Oz Season 2 is the second season of HBO’s acclaimed dramatic series about life behind bars of the fictional Oswald State Penitentiary. It’s only 8 episodes, each one about an hour long, so you can watch the whole season in a few days. The first season introduced you to the rising tensions of the prison staff member and inmates that culminated in a deadly riot. Season 2 is about the aftermath of the riot, about the lessons learned or ignored by the main characters. You catch up with old characters and you meet new ones that change the dynamic of the prison.
Tim McManus (Terry Kinney) reopens Emerald City, determined to make it succeed. He does this by separating the inmates into different groups (The Mafia, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Muslims, the Homeboys, the Latinos, the rejects, the homosexuals, etc.) with only four members each. Amongst this new backdrop new issues and problems arise.
There are way too many story arcs to cover, so I won’t even try. I’ll just mention a few that I enjoyed. The warden’s daughter gets raped and one of the inmates knows who is responsible. The talented Poet (who happens to be a poet) gets his poetry published and becomes a celebrity who gets his freedom, even though he’s not ready for it. Tobias Beecher (Lee Tergesen) and Schillinger (J.K. Simmons) wage psychological warfare on each other. And Ryan O’Reily (Dean Winters) falls in love with the prison nurse, gets his mentally challenged brother to kill her husband, and deal with the guilt when his brother gets sent to Oz for the murder. There’s another subplot involving two old inmates trying to dig their way out.
There isn’t as much as stake as in Season 1. Season 2 seems to be more of a character study. And there are a lot of interesting characters so there is a lot to explore. It’s not a tame season by any means. Remember that Oz is an HBO show about prison. You’re gonna see a lot of shocking and fucked up shit. If you liked the first season, you’ll love the second season.
Critically Rated at 15/17
Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young