A peaceful protest and a gut-wrenching death
Poussey Washington, Orange is the New Black (2013-2016)
Credit: Netflix

“This place crushes anything good.”

That’s the warning Caputo gives Bayley about working at Litchfield. “It’s like a monster that’s grown too big for its stubby little legs and now it’s stumbling around, crushing whole cities,” he continues. Bayley asks if Caputo is the city or the monster in this scenario. “Neither. Both. I don’t know,” he responds, with this ominous addition: “One day, you’ll be the monster… Working here changes who you are.”

The tensions between the guards and inmates had become so toxic that something bad was bound to happen — and when it did, it took one of the most inherently kind and good-hearted people at Litchfield. Oh, Poussey. This did not have to happen to you. This should not have happened to you.

What happened with her and Bayley came at the end of a heartbreaking episode (directed by Mad Men’s Matthew Weiner) that pulled many of this season’s storylines together. Suzanne is traumatized by the fight she was forced to have during the lockdown, and Piscatella is nowhere near done torturing Red — not allowing her to sleep and forcing her to work. When Caputo tries to suspend Humphrey for making the inmates fight, Piscatella threatens to have them all walk. Translation: Caputo can’t control them anymore.

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All the different groups at the prison now have a common goal: to get Piscatella out. As they ponder joining forces inside Litchfield, Poussey and Soso are also fantasizing about their future outside the prison walls. Sitting in Lolly’s time machine, they talk about finding an apartment, taking a trip to Fiji, and getting jobs. Poussey even goes to Judy King to ask for help landing a position once she’s released.

NEXT: A devastating, unnecessary tragedy

In the cafeteria, the women stage a peaceful protest against Piscatella, standing on tables and benches and refusing to get down until he resigns. He calls the other guards in as backup and tells them to start clearing everyone out. An already rattled Suzanne begins acting even more erratically, and when Poussey tries to help her she’s pushed to the ground and held there by Bayley — a hand on her neck, his knee on her back. As he tries to fend off Suzanne, he slowly suffocates Poussey beneath him. The look on Taystee’s face as she sees what happened is gut-wrenching, and watching her break down as she laid on the floor with her friend, the guards and inmates surrounding them in a semi-circle, was devastating.

To Piscatella and his cronies, the inmates at Litchfield aren’t people. He tells them they’re nothing more than “criminals.” To MCC, they’re just bodies that should be packed in as tightly as possible (the new dorm the construction crew was building wasn’t to give the current inmates more space — it was to fit even more in the existing population). Caputo was one of the few who acted otherwise, as was Bayley. In this episode’s flashback, we see him as a young kid, doing dumb teenage things like drinking with his buddies atop the local water tower, getting fired from his job for giving away free ice-cream cones to pretty girls, and throwing eggs at inmates who were on a cleanup crew outside (“I’m a f—ing human being!” Frieda shouts back at Bayley and his friends after being hit).

Despite the awful things that have happened, there are still bits of humanity left around Litchfield. Gloria helps Sophia — newly back from SHU — put her wig back on, a small step toward becoming herself again. Healy checks himself into a mental health facility. Judy King seethes at her lawyer for not getting her out faster and rails against society desexualizing women her age. Nicky shows gratitude to Doggett for her kindness and brings her to sit at their table, and in turn she gives a touching speech to Boo about pain, suffering, and forgiveness. There is still hope in the Litchfield we see in “The Animals,” but it’s hard to imagine how it can stand up to the cruelty that’s also there.

As Caputo said, “This place crushes anything good.”

Episode Recaps

Orange Is the New Black

Jenji Kohan’s absorbing ensemble dramedy, based on Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name, takes viewers inside the walls of Litchfield, a minimum security women’s prison where nothing’s as simple as it seems—especially the inmates.

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