“Orange is the New Black” Episode 413 Review: “Toast Can’t Never Be Bread Again”

Oh, my friends. We deserved a chance to mourn Poussey. We deserved a chance to have an episode dedicated solely to her and to her friends, where we could grieve the loss of a beloved character. Instead, we got this episode. Here we go.

From what we learn from the MCC lackeys, I think the flashbacks in this episode are supposed to be from the night that leads up to Poussey’s arrest. But we don’t know that at the beginning. All we see is a young Poussey with a wicked faux-hawk riding a charter bus with her friends, who are trying to convince her not to go back to Amsterdam. Her smile lights up the screen, and she is full of energy and possibilities.

But this is the season of No Joy, remember? And so we cut back to Litchfield where Piscatella is telling Caputo how they’re going to discuss Poussey’s death. Everything he says is a lie: she was violent, he was doing his job, this isn’t about race. I couldn’t watch this scene more than once y’all; it made me physically sick. Piscatella is there to represent the system at its worst, and he does the job so well. There’s something in his past that Caputo threatens him with, and he finally leaves the prison. I don’t want to know what is in his past because I don’t ever want to see Piscatella again. I don’t care about the guards’ backstories. I don’t care about why they are the way they are.

Caputo leaves Poussey on the ground with a white sheet covering her and guards posted around her. It’s vivid Mike Brown imagery. No one even calls the police. He goes and comforts Bayley, who we find out didn’t know that he killed an inmate. He just wanted to help. Whatever. I have zero sympathies for this man that they tried to paint as a victim of the system this entire episode. Bayley is not the victim; Poussey is the victim.

Poor Taystee is hurting so much in this episode and it broke my heart. She asks the guards what are they going to do about this and they respond that it’s “just like any other night” and instruct the inmates to go back to their bunks. Cindy guides Taystee back to her bunk and tries to calm her down saying that it’ll eventually be the morning and they’ll get more answers. “I don’t want no morning,” Taystee replies, and my heart shattered again into a million pieces.

Suzanne is reeling from Poussey’s death and neither her friends nor the prison has the resources she needs. She places books on her chest to try and figure out what it feels like to not be able to breathe.

Back in the suburbs, Piper spots Bayley as she’s going to brush her teeth. He’s on his way to C Dorm to apologize to the inmates, and she tells him he cannot do that. In fact, she comforts him. She assures him that she knows he never meant to hurt Poussey and promises to tell the women of C Dorm that it was an accident. I had such trouble figuring out why this scene was included. Why are we getting so much air time for Bayley? Why is he being made out as such a sympathetic character? Why should we feel sorry for a man who killed a woman less than half his size because of his own negligence? Why, over and over and over and over and over do we get to see white people being comforted and reassured in this season, but never a Black or Brown person?

CO Dixon gives Bayley a ride home from the prison where he reveals he has also killed people. When he was overseas, he says he killed children to make up for the fact that he couldn’t catch terrorists, and that after raping a woman, he killed her because the family would’ve anyway. It feels like the writers are trying to tell us here that circumstances, not systems of oppression are what make people killers. And that just because someone kills someone unprovoked, they aren’t a bad person. Dixon reminds Bayley once they arrive at his home that “You’re a good guy. I’m a good guy. It was an accident.”

I want to clear some things up because this felt sloppy and irresponsible. There are systems of inequality that allow certain people to become killers and other people to be killed. Litchfield should’ve never been privatized in the first place—private prisons are dangerous, secretive, and overall, just terrible. Prisons are dangerous, period. MCC should’ve trained Bayley better. They should’ve trained all their guards better. But this was all his fault. Not Suzanne’s, not Poussey’s, it was Bayley’s. He was unprovoked. He used unnecessary excessive force. He was at fault. Just like Piscatella is at fault for this, just like Caputo, just like MCC. Bayley may not be a bad person, but he’s a part of a bad system—willingly—and he did a bad thing. He murdered someone. He should not be excused. No one is a good guy.

It’s now breakfast, which means Poussey has been on the floor a minimum of 6 hours. The police have not been called. The inmates are forced to eat breakfast outdoors.

Outside, Poussey’s friends grieve her loss and the other inmates try to offer their condolences. Cindy is coping by eating. Watson is angry and strikes out at everyone. Suzanne is still trying to find something heavy enough to figure out what it must have felt like to be strangled to death. Taystee decides to cope by going to work.

Back in the offices, the jackasses from MCC are trying to figure out how to make this Poussey’s fault. They ask if she had a health condition that could’ve made this possible or if she was ever violent. But they can’t find anything on her. She’s in jail for a minor drug charge along with trespassing. She was a perfectly behaved inmate. It’s almost as if she shouldn’t even have been in prison in the first place. They go so far as to find a Facebook picture of Poussey with bunny ears and consider cropping it to make it look “thuggish”.

Oh, and by the way, Judy King is getting released today and they’re backdating the paperwork to make it look like she wasn’t there for the death. Cool.

Back in flashback land, the happiest parts of this episode, Poussey is in the club with her friends and they find out that while they thought they were seeing the Roots, they’re actually seeing the Rootz, a cover band full of white guys. When Poussey takes a picture of her friends, her phone gets jacked. America isn’t looking so grand to her right now.

At Litchfield, Humps walks into the prison with a fucking gun in his pant leg and the guards just let him. All the guards make up false stories and talk to each other about remaining strong with their lies. Caputo tells Taystee he hasn’t even called Poussey’s father to inform him of her death. And Poussey Washington, who deserves so much better, is still lying on the ground.

Coates is on guard as Boo and Doggett come in to finally set up some sort of privacy barrier. Doggett sees that Coates is upset and goes to comfort him. I felt sick to my stomach watching this. Forgiving one’s assaulter is one thing, and it felt important that Doggett was able to do that and heal herself from that trauma. But this was too much. Now we’re supposed to feel sympathy for a rapist? Because prison fights are too much for him? No, thank you.

