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A Multi-Chaptered, Extremely Disorganised Look at Tobias Beecher/Chris Keller in Seasons 4-6

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To make a correction to my A Disorganised Look at Tobias Beecher/Chris Keller in Seasons 2-3 review, Tergesen has done full frontal. I’ll get around to editing that eventually.

For anyone wishing to skip my ramblings on Brian Bloom, use ctrl+f or command+f and type in ‘open to’.

First, I always try to be careful when writing anything about an actor’s physical appearance or even how a character looks, and I do apologise if I end up crossing some sort of line here.

In one of my The Tudors reviews I plan to repost, I talk about how male characters with pale eyes, especially blue eyes, are often either villains or anti-heroes, and I have no problem saying this. I’m not sure why this is, but many white male villains and anti-heroes in visual media do have pale blue eyes including in Oz: Beecher, Keller, Vern, etc.

However, Bloom is a weird case. His character in Oz, Ronnie, isn’t creepy or even, by the standards of more than half the cast, that bad of a guy, but his eyes go between ‘creepy’ and ‘hey, there’s a blind chara- no, that’s just Ronnie’. Yet, I saw him in an episode of Dollhouse, and his character was creepy and evil, but his eyes weren’t part of this. I didn’t even pay any attention to his eyes in Dollhouse.

As far as I know, Bloom isn’t severely visually impaired, but there were honestly scenes where, instead of being creeped out, I found myself wondering whether the character, actor, or both were blind.

All this being said, I wish Bloom had been in more episodes, and frankly, I wish these two episodes were better. I liked Ronnie, and I think he would have made any interesting addition to the show and the B/K dynamic.

Open to Tim getting the idea that putting inmates in a cage in the middle of the quad rather than the hole is in anyway a good idea.

Keller volunteers to be the first by asking about Tim’s penis size, and Beecher is like, ‘Was I a quasi-stabilising influence on you, or did our messy break up just make you even more prone to trying to burn the world down by setting yourself on fire?’

I might be projecting my own questions a little bit here, but Tergesen does do a great job with how Beecher looks at Keller during the scene.

Later, Keller is out, and he and O’Reily are talking about O’Reily having gross sex with Howell. At one point, Beecher walks by, and I’m kind of surprised neither Keller or Beecher end up in or, in Keller’s case, back in the cage during this episode.

“My esteem for you has risen 69%, but tell me, as one manipulative turd to another, now, did you (f-bomb) Howell for the sex or to get her to do some other kind of nasty?”

O’Reily lies it’s the former, and Keller knows better.

There’s a brief scene of Beecher not being down with seeing an evil politician being sworn in on TV, but though the other inmates are in agreement with him, extending the effort to get Murphy to change the channel won’t do any good due to the evil politician being on all non-cable channels.

In addiction group, Beecher and Keller listen to a man pouring his heart out, and it doesn’t really focus on Keller, but I like to imagine he’s all, ‘I’m finding a wall to beat my head against, and if that doesn’t work, I’m beating Beecher’s, and then, I’m so killing Said before anything else happens to Beecher’s little girl or remaining baby boy.’

This man, a black man for relevancy, is trying to get in good with Said due to a deal with Vern where this man will kill Said.

However, Beecher really can’t be blamed for not considering that a black man might be working with a white supremacist to kill another black man, and so, him trying to be a good friend to Said and genuinely help someone he believes truly needs and wants help by talking to Said later about Said giving the man a chance doesn’t come off near as misguided as his attempts to make peace with Vern did.

Said isn’t receptive to this, Beecher backs off, and somewhere unseen, Keller stops beating his head before deciding, well, if Beecher isn’t a current danger to himself, he’s not finished with the hurtful dance they resumed once the accusation of him killing Beecher’s firstborn son was made.

Also, there’s a brief scene of Keller in the cafeteria.

Then, there’s an adorable scene of Beecher in the playroom with Holly in his lap as he reads to her. Aw.

Less adorable is Beecher and his little brother are having a conversation where Beecher insists on bringing up his bisexuality and their father’s difficultly with this.

In fairness, any good parent would have trouble with their kid being in love with a person who not only killed someone during a robbery but is also heavily suspected by the FBI of being a legitimate serial killer. Especially if said person is a suspected serial killer of gay/bisexual men, and oh, hey, the parent(s)’ kid is a gay/bisexual man. I can’t remember right now if the Beechers found out Keller’s part about in Operation Toby, but if they did, I will give them a pass for almost anything they do or say about Keller and and/or the relationship.

