Oz TV Wiki
The Routine
Oz episode
Oz 1-1
Episode No. Season 1, Episode 1
Directed by Darnell Martin
Written by Tom Fontana
Cinematography by Jean de Segonzac
Edited by Cindy Mollo
Production No. 101
Original Air Date July 12, 1997
Episode Guide
"Visits, Conjugal and Otherwise"

"The Routine" is the first episode of the first season, and first overall episode of the HBO television series Oz.

For a complete list of all episodes, see List of Oz episodes.


"Oz. That's the name on the street for the Oswald Maximum Security Penitentiary. Oz is retro. Oz is retribution. You wanna punish a man? Separate him from his family, separate him from himself, cage him up with his own kind. Oz is hard times doing hard time."
The Narrator[src]

The events and narration of this episode are centered around the introduction of the Oswald State Maximum Security Penitentiary. The daily routine of Oz is seen primarily through the eyes of two inmates — newcomer Tobias Beecher and lifer Dino Ortolani.


In Oswald Maximum Security Penitentiary (called Oz for short), Tim McManus opens Em City, an experimental unit that is different from all the other cell blocks in Oz. We get a glimpse of the daily routine and life within Oz itself.

Tobias Beecher finds it difficult to adjust to prison life. After being roomed with one of the most dangerous inmates, Simon Adebisi, Beecher is saved by Aryan inmate, Vernon Schillinger - only to find that things go from bad to worse. Muslim Kareem Said arrives and says that he now runs Oz. Another inmate, Dino Ortolani, makes enemies fast and ends up getting burned, a move that is perpetrated by one of his enemies on the outside, Ryan O'Reily.

Plot []

New Arrivals[]

The violence of Oswald is demonstrated almost immediately with Latino inmate, Miguel Alvarez, being attacked in the receiving and discharging area. Later, Tim McManus meets with Warden Glynn about the prisoners he wants in his new experimental unit known as "Emerald City". He takes Tobias Beecher, a former lawyer and recent arrival at Oz, jailed for a fatal DUI, Miguel Alvarez (who is now recovering in the hospital from the earlier stabbing) and Donald Groves, a lifer that also happens to be a cannibal.

As Glynn and McManus walk through Oswald's various prison blocks, they discuss the situation with Groves. Glynn originally rejects McManus's proposition to take Groves, but then agrees only if McManus takes a drug dealer, Paul Markstrom, as well. Later, Officer Diane Wittlesey gives a rundown of how things work in Emerald City to the new inmates who will be living there. After the briefing, the three new inmates meet their "sponsors", who are supposed to help them adjust to their new lives in Emerald City.

Tobias Beecher[]

After meeting with his sponsor, Dino Ortolani, Beecher and Ortolani are escorted to Emerald City. On the way, Ortolani begins to bully Beecher. Upon settling into Em City, Beecher approaches Ortolani, who is standing outside of the phone room. Ortolani then makes it clear to Beecher that they aren't friends, and gives him some tips on how to survive.

During lunchtime, Poet reads a poem to the inmates in the cafeteria. Beecher asks Ortolani if he can sit with him and the rest of the Italians and is quickly rejected. Instead, he has lunch with elderly inmate, Bob Rebadow, who tells Beecher that he knows that Beecher's wife, Genevieve, is considering divorcing him. When Beecher asks how Rebadow knows this, he looks up at the ceiling and says God told him. Warden Glynn takes the stand and tells the inmates that smoking would be banned at the end of the month, which caused an uproar to ensue.

In the afternoon, Beecher works at his "job" in the sewing factory, where he meets Augustus Hill. In Em City, it's count time then the prisoners are sent to their cells until lights out. Beecher goes to his cell and sees his cellmate, Simon Adebisi, rummaging through his personal items. After lights out, Adebisi tells Beecher that he isn't going to be sodomizing him tonight.

The next day in the cafeteria, Beecher meets Vernon Schillinger who also gives him some tips to survive, and advises him to go to McManus if he wanted a cell change. Beecher takes Schillinger's advice and requests a cell change. He is transferred to Schillinger's cell. Schillinger then establishes that Beecher is now his prag, and "brands" Beecher with a swastika during the night. In the morning, Beecher decides he doesn't want to get up for breakfast then Em City has a routine drug shakedown.

Kareem Said[]

In the conference room, the prison's staff discusses various topics in regards to Oswald's drug scene and a new inmate named Kareem Said. McManus and Warden Glynn give Said a rundown of how things work in Em City, and how everyone is treated equal. Said tells McManus and Glynn that he finds it ironic that he will finally be treated equal, but doesn't have the freedom to enjoy it.