Red talks to her family about rebuilding the garden after this tragedy. She reads a passage from a book Poussey gave her from the library and gives each of her children jobs so that they stay busy. Nicky and Morello get into a fight when Nicky sticks her hands in Morello’s pants without consent. After a yelling spat, the two agree that both their lives are kinda shit right now, and they link arms against the chain link fence. What they both need right now is a friend.

Alex and Piper are poking around near the greenhouse. Piper excuses Bayley some more, trying to make some comparison to what Alex did out of self-defense. She says he’s not a “murderer” murderer and that he just made a mistake. She catches Alex hiding a note in the tomato plant that says the guard’s name that she killed. Apparently, they’re all over the camp.

Poussey is lost in New York City in the flashback. She’s without a phone, and the only people who will talk to her to help her out are a pair of beautiful, friendly drag queens. They offer her a phone, but first invite her to a party. She goes along, and we enter into this techno/house/Neolution-type warehouse party. Poussey has a blast; we get to watch her break out of her shy shell a little bit into this carefree, adorable, perfect being. She leaves the club at the end of the night, calls her friends, and heads off.

Judy King is packing up to leave and Yoga Jones is begging her to have a heart. She pleads with Judy to say something once she leaves, to use her cell phone to call the police, to just do something. Judy King liked Poussey. She offered her a job. If King really cared, she would have done something, but this scene sums up what we’ve known all season: Judy King doesn’t care about anyone except herself.

Poor Soso is all alone with no community because Poussey was one of her only allies. She is getting drunk behind the library off of Poussey’s hooch when she hears something fall. She walks into the library, and all of the bookshelves have fallen over. Suzanne is underneath them, gasping for air and asking for help.

In the kitchen, Coates and Doggett talk and there’s an awful part where he says he might have to leave because prison is too much and Doggett kisses him and then he overpowers her. After the altercation, he once again says he might have to quit. This time, Doggett says that might be a good idea. Again, with the writers trying to force us to feel sympathetic for bad people doing bad things. I don’t. I won’t.

Caputo asks Taystee if Poussey had a shiv like the guards were saying. Taystee is rightfully furious, answering that of course Poussey didn’t have a shiv. She complains to him about how unfair all of this is, that Poussey was more than an inmate, that she was her friend, and a human. Caputo tries to hug her and apologizes for her loss. Taystee has no time for his apologies and is sick of everyone apologizing for her loss. This wasn’t an old grandparent who died; it was a young, healthy woman who should’ve never been grabbed and pushed to the floor in the first place.

Back in the MCC offices, they’ve decided to push the blame onto Bayley saying he was a loose canon, untrained, and that he used brawn instead of brain. The two MCC executives high-five at their brilliance. I try not to throw up.

Poussey is back in New York, riding the subway, and enjoying everything that is quintessentially New York City in the middle of the night. She’s a happy observer of everything going on around her and is falling in love with this place she’s vowed to leave. Once she’s off the subway, she’s still lost and this time gets picked up by a group of bicycling monks.

In the yard at Litchfield, Sophia and Gloria are sunbathing. Sophia says she needs to catch up on her vitamin D intake. It’s a sweet moment between friends that is ruined by some unnecessary-to-the-plot transmisogyny from the white supremacists.

While the friends reminisce about Poussey, Blanca offers them some paper flowers. The Latina inmates in Maria’s crew offer to make some chilaquiles once they are able to get back into the kitchen. Cindy reflects on what they’re going to sing and decides on some old gospel as the best way to comfort everyone.

It is fifty-seven minutes into this episode before an ambulance comes to pick up Poussey.

The long-haired white supremacist says something smart-mouthed and Watson punches her in the face. Tension rises around their friends, but a fight doesn’t erupt. The white supremacists walk away to heal their wounds. Watson and Cindy decide it might be time to start carrying weapons in Abdullah’s headscarf. Abdullah agrees, but it’s revealed there might not be much room because she’s got a head full of red sister locs!

In their drunkenness, the meth-heads destroy the time machine in the laundry room. This scene felt sad to me, more than funny. In destroying the time machine, they were saying that there’s no escaping the hell of Litchfield, not even in your imagination.

Piper and Alex are getting the last slips of paper. Alex says, “Nobody should die without a name.” I think, “Yeah, if you’re a white guy.”

It’s time for Caputo’s press conference! There’s makeup, a “threatening” picture of Bayley in a Halloween costume, Linda/Lisa with an iced coffee—she thinks prison is “quiet”—and full lockdown reinstated so the inmates don’t have access to the press and vice versa. Taystee hides out under her desk so she can hear the press conference. Caputo finally finds an ounce of actual empathy for another person and calls Poussey’s father in the parking lot before he goes on screen.

In the penultimate flashback, Poussey talks to the monk—who is not a monk but an improv actor—about being blackballed from West Point. He says she should hang out in New York instead of going back to Amsterdam and offers her a spot dancing with rats at their next improv gig. But Poussey is getting ready to leave, she’s selling off her stash, tying up loose ends, and she’s just here enjoying right now; “To one amazing night.” Watching this, my heart broke thinking about the systems in place that inevitably caused her death.

Caputo gives a press conference about the death of Poussey but goes off script. He blames nothing on Bayley and everything on the dangerous inmates. He even defends Bayley and says he will be back at Litchfield.

Taystee is furious. “They didn’t even say her name!” she screams down the halls of the prison. The inmates of C Dorm and eventually the entire prison begin to rally, many gathering weapons, needing to do something to get rid of their anger. I hated watching this because I knew it wouldn’t be the victory any of them wanted. These women are angry, and rightfully so. They aren’t treated like humans. Their lives are taken away from them, sometimes literally, and they don’t even have names. They tried a peaceful protest and someone was killed. Their riot is righteous, but at the end of the day, they’re going to be the ones punished. There is no justice.

