A painful season of Orange is the New Black ends with a cliffhanger that's going to have me in suspense for a solid year.
Orange is the New Black Season 4 Episode 13 is also perhaps the most perfect tribute to a deceased character that I've ever seen on television.
I want to start with what is apparently a flashback for Poussey, but what could mean something else altogether.
This is a character who is beloved. She's arguably one of the most likeable characters on the show, and to watch her die the way we do on Orange is the New Black Season 4 Episode 12 is almost unbearable.
But rather than simply show how everyone reacts to her death, which is also done incredibly well, we're given a tribute that makes it even more emotional.
I said it's "apparently" a flashback, but I think these scenes could easily be interpreted as being Poussey's version of Heaven. Her journey to New York is filled with wonder, and it's the most amazing day she's ever had.
Things happen in such a way that they don't feel entirely real, but the biggest clue is the first line of the episode.
Is this the bus to the underworld?Poussey
Regardless of how you interpret it, though, it's beautiful to see Poussey so happy and so free. It's satisfying, too, because it feels like the audience gets a little closure, especially as she smiles at the camera in the final shot.
I'm getting goosebumps just writing about it.
Look, I'm heartbroken over losing that character, but it wasn't done without purpose. Her death is a catalyst for everything else that comes next, and somehow, I don't think everyone would be that passionate about the loss of any of the other inmates.
And guys, they're pissed. As they should be. What happened to Poussey is unthinkable, and these guards are just plain evil.
Unfortunately, Bailey is one of the only guards that isn't evil, yet he's a product of the system, and he's the one who kills Poussey.
Now, he's ruined, and that's tragic, too.
He wouldn't have killed someone if he worked at Best Buy. He'd still be happy puppy guy if he worked at Best Buy.Coates
The fact that Bailey is so young and is, ultimately, a decent human is what makes things even harder for Kaputo. Kaputo doesn't want to paint Poussey as a villain, which is what he's encouraged to do in order to maintain the prison's reputation, but he doesn't want to pain Bailey as a villain and ruin his life, either.
What he really wants is to tell the truth, and for a moment, I thought that's what was going to happen.
But instead, he takes the cowardly route, and chooses what he believes are the lesser of two evils and paints Poussey as someone dangerous.
He doesn't even say her name.
Taystee manages to listen to the entire press conference, and when it's over, she incites a riot.
All bets are off, and after all that's happened to pit the inmates against each other this season, they're finally coming together against the guards.
It becomes the perfect storm, with Judy King caught in the middle, and then that gun.
You know the rule. If you see a gun in the beginning of a story, you can damn well be sure it's going to be used later.
And creepy, evil Humphry has managed to sneak a gun into the prison, only to have that very gun aimed at him by the end of the episode.
It's poetic justice. The problem is that it's Daya who's holding the gun, with everyone cheering her on to shoot the bastard.
If she makes that decision, her life is over. Her mother has just been released from prison, and she doesn't have all that much longer herself. Plus, let's not forget she has a child out there.
I'm nervous about it.
That cliffhanger is also beautifully done, with the camera spinning as Daya points the gun, holding a position of power over this horrible man. The music plays, and it fades out.
It fades to Poussey, looking out over New York City, happy and full of life. Then, that smile at the camera.
- Judy King gets what she deserves. Rather than sneaking out easily as she hopes she will, she's caught right in the middle of the riot, holding her box and looking terrified.
- Suzanne breaks my heart in her attempt to feel empathy with what Poussey went through, piling books on top of her chest in hopes of understanding what it must feel like to not be able to breathe. She's so desperate to have that empathy that she nearly dies herself, crushed by a bookcase.
- I love the way Red tries to protect her prison family, and I love her sense of loyalty.
- I had gotten the spoiler about Poussey before I actually watched it happen (thanks, Twitter), which gave me the chance to notice a TON of foreshadowing for her death. If you can bear it, go back and re-watch the season to see what I mean.
What did you think of the season finale of Orange is the New Black? Share your thoughts in the comments below!