Oz: Season 2 (1998)

DVD Cover (HBO Studios)
Genres: Crime Drama, Prime-Time Drama, Prison Show
The daily lives of prisoners in Emerald City, an experimental unit of the Oswald Maximum Security Prison where ingroups - Muslims, Latinos, Italians, Aryans - stick close to their mutual friends and terrorize their mutual enemies. --TMDb
Movie Connections:
> Oz: Season 1 (1997)
> Oz: Season 2 (1998)
> Oz: Season 3 (1999)
> Oz: Season 4 (2000)
> Oz: Season 5 (2002)
> Oz: Season 6 (2003)

8.2 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: July 29, 2012
Well, I have to once again put the standard disclaimer for this series right up here in the first paragraph. Oz is my favorite show of all time, and as such, I may come off as a little biased in the reviews. Now, the fact that the show is my favorite is a testament to its quality, but still, I feel like I should throw that out there.

Anyway, I'm going to assume that anyone reading this has already seen season one, and thus, won't mind spoilers from it in this review. This also means that I'm not going to go into too much detail about the general plot, so if you have no idea what the show is about, go read that review... or better yet, go watch the show. So, after the riot that ended season one, we find ourselves in the aftermath. Several prisoners have died, new policies are in place, and Oz is being cleaned up for the eventual return of the prisoners. An investigation is launched to find out exactly what caused the riot and who was responsible, and it is also revealed that a prisoner was intentionally murdered by an officer during the madness.

All of the inmates you know and love have returned, and they continue trying to survive the days while conducting their shady business deals. Kareem Said has a book about the riot published, and this leads to him trying to help prisoners fuck the system from the inside as he puts on his lawyer hat and starts appealing old cases. Meanwhile, Vern Schillinger has his parole hearing coming up, and he attempts to put all of his old habits behind him and be a good boy so that he can get out of jail and take care of his sons... but Beecher, the man that he repeatedly raped and humiliated, doesn't want to see him go free. The Italians go through some changes, as Nino's son Peter Schibetta (Eddie Malavarca) initially takes over before being replaced by Antonio Nappa (Mark Margolis), and the Latinos also get more screen time as Miguel Alvarez's (Kirk Acevedo) role as leader is challenged by newcomer Raoul "El Cid" Hernandez (Luis Guzmán). Kenny Wangler (J.D. Williams) moves up the totem pole in the homeboys due to some "personal" problems on Adebisi's part, and the group finds themselves having to deal with the Italians more and more in the drug trade.

Ryan O'Reily is still the lone wolf who plays the various groups against one another while looking out only for himself, but now, he has somebody that he has to legitimately take care of: his mentally retarded brother Cyril (Scott William Winters). Why is Cyril in jail? Let's just say that Ryan was in love and had Cyril do something nasty to help him out. Meanwhile, Beecher finds a new love in Chris Keller (Christopher Meloni), there's a female inmate named Shirley Bellinger (Kathryn Erbe) on death row, and there's a corrupt corrections officer by the name of Karl Metzger (Bill Fagerbakke) running the entire thing.

Maybe you got the impression from those last two paragraphs, but there is a lot of stuff going on in these eight episodes... and that doesn't include the many, many details and plot twists that I left out. This is why I love Oz so much: there's so much stuff to get wrapped up in, and almost every one of the many storylines work out extremely well. You may find yourself interested in some more than others, but there will be very few things in here that you find yourself not caring about. Personally, I wasn't a fan of some of the forays into the supernatural that take place here, but these are very minor and admittedly lead to better things.

Once again, the characters are also what makes the show work so well. You know right off the bat that all of these men are convicted criminals with checkered pasts, and you know that in any other show, they'd be the "bad guys" - I mean, how can a serial killer, a drug dealer, or a rapist be anything but? The thing is, the show explores their human side; yes, all of these men fucked up on the outside, but does one mistake make somebody truly evil? Is it always so black and white, and heaven forbid, can people change over time? There are a lot of intriguing characters here, and each of them are played by brilliant actors. Much like the storylines, everybody will have their favorites and everybody will be hoping for the slow deaths of some of them, but you can't deny that they truly get you involved with the show.

So, as I've mentioned a few times now, Oz is my favorite show ever made, and this is another season that shows why. It is full of some of the best writing ever displayed on television, the characters are picture perfect, and there is so much good stuff going on that I don't see how people managed to wait a week in between episodes. If you somehow missed out on the show, what in the hell are you waiting for? 10/10.
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