All the inmates gather at a four-way intersection when Humps reaches for his gun. Maritza pushes him before he can get hold of it and Daya picks it up. She points it at his head. “Fucking CO’s, y’all are pieces of shit.” The room spins as the inmates cheer her on to shoot him.

In the last scene, Poussey stands alone, hands in her pockets, looking over New York City. She breaks the fourth wall and smiles at the camera looking directly at us. Her life holds so much promise. Held.

Alaina is a 20-something working on a PhD in Performance as Public Practice. They are a mom to three cats, they listen to a lot of NPR and musicals, and they spend a lot of time on Pinterest lusting over studio apartments. They are actively trying to build A Brand on twitter @alainamonts. One day, they will be First Lady of the United States.

Al(aina) has written 252 articles for us.

83 Comments

  1. The contrast here is 1000X worse than the party/branding sitch, but you can tell that comparison what the writers were making, horribly.

    It kills me that Daya is the one who gets the gun, as much as anyone this who’s backstory we’ve seen, she is an actual product of the prison system. Aleida didn’t have many choices in her life, but Daya had virtually none, and now here she is, holding a gun no one meant for her to have, in a room full of people trying to make this choice for her, with really no reason not to make it.

    • While I get *why* the writers wanted Daya to be the one to pick it up (it seems like they want to build to an identity-crisis with Aleida gone), it didn’t really seem to make that much sense with the story thus far. She didn’t really interact with Poussey or Humphrey (and didn’t even know about the Maritza thing) nor was she previously shown to be trying hard to be more ‘hard’ to hang out with the beauty shop group.

  2. Did anyone think the closing shot of Poussey smiling and looking into the camera was horribly disrespectful to the character and just blatantly manipulative to us, the viewers? It made me feel sick, honestly.

    • Yes it did. first comment on this site ever but been lurking for years(being male dont feel it is my place to speak).

      I have never been more mad at a TV show before in my life than that last shot of Poussey. It really rang home the whole “show with minorities but not for minorities” feel i got from this season.

  3. Thanks for the recap. That is all the evidence I need to avoid this season of OITNB. I can’t help but make comparisons to that other UK prison show ‘Bad Girls”. That had prison guards getting away with shit, but at least there was hope with Nikki getting out and having a happy ending with Helen. American TV shows are full of hopelessness and despair. If I wanted that for my entertainment dollars I would simply read the headlines every night.

  4. Throughout the episode, I felt dead inside. I couldn’t even cry. It was too much.

    Dixon’s speech to Baylee in the car was chilling. No, he is not a good person. The other COs are not good people. I hate them all.

    I want that bastard Humphrey to get shot but I don’t want Daya to shoot anybody. This will ruin her life.

    Poussey deserved better. They all deserved better.

  5. I’m going to cautiously toss my two cents out there (possibly into a shark pool) – but it makes sense to me why out of all the characters, Poussey would be the one killed but also why Bayley is the one who kills her (and why he gets screen time).

    It would be easy to kill a character we don’t like, or a character who has committed truly heinous crimes, and try to make a martyr out of them. First and foremost, OITNB is a television show and the audience needs to care about what happens to the characters. Poussey is the obvious choice: serving time for a harmless offense, loved by all, physically small (unlikely to get violent, or fight back). So Poussey dies horribly.

    But what about Bayley? I hear you – the guards shouldn’t be as important as the inmates are and Bayley’s life of white male privilege was aggravating to watch. But I think the writers chose him for a reason – again, it would have been easy to have Piscatella or the ASSHOLE with the gun, or maybe one of the white supremacist girls kill Poussey instead. They are the obvious villains.

    Instead, we are given Bayley and shown how he has also been picked up by the police for almost EXACTLY the same crime as Poussey (trespassing and pot!) but likely due to racial (/gender?) bias, one is sent to prison, one works as a guard. One is murdered, the other is excused from having committed a crime.

    There are still issues with the narrative, issues that shouldn’t be taken lightly. But by bringing characters like Bayley, Caputo, Judy King, Yoga Jones, and Piper to the forefront this season, OITNB is telling a story about how privilege and ignorance can be far more damning than outright racism and hatred (Piscatella, white neo-nazi girls).

    • Yeah, I think everybody realizes what the writers were trying to do with turning Poussey’s death into a teaching moment about white privilege and the prison system. But, people are mad because
      1) it wasn’t the writers place to try and tell this story. None of the writers were black and it really feels like they’re trying to gain ””social justice”” points by referencing BLM.
      2) They executed it poorly. They humanized the guards, they made the death an accident. I get that they are trying to point out that it’s the system, but like the system is made out of people and those people are racist and responsible for their actions. Also they referenced Eric Garner’s death, but that was so not an accident! It felt like they were indirectly absolving the cops who totally intentionally suffocated him by implying that that was also an accident.
      3) They made it clear that their target audience is white people. White people are the ones who would need a lesson about BLM in their fiction, because they are able to be unaware of it in real life. The lesson was at the expense of one of the very few well-written black lesbian characters on tv. Having positive representation and a happy ending for P would have been so much more original and progressive. That’s what we need, not to see the horrors of real life reflected back in our fiction. Samira Wiley, a black lesbian actor, lost her job and was heartbroken about the death of the character. The white writers patted themselves on the back for making people have *the feels*.

      • I’m throwning my 2 c in also. This is not a white privilege story, this is not a lgbt story, this is a social justice story. To View everything through the lens of white privilege is dangerous. Yes it’s there. But that’s not the only thing. As a gay person I really appreciate my straight allies.

        There’s an element of splitting lgbt and poc that I find scary. It’s very life of Brian and people’s front of Judea atm on autostraddle and afterellen.

