"Time To Make the Donuts" Orange Is the New Black S6 E13 “Be Free"

“Be Free” Orange, Black or Bleak? Season 6 Episode 13 (Netflix)

Orange Black or Bleak 6.2.jpg

Yup, this is recap number 78, and as next season will be the last season of Orange Is the New Black after today we will be 13 episodes from the series and this recap series being complete. If you haven’t read all the recaps yet, they are all available in one guide.

Last week on Decarceration Nation I did an interview with Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Koch Industries about the company's efforts in criminal justice reform.

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If you have not watched OITNB before *Spoiler Alert*

5 Things About Season 6 Episode 13 “Be Free”

 Netflix

Netflix

I will hold to my statement that season 6 was an improvement over season 5, but that isn’t really - if I am being totally honest - saying much. Both seasons suffered from trying too hard to fit prison reality and well-established characters into boxes that just didn’t fit.

Never during the entire run of the season has it seemed so crystal clear to me that the writers are themselves playing a game of Fantasy Inmate not much different than the game the CO’s played in Season 6.

At times it was like watching the long-standing characters being manipulated like voodoo dolls just to serve some new and often bizarre plot points.

It is also probably true that watching OITNB is itself, or could easily be seen, as engaging in a game of Fantasy Inmate too.

In fairness, I still believe that OITNB (the book and the show) have done a service to the world by presenting its prisoners as human beings with stories. As we just learned the series is coming to an end after Season 7, the good has certainly outweighed the bad.

5. “I am happy to tell the parole board that you resisted orders”

Copeland yells this at Chapman because she is taking too long saying goodbye to Vause.

WHAT IN THE HELL ARE THESE WRITERS TALKING ABOUT THIS YEAR???? There is NO Federal Parole Board:

“Under the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, Congress eliminated parole for federal defendants convicted of crimes committed after November 1, 1987.”

Oh, also, as I have mentioned before, PolyCom could not grant “early release” to Chapman, Bursett, Blanca, or anyone else, if you don’t believe me, the full list of ways you can earn early release are no secret.

There is a reason television shows have consultants (pretty sure OITNB used to have consultants), the writers really need to start listening to their consultants, the plot holes are growing increasingly wide and the show is starting to suffer as a result.

4. “Congratulations, I’m happy for you both”

It was good to see the Vause/Chapman plot come to a happy ending. Unfortunately, for many years, the “they are fighting” and now “they reunite” storyline was done to death. This new plot - Vause still secretly wants to be a gangster and Piper wants Vause to get out of prison makes much more sense to me.

Some will say that Vause “sacrificed herself” to save Piper’s date, and to some extent that is true, but there were also many signs throughout the season that Vause was nostalgic for her old career and unwilling to commit to a more normal and socially acceptable career.

Regardless, nice to see them “prison married” after all these years.

Also nice to hear the callback to Princess Bride (and Spaceballs).

3. “Better than anal”

What happened to Blanca is, obviously, sad, troubling, and very real.

We have immigration facilities run by private prison companies popping up all over the place. In fact, there is a big debate in my home state about this right now, most likely, given she is only being held in lieu of deportation, Blanca would be held in a facility just like the one they want to refurb in Ionia Michigan pending hearings.

Or maybe, since she has a criminal record, she would be sent to one of the higher security immigration facilities along the border pending a deportation order.

Unfortunately, as the world and everyone in this country has seen, we are EXACTLY this cold blooded and inhumane about how we are approaching immigration enforcement right now.

I will give credit where credit is due, this was a POWERFUL and true to life ending to the season for Blanca.

2. “Do you know why we don’t have riots”

It is hard to prove (or to disprove) a counterfactual. There are very few riots in American prisons, and in most prisons there probably are not “fantasy inmate” contests.

Do Correctional Officers pit inmates against inmates, of course many do. Do riots break out if CO’s don’t pit inmates against inmates, of course not.

As we well know, Desi Piscatella’s brutal enforcement regime - not inmate unity - caused the riot (ironically techniques he carried with him from Max to the camp).  

It is very possible, for instance, that what caused the Lee Riot in South Carolina was trying to move inmate leaders out of the Lee Correctional Facility (if you want to learn more about this you can listen to my interview with Jay Ware on my podcast).

What unifying prisoners risks is collective action to strike for better conditions not increased violence. Unfortunately, what Correctional Officers and other prison administrators really want is to maintain the brutal superstructure of prisons as usual.

1. “If the evidence shows Tasha Jefferson fired the gun that killed Desi Piscatella, you must convict”

Only one small problem here, there is no evidence that Tasha Jefferson fired the gun that killed Desi Piscatella.

There is evidence she pointed the gun, evidence she punched Caputo (who testified in her defense), and evidence that she and four other people touched that gun (many of them testifying against Taystee).

Let me reiterate the other problems:

  • Any lawyer would have insisted on an independent autopsy

  • Any lawyer would have entered the evidence of Piscatella’s rampage of torture (which was on video and included kidnapping and scalping) into evidence

  • Any lawyer would have insisted on deposing every single inmate of the camp about conditions at the Litchfield camp (and about Piscatella).

  • Any lawyer would have destroyed Cindy on cross (her fingerprints were on the gun too)

  • Any lawyer would have destroyed the medical examiner on cross (since there were obviously OTHER injuries including the ones that actually killed him)

  • If the ACLU was involved, there would have been a team of lawyers all over this thing (not just one lawyer and some protesters). The case also would have been investigated thoroughly in the press because it followed a riot and was salacious.

  • The last thing MCC or the BOP would have wanted would have been ANY of the things just described above.

I have probably belabored this point enough. It sucks to see Taystee found guilty given all of the above. As I mentioned way back at the beginning of this season, it does highlight an important point which is that inmates are often indicted in court by the unreliable (and often coerced) testimony of other inmates.

I would have objected less if they had focused more on how police and courts use unreliable testimony to give people more time and focused less on this absurd - almost surreally absurd - trial of Taystee.

Oh well, another season bites the dust, six down one to go. Thanks for coming along with me on this long journey!

Unlocking The Gates

 Netflix

Netflix

New recaps will come out once a week (usually on Sunday mornings).

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