The fourth season of Orange Is the New Black has been begging the question over and over: What if you could go back in time? For criminals serving time behind “bars” this question is often answered with a return to the exact moment that got them there in the first place. Indeed, the entire series of the show has used the camera’s magic to go back in time and reveal to us a plethora of flashback scenes.
More often than not, these flashback sequences show us how the inmates ended up at Litchfield. What are often the worst days of their lives are painted before us, giving us contextual information about the women spending their days in the slammer.
“Toast Can Never Be Bread” is the season finale of a particularly dark season of Orange Is the New Black. We are given interwoven scenes where we see an inmate’s life before she was sentenced to pay her debt to society.
Instead of legal transgressions or heart breaking moments, we see the day in the life of one Poussey Washington where she was filled with hope, love, and adventure. The young Washington runs about New York City, at first lost and a victim of cell phone theft, later to find herself in the company of magnificent strangers. She looks forward to her new life in Amsterdam, and little does she know she’ll never make it back to her favourite city.
In part, the episode serves as a eulogy of sorts; concluding with Poussey peering into the camera, directly at us. This is a farewell for and by a beautiful human being, tragically killed before her time.
“We can’t let things like this fuck up the rest of our lives.” — CO Dixon
Why hasn’t anyone called the police? How come no one even tried to administer CPR or call an ambulance? Oh that’s right — the guards need to make sure they won’t get into trouble.
Piscatella is ready to create a false narrative about the dead woman on the floor. He’s banded together with his “brothers” to make sure they all repeat the rehearsed line, “She was extremely violent.” The last thing on “the list”, after getting all the inmates back to their bunks and in lock down, is to call the police. Showing respect to the beautiful human lying dead on the floor seems to not be on the list at all.
“She weight 92 pounds, she couldn’t attack your shoe,” rightly retorts Caputo. Even though Caputo knows he’s under the thumb of his Captain Fuckhead re: Piscatella threatening to rally the guards to walk off the job, he still tries—to no avail—to get some control over this situation. The last card ol’Joe has to play is to threaten Desi by alluding to something that happened in the men’s Max prison that lead to Piscatella’s demotion to Litchfield. Looks like we’re going to have to wait until next season to find out what he’s talking about.
No one has told Bayley that he killed Poussey, and Caputo has to go break the news—but not before giving the boy a sedative.
I couldn’t imagine being Bayley. I believe him when he says that he was just trying to help—although he should have leaned off Poussey. He was a victim, just like everyone else to the unjust, unfair, and inhumane treatment of Piscatella & Co.
Bayley tries to make amends, standing outside of where Poussey’s friends grieve. Piper intercepts him, telling him that it’s not appropriate to apologize. Dixon, on the other hand, is under that impression he has nothing to apologize about. He gives the boy a ride home and tries to “comfort” him by telling him that they are both, like the same. You know, ‘cause Dixon used to kill innocent civilians in Afghanistan for fun. And, you know, raped women before slaughtering them. ‘Cause that’s the same thing right?
“What? You rage, I eat.” — Cindy Tova Hayes
The inmates at Litchfield take their time to process and grieve the death of Poussey Washington. They eat breakfast out in the yard because Poussey’s body lies cold on the ground while—it seems—no one knows that to do.
Cindy, Warren, and Taystee accept the gifts from the other prisoners expressing their condolences. Warren rages through the pain, Cindy emotionally eats through her suffering. Seriously though, I can’t watch Cindy cry, it’s too much.
Norma sings to Soso, breaking her normal silence to serenade the devastated girl. Red holds a service for her daughters, reading from a book about the magical properties of the garden Poussey gave to her. She assigns her children tasks keeping them busy and out of trouble.
Nicky, once again, tries to get physical with Morello. Morello’s not having it, claiming her “junkie, addict, liar” ass is just using her as a “Sweet and Lo” for heroin. Morello eventually breaks down, and admits to Nicky she’s been fucking everything up with her new husband. “This is what I do,” she cries. They may not be fucking, but at least they are still friends.
Alex has been leaving little notes around the prison with the name of the man she killed. Why the fuck she would do this Piper does not know, only that perhaps Alex is finally grieving the man she killed —Ayden was his name — for the very first time. But like Piper says, it’s not worth getting caught over this, and helps her retrieve her little confession notes.
“It’s only the living that scare the fuck outta me.” — Carrie “Big Boo” Black
Penn and Boo find Coates crying over the body. Penn talks to him, kisses him, he gets an erection and tells her she can’t do that because it makes him want to fuck her. Last time he raped her. He’s going to have to get another job, “He wouldn’t have killed someone if he had worked at Best Buy.” Coates says of Bayley, “Best Buy gives me a headache, so.” Penn retorts in a sort of quasi effort to make Coates stay.