        I am white, I am gay, I am female, I am educated and I am supportive of everybody’s equality. And I say all lives matter. Go on someone tell me it’s my white privilege speaking. Why the infighting?. We all need each other. We all smile in the same language.

        I am heartbroken about poussey because she is a good person killed while heroically and selflessly trying to protect Suzanne, killed needlessly by the system which allowed guards and sadistic men to rule the lives of vulnerable women. These men are white and happen to be very bad or incompetent people. The best person in the prison is poussey and she is the one who dies, not because she is black or lesbian but because she puts others before herself . I do not need to be black to understand inhumanity. I do not need to be black to support my lgbt sisters. I need to be a good human being.

        Also avoiding things which are unpleasant and real and triggering doesn’t change anything. Its what you do with it that counts. To be so critical of OITNB because it tries to deal with things that need telling is dangerous. It’s shooting the messenger. United we stand divided we fall.

        • The fact that you ignore the intersections of sexuality, race, gender, etc displays how unaware you are of the ways these influence those who fall outside of the dominant group.

          The fact that you ignore these or fail to see that Queer POC exists demonstrates how uninformed you are. Also, as a black queer woman her blackness does matter. For you to erase that or insist that it doesn’t matter is silencing how her skin reads in a world built on white supremacy. The reality is that you are not black, and the way you digest this image is different then my black brothers and sisters who may walking home and never make it there. You may be able to show solidarity but you will never know who it is to be black in this world. Finally, this story is not new – OITNB is not the only show to deal with these issues nor will be the last. Also, if you want to talk about killings of QTPOC just do a google search and these things are happening in real life and are being told. People are just choosing to ignore them. Also as a television show you have a responsibility esp when you are telling stories that are not your own.

          Please don’t use a phrase adopted by the Founding Fathers of these nation that enslaved my ancestors. POC have never been seen as a part of the united.

        • Shooting the messenger? And just who do you think the intended message was for exactly? There is no way you can remove race from this. This certainly wasn’t for the QPOC in the audience. We don’t need very special episodes intended to educate us on the social injustices that we face daily because we actually live it. So, in that case, this storyline was specifically intended to educate their white audience that they clearly assume is so damn ignorant that they don’t know about any of these things to begin with. It was a poorly executed storyline, like much of the rest of the season. And it was written by a majority white writing staff with(it seems) no input from black writers or The Black Lives Matter movement that they claim to be drawing from. If you don’t know the first thing about what you are writing about it would seem pertinent to me that you at least research the topic and/or bring in a writer of color for that episode, and most importantly handle that story with care. They may have had the best intentions but they failed on all fronts IMO.

          You also can’t remove Poussey’s sexual orientation from this either when it comes to her death because yes(whether you think this was masterful television or not) her death still adds to ever climbing death toll of lesbian/bi female characters on television this year. Not only that but so many of those women were QPOC, just like Poussey. So the show not only killed off one of the very few last remaining black lesbians on tv but in doing so they put a black actress out of a job knowing full well that Hollywood has a serious race issue when it comes to who gets cast for roles and who gets nominated for awards. So in trying to tell one “social justice” issue that they inadvertently failed at another.

          There have been countless times when we as an LGBT community have tried to hold tv/movie writers accountable when they have been offensive or handled our stories neglectfully but when it’s about the lives of POC all of a sudden some of you want to go “hold up why are you being so critical of these shows?” Fuck that noise. You don’t get to tell members of a community you are not apart of how they should or shouldn’t respond to stories that are directly about them like you know so much more about it than we do. It annoys the shit out of me when straight people do it about LGBT issues. It annoys me when men do it about issues affecting women’s bodies. And it annoys me when white people get on their all lives matter soapboxes when talking to POC as if that is how society as a whole actually treats us and we are just bitching for nothing.

          • So I think that those white privileged middle class liberals your all complaining about are needed to help change the system.

            But what would I know I’m a white gay wog kangaroo. I stand by you. I support you. Don’t kick the allies.

            Infighting is stupid. We all need each other.

          • You Americans are crazy. I leave u to your victemhood. I still think we all need each other and that by segregating we do white males work for them.

            I experience prejudice from being white and gay and dyslexic and a child of a migrant. I’m not black but I live prejudice. This segregation is crazy. Peace.

          • Bel, you continue to miss point by a wide margin.

            1. Nobody is saying that white liberals are not needed as a whole. We are critiquing this particular storyline written by liberals. And if you think that the killing of this one particular black character was absolutely needed o somehow incite global change then I want whatever pills you are taking so I can live in that rose-colored fantasy land as well.

            2. You don’t know. And you refuse to listen or understand where QPOC are coming from with our criticisms of this storyline. That tells me that you don’t want to listen, learn or care about what we have to say and I probably shouldn’t engage with you too much longer because it’s clearly just going to be a one-sided conversation.

            3. There is no “infighting” happening here. Again we are critiquing this particular storyline. As is our right to do. I have been on this site since it’s inception, which is a long ass time. I am well aware of the makeup of this site and it’s staff(fyi, it’s majoirty white but they have POC on staff as well). For the most part, everyone around here has been great in dealing with issues and stories involving POC and when they have made mistakes they have owned up to it and been willing to listen. That is why I continue to come back. It’s the ones like you who are intent on shouting over actual POC as if you know our problems and how to fix them and refuse to listen to us that I have hard time engaging with.

            4. I’m not coming from a place of anger or hostility when writing this. I’m mostly just exhausted from having these one-sided conversations with people like yourself because when we try to talk to you the headphones go on and you pretend like you don’t here us and get defensive instead. Our actual feelings don’t mean shit to you at the end of the day and that’s what makes you a shitty ally. You have to want to learn in order to do better. Otherwise, it’s worthless to keep engaging with people who don’t want to listen to us.

