Orange is the New Black Review: The Animals (Season 4 Episode 12)

Orange Is the New Black, Reviews

Our emotions are so raw after watching “The Animals.” Spoiler alert.

Tension has been building on Orange is the New Black Season 4 from the start. With the introduction of new prisoners and guards, this was bound to be the case.

But Poussey’s death is upsetting in more ways than one.

Poussey is getting her life together. She goes to Judy King to try to get a job in one of her kitchens She’s planning a life with Brook. By all accounts she’s not a danger to anyone. She doesn’t even want to be involved in the protest because she’s trying to think about the future.,

Aside from the loss of a bright light, there are so many reasons to be angry about Poussey’s death. Another minority, LGBTQIA character is gone from the media. It’s a loss all around and it’s disheartening.

What makes it worse is that the person responsible for her death is CO Baxter Bailey, a man we once thought to be the most decent guy in the prison.

There are quite a few contributing factors to Poussey’s death: an incompetent guard, a lack of training, a corporation that views humans like cattle…

It’s a strange juxtaposition to see Baxter’s backstory in this episode: it was odd watching him say that the prison is pretty at night and throwing eggs at inmates by the side of the road.

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Is he a good guy? Compared to the other guards, yes.

Has he done some bad stuff? Yes.

And, ironically, he ends up in a position of power with the inmates. Yet, he sees them as people. He’s the one who goes to Caputo. He’s the one who is trying to set things right.

It’s almost like Frieda’s words haunted him. In the flashback, after getting struck by an egg, Frieda screams:

FRIEDA: I’m a human being!

What is very interesting, is the circumstances surrounding Poussey’s death. The one thing that can unite the factions of Litchfield is their hatred of the new regime of guards. And this unification is exactly what the show needed.

The scene that involves Maria, Taystee, Red, Hapakuka, and Sankey talking about how to deal with Humps is both darkly poetic and therapeutic for the characters as well as the audience.

Like this exchange where a sleep-deprived Red offers a more permanent solution:

SANKEY: So the goal is to get Piscatella fired!

RED: (ominously) Or we could kill him.

TAYSTEE: What the hell! Man, why the sudden all you bitches want to murder folk? Like it’s the new fall trend or some shit?

RED: It’s not something I would normally condone, but I’m exhausted. We could sit here for a week concocting an elaborate plan with lots of twists and turns, or I could poison him today. No one would know. And death is more permanent than being fired.

Can we just agree that if you manage to piss off Red, then you have a big problem? Remember when she found Pornstache’s pills being moved through her kitchen in Season 1 and flushed them?

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Red doesn’t take kindly to being messed with and she comes to play. Except this game is dangerous! Piscatella wants her to stay awake and she’s not going to give him the satisfaction, but there’s a reason staying awake isn’t in the world record books anymore.

However, all of this leads to the peaceful protest that is supposed to force the administration to do something about Piscatella. After his actions in the last episode, we can’t blame them.

Let’s also talk about how Flores leads the charge in this scene. She takes what was supposed to be a punishment, her standing on a table, and turns it on its head to an act of protest.

It’s brilliant and if the episode hadn’t ended on such a somber note, or been up against an evil fascist giant,  maybe it might have effected change.

This episode is a hard one to watch and the show will definitely not be the same. While we will miss Poussey, this may be what turns the tide in Litchfield.

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What did you think of this episode of Orange is the New Black? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Orange is the New Black Season 4 is now available to stream on Netflix.

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Lauren Busser is a senior writer at Tell-Tale TV. Her work has also appeared on Bitch Media and The Hartford Courant. She has also been a dog sitter, worked front end at a bakery, and helped out in a kindergarten classroom. She learned to knit when she was five-years-old and thus, can now complete sweaters at a superhuman speed. She’s currently nursing a novel she’s been making slow progress on for the last six years.

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