Thursday, March 4, 2010

"Visits, Conjugal and Otherwise" (Season 1, Episode 2)

"'Fuck' is a four letter word. 'Rape' is a four letter word. 'Wife' is a four letter word. So is 'love.'" - Augustus Hill

Episode Recap
This episode opens with Nino Schibetta "identifying" Dino Ortolani's crispy-flesh covered skeleton, and the we see him set off looking to avenge Dino's admittedly brutal murder. Who did it? Before Ryan O'Reilly can be fingered by the Italians, he gives up poor, dumb Johnny Post and in so doing creates an alliance with the Italians. Of course, by the end of the episode, Johnny Post is poor, dumb, and dead.

Governor James Devlin (see below) makes an appearance in this episode, if only through the television, declaring an end to conjugal visits in order to cut government costs. Of course, this causes all married (and some unmarried) prisoners to flock to Sister Peter Marie's office to place conjugal visit requests before the Governor's deadline. This event leads to two others: First, Sister Peter Marie recommends a conjugal visit to the despondent and withdrawn Beecher. He is obviously suffering, and she believes a visit with his wife would prevent him from going off the deep end. The other is a kind of opposite effect: Jefferson Keane decides that he would like to marry his sweetheart. Keane is changing in prison, and has become more sensitive since his brother was badly beaten and hospitalized.

Father Ray Mukata is also introduced in this episode, and he finally agrees to preside over the marriage proceedings of Keane and his bride, but there's a prison hitch: Keane can't leave the jail, and his girlfriend can't come there to marry him. They have to be married separately, with proxies standing in for each other. In an alternately hi-laroiuos and disquieting turn of events, Simon Adebisi is her stand in at the wedding. Father Ray is also concerned with Miguel Alvarez, because Miguel's girlfriend is about to have their child. Father Ray is particularly interested in making connections between Miguel and his father and grandfather, both of whom are incarcerated at Emerald City. The Alvarez family can best be described as a multi-generational exercise in bad decision making. More on them in later episodes.

McManus offers an out-of-prison visit to Schiabetta because his wife is very ill and she is dying. Of course, in McManus' offer is yet another misuse of his power and a testament to his asinine management style: he is trading the visit in return for Schiabetta's promise that he will not incite a prison riot. Unfortunately, Schiabetta doesn't get his visit because his wife dies before he can go to see her. This leads to a very well-directed scene where he is headed down a staircase to a secluded basement area (you know, like they do in Oz, without guard supervision) and he's telling Joey D'Angelo (played by the stellar and multi-dimensional Goodfella Mike G) how to arrange her funeral. It's well-written and -acted, very moving and the camera work is in such capable hands. At the bottom of the stairs, he enters a small room where he finds several of his goons-in-waiting and a captive Johnny Post. He asks Johnny about Dino's death:

Johnny Post: Just before I killed him, I *fucked* him up the ass!
Nino Schibetta (to his goons): Kill him. Start with his dick.

Arrivederci, Johnny Post.

A few other things:
We witness an uncomfortable conversation between Adebisi and Hill about Hill's post-paralysis dick.

Rebidow continues to receive visits from God.

There is foreshadowing (dun-dun-DUNNNNN)
1. After the murder of Dino Ortolani, Leo Glynn and McManus discuss ways to avoid a riot at the prison by tempering the Italians' desire to seek revenge.
2. Shillinger talks about his family doing creepy, awful things to Beecher's family.
3. Jefferson Keane's flirtation with Islam and budding friendship of Kareem Said.
4. Peter Schiabetta shows up to talk to his dad during a prison visit. This in only worth mentioning because he ends up in Oz shortly thereafter. And because he has a terrible Guido Caesar cut. (shudder)

Important Characters Introduced

Nino Schibetta (Tony Musante). Schiabetta is the leader of the Italians and is devastated when his successor-in-training, Dino Ortelani, dies. He is very aware that his power and drug trade is being challenged by the black gangs.

Father Ray Mukada (B. D. Wong): Father Ray is spends his time trying to comfort the inmates and guide them using the principles of Catholic Christianity. Wong is a great actor, and his character becomes more complex and interesting (and less goody-goody) in later seasons.

Governor James Devlin (Zeljko Ivanek): Conservative, nasty, crooked, and vindictive, just like real governors! Ivanek brings quality and consistency to an infrequent character and is just such a mean fucking asshole, you can't help but love him.

O'Reilly Death Watch
#2 - Johnny Post is killed after Ryan tells Nino Schiabetta that Post killed Dino Ortelani.

T and A Watch
There is an ample amount of man-ass in this episode, although nothing too exciting, full-frontal Augustus Hill, and two scenes with tits, one very giant fake pair belonging to Hill's wife and a smaller, more realistic pair belonging to Keane's girlfriend. We don't see boobs again until C.O. Claire Howell shows up in Season 3-ish. And then we wish we'd never seen boobs at all.

Food For Thought
McManus whines while Glenn ignores him. 

1. McManus accuses Glynn of speaking in a "cloud of platitudes." It takes one to know one. McManus is a dick. This will be a frequent theme on the blog.
2. Were the actors on this show chosen for their bad tattoos? Let's reverse the question: were the actors on this show chosen for their good tattoos? No. Must be the former.

Great Lines
During his interview with Detective Lenny Burrano, Donald Groves explains: "I only ate my mom. I was saving my dad for Thanksgiving."

Shillinger to Beecher: "Oh, a cunt-jugal. But you didn't ask my permission."

Unbelievable Elements We're Expected to Believe
For some reason, Adebisi is in the line for conjugal visit paperwork. If he's married, there's never another mention of it. I can only imagine that being Mrs. Adebisi would be the most frightening thing in the world and would involve lots of running and crying.

Jefferson Keane's girlfriend strolls around in a short trench coat outside of the prison, and he happens to show up at some exact time to peep through a small hole in the decorative metal window coverings. What is this, some kind of pornographic reversal of Foucault's Panopticon? She shows up to prance around not knowing who's looking at her? Plus, where are the fucking guards? Are they getting a show, too? Also: she has time to walk around naked on the prison grounds, and doesn't get caught, but they won't let her in the building to marry Keane?

Did the prison approve the use of 1,000 candles during Augustus Hill's conjugal visit? It seems unlikely, but Hill wasn't in prison for pyromania. And the Oz writers didn't get paychecks for realism or accuracy, either.

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