Oz: Season 5 (2002)

DVD Cover (HBO Studios)
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Overall Rating 87%
Overall Rating
Ranked #1,083
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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 23, 2012
We're just moving right along here, aren't we? As I sit here typing this, my review for season four is still sitting in the queue and hasn't even been approved yet - that is how fast I am burning through these episodes. The show is just so freaking addicting, and that is one of the reasons that this is by far my favorite television show of all time. Season four, as you may recall, took a small dip in quality due to the double-season approach that they took (read more about that in the review), but season five was back to normal and back on track... and back to the perfect ratings.

As always, I'm assuming you've seen the previous seasons if you're reading this, so there will be spoilers aplenty for them in this review. After the explosion in Oz that wrapped up the previous season, things are being put back into place and cleaned up so that the prisoners can return to their home. This also means that the inmates from solitary confinement are forced to return to the general population, and that includes Miguel Alvarez. After everything is cleaned up and back to normal, visitors are finally allowed back into the prison, and a busload of family members are on their way to visit the various inmates... and then the bus gets into an accident, killing many of them. This does not go over well with those prisoners who lost family members, including Augustus.

Rebadow's grandson is dying of leukemia and he attempts to find a way to save him from behind bars. Ryan O'Reiley's mom, Suzanne Fitzgerald (Betty Buckley), turns herself in for her past crimes and is sentenced to community service... which she decides to serve by hosting a music class in Oz. Omar White is eventually enrolled in the class thanks to Said's prompting, as Said is being tasked with turning the uncontrollable man around. Keller returns to Oz, the homeboys get into various alliances with the Sicilians and the Latinos, Pancamo is stabbed, develops a staph infection, and lays dying in the hospital ward, and a pair of Beecher's friends from the outside are sent to Oz on rape charges. Cyril is sent to death row after a number of violent outbursts, and the entire season wraps up with one of the saddest season finales of all time.

It should come as no surprise to those who have seen the previous seasons, but this one is jam-packed with storylines and plot devices. There is a lot of stuff going on, as always, and it's safe to say that there is never a dull moment. All of this actually works out well and you'll never find yourself bored with one character or one set of events - everything in here is entertaining as hell and you truly want to see where all of it is going to go. As mentioned above, the season finale is built towards throughout the entire season, and even though I knew it was coming, I have to admit that I still got a little misty-eyed seeing it. It's amazing how one shot, a shot that would sound tame if I described it here, can have that much of an effect.

The entire season felt like one of the earlier ones, meaning, it didn't have a second of padding or last-minute additions as the previous one did. One can easily see how the events that take place in the last episode of the season were built towards from the first episode onwards, and this is a much more engaging way of building an audience than simply throwing out some random surprises (as many other shows tend to do). That is not to say that this one has no surprises in store for the viewer, far from it, but they make much more sense and in hindsight, you should have saw it coming... but you rarely do.

There is one slight negative in regards to the story arcs, and that comes to us courtesy of the Reverend Cloutier storyline. Remember how he was bricked up inside a wall in the previous season and left for dead? Well, the explosion that wrapped up the previous season tore the wall down, and although it severely burned him, it set him free and saved his life. That's fine and dandy, and it could have led to some neat twists... except for the fact that the writers took it in a supernatural direction and had him ordering people around through visions. Thankfully, this was quickly dropped and forgotten about, but it was incredly annoying and dragged the show down while it was taking place.

Even with that minor gripe, I'm still going to have to give this one a perfect rating. There's no way that roughly twenty minutes of bad out of eight hours of pure perfection can affect my overall score, and thus, I have to say what I have already said many times over: Oz was one of the best shows ever to grace a television screen, and there is a reason that it is my favorite show of all time. It's just that damned good. 10/10.
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