Before the sixth season of HBO's Oz began, many knew that this would be the last hurrah from creator Tom Fontana and co., as the volitale men behind bars drama comes to an ever dramatic close in it's final eight episodes. Everything that has been built up since the show's debut reaches critical mass in this final season, as characters who have been here since the beginning meet their demise and the light at the end of the tunnel keeps dwindling. For Tobias Beecher (Lee Tergesen), freedom is so close he can taste it; but not if his sociopathic lover Chris Keller (Christopher Meloni) has anything to say about it. These two men, whose bizarre, savage, and heartbreaking love affair have been a highlight of the series since the middle of the second season, have always helped make Oz worth watching, and when the end comes, it comes without warning, just as long time viewers would come to expect. Beecher also has to contend again with nazi leader Vern Shillinger (J.K. Simmons) who wants his blood, while other prisoners (and long time characters) Miguel Alvarez (Kirk Acevedo), Kareem Said (Eamonn Walker), Ryan and Cyril O'Reilly (Dean and Scott William Winters), narrator Augustus Hill (Harold Perrineau), Reabadow (George Morfogen), Robeson (R.E. Rodgers), and Jaz Hoyt (Evan Seinfeld) all have their dates with destiny as well. Even prisoner reformer Tim McManus (Terry Kinney), warden Leo Glynn (Ernie Hudson), and Father Mukada (B.D. Wong) don't remain untouched by the series of events that brings the series to an end that at first may seem unlikely, but in the long run of things, couldn't have been any more fitting. For it's entire run, Oz was one of the best and underrated shows in HBO's history that never really got it's share of the limelight while mega hits like the Sopranos and Six Feet Under took all the glory. The blood drenched yellow brick road comes to an end here, and yes, there's nothing left but a dead end.
on June 10, 2006
For all you OZ fans that have been waiting, as I have, for what appears to be a life sentence without the final season of OZ, the wait is finally over!!! The 3 DVD set will be released in September and Em-City will rule again! I don't know why it took solong to come out, considering all The Sopranos DVDs came out in basically a month. In my opinion OZ is a better show, although Tony and Paulie Walnuts never dissappoint. It's good to know that Tom Fontana (OZ Creator) hasn't forgotten us down in The Hole and decided to give us what we are all waiting for....THE FINAL SEASON OF OZ!
I swear that by the time I was halfway through watching the sixth and final season of "Oz" that I was thinking to myself that there was going to be nobody left alive in the place by the time they faded out on the HBO series. Usually I am not so surprised when I am proven to be right. At HBO's website for the show they have a Rest in Peace section that shows the body count season by season for who killed who and how, and see the victim's crime scene in Oz. They have FIFTEEN of these for Season 6, although some of them (e.g., Rev. Jerimiah, Augustus Hill) happened in previous seasons but have repercussions in this final season. Besides, more than fifteen people die in the final season of Oz. Hell, more than that many people die in the final EPISODE of the series. No wonder the season opens with "Dead Man Talking," where Augustus points out that being dead is no reason for him to stop serving as the omniscient narrator of the series, and establishes a theme for the dead of seasons past to show up throughout the final season and help him with that narrative duty.
There was a potent irony at towards the end of the season when Augustus kept bringing up real world examples of what is happening in prisons, because such polemical observations ring a bit hollow against a series whose penal model is closer to "Escape from New York" than it is to the real world. Do you know how many prisoners are murdered in prison each year since 2000? Four. On average fifteen prisoners will commit suicide. In the real world if four prisoners died at the same prison in a year the warden would be gone and there would be some significant changes in policy at that prison. But even with the high body count Tim McManus (Terry Kinney), the Emerald City Administrator, keeps not only his job but also his faith in the system. If you think about things logically, then you might start wondering if maybe McManus has set up an environment where it is easier for inmates to kill each other.
The master metaphor for "Oz: The Complete Sixth Season" is the maze that McManus paints on the floor of the gym based on ancient yoga teachings: you walk into the maze with a problem and by the time you reach the center a solution will have been created. Several characters walk the maze during the final season, but clearly most of the characters are the sort who would walk directly to the center, do not pass go, so on and so forth. However, there is that tension throughout the season, which starts with Alvarez and Schillinger being released back into the general population.
