The Heartbreaking Shock Orange Is The New Black Season 4 Gave Viewers

orange is the new black piscatella

Major spoilers for Orange is the New Black Season 4 are below. Be warned.

That hulking piece of shit up there is Desi Piscatella, the menacing new Season 4 guard played with infuriatingly cocksure swagger by Brad William Henke. While it seemed as if the worst thing this guy could possibly do would be to make viewers wish Caputo was a more empowered leader, that assumption came to a depressingly heartbreaking end during the second-to-last episode, when the full impact of his corrupt and violent influence resulted in the easily avoidable death of Poussey Washington. She was my favorite character on this show, so please excuse me while I RAGE OUT IN ALL CAPS.

The unforgivable act occurred during the final few minutes of "The Animals" when the inmates were attempting to stand their ground against Piscatella, calling for his removal. (The Dead Poets Society influence should have tipped us off that real damage was coming.) To be expected, the bearded brute brings in even more guards to corral everyone, and when Poussey interjects herself between Bayley and the increasingly hysterical Crazy Eyes, she's brought to the ground, and Bayley kneels on her back as Crazy Eyes continually accosts him. And anyone who has paid any attention to controversial news stories in the past few years could see this coming. He was on her too long, unable to hear her cries for help, and...

Not a single thing about Poussey's accidental death was free from tragedy or tragic irony. Even though it was Piscatella's tyrannical form of running things that led to the overthrown protest, her death was far more directly inspired by Crazy Eyes, who loved Poussey for her nonjudgmental treatment of others, and Baylay, one of the only characters on this show who attempts to give a shit. It was very telling that he and his staggered maturation were the subject of the episode's flashbacks, and his psyche is perhaps the least composed to handle such things. (Hearing about women in war zones being strangled after sex probably didn't help.)

Sadly, an earlier scene in the episode showed Poussey trying to sway Soso from wanting to take part in protesting Piscatella's ousting, since he would just be replaced with someone similar. This omniscient advice caused a small rift between the two, who'd been discussing their future throughout the episode, and they silently made up across the cafeteria mere moments before the fatal incident occurred. Ugh, seeing Norma singing to Soso in her bunk made me want to jump into traffic.

Poussey's future on the outside might have been grand, too, considering Judy King had just said that a job would be there for Poussey when she was released. The next episode's look back into the character's past, when she could be seen having a lovely and engaging time with friends in New York City that ended in her getting busted for drugs. Combine both that seemingly innocent past with a promising future, and it becomes all too wretchedly apparent that we're never going to get that hopeful and optimistic Poussey-centered spinoff I wanted. Because goddamned Piscatella can't understand any other rank besides Alpha Male.

Not to mention the rampant pain running rampant among the other inmates, such as Taystee and Black Cindy.

orange is the new black poussey death

I could keep going on, of course. Like, about how they left Poussey's body on the cafeteria floor as the clusterfuck of bureaucracy got nothing done to dispose of her properly, though the efforts to squash her death's accidental nature were strong. Or about how Piscatella attempted to turn it all into a cover-up, saying that Poussey was acting violently, which Caputo thankfully saw right through. Or Caputo's phone call to her dad. No more!

For those who have already finished binge-watching Orange is the New Black Season 4 on Netflix, it's going to be a very long wait until Season 5 and more get here to show us just what the hell is going to happen with that gun Humphrey brought in. But it's going to be a while before I can begin to care, since it presumably won't be bringing Poussey back, Arrow-style. How did you guys react to this tragic death?

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.