During this conversation, Keller passes by to visit one of his non-Bonnie ex-wives. I’m not sure if it’s Angelique or Kitty, but for some reason, I think it’s the former. Holly comes up to Beecher with her cute little braids, and when he picks her up, he sees Keller deliberately macking on the ex-wife in clear view.

Later, Beecher’s watching a trivia show with the others, and he knows the answer to one of the questions. Coming over, Keller comments on Beecher’s little brother being cute. “He fool around?”

Since shanking Keller in the middle of the quad would result in worse than the cage, Beecher simply leaves.

These headphones the inmates sometimes wear during TV time confuse me. They don’t always wear them, and they don’t seem to be connected to anything. Several times, characters do what Beecher does here and just up and leave the TV area with them still on.

Moving on, I don’t think Keller would ever physically hurt Sister Pete, but he definitely wouldn’t be on her side when she urges Beecher to do the victim-offender program with Vern. Beecher himself isn’t up for doing this with the killer of his prepubescent son, kidnapper of both said son and prepubescent daughter, along with the whole raping him, performing non-consensual body modification on him, subjecting him to psychological torture, and being the mortal enemy of his best friend.

Sister Pete, however, is like, ‘Sure, he’s evil, and this could be part of an evil plan, but for some reason, I think this might be a good idea, and since you trust me above anyone else here, you will do this regardless of your perfectly understandable reasons to refuse.’

Now, onto Ronnie’s flashback. He’s working in a garage on a stolen car when the police burst in, and interestingly, aside from clearly dropping an (inaudible) f-bomb, he’s calmly resigned; he shows no aggression, makes no attempt to resist, and the way he handles his mugshot makes me think this probably isn’t his first rodeo.

Also, am I misreading the sign, or am I supposed to believe Bloom/Ronnie is 6’9? Because, I don’t. I’ve found two sites saying he’s 5’11, and one site that says 6’4. Since I’m admittedly not great at determining height, I’d buy either of these, but 6’9 is a giant. Several sites have Meloni at 6’0, and Tergesen is either 5’10 ½ or 5’11, and he’s not significantly taller or shorter than either of them.

In Oz, Murphy introduces, “Here’s your sponsor, Tobias Beecher. He’s gonna help you- acclimate to your new life.”

I’m genuinely curious: Why the sarcasm?

“Beecher, this is Ronald Barlog.”

One thing I really like about Bloom’s performance is Ronnie is a relatively normal guy. He’s a non-violent criminal who, at his worst, might be willing to sell out a guy who, whether I agree with it making sense or not, is canonically a serial killer of gay men despite their long-term friendship and the fact they’ve become lovers.

Here, he and Beecher shake hands as he says, “Ronnie.”

“Hey.”

And it’s such a normal exchange.

“Alright, let’s go, Ronnie,” Murphy says.

This is actually one thing I really like about Robert Clohessy, too. Taking off my slash goggles where I’m convinced Murphy is in unrequited love with Tim, tried to make a life away from Tim, and has now decided, ‘screw it, I’m sticking around even if it does hurt,’ Murphy is a down-to-Earth, genuinely good person. Again, shipper googles completely tossed away, he canonically loves his best friend, supports him, and would die for him. He sometimes has little patience for the inmates, but he does try to be fair, and he often treats them with basic respect and dignity without being sanctimonious about it.

In the quad, Keller and O’Reily are playing chess when Ronnie spots him.

They hug, talk a little, and then, realising his ex-boyfriend is who his old friend is going to be rooming with, Keller’s has a silent reaction of, ‘Oh, frell my life,’ before saying they’ll catch up after Ronnie’s settled in, and both Bloom and Meloni both do great with this exchange:

“Alright, cool. Cool,” Ronnie agrees. “You winning?”

“No, I’m getting my ass kicked.”

I might be reading into it, but I get the feeling he’s talking about more than just the game with this statement.

On a different note, the sexual chemistry between Bloom and Meloni is hit-or-miss, and this may or may not be deliberate on one or both of their parts, but they do a strong intimacy between their characters. I fully believe Ronnie and Keller are old friends who once had a genuinely close relationship.

Beecher sidles over. “He’s cute. Does he like to fool around?”

I’ve said before I’m not sure how much of a sexually jealous person Keller is. He wanted to kill Said partly due to Beecher’s strong emotional connection to him and partly because, good intentions aside, Said was urging Beecher to do things that Keller correctly saw wouldn’t end well for Beecher. I’ll get to the teacher Beecher sleeps with when I do