At the bi-annual review of solitary prisoners, the board decides to release Miguel Alvarez (Kirk Acevedo) and Vern Schillinger (J.K. Simmons) back into gen pop. Alverez is willing to try and find a better bath, but Schillinger is listening to the deal Winthrop (Andy Powers) wants to make regarding Tobias Beecher (Lee Tergesen) ("Dead Men Talking"). Irony continues to dodge Schillinger and Beecher when Mayor Wilson Loewen ends up in Oz, and Burr Redding (Anthony Chisholm) commits the Homeboys to telemarketing ("See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Smell No Evil"), while Kareem Said (Eamonn Walker) wants the Muslims to publish Augustus Hill's memoirs at Oz ("Sonata da Oz"). Chris Keller (Chris Meloni) and Beecher work out an arrangement ("Failure to Communicate") that has big repercussions immediately ("4giveness") and for the rest of the season.
The inmates support Ryan O'Reilly (Dean Winters) as the execution date for Cyril O'Reily (Scott Winters) comes ("A Day in the Death"). Ryan and Cyril's mother, Suzanne Fitzgerald (Betty Lynn Buckley) is directing an inmate production of "MacBeth," with Schillinger as MacBeth, Beecher as MacDuff, and Keller making sure the final scene of the play will be memorable ("Junkyard Dawgs"). Then we get to the grand finale, "Exeunt Omnes" (to wit, the stage direction "exit everybody"), which has a couple of key scenes beyond the sudden curtain on the production of "MacBeth." Do not expect everything to be wrapped up, because there are just way too many plot lines going on to come any where close to that, but a few loose threads are tied off. Basically, "Oz" goes out the same way it came in, with horrible things happening to horrible people.
Ultimately, "Oz" is one of those shows that will reinforce the beliefs of people at both ends of the political spectrum. Liberals will deplore the inhuman conditions and shake their heads at every story about the real world that Augustus Hill throws at them, while conservatives will find confirmation that criminals are not like ordinary people and that tossing them in prison and throwing away the key is a great idea. Liberals will hate Governor James Devlin (Zeljko Ivanek), Office Claire Howell (Kristin Rohde), and the corrections officers who take bribes to look the other way, while conservatives will be sick and tired of McManus, Sister Pete (Rita Moreno), and Father Ray (B.D. Wong). Both sides get enough victories and defeats to keep them watching until the bitter end. Despite the high body count, that ending was not as bad as I thought it was going to be, which was pretty bad given everything we sat through for six seasons. However, if there is any constant with "Oz" it was that there were solid performances by an impressive cast that created memorable characters that we will remember for a long time.
on September 28, 2006
I understand that the ending of a fantastic series should both leave you dramatically satified while at the same time leave you wanting more.
But both I and a friend who have recently finished Season 6 both agree... it left us both seriously let down.
For starters -- and I will try not to spoil it for people who haven't yet seen it -- there are faaaaaar too many storylines left unresolved. I mean, at this point in watching the series, I care a LOT about many of these characters. I want to see if Alvarez can keep up his good behavior; I want to see what's going to happen to Beecher after Keller's latest psychopathic relationship decision; I want to see a lot of things that you just don't get to see.
Initially, we both thought that maybe there was a seventh season in the works, but the past-character appearances throughout the season and the big montage toward the end clearly meant the show's writers knew it wasn't coming back, which makes the ending all the more mystifying.
I mean, I understand that not EVERYONE's story can be resolved -- short of another explosion that just offs the whole prison population -- but at eight episodes, it just seemed to short and not comprehensive enough. I wish they would have saved the longer season -- was it 4 or 5 that had like 15 or 16 episodes? -- for the last.
I agree with several people's assessment that the body count this year -- and really, throughout the whole series -- was ridiculously high, but c'mon. If it were some regular prison where no one ever got killed, no one would be watching. However, my inkling that the show had jumped the shark in season 5 with the whole "Rev. Cloutier has spontaneously disappeared"-thing (which gets resolved in S6, by the way) was only reinforced by a politically- and racially-motivated series of incidents involving the Midget-Rat King, Gov. James Devlin, and was another reality-stretching reach that, of course, remained unresolved as the season closed.
All I can say, I suppose, is that with all of the build-up and arcing storylines, I was expecting an atomic explosion to end Oz, and instead I got an M80 in the mailbox.
on April 27, 2016
There isn't and never will be another show quite like "Oz". IMO it doesn't quite measure up to the truly great TV prestige dramas like "The Sopranos", "The Wire", "Mad Men", and "Breaking Bad", however that's no knock against Oz. Oz was unique, odd, different, quirky and although IMO it doesn't quite rank among the all-time greats, it's every bit their equal as far as sheer entertainment value is concerned.