Said then warns McManus and Glynn that 78 percent of the prisoners in Oz are black, and that if they want to, they can take the control of the prison at any time. Glynn reminds Said that they could take it, but they wouldn't be able to keep it. Said tells Glynn that it remains to be seen, and that as of that day, he ran Oz.

Later, Said gives a speech to the other Muslims, and tries to convert another black inmate, Travis Ballard, to Islam. Schillinger tells Ortolani that the Aryans and the Italians need to stick together and deal with Said. The Homeboys, led by Jefferson Keane, confront Said about Said's attempts at converting some of Keane's dealers. Keane tells Said to stop trying to convert his dealers or there will be trouble. Said tries to reason with Keane, but Keane rejects his pleas. Said then tells Keane that he'd give his life for Keane. Keane tells Said that he'd have to.

Said then instructs one of his underlings to strike him. The underling strikes Said in the chest. Said instructs the underling to strike him again, but this time in the face. The underling follows the order, and Said continues to instruct his underling to keep striking him in the face but harder each time. Finally, Officer Wittlesey tells Said to break it up. Keane calls Said crazy and leaves.

Ryan O'Reily[]

Ryan O'Reily is imprisoned and straight away tries to get rid of his enemy Dino Ortolani. O'Reily visits Jefferson Keane at breakfast and tries to put a hit on Ortolani, but is told by Keane that they don't kill wiseguys. After breakfast, O'Reily visits his CO on the inside, Mike Healy, about Ortolani. Healy assures O'Reily that Ortolani would do something to get himself killed in due time.

After Ortolani beats up Keane's brother, Billie, in the showers - O'Reily meets with Keane in the kitchen. O'Reily pitches a plan to Keane about how to have Ortolani killed. Later, O'Reily meets with Ortolani in a bathroom to taunt him. O'Reily provokes Ortolani, and Ortolani beats him up and shoves his head in the toilet. After being humiliated, O'Reily meets with Johnny Post in Unit B to assign him Ortolani's hit.

Dino Ortolani[]

Sister Peter Marie visits McManus about scheduling a conjugal visit for Ortolani. McManus tells Sister Pete to give Ortolani a 6 hour conjugal. At lunchtime, Ortolani and the rest of the Italians discuss Donald Groves, and how D'Angelo heard a rumor about Groves eating his parents. At week's end, D'Angelo informs Ortolani and Schibetta about Ryan O'Reily's imprisonment. Ortolani is eager to finish the job on O'Reily that he started, but is told by Schibetta to not do anything, unless he gives the go ahead.

During breakfast, Ortolani joins the rest of the Italians. As Ortolani settles in, he notices Billie Keane, a gay inmate, who had been making passes at Ortolani during the week. Ortolani shrugs Billie off, then notices his nemesis Ryan O'Reily. O'Reily taunts Ortolani knowing he can't do anything about it. After breakfast, Ortolani goes to take a shower. Billie shadows him and makes another pass at him in the showers. Ortolani then beats Billie down until the COs arrive and strike Ortolani into submission.

Following the beating on Billie, Ortolani meets with McManus in his office. McManus assigns Ortolani to work in Unit E, the AIDS ward, as punishment for beating Billie. Ortolani visits Schibetta in hopes of getting him to pull some strings to get him out of having to work in Unit E. Schibetta tells Ortolani that he had to behave and stuff like this wouldn't happen to him. Schibetta then tells Ortolani to man up and ride out working in Unit E. Ortolani takes Schibetta's advice and works in Unit E, despite not liking it. In Unit E, Ortolani meets sickly Latino inmate Emilio Sanchez.

Later in Em City, Schillinger tells Ortolani he, and the Aryan Brotherhood, are grateful for the beating Ortolani put on Billie Keane. Ortolani rejects Schillinger's compliment by insulting him. In Unit E, Ortolani talks with Sanchez while they share some cigarettes. Sanchez tells Ortolani he wants to see his daughter and about how he got AIDS. In a hallway, Ortolani meets with Johnny Post who tells him that he'd be working in Unit E soon. Later, McManus calls in Sister Pete and tells her to cancel Ortolani's conjugal and give him family time instead. Ortolani visits with his wife, Jeanie, from behind a glass window. Ortolani tells Jeanie that he wants her to move on with her life without him.

Later in Unit E, Ortolani and Post play each other in a game of cards. Dr. Nathan enters the room and tells Ortolani to go clean up Sanchez. Ortolani, in fear of catching AIDS, tells Nathan that he isn't going to. Dr. Nathan tells Ortolani that Sanchez won't be alive for much longer, and that the best she can do is dull Sanchez's pain, and that the least Ortolani could do was to clean up for him. As Ortolani cleans Sanchez up, Sanchez requests Ortolani to help him die.