          • Ah, so you’re like those straight “Allies” who demand a goddamn cookie for supporting LGBT rights? How about you actually LISTEN to the people you allegedly support and call yourself an ally of? You’re talking a lot. You’re dictating a lot. I don’t see ANY listening.

          • You don’t have anyone’s back. You’re just saying you do. Having someone’s back means finding out FROM THEM what their needs are and how to help them.

          • No, why would you have any blame or responsibility for anything? You’re a white middle-classer and everyone needs you and you can say and do whatever you want and if anyone doesn’t like it they need to remember their place.

          • You showed yourself up Johanna not me. You showed intolerance, assumptions and the attitude of trying to silence other voices. I’m fine. I was trying to point out this new wave of thinking which is not going to help anyone. Lgbtiq and poc need to work together. It’s ridiculous to alienate each other. You helped me demonstrate it beautifully. I don’t get this new political post modern movement where divergent thinking is squashed. To classify and squash based on color, race, ethnicity, class only serves to help reinforce heterosexual white power.

            But no attack me that fixes everything.

          • also bel, i’ll leave you to your victimhood sounds just like something a white supremacist in america would say when a person of color spoke about experiencing racism. but you aren’t from here, so no way you could be racist or do racist things!!! we all gotta work together! kumbaya! all lives matter!

            *rolls eyes so far into my head they never come back*

          • Have been since last night, Nemo. 😉

            However, I don’t want to identify as an “ally” or get my damn cookie for doing the right thing. That’s what people like Bel want. This conversation is all about POC.

            Side note: I’m “off-white”. Many white people concede I’m white. Many refuse to accept me as white. More often than not, I get all the privilege. People often mistake me for Latinx. I used to be frequently mistaken as Indigenous. To many, I look like an ambiguous minority (and even some POC assume I’m one of them). Being Jewish, however, is the main reason my “whiteness” is denied by other white people.

        • The “All lives matter” thing, to give an Australian example, would be like if someone said “Australians need to treat Aboriginal people as human beings,” and you responded, “Australians need to treat EVERYONE as human beings.” What you’re saying is true, but it takes the focus off of how poorly Australians treat Aboriginal people. Likely solutions for getting Australians to treat “everyone” as human would be much more generic than getting Australians to treat Aboriginal people as human, and would probably not end up with Aboriginal people being treated equally because there is a greater distance between Aboriginal people being treated as humans and a white Australian being treated as a human.

          Pre-emptively: Yes, Italians were treated atrociously even just one generation ago and there is still some lingering anti-Italian sentiment, but there is a reason you’d rather be Italian than Aboriginal if you’re actually observing the world and not just trying to whinge, so let’s skip the comparison.

          To bring it back to “all lives matter,” of course they do, but in the US, the whole system operates as though black lives do not matter, which is why people say “black lives matter.” Because there is still so much MORE work to do to bring black people to the level of mattering to the American people. Their lot needs more attention right now because it is so much worse for them. “All lives matter” is not a sentiment that will correct that problem. Does that make sense?

    • I want you to consider all the black people, specifically black queer women who had to watch this. This is not just a television show, it’s our daily reality. While many of us may not be in prison experiencing this, we face it in our daily lives. It is irresponsible for OITNB to tell this story and not think of the the repercussions of the trauma for the body they are displaying and exhibiting for the consumption of white people. Bayley is not the victim, he is not – his story is not pertinent to the death of a black body. Let’s not justify the action of the OITNB writers but challenge them to see beyond their white privilege and consider how they render the black body on exhibition, lifeless, and hidden. It is not enough to to tell a story to inform white people. It’s not. As a black queer women my body is constantly used in the service of informing others and I won’t stand for it. Where is the radical work and justice that this births.

    • I hope you read Jane and Leticia’s comments and think about what it means that you felt so comfortable tossing your two cents out there, especially as someone who is white (or white-passing).

      In addition, have a think about what you’re implying about the other black and brown characters and their value by arguing this, “Poussey is the obvious choice: serving time for a harmless offense, loved by all, physically small (unlikely to get violent, or fight back).” Is a wrongful, violent murder less meaningful to you if the person involved doesn’t meet this criteria? What does this say about how conditionally you value the lives of POC? What does this say about how conditional your empathy is?

    • Guys I want to apologise for my behaviour because I expressed myself really badly. Since writing I’ve done thinking and research about what’s happening in America and I really did not realise how bad the marginalization has become. This is part of a cultural misunderstanding and was a mistake on my part. So please accept my sincerest apologies for that. I by no means meant that individual differences are not relevant. Of course Poussey is lgbt and POC matter and a social justice matter.

      I’m angry but I directed my anger badly. I’m angry at the wave upon wave of people who say ~ well that’s us sorted we are part of the majority now, your on your own. I think no. Nobody gets left behind. To acknowledge privilege need an addendum. It means so now I can do more to fight against that oppression. For me I’m studying social work.

      I do need some reassurance that the black livesmatter movement is not a counter racism movement using racism as a tool though. Because while it would be justified it wouldn’t be effective. By not engaging white privileged people for change how can you change the system? That is where I was coming from.

      When I said all lives matter. What I meant is that all lives matter… Black, queer, straight, gay, disabilities, trans everyone matters. And that all are responsible for standing against any and all forms of oppression and that should include whites as well.

      Australia is by no means at the end of its struggle for equality but some things we do are excellent.
      1, finally apologising to our aboriginal and Torres straight islanders
      2. Acknowledging traditional owners of the land
      3. Having shows like Redfern now and black comedy and Cleverman.
      4. Teaching tolerance and respect in the curriculum.

      These things are good. Tonight is election night. We may be fighting extreme forms of oppression depending on the result.

      I hope that clears some things up.

      • Could you clarify what you mean by “counter racism movement”? I really hope you mean “anti-racism” and not “reverse racism,” because I’m pretty sure reverse racism doesn’t actually exist. That would require that we POC have structural power and privilege. We don’t.