Season six is a good example of what I mean. (SPOILERS) As silly as a few of the season six subplots are (Bukowski, Torquemada, Omar White suddenly grasping astrophysics, the utterly insane Beecher/Keller/Schillinger story) pretty ridiculous even by Oz standards, yet it doesn't matter in the least. And upon re-watch, there's some genuinely compelling stuff in there, like the Cyril execution and Robeson's saga ( the "spooning" scene...shudder).
This is my second re-watch and I've enjoyed it thoroughly. Oz is most definitely not for the kids or anyone that's easily offended, as I can't think of another show that was ever anywhere near as downright sick as Oz was. No joke, if you're squeamish about rape scenes, intense violence, racial slurs, misogyny or anything like that, Oz isn't really for you, which you'll discover around five minutes into season one. But I loved it. Great performances, tense but not afraid to poke fun at itself, a cool show that still holds up today.
on February 18, 2013
Season 6 concluded the excellent HBO drama called Oz on a memorable note. In hindsight, they ended the series at the perfect time as there really wasn't much more Tom Fontana could have done after this. The running joke (as Fontana noted in commentary during an episode in Season 4) was that just when any bit character became interesting, he was going to die. This was never more apparent than in Season 6. In fact, one character dies inside of 5 minutes from his first scene. But this season is not all about death. Many loose ends that ran over from the previous seasons are tied up. The writing was still amazingly creative. The idea of bringing back past cast members to narrate for the now deceased Augustus Hill was a nice touch. Hill leaves his memoirs which become a book and leads to further dissention between the Muslims and the homeboys (specifically Burr Redding), even more so when Said goes down. The plotline of the prisoners putting on a version of Shakespeare's Macbeth builds throughout the season as does the execution of Cyril O'Reily. Rebadow becomes the prison romantic. Alvarez continues to try to make amends but he's stuck in Oz forever. A lot of secondary characters such as Jazz Hoyt, Timothy Kirk, and Clayton Hughes also played key roles. The last episode may be the best finale in modern television as it provided a lot of closure, particularly between Beecher and Schillinger as well as Beecher and Keller. And through all of this, the ending is something you can't see coming. All told, this is an awesome season for one of the best dramas ever on television. Highly recommended.
on November 10, 2006
I just became hooked on this show after the first episode of the first season. I'm glad that I didn't watch this while it was on HBO the first time, it would have driven me crazy. Renting a whole season at a time was so much better. Waiting for the next weeks episode would have been horrible. All of the cast were great and the stories kept you tuned in till the very last minute. The ending was dramatic and surprising, but sad because it had to end. This is something I will watch over again.
on May 27, 2008
Another day, another prisoner up to no good with his wacky antics. I love everything about OZ, despite all its flaws. Actually, the flaws in OZ makes it even a greater show. I enjoy how sometimes, an inmate faction decides to create some elaborate plan to make someone fall in love with another inmate... just to to break his bones. Those Aryans always did have more creative flair than people gave them credit for. Then, sometimes they just want to go straight for the kill, but a cripple goes down instead. I enjoy how the COs are suspiciously absent at the worst of times, like when a lawyer must travel down a long corridor. Speaking of suspiciously absent, one CO was killed by a... wild wolverine, never to be heard from again. Ever. I love how Em City itself is built like a protective schoolhouse, with its breakable windows and cheap removable ceiling tiles. And a warning: if you ever do get sent to McManus's office, close the blinds with the view to the room across the hall, because whoever you least want watching you talking to McManus, will, in fact be watching you from the room across the hall.
If anything, you should watch OZ to view the wide variety of packages, and then when the actor shows up in another show... say, Law and Order: SVU, you can think to yourself, "Ha, I know what you're carrying under there, and it's not a gun," if only to partially cure yourself of the boredom from actually watching a Law and Order episode.
Nothing can be said that hasn't already been said already, but I just wanted to point out the other things that make OZ so special. Sarcasm aside, I love this show. And one more important note: REMEMBER, if you ever do get sent to prison, DIG DIG DIG, because even if you dig and get caught once, they will never search your new pod to see if you dug another tunnel.
on February 20, 2015
Very gritty but also very well done series about life in a maximum security prison. So nice to watch all the seasons back to back with no commercials. I'm sure getting my money's worth with Amazon Prime. Great bennies!!
on May 18, 2016
There are so many subplots and interconnecting plots to keep you on the edge of your seat! I salute all of the great artists performing in this excellent series and highly recommend it to those who follow this genre and want to see a very real representation of our prison system and events occurring within. Great sadness, fear, hate and plenty of tender and semi-comical scenes throughout to weave a quilt of an ongoing amazing stories.