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Straight Life
Oz episode
Markstrom-Death
Episode No. 5
Episode Guide
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"Straight Life" is the fifth episode of the first season and the fifth overall episode of the HBO series Oz. 

Theme []

"I ain't saying drugs are good. But when your past is past and your present sucks and your future holds nothing but broken promises and dead dreams, the drugs'll kill the pain. Listen up, America. You ain't ever gonna get rid of drugs until you cure pain."
―The Narrator
[src]

The theme and narration of the episode centers on the subject of Drugs. Drug usage increases in the prison and the staff makes efforts to stop the epidemic.

Summary []

The drug epidemic grows as the efforts of the staff fail to control it. Schibetta sides with The Homeboys  and offers them a deal, only to find out that one of them is not who he says he is and so plugs him up. Diane Whittlesey meets an old friend and joins him in smuggling cigarettes to make ends meet. Said is diagnosed with hypertension but refuses to take his medication. An anonymous tip leads to one of the officers getting arrested for smuggling drugs into Oz. McManus and Sister Pete find out that Beecher has found a new addiction to kill his pain; Sister Pete tries to get him into counselling but with no luck. Schillinger decides to give him a makeover.  

Plot[]



Tim McManus[]

McManus speaks with Diane about the recent incidents in the prison and says the guards are incompetent. Diane takes offense ans asks McManus if he plans to replace her. He says he'd never do that to her and she questions if that is only because they are having sex.

They attend a staff meeting and discuss with Glynn and the other guards how to stop the drug dealing going on in the prison. McManus says Nino Schibetta and Kareem Saïd are the major players in the drug trade. Sister Pete retorts that muslims are anti-drug but McManus says that is exactly his point.

McManus comes to Said for help but while Said isn't happy drugs are being smuggled he refuses to endanger himself by snitching. McManus approaches Nino and offers him a deal with the DEA, mentioning how things haven't being going well for him lately. Nino calls McManus a fool, saying that while he can try not to be one it is simply who he is. Nino then says he won't turn his back on who he is and tells McManus he won't accept the deal.

In retaliation McManus has all the other italians moved out from Em City to put preassure on Nino. Later at another meeting Mike Healy is incredibly disrespectful to McManus and Diane with Glynn, having to put an end to their arguement. Diane tells McManus they need people to respect them to do their jobs properly. McManus asks if she means they can't be together. She mentions how she can't lose her job and McManus offers to help her with money but she refuses.

Nino Schibetta[]

Because of McManus's actions Nino is forced to come to an agreement with Simon Adebisi and Paul Markstrom. Adebisi and Paul harass Ronald Poklewaldt over money he owes them for drugs. He attempts to make excuses but they aren't falling for it and insist he pay up next time or else.

Later when Adebisi talks to Nino, Nino's use of the term "boys" greatly offends Kenny and Adebisi has to send him away. Nino tells Adebisi how to smuggle the drugs in. After the meeting concludes Adebisi assures Kenny he will be able to kill Nino when the time is right. Nino starts trying to appeal to Adebisi's ego to keep him on his side. During the meting Nino fed Adebisi false information about how the italians smuggle drugs in using the post office. When The guards then confiscate drugs that are being smuggled through the post office Nino realises Markstrom is an undercover cop and has Adebisi kill him.

After this Nino admits he lied about how they get the drugs in and reveals how little respect he actually has for Adebisi. McManus expresses sympathy to Glynn, still thinking Markstrom is his cousin but Glynn tells him that was a lie which annoys McManus.

Ryan O'Reily[]

As Ryan is getting high with Beecher Ronald comes to his cell. Ryan tells him to go away and that he isn't giving him any drugs as Ronald never pays up. He says that's not why he's there and wants to find a way to screw with the homeboys. After hearing that Ryan says he has some ideas and lets Ronald get high with him and Beecher.

Later Adebisi brings him to Nino who informs Ryan that Healy's drug operation has began cutting into his and aks for Ryan to get rid of him, offering to forgive everything if he does so. Ryan says that Healy has only been good to him but agrees.

He then goes to get some drugs from Healy and arranges for Ronald to snitch on him in exchange for drugs. When this leads to Healy getting caught McManus punches him and he is fired by Glynn. Hunt visits Ryan and asks him who set Healy up. Ryan tells him it was Ronald and the guards lay a beating on him.

Diane Wittlesey[]

When Scott Ross arrives Diane informs him he won't he getting any special treatment just cause they knew each other on the outside. Scott is sponsored by Mark Mack and brags to Mack that he used to sleep with Diane.

Later Schillinger appoaches Scott and puts his hands on his penis. Scott demands Schillinger remove his hands within 10 minutes and they laugh it off. Schilinger and Scott are old friends and Schillinger is happy to see him. He questions why Scott's in oz and he tells him it's because of the three strikes law. Scott asks for some cigarettes and Schillinger obliges his old friend.

Later Diane catches Scott smoking the cigarette and tells him to put it out. He says she could cut him a break since they've known each other a long time. Scott says he knows Diane is struggling to help her daughter and mother, asking her to smuggle cigarettes in for him to sell and making out he's looking out for her best interests. She sees right through him and refuses.

However after Glynn announces he is going to have to cut everyone's shifts Diane comes to Scott and tells him she'll do it.

