Orange Is the New Black: The Animals – Tears (Review)

The Animals

Orange Is the New Black “The Animals” ends in tears. The gradual meltdown of Litchfield has reached rock bottom with the death of Poussey. It is, in many ways,  a double homicide as Bayley’s innocence dies as he crushes the air right out of Washington.  The sad thing is, this could have been avoided had Piscatella not taken it upon himself to punish people already being punished.

His knee-jerk reaction to the dead “guard” (who is not one of the ranks but an outsider; a hired hitman) has enabled this death to occur.  Piscatella’s bullying of Red finally proves to be too much for the inmates to bear. Despite their failed coalition, they all stand, quite literally, together.

Initially it is Humps (Michael Torpeythey want removed. His gladiatorial fight club put  Maureen in the infirmary and messed up Suzanne. The result of his bullying inmates had all the different groups attempting to work together for his removal.

The plan undergoes a slight change as they aim for Humphrey’s boss instead.  Which makes a certain amount of sense as Piscatella is a dangerous in his own way as Humphrey.

Flashbacks in this episode focus on “Gerber” Bayley.  We learn that the guy has always been slightly naive and his entry into Corrections has not improved his “worldly” knowledge.  He does, however, know right from wrong and he tells Caputo about Humphrey.

The warden is furious about the fights and Piscatella interrogating inmates despite being told not to. Caputo suspends Humphrey for one month without pay and Piscatella backs his staff member by threatening a walkout. The captain believes he has won against Caputo but he has put a noose around his own neck.

Poussey and Soso  (Kimiko Glennhave an argument. Later Poussey hits up Judy King  (Blair Brown) for a job after prison and the celeb gives her a phone number to call. Taystee works the coalition angle to get rid of Humphrey and Maria joins the movement. 

After last week’s leak about Burset  (Laverne Coxbeing in the SHU, she is sent back to Litchfield minimal facility.  As she struggles to fit back in, Alex and Piper get back together.

Red (Kate Mulgrewis exhausted because Piscatella will not let her sleep.  She tries to facilitate the coalition but is too tired to mediate when the whole thing falls apart.

Piscatella bullies Red in the dining hall and then castigates all the inmates in the room. Blanca drops her serving tray and stands back up on the table. Piper, who promised Alex that she was going to stay out of trouble, joins Blanca with a look of quiet resignation on her face.

More inmates begin standing on the table. Hapakuka (Jolene Purdy) tells the Captain that they are not moving until he resigns. Piscatella calls for backup. Humphrey arrives and Suzanne (Uzo Aduba) freaks out when she sees him. 

Gerber is told to control her and he attempts to grab and hold Williams.  Poussey rushes up to make him stop and let her calm Suzanne down. Bayley knocks her down and puts one knee on her back.

Suzanne attacks Bayley and he cannot move his knee, Poussey cannot breathe and she whisper to the officer to get off her.  Williams is out of control and CO McCullough (Emily Tarver) calls for Piscatella to help. 

Finally the captain grabs Suzanne and pulls her off of Bayley. It is too late. The lifeless body of Poussey is face down  on the dining room floor. Piscatella says to call a medic and Taystee, after falling on her knees beside Poussey’s body, screams.

The death of Poussey was the most tearful event on the show, outside of Lolly’s being taken away in the last episode, and these last two segments have taken the comedy right out of this series.

In many ways, this series has become a cautionary tale.  The dangers of privatizing prisons is clear. Poorly trained staff who have no real guidelines and companies more concerned with profit margins than running a facility correctly.

Certainly prison is not meant to be fun, but it is not about bullying a populace whose punishment was having their freedom taken away. This season has been all about the staff not doing their job properly. An inmate dying is the end result.

It is ironic that the dead hitman’s discovery makes things worse. The officers all band together in a sense of outrage that is as misplaced as it is false.

Orange Is the New Black ended with a death. The series’  mood is somber and downbeat. This was a tissue box episode, on par with the previous one, where tears were almost a requirement.

The series is a Netflix original and is available to watch all at once, if one so desires. There is one more episode left in season four, watch it now, to see how Poussey’s death affects the prison and the inmates. Or wait for a week, to let this latest episode settle and for your tears to dry.


Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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"I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical."

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