Orange is the New Black: Farewell to Poussey

Samira Wiley as Poussey in Orange is the New Black

Spoiler Alert. If you haven’t watched all of season 4 of Orange is the New Black yet, you might want to read this later. 

In episode 12 of season 4 of Orange is the New Black, the character Poussey Washington played by Samira Wiley dies. Yesterday I wrote about why I thought this death was about Black Lives Matter and not about the Kill Your Gays trope. In that post, I described how she died.

Today, I want to talk about what happened in the episode following her death.

Samira Wiley as Poussey in Orange is the New Black
Samira Wiley as Poussey. We’re going to miss you!

Poussey was a beloved character. She was kind and smart. She was a light in everyone’s life. She had the potential for a great future when she was paroled. The lead-up to her tragic death was one of hope. She had a girl, she felt loved, she had the promise of a job on her release. She was in a good place.

There was some foreshadowing of what would come. Poussey’s girlfriend Brook Soso (Kimiko Glenn) remarked that conditions in the prison were like living in a horror movie.

Another foreshadowing remark came from CO Bayley (Alan Aisenberg), the man who crushed Poussey beneath his knee. He said, “It’s so sad it’s almost supernatural.”

Which brings me to episode 13, “Toast Can’t Never be Bread.” In this episode, the horror of Poussey’s death is over. Her friends in Litchfield are dealing with grief. We shift between scenes of an extraordinary night with Poussey and the horrible hours in the prison that lead to the riot over say her name.

The Poussey scenes start like a flashback to her earlier life. They grow more and more magical as it plays out.

Samira Wiley in Orange is the New Black

Poussey experiences a psychedelic night of love and joy while lost in the city. The people, colors, and acceptance that came her way felt celestial. I began to see the episode more and more as a supernatural experience rather than a flashback. Orange is the New Black would never be defined as magical realism, but that’s what it felt like to me.

Was this a stopover on the way to heaven? Poussey’s way into the light? She experienced so much happiness. The universe loved her and cared for her. It gave us a chance to love and care for her during a happy time, too.

At the last moment, Samira Wiley looked straight into the camera and smiled. She seemed to say everything was going to be okay. She seemed to be sending her love to us, the viewers.

How did you interpret the Poussey scenes in the final episode? Was it a flashback? Or something else?

What did you think when Samira Wiley broke through the 4th wall and looked into the eyes of the viewers?

8 thoughts on “Orange is the New Black: Farewell to Poussey”

  1. When they were trying to come up with w way to spin the incident and make her look bad, all they found was she was convicted of trespassing and possession with intent, but it was a tiny amount of weed.

    In the flashback she tells the fake monk she’s trying to sell off the last of her stash so she can go on her journey.

    I interpreted the flashback as the last night before her arrest.

    I liked the flashback on its own, but didn’t like how it fit with the rest of the episode. It felt like it was meant to either highten the impact of her death by showing how much of a hopeful person she was and the utterly wasteful her death was, or it was meant as a salve to comfort the audience in her passing. I don’t think it works as either, and feels like a cheap trick either way.

  2. I, too thought that it was a flashback. BUT when she looked over NYC, there was a scene which showed One World Trade Center. If this was the day before she was arrested then she should have seen the twin towers. It could have been an oversight, but it does make you wonder

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