Kareem Saïd[]

Dr. Ferstopnick tells Said he is suffering from hypertension. Said says it is the curse of his people and Ferstopnick agrees that african-americans may be geonetically pre-disposed to the condition. Said says that it isn't genetics and that it is caused by racism. Ferstopnick does agree it may be a factor but Said insists he knows it for a fact.

Ferstopnick tells him he doesn't care about the politics of the situation and only cares about his health.

Rebadow comes to see Said and offer his sympathy. When Said asks how he knows about his situation. Rebadow tells him God told him. Said seems annoyed by this claim and Rebadow says Said must think he's lying or deluded. Said admits that Rebadow is correct and Rebadow says that perhaps he is but that he can see into men's souls. Said questions if he can see into his and Rebadow says yes and that Said is angry. Said says he is angry at an unjust soceiety but but Rebadow says he is angry at God. Said denies it but Rebadow persists and adds that after seeing how bravely Jefferson Keane took his execution Said was scared as he realised he wasn't so ready to go.

Said threatens Rebadow and makes him leave but collapses afterwards. Rebadow's words clearly striking a nerve with him.

McManus visits Said and tells him that if he doesn't take his medication he will force it down his throat. Said is now more open to assisting McManus in his investigation and tells him to "look at your own house". McManus then goes to Glynn who starts an investigation of all the prison staff.

Tobias Beecher[]

Becher gets high on heron with Ryan and has to help him get back up when the drug leaves him unable to stand. Later in his and Schillinger's pod Schillinger forces Beecher to say he loves him. He then tries to give Beecher some make up but he refuses to wear it.

Schillinger says mockingly that he undestands Beecher wants to save it for a special occasion. Later when Beecher comes into Sister Pete's office for work she realises he's high though he does attempt to deny it. She talks to McManus about Beecher's addiction. McManus says the guards should try to find out who Beecher's hanging out with but she tells him it can't be Schillinger as he's virulently anti-drug.

McManus asks if they should have an interventiom but Sister Pete thinks it's too soon for that. They ultimately decide to arrange for Beecher's mother to visit him.

Beecher's mother asks if he has has been using drugs. He doesn't deny it but pleads with her not to press the issue. He tells her she can't possibly understand what's he's going through and that he thanks God every day for that.

Later Beecher attends a meeting in rehab where everyone discusses their addictions and Whitney Munson talks about how he accidentally killed a whore. These stories do nothing but upset Beecher and he tries to run away and has to be held back by guards. Later in the bathroom one of the gays tells Beecher he's been asked to give him a makeover by Beecher's "boyfriend". Later in his cell he is dressed in women's make up and wearing drag which Schillinger and Scott laugh at sadistically.

Narrations[]

Floods. You know how you always hear about them people in Iowa or Missouri or wherever, how some big river overflows? The fucking water keeps pouring over its riverbanks, out of control, taking out farms and towns and everything in it's path. Everybody tries to stop it, but nobody can. Everybody's lives are wiped out. Completely destroyed. And the fucking river, it don't give a shit. It just keeps rising. Year after year after fucked up year. My question is, are them heads in the Midwest whacked out or what? This one joker I seen on TV, his home had been washed away 4 times. 4 fucking times. Why don't he just leave? Why don't he jump in that pickup and drive to higher ground? Or is he like us in Oz? There ain't no higher ground.

Tits. That's what we call drugs. 60% of the violence in prison is due to tits. Either people not paying their debts, or people trying to control the traffic. (laughs) The traffic. Here in Oz, the last few days, the traffic has been bumper-to-bumper.

Prisoner number 94P442, Ronald Poklewaldt. Convicted March 8, '94. Arson in the second degree. Sentence: 25 years, up for parole in 10.

Secrets. We all got secrets. Mostly our secrets are tied to our addictions, our obsessions. You like that bourbon too much? You get off eating chicks with dicks? You gotta do it in hiding. You say you somebody but you really somebody else. Only things that matter to us most, do we keep our secrets? And sometimes, those secrets will kill you.

I don't have to tell you, drugs ain't the only things to get addicted to. Some people mainline their work, some people... snort ESPN. Some people needle-pop gambling. There are those that shoot up junk foods, fine wines, Cohibas, baby. Some people get hooked on love. And like any fiend on the street, you always need another bump. Just one more bump, man! Just one more bump!

Prisoner number 97R518, Scott Ross. Convicted June 4, '97. Possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Third conviction. Sentence: life without parole. 3 strikes, sucker!

Not all drugs are recreational. Some are benign, or supposedly benign.

You take a drug, right? The chemicals, they rush through your body, rush through your brain. And the sensations, you want the sensations again and again and again, but let me tell you, you can also get addicted to grief, to guilt, to hate. Because when you feel dead inside, even bad sensations make you feel like you're alive!

Prisoner number 45M242, Whitney Munson. Convicted March 7, '45. Murder in the first degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance. Sentence: 110 years, up for parole in 60.

I ain't saying drugs are good, but when your past is past and your present sucks, your future holds nothing but broken promises and dead dreams, the drugs; they kill the pain. Listen up, America. You ain't never gonna get rid of drugs, until you cure pain.

Deceased []

Crime Flashbacks []

  • Ronald PoklewaldtImprisoned for arson in the first degree.
  • Scott RossImprisoned for possession of controlled substance with intent to distribute. (3rd conviction)
  • Whitney MunsonImprisoned for murder in the first degree and criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Production []

Transcript []

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