          • Sophia Thank you. ). I apologise again for my words. I am wrong. I Clearly have a lot to learn. This is why dialogue needs to be kept open.

        • To be honest I’m not sure, Sophia, I think I just mean attitudes.. I see where you are coming from. I grew up thinking America is the land of the free etc. I grew up reading to kill a mockingbird and watching Sydney Poitier and thought this country is awesome. My mum left communism to come to Australia where people disappeared in the middle of the night so of course America is free, Australia is free etc. These are the myths… Any challenge of that was met with “no real oppression is Russian tanks’.
          . So yeah I’m catching up.

          Australia has its own terrible history but it is silent. We did not allow our own indigenous peoples the vote till 1968. This is largely not taught. There is a slow change now. Perhaps that’s the difference. The silence.

          I’m starting to realise just how wrong I am. That there is structural oppression at every level which you are facing.

  6. I’m not going to rant about Poussey yet again on another article. You all know how I feel If you’ve read them. So I’m just going to focus on other things in this one.

    Watson popping off and punching that white supremacist was the highlight of the whole damn season for me because it was a long time coming and she truly deserved it for that disrespectful remark. I’ve often seen people give Watson shit for how she is portrayed but I’ve always liked her as a character and find her anger appropriate given the things that have happened to her in that prison.

    I remember thinking Judy was full of bullshit the minute she offered to help Poussey find a job. If Poussey had lived and called that number Judy King would have pretended she never knew her at all. I truly believe that.

    Caputo has no damn business still being the warden of that prison. He has had fuck up after fuck up and this latest one should be the tipping point to have him removed. “A prisoner died on your watch!”. No, dipshit, a prisoner died on YOUR watch. Piscatella and the guards aren’t the only ones to blame for this. Caputo gave them free reign to reek havoc while he was out feeling himself with Linda and buying thousand dollar suits. And just how does he think it’s going to over with the prisoners when Bayley strolls back into that prison? What an idiot.

    Oh, and I absolutely loathe that the writers used their main character, Piper, as their mouthpiece to make excuses for Bayley and paint him as a guy who “just made a mistake”. If they were truly trying to parallel the police brutality cases that they claim they were then they would know that they cops in these cases weren’t just “good guys who made a mistake”. Especially where Eric Garner is concerned. All the justifications they were trying to make for this were so gross, complete with Bayley crying in a corner, and just another reason why I think they are full of shit in their “WE CARE ABOUT BLACK LIVES MATTER!!!” explanation for why they did this and why I don’t trust white writers to handle these types of stories. Oops, I said I wasn’t going to rant. Oh well.

  7. “Again, with the writers trying to force us to feel sympathetic for bad people doing bad things. I don’t. I won’t.”
    I just have such a different perspective on this. I loved what they did with Doggett’s story line. It felt so realistic – or at least it spoke to my feelings about my abuser and my experiences of sexual violence. He had no idea what he did was violent, because we live in a society that normalizes violence against women. I also LOVED Big Boo’s reaction – it’s like textbook what not to do when your friend goes back to her abuser – but it’s a realistic reaction and she adjusts to a more harm-reduction-y approach.
    I felt like this season was hammering at the idea that, if the system is evil, it doesn’t matter if you’re a “good” or “bad” person with privilege – you’re going to cause harm. The solution to the violence of the prison system then isn’t to make sure we only have nice, well-trained guards. The solution is to abolish prisons. I thought that was an important message, but I understand that I’m in the minority that thought that was the main message of the season.

      • Yes totally! You’re exactly right. I chose to get into the portrayals of racism and racism in the prison system with my comment and instead focus on what I have experience, sexual violence, because it seemed like there’s been too much of white people making comments about racism in OITNB when the conversations should be instead be dominated by black and brown people. But I should have been more clear about that or maybe should have handled that differently. I apologize.

        OITNB (the memoir and the TV show) was definitely written by and for liberal white people – and it’s racist and fucked up.

        • I’m surprised by the idea that what Boo did was wrong. When I was trying to deal with abusers, it was always very helpful to me when people had no sympathy for the abusers, and drew lines in the sand about how they were not going to support any excuses. One of the things I think is hardest for Doggett is to really feel like she’s worth better, and Boo has consistently demonstrated a point of view that she is, and that moreover it’s realistic and possible to stick to that idea and not give it any exceptions. I wish there were more people who held to that! In my experience, anything less is enabling the abuse itself, because going along with it encourages the victim to stay in her victimhood, and makes you complicit in the whole dynamic.

          I get that forgiveness can be internally helpful and empowering (it has been for me because it liberated me from feeling enmeshed with perps and enabled me to shed a lot of the residual effects of having suffered violence and degradation of various sorts), but Doggett was not just transcending the victim status, she was actually going farther than that and considering a return to a friendly relationship with the person who rapist, as though him being a pathetic person who didn’t notice her humanity was A-OK.

          sketchyblondes, can you elaborate on why you thought Boo was in error, and what you were appreciating about the way that story was handled? I’m not sure I understand what you are trying to say, and I would like to see it from your point of view.

          • thanks for asking! I have all the feelings on doggett this season and how to deal with your friends in violent relationships. (first real quick: there were about half a dozen typos in my second comment – most obviously the lack of “NOT” in the first sentence. hope that was obvious. whoops if it wasn’t.)

            Big Boo’s “if you go back to him, we’re not friends anymore” was exactly what not to do. her “I hate him so much” was totally great. but telling a friend if she goes back to her abuser, you’re going to cut ties with her because she’s being stupid (even if your real reason is just “I can’t see my friend go through this again. I have to cut myself off.”) is terrible because it plays into the abuser’s hand of isolation. also any message of “your stupid and weak” also generally plays into an abuser’s hands.