Turning Back Time
“Are you thinkin’ what I’m destroyin’?” — Angie Rice
Was it Suzanne’s fault that Poussey died? Of course not. If it was anyone’s fault it was Humphrey who made her fight Maureen, and when he entered the cafeteria she was triggered into a freak out. That doesn’t stop Taystee—Poussey’s most best friend—from being harsh with Suzanne, whether she knows it or not Taystee’s rage is being funneled to the mentally vulnerable woman who was involved in the scuffle between Poussey and Bayley.
Suzanne’s particular mode of grieving is to try to simulate the feeling of not being able to breathe. She takes books from Poussey’s bunk and covers herself. Taystee scolds her for doing so. It’s not until she climbs one of the bookcases in Washington’s beloved library and it falls on her, “Everything hurts.”
Drunk Soso takes a break from her grief and saves her life. Leanne and Angie follow the drunken clues and find the hooch Soso was imbibing in. The meth heads toast to Poussey—the best hooch maker they knew—and after realizing the Time Machine must be bad luck I mean Lolly did end up in psyche and Poussey and Soso were just dancing in there— they tear it down to the ground.
“It’s a terrible day.” — Joe Caputo
Caputo waits for MCC to call back while Josh from PR tries to work out an “angle” for the whole affair. At first, they try to find a way to present the story to the media that Poussey was a violent criminal with a sordid past. As we know, she was no such thing, and so they shift their focus to Bayley.
A Facebook photo where he’s dressed as Rambo for Halloween and the fact that he was on anti-depressants are all held up as evidence that he was a lone wolf who went against MCC protocols and murdered a woman.
Taystee comes into work and offers to help in any way that she can. She scolds Caputo for not even calling Poussey’s dad yet, and rejects his advances for a hug.
Caputo is trying to hold this all together. He does not want Poussey to be painted as a violent criminal, nor does he want Bayley to be thrown under the bus. Like all his terrible life roads, this day was paved with good intentions.
Speaking of good intentions, Yoga Jones tries to convince Judy King—who is getting out today, or at least was supposed to get out yesterday—to tell the world what REALLY happened when she’s released. Judy King does not give a fuck, and just wants to go home. She claims not to have seen anything, but we all can see she knows the truth, “They kill people in here.”
The body is finally taken away by ambulance, and White Power Sankey makes a joke about the fact that it’s a little late for that. Warren, in all her rage, goes after Sankey and the racial tensions that have been bubbling this entire season are about to come to a head.
Set Up To Fail
“The guard was set up to fail” — Joe Caputo
Humphrey brings a gun to work, because, you know: “protection.” Of course Stratman lets him through the metal detector because they’re all fucking insane.
It’s insane to think that Caputo isn’t able to tell the truth about this situation. He calls Poussey’s father just moments before his press conference—one can only imagine what that would feel like.
Taystee hides beneath her desk so she can be sure of what’s being said. Linda From Purchasing notices the bite mark on Caputo’s ear just before going on camera (Fig’s work no doubt). Healy watches from the mental institution he checked himself into. Aleida watches from her couch. Bayley watches with his parents.
Caputo goes off book. He won’t let Bayley take the fall and uses nautical reference about his “ship running of course” and the like. He defends the guard, takes a stand for him.
He says nothing of Poussey Washington. Is this because he didn’t care about her? I don’t think so. But his mind was so focused on changing the narrative MCC was trying to create that he completely ignored the life and death of one of his inmates.
Taystee has had enough. She rallies the other prisoners expressing her rage that Caputo didn’t even say her name. There’s already electricity in the air at the prison and this is the spark that was needed to have a full-blown riot.
Just as Bayley and Coates have been saying all season long, if the women at Litchfield decided to rise up there would be nothing the guards could do about it.
Humphrey goes for his gun, but fumbles and Dayanara picks it up off the floor, “Fucking COs you’re all pieces of shit.” She’s not just talking about Piscatella, or Humphrey, or Pornstache. She’s also talking about Bennett—the father of her baby who left her high and dry
Orange leaves us there with all the inmates surrounding the inmate holding a loaded gun.
Out In the Yard
Best season by far. From its humour, tragedy, social commentary, season four has been the most enjoyable and frustrating to watch.
Questions for next season:
Will Caputo get fired for this stunt? (Maybe, but he might be able to figure out some way to stay on board and figure out what to do with the new inmates coming to Litchfield).
Will Dayanara pull the trigger? (I don’t think so)
Are Piper and Alex going to make it as a couple? (No.)
What are you most anxious to know about for season five! Leave your comments below.