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.
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.
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.
— Orange Is the New… (@OITNB) June 19, 2016
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?