Tuesday, March 16, 2010

God's Chillin' (Season 1, Episode 3)

This has to be the most reprehensibly named of all the OZ episodes, if for no other reason than that it forces Augustus Hill into dialect for some of the narration.

This episode is a series of confessional, both in the traditional sense and not. The main storyline is of Jefferson Keane, who continues to turn away from the gang and eventually toward Islam. Keane undergoes a complete breakdown and rebirth through the aid of Kareem Said. It's a real rollercoaster of an episode for Keane (and shows off acting chops we weren't aware that Leon had). He's so disillusioned that he starts to act strangely, setting fire to his mattress and refusing newcomer Kenny Wangler into the gang. After he is confronted by Said, Keane finally admits his feelings of spiritual bankruptcy.

What follows is Keane learning to be a Muslim and to let joy back into his life. His happiness if short-lived, though, as he runs afoul of the most dangerous man in prison, Ryan O'Reilly. Keane encourages O'Reilly to confess his involvement with the death of Dino Ortolani. For this, O'Reilly tells the Italians that Keane killed Dino, and offers to take care of Keane as a "sign of good faith". He arranges with the hacks for Keane to be alone in the gym with two murderous members of the Latino gang, and rather than die, Keane kills one of his foes and ends up on Death Row.

Near the end of Keane's odyssey, we finally meet Governor James Devlin in person. Devlin, played perfectly by Zelijko Ivanek, is one of the most fun characters on OZ, mainly because he is so evil. He's a non-violent O'Reilly, who lies and manipulates to get what he wants. In this episode, Devlin appears at the prison to give a press conference, and to warn the staff that Keane will be the first person executed now that the death penalty is back.

The two other main focuses of this episode are Tobias Beecher and Father Ray Mukada. Becher continues to be abused by Schillinger, but gets good news when Sister Peter Marie recruits him to be her assistant in the psychology office, and when Ryan O'Reily recruits him to be his assistant in snorting heroin. Trust us when we say, high Beecher is the most fun Beecher of all.

We see and learn more about Father Ray through a series of scenes of him taking confession from various prisoners, giving prayers, and administering communion. While Father Ray has as much faith as Sister Peter Marie, he has an arch sense of humor that she, and many others in OZ lack.

The story of Father Ray's pet project, Miguel Alvarez, is also advanced in this episode. Miguel's baby is born, but has many birth defects. Miguel confesses that he thinks this is his fault, and eventually cuts his face and palms in a misguided attempt at contrition.

Another fun storyline, that is really just in the background here, is that of Donald Groves. Groves in in prison for killing and eating his parents, and is just hilarious. He has many fantastic lines and gets to indulge in a lot of general weirdness. He's frequently punished for doing things like sneaking into the morgue, and relishes watching the fights of other prisoners. In this episode, to emulate Keane, he tattoos "MOM" onto one hand.

Important Characters Introduced
Kenny Wangler (J.D. Williams), aka "Bricks", is the number one character who's death we prayed for throughout the run of the show. Kenny enters Emerald City as a 16 year old gangbanger, and, after a brief flirtation with Islam, joins Keane's crew to sling, and snort, heroin. Kenny is incredibly annoying (despite many great lines), which is really a tribute to the talent of J.D. Williams. Williams went on to star as Bodie on The Wire, and seeing him in that role made us realize that Kenny is only annoying because of how Williams portrays him. Williams is actually a fine actor; just check out Bodie's last stand on The Wire.

O'Reilly Death Watch
The hacks may have taken Jefferson Keane to the rec room, but it was Ryan who asked for the set-up. Because of that, we have to add Julio Martinez to the Death Watch. Ryan set up the fight in which Julio dies, and Keane is sent to Death Row for. Keane's execution by the state has to go in the O'Reilly column as well.

T&A Watch 
Miguel Alvarez with his shirt off. It's never a bad thing.

Great Lines

Keane: We must repent for what we did to Ortolani and for getting Johnny killed.
Ryan: Repent? You kidding or are you high?


Groves: I've been reading a lot since I got here about different faiths, and yours is pretty nifty.
Father Mukada: Catholicism is nifty?
Groves: You have that whole mystical transubstantiation thing going.
Father Mukada: That's right. The Eucharist becomes the body of Christ.
Groves: So, you're actually eating his flesh and drinking his blood?
Father Mukada: That's right.
Groves: Now, how can I not get behind a religion like that?

Unbelievable Elements We're Expected to Believe 
1. That Olen Mills came to the ghetto and took a portrait of Johnny Post, gun out, on the hood of his car.

2. That Ryan O'Reilly only got life imprisonment for committing what we refer to as Eight Blocks of Crime: "Ryan O'Reily convicted on July 12th 1997, two counts of vehicular manslaughter, five counts of reckless endangerment, possession of controlled substances, criminal possession of a weapon and parole violation. Sentence: Life imprisonment, up for parole in 12."

Unfortunately, I can't find video of Ryan's truly epic crime spree. Will update as we learn to edit videos.

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