In Search of Humanity on ‘Orange is the New Black’

A recap for Orange is the New Black – Episode 12, Season 4
More from this season:
EP 1 / EP 2 / EP 3 / EP 4 / EP 5 / EP 6 / EP 7 / EP 8 / EP 9 / EP 10 / EP 11


As the inmates prepared to join forces, I thought Maria was wrong in saying that Piscatella, not Humphrey, was the real source of the COs’ corruption. Sure, Piscatella set up the interrogations, which was exactly the opposite of what Caputo ordered, but his treatment of the inmates was never outwardly cruel or even all that aggressive (considering they’re in a prison). But in forcing Red to stay awake after interrogating her all night, then announcing to everyone, “You are criminals. You deserve nothing,” I realized Maria was absolutely right. Humphrey wouldn’t have felt like he could get away with his sadistic behavior if it weren’t condoned from the top down.

Well, almost the top. As distracted as he was this season, Caputo’s always wanted to make the system work in favor of the inmates. When Piscatella confronts him on suspending Humphrey, Caputo is reminded of a time when he thought he could do better than the warden, too. But he’d been too removed, too wrapped up in red tape and too entangled in Linda from Purchasing to realize that Piscatella had won the loyalty of the guards in his absence. Caputo’s influence stopped being vital long before Humphrey’s battle royale.

This feeling of inadequacy brought him all the way to Fig. Now, let’s not forget that Fig embezzled a shit-ton of money and decidedly did not have the best interest of the inmates at heart, but Caputo wanted to apologize to her in person all the same. “This is an impossible job. You were trying and I shouldn’t have judged you,” he says. To which she replies, “They broke you too, huh?”

If Caputo’s broken, he’s been bending for a long time. I think it was an important to bring us back to Caputo’s house this season, which we saw for the first time during his backstory in season three, as a visual reminder of how decent he is. It was the same house and in the same kitchen that we saw him fight with his ex, where he goes on about giving up his dreams and taking the job at Litchfield to provide for his family. It’s not difficult to see how much he sees himself in Bayley, another well-meaning kid with an impossibly optimistic spirit. When Caputo asks Bayley why he works at the prison, he responds, “I don’t know. It’s a job until I figure out the next thing, I guess.” It’s likely the exact response Caputo would have given when he started working there. And it’s the exact reason why Caputo tells Bayley to leave. “This place crushes anything good,” he says. “Get out of here.”

Bayley was a good kid who messed around with other scrappy kids. He was a teenager who didn’t realize actions have consequences, as most kids don’t. He pelted an egg at Freida, laughing as she screamed back at him. Until: “I’m a fucking human being!” Did he end up at Litchfield as penance for his belittling of another person? And did he maintain his unassuming nature because he was constantly reminded of that time he did something shitty?

Narratively speaking, he had to be the one. It had to be his knee in her back. Anyone else would have turned this episode’s final scene into something other than a complete, gut wrenching tragedy. Bayley was Poussey’s mirror. Sweet, kind, selfless Poussey is the only character in this entire series to never be tempted by hate. She’d rather suffer alone than inflict pain on anyone. Just look again at her backstory, and you’ll see that all she ever wanted was love. She may have been a criminal, but she deserved everything. She was a fucking human being.

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