabbed.
I have seen people stabbed, beaten, broken, extorted, and abused.
And let's face facts, I was only in prison for three years and I only knew a very small percentage of the millions of prisoners incarcerated throughout the United States today.
I am thankful every single day that somehow, against all odds, I was lucky enough to escape without ever being physically assaulted, abused, or extorted.
When I see Poussey’s death, it reminds me of everyone I ever saw hurt and of the brutal indifference of the thousands of people I have seen say things like “If you don’t want to do the time...don’t do the crime.”
As if every single person in prison were a mass murderer or that the answer to violence should be even MORE violence.
As if we, as a society, should have blood on our hands and gleefully participate in a brutal and unfair system that generates nothing but misery, cruelty, broken-lives, and revenge.
And let me be totally frank, we know prison doesn’t make society safer and we know that there are almost always alternatives that work better, and yet we still insist on solving crimes with violence.
We have become a brutal and cruel society and It needs to stop, we are no longer a city on a hill because we are a city sinking deep into a sewer of our own creation.
I am speaking for every one of my brothers and sisters in incarceration and who can’t speak to you now.
This all needs to end, this system needs to change. What we are doing says far more about “us” than it does about “them.”
When I say Rest in Peace Poussey, I am also saying Rest in Peace to the 18 people who died since 2012 in the Macomb County Jail (where I was incarcerated while waiting for a bed to open up in Michigan’s State prison system).
When I say Rest in Peace Poussey, I am also saying Rest in Peace to the hundreds of people who die and the thousands of people who are injured in America’s jails and prisons annually.
Rest in Peace Poussey.
Caputo, Bailey, Donuts, and Pontius Pilate
I never want to hear, until he makes serious amends, that Caputo is a good guy again.
I am not saying he is beyond redemption, I am saying that with more awareness than almost anyone else in the entire system, he did nothing to protect the women he was in charge of protecting when they needed him most.
He literally washed his hands of Piscatella and Humps, left Bailey to crash and burn when he KNEW he couldn’t handle himself, he left Suzanne in SHU to protect his raise, and he left Suzanne in the position where this disaster could take place.
He seems nice, and sometimes he does the right things, but mostly he is a happy absentee landlord climbing a corporate ladder he knows to be corrupt and immoral.
Bailey is better but not much better.
When Bailey through the egg that hit Frieda when he had just graduated from high school (and gotten fired from his job), you could see on his face that he understood that what he did was wrong and that what Frieda
Yes, he is absolutely 100% a moron, but he also knows what he is going along with was wrong and time and again (apparently since childhood he always goes along with what he thinks is wrong rather than risk popularity.
Yes, he was the only person on the side of the “law” all season to try to do the right thing but he also chose not to take Caputo’s good advice and get the hell out of town ASAP and he had no business being a correctional officer, knew it, and still kept going to work every day until tragedy struck.
And then there was Donuts. Despite everything, he has supposedly “learned” during his “interactions” with Doggett and Boo when offered the chance (after Bailey has admitted everything wrong he has done) he still refuses to admit the awful thing he did.
All three of them pull a Pontius Pilate and wash their hands of what they have done.
Caputo leaves the prison to go hook up with Natalie Figueroa instead of taking responsibility for the disaster he created and allowed to germinate.
Bailey stays put and ends up committing negligent homicide on Poussey and Donuts pretends he has never been tempted or done anything inappropriate as a Correctional Officer.
I have participated in many Reddit discussions about Suzanne’s culpability in Poussey’s death.
I suspect that the point is that Suzanne should never have been an inmate of Litchfield in the first place given her severe mental health issues (and as we have discussed before America’s jails and prisons have become our de facto mental health treatment facilities...just without much treatment).
Most of us are glad she isn’t doing her time in the horror show that is the mental health wing, but she has real issues and at times she is an actual danger to herself and others. She deserves meaningful care in a loving environment, she is clearly a very sweet person but also a person with very specific needs that could be addressed in a competent mental health facility.
I don’t think, in a million years, Suzanne would want to be the cause of Poussey’s passing or that she would even be aware of what happened (it seemed very clear she had been pushed passed a point of a psychotic break by the incident with Kekudio). It seems petty and cruel to blame someone with serious mental health issues for displaying behaviors that are dangerous during moments of extreme stress.
I will never understand why we blame people with mental health issues for having poor reactions under duress, knowing right from wrong, in general, is a poor excuse for pretending that they have the same culpability for poor reactions in extremely stressful positions.
I, for instance, know a guy who has some of these issues who used to work as a dishwasher at Whole Foods until he was fired because they had videos of him circumventing some of their dishwashing procedures “on purpose.” But, when he talked to me, he tearfully admitted that what was really happening is that he just couldn’t keep up with the pace and stress and couldn’t cope with disappointing his employer.
As a society, we should be judged by how we treat the people least able to handle life. It is my opinion, our society should be judged pretty harshly in this area (and others).
Okay, next week, the final episode (until Season 6).
Unlocking The Gates
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).