In the bathroom, Ortolani meets his nemesis O'Reily, who tells him that he is moving to Em City soon. O'Reily then makes a joke of Ortolani, which provokes Ortolani into beating O'Reily up and shoving his head into the toilet. After beating O'Reily, Ortolani sits down in a hallway. Kareem Said joins him. Ortolani tells Said he was more or less impressed with Said's display in Em City earlier, but it was too bad that Said is "the wrong colour".

Later, Ortolani takes Sanchez off of life support and suffocates him to death. The COs beat Ortolani into submission for killing Sanchez, and Ortolani is taken to the hole where Dr. Nathan sedates him. After Ortolani had calmed down, a CO opens the door to Ortolani's solitary cell and Post enters. Post pays the CO for letting him in, then proceeds to douse Ortolani in lighter fluid. Post then lights a match and drops it on Ortolani, which incinerates him. Later in Em City, McManus looks over Ortolani's file and the pictures taken of Ortolani's charred body from the crime scene.


Oz. That's the name on the street for the Oswald Maximum Security Penitentiary. Oz is retro. Oz is retribution. You wanna punish a man? Separate him from his family, separate him from himself, cage him with his own kind. Oz is hard times doing hard time.

Timmy McManus. He created an experimental unit inside Oz, a new approach to the prison problem. Some people call it "Emerald City". To me, it's a concentration camp.

Prisoner number 97B412, Tobias Beecher. Convicted July 5, '97: Driving while intoxicated, vehicular manslaughter. Sentence: 15 years, up for parole in 4. In Oz, the guards lock the cages and walk away, and the predators rise, take control and make the rules. But in Em City, the guards are with us 24 hours a day. There's no privacy. Everybody sees what everybody's doing. Eyes everywhere. McManus' eyes. See, in Em City, retribution gives way to redemption. Timmy boy believes he can save every one of us, from each other, from ourselves, from the system that dumped us in here. Only thing he don't get is, you gotta want to be saved.

They call this the Penal system. But really it's the penis system. It's about how long, it's about how hard. Life in Oz is all about the size of your dick and anybody who tells you different ain't got one.

Prisoner number 97S444, Kareem Said. AKA Goodson Truman. Convicted June 6th, '97: Arson in the second degree. Sentence: 18 years, eligible for parole in 5.

There is always in Oz, an undercurrent of fear. Of violence. Of hate. Waiting to explode.

Prisoner number 96C382, Dino Ortolani. Convicted December 12, '96. One count murder in the first degree, assault with a deadly weapon. Sentence: life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Oz is where I live. Oz is where I will die, where most of us will die. What we were don't matter. What we are don't matter. What we become, don't matter. Does it?

Grease-ball, cracker, mick, spic, kike, gook, nigger. Words. Words are weapons. I'd rather have a Mac-10 anytime, though. Some inmates say that violence is the worst thing we gotta face. For me, the worst thing is the great yawn. How do you fill day after dull-ass day? We have these routines that are supposed to give our lives order and meaning. But I'm here to testify, I'm less afraid of getting shanked in my back than the routine. Because the routine? Man, the routine will kill you.

People kill to stay alive.That's as true in prison as out. But I'm wondering why in here, we fight so hard to stay alive. A man gets sentenced to 100 years. He really thinks if he exercises, gets all buff, stays diesel, he's gonna walk out? A judge says "life imprisonment without the possibility of parole". "Without the possibility." (laughs) Lifers. At some point they realize they ain't going nowhere. I seen it happen. A calm comes in their eyes. It's like they figured out something that the rest of us are never gonna see. They're suddenly free in a whole other kind of way. They're ready to die. And maybe they do what they can to help that shit along.


For a full list of the deaths in Oz, see List of deaths in Oz.

Crime Flashbacks[]

For a full list of the crime flashbacks in Oz, see List of All Crime Flashbacks.

  • Tobias Beecher: Imprisoned for driving while intoxicated and vehicular manslaughter.
  • Kareem Said: Imprisoned for arson in the second degree.
  • Dino Ortolani: Imprisoned for murder in the first degree and assault with a deadly weapon.



Also Starring[]

Guest Starring[]





Main article: The Routine/Transcript


  • Mondo Browne can be seen in this episode, as well as many other Season 1 episodes, despite not technically being a prisoner in Oz yet.
Season 1 Episodes

1. "The Routine" - 2. "Visits, Conjugal and Otherwise" - 3. "God's Chillin'" - 4. "Capital P"
5. "Straight Life" - 6. "To Your Health" - 7. "Plan B" - 8. "A Game of Checkers"