Oz: Season 3 (1999)

DVD Cover (HBO Studios)
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Overall Rating 82%
Overall Rating
Ranked #1,081
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Connections: Oz

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
Review by Chad
Added: August 01, 2012
Here we are once again, just a few days after my review for the second season went live, with yet another season of the incredible goodness that is Oz. Yes, I've been going through these episodes at an incredible rate (I watched four of them straight through without so much as a bathroom break), and as you may recall from previous reviews, there is a reason: not only is the show my favorite of all time, but it's also incredibly good.

Once again, you know the drill about how the show works (and if you don't, season three is not the place to start). Season two ended not with one giant cliffhanger, but with a handful of smaller things that would keep you waiting for the next episode to start resolving issues and tying things up, and that approach worked rather well. It definitely doesn't have the "Holy shit, did you see...?" feel that singular and major season-ending plot twists can have, but I liked it.

Major plot devices for this season include Adebisi's drastic changes after his encounter with the African mystic in the previous season, Keller's attempts to reconnect with Beecher after helping Schillinger break his arms and legs, and some major rifts start to appear in the Muslim faction. The homeboys and the Italians begin to work together in the drug trade, two new guards enter Oz (a man whose father was killed in a prison fight and a woman who sets her sights on McManus) and begin stirring up trouble almost immediately, Schillinger's son arrives in Oz, a boxing tournament is started between inmates, and Sister Pete decides to start a victim / offender program between Alvarez and Rivera (the hack that had his eyes cut out). All of this blends together and leads up to a season finale that will have you begging for just one more episode.

I find it incredibly difficult to write the plot synopsis for this show, as there is really way too much stuff going on in these eight hours to break it down to just a couple of paragraphs. Much like the previous seasons, that is the way the show operates: we have roughly ten "main" characters, another ten or so "minor" characters, all of which are broken up into various factions, and each of these has their own agendas and storylines. They usually end up intersecting with one another in some way, and as is the norm with this show, all of the writing is spectacular. There is so much going on and so much to keep up with, but there is not a single piece of story or plot device that will leave you wanting them to get on with things.

As is also the norm in the show, characters regularly come and go. There are a good deal of new characters introduced during this season, some for only an episode or two and others who will go on to become important to the overall story. Other, established characters are killed off or are reduced to bit parts, and this definitely goes a long way towards keeping the show feeling fresh. Oz is not like other shows where the main characters never die, or only die in big season finales: no, you truly feel that anyone could die at any time.

I feel redundant writing this yet again, but as is always the case with this show, the acting by everyone involved is phenomenal. The characters are incredibly well-written and they have fantastic storylines to work with, but the actors playing the roles really bring them to life and give the show that extra push towards greatness. Everyone will have their favorites (personally, I love Cyril and Ryan O'Reilly) and everyone will want to see a couple of them getting shanked, but you can't deny that every actor involved brings their absolute best to the table.

As has been the case with previous seasons, I really find it hard to do anything more than gush in these reviews. I love the show so much, and even though some of you may think that blinds me to its faults, that's really not the case... the show just doesn't have any. Oz is as close to perfect as anything on a screen can get, and this is the third season in a row that I have to give a perfect 10/10 to. Three more will undoubtedly follow.
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