            Obviously different people have different approaches but I think saying that (1) what he’s doing is wrong, (2) you deserve better, (3) I’m going to stand with you through this, (4) I’m afraid he’s going to try to isolate you from me and I’m not going to let him because you’re important to me.

            Is that clearer? yeah I think her “I hate him!” thing is fantastic. it was just when she threatened to cut ties with Doggett where I was like “whoa whoa whoa. do not. bad.”

          • for me, part of what resonated was how people in bad situations or people who are isolated have nothing but bad options. obviously, prison is a big example of that. but maintaining a relationship with an abusive family member is also an example of that. so is dealing with your abuser if she’s also a queer women and you share a small community. if you can’t get away from your abuser and if maintaining a good relationship with your abuser offers benefits for you and you feel safe doing so, then that’s a totally legit survival strategy.

            I also loved how she didn’t minimize what he did. She maintained that it was rape, and it was wrong. I feel like if anyone’s ever going to have a healthy relationship with an abuser (whether or not you were hurt), you have to make sure not to minimize what they did.

            also I think him saying that he had no idea he raped her was really significant. especially because, at first, she, similarly, was just like “that’s what happens sometimes. it’s normal.” I also really related to that. I had bad experiences with high school boys, and I just feel like we were all following these scripts. I had no idea what was happening was wrong – I cried during it, but eh what did I know about het sex? I feel weird putting the blame on them. (our school’s lack of consent education on the other hand…) (5 years later I’m finally working through it therapy haha) If the scripts are violent, then someone who doesn’t intend to cause harm can do a lot of damage. but we can respond to those people in a different way than we respond to people who intend to cause harm.

            I also really liked it in the context of OITNB as a whole because the show (at least at first) was so focused on showing that the bad, damaging stuff people do doesn’t mean that they’re bad, irredeemable people.

            Does that make it a bit clearer? Obviously 100% happy to agree to disagree on this (like I said, I know I’m in the minority opinion on Doggett’s story line this season.)

            (also holy moly I’m making typos all over the place. this is embarrassing. the “your” in the above comment. yikes.)

          • Thanks for taking the time to explain your point of view on this. I think we agree about some of it, actually, like how sometimes you can’t completely cut off interactions because of being in a “small pond” as it were (like Doggett can’t get away from Coates because he’s a guard, or if your abuser is not expelled from the community and you either have to deal with them or go into exile yourself, or if you need something they have and can’t figure out another way to get it– I know a number of people in situations like that, where no one has been able to figure out how to get them out of it).

            And of course it’s never good to call your friend stupid. I totally agree with that one!!

            Anyway, even in the areas where we don’t 100% match up, I appreciate you taking the time to explain to me how the story looks to you.

            And as far as typos are concerned… I always proofread my posts at least twice before posting, and I still find awful goofs after the fact. I hope readers can filter mistakes like that and still know what we mean!

  8. When shows that are supposed to be on our side reflect attitudes that aren’t on our side in what appears to be a thoughtless and uncritical manner then how exactly are they on our side????

    Alaina this recap was spot on and incredibly affecting. Props to you.

  9. i think i’m done with ointb, and pissed at us fans. the argument that a lesbian’s death was well written, diligently told and vital to the story wasnt enough for clexa fans, root and shaw fans, we made fun of Ilene Chaiken’s protestations that she killed her queer characters “the right way” therefore she didn’t perpetuate the trope, but we have these writers replicate the death of a black people and somehow we should enjoy this storyline???!!! How many fans said, we know that lesbians are dying on tv we don’t need to see it!! But we black queers do?!!

    Well Piper and Alex are ok so I guess they really do care about lesbian representation

    • If this show had killed Piper or Alex, all those little white girls on Tumblr and Twitter would have lost their shit and called for a boycott just like they did with The 100. Don’t believe me? Remember how pissed they got after S1 when news came out that Laura Prepon might not be in S2. They aren’t as mad now 1. because it’s Poussey and 2. because they are drinking the koolaid by the writers and actors that this was a “very special realistic story” that needed to be told for the advancement of black people or some other bs.

  10. Basically this season reminded me of who is the intended audience: liberal white people.

    I *thought* it was meant for be too but instead it’s like being invited to a party only to find you were meant to serve the food. And seeing who wrote it well, it looked like a seasons greeting card from white liberal hell.

    Alaina this recap was everything and I love everything that you do.

  11. Thank you so much for writing this. I like stayed up to marathon this (I work weekends) and I got drunk and other unsafes, then went into work feeling all shits kinds of terrible because of this fucking show.

    But to have someone who –gets it– and puts it out for others to hold, is beyond healing for me, thank you thank you thank you.

    This stuck with me: “Why, over and over and over and over and over do we get to see white people being comforted and reassured in this season, but never a Black or Brown person?”

    Because I felt that after what they did to Maritza (why is no one talking about that, how unnecessary, how cruel?), Blanca (what the fuck with her standing forever?), Suzanne (with someone basically abusing her/why did they show her flashback again NO ONE gets multiple flashbacks besides Piper and to show us that she was violent/to basically tell us to blame her for Poussey’s death?)

    I understand art is supposed to back characters into a corner, show the audience how much they can take. But there’s got to be a line. Especially when you’re reflecting true events (that no one fucking asked you to reflect/you don’t have the place to). Art is also supposed to give the character a fucking way out (especially when the people you are representing DO NOT HAVE ONE), or at least that’s what I thought OITNB promised us.

    I’m really upset and like my mind goes everywhere but.

    We’re not safe. Even if we’re the sweetest, kindest, most lovely person–it doesn’t mean shit if you’re black. We know this. We’ve grown up with this. At this point, we’ll most likely die knowing it. I just didn’t think some white people would go through the trouble of making up multiple stories (promising to tell them true), have us follow and fall in love with them for four seasons, and then kill us just to rub our faces in it.

    Anyways.
    Thank you so much for this. You’re fantastic and thank you.

    • I agree with you, but a few characters have had multiple flashbacks besides Piper: Red, Pennsatucky, Alex, Nicky, and of course Poussey have all had more than one episode with their own flashback. Plus Aleida & Daya have been in each other’s flashback eps, and Taystee and Vee too. Generally multiple flashback eps for a character should be a good thing.

  12. I am so glad I didn’t watch the episodes and only read the recaps. I almost didn’t make reading it through this one.

    Why does it take the death of a fictional black woman to incite white feelings, why is black pain only worth noting or discussing when it advances ratings, why is black pain being extorted for white people to learn something when they haven’t learned already from all the actual BLM deaths. Why have POC been subjected to a season of hurt and pain and “traumaporn” yet white people continue to defend the actions of the writers and call it the best and most moving season?

    I will never understand.

  13. For all the ways the show tried to over-humanize Bayley and Coates, why did they have to add to Piscatella’s awfulness by implying that he raped male inmates? Was he really not horrible enough already without making the only gay guard’s sexuality a part of his villainy? It reminded me of Joan Ferguson, but she at least got a lot more development.

  14. TV lately has been all about women’s trauma and while having a show or two focus on that is one thing it’s getting out of hand. OITNB, Jessica Jones, PLL, and of course L&O SVU (at least lately) are all trauma focused. When feminism was focused on advancing women in the workplace shows like Mary Tyler Moore and Ally McBeal were created as a response (and the shows today like parks & rec, 30 Rock and Veep were created by those who would have made these shows 20 years ago if they had the star power back then to do it) so I get that now people are talking much more about rape and violence against women it would mean a shift in focus on TV but I wish there were more women heavy shows that didn’t follow this trend.

  15. Thanks Alaina. I never watched more than the first episode. My wife always tried to get me to. I never viewed the setting as a long-term happy place. Even not watching, I’m devastated that one of the few shows to feature so many women of color and queer women of color would do this.

  16. Every recap I read convinces me to stick with the decision to not watch this season. Fuck this show. Thank you, Alaina, for expending the time and energy on recapping it.

    Idk if the writers and editors here have talked about it – but is it possible to just…stop writing about the show, especially for next season? I just wonder if OitNB deserves the time and attention it gets at this point.

  17. I think “irresponsible” is the word for this entire season. I can’t believe this show could let us down in such a spectacular way.

    I’m glad I follow some serious marathoners on tumblr and found out about this season before I got past the first few episodes. Thank you for writing this and having to go through it all for us, I’m glad everyone here at AS seems to be on the same page about how unbelievably awful this has all been.

  18. Reading this made me so sad all over again. Thank you for showing it to me from your perspective. It’s really important to me to hear how POC feel about the story, and to see here specifically how it affected you guys in ways it didn’t affect me because of my background.

    I didn’t get the sympathy vibe for the officers that a few people have described, I got feelings of disgust when they were telling each other they were good guys, when Bayley was shown crossing paths with Frida and Poussey in the flashbacks, so hearing the interpretation of those scenes as sympathetic to him has made the storyline even more upsetting. I guess I knew people like Bayley when I was a teenager and I knew that these were not good people, but many of my peers respected them so I can understand that reading. It always infuriated me that these people were accepted by teachers and other figures of authority as the good kids. It seemed like if a straight white teenage guy dresses in a polo shirt and wears leather shoes, and calls older men “Sir”, he can do basically whatever he wants and still be the good guy. I can see how this reads in the way you described to people who do have those attitudes already. Thank you for pointing that out.

    If it’s any consolation to the people upset by Piper being nice to Bayley, we can try to remember that Piper is a terrible person and no-one who’s been paying attention to her actions would trust her judgement. Maybe that helps? 🙁

    • “It seemed like if a straight white teenage guy dresses in a polo shirt and wears leather shoes, and calls older men “Sir”, he can do basically whatever he wants and still be the good guy. I can see how this reads in the way you described to people who do have those attitudes already. Thank you for pointing that out.”

      ^^^THIS!

  19. At this point I’m only watching OITNB season 4 to see if Flaritza happens. I feel like after this season I’ve mentally checked out with how much the writers were relying on shock value rather then good writing.

  20. Thanks for this. So unsettling to read all the positive reviews of this season.

    At this point it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine that OITNB is courting a certain type of audience who enjoys watching women being powerless and traumatised. One point one of my friends brought up, re: rapist Coates, was that maybe this was an afternoon special for potential rapists watching the show. Like, he’s about to rape Doggett and he stops and tells her that he’s about to rape her again and gives her space to duck out. Maybe he’s a role model for shitty rapists who aren’t about to have empathy for women but who can be shown a path for possibly not raping them???

    Fits in with the writers’ whole “lessons for the oppressive group” motif this season.

  21. From the very first episode I was so sure they were finally going to kill off Piper this season. Instead they go after the one happy lesbian in a relationship. WHYYYY

  22. I am late to the post and late to the season (and this is my first post), but I was busy and I literally just finished it. How fucking dare they. I don’t think I have ever been as mad at a TV show as right now. Poussey was one of the few reasons I was hanging onto this piece of shit and now she’s gone, I’m gone. They have truly fucked up this season. I can’t say I necessarily enjoyed reading the recap, but it was very well written, and as I white person, I can’t begin to imagine how QPOC feel about this shit. Shit, it’s bad enough being disabled and seeing all the characters like me (in that regard) be killed. But here was Poussey who was so not a stereotype and I could relate to her and her struggles with alcohol and the books and being queer. I am not watching this “entertainment” again. They have no fucking idea why they have fucked up and I am not sticking around to watch them weasel out of this.

    I have to go and watch cats and dogs be friends now and try and stop crying. Jesus fucking Christ, this shitty show…I can’t believe I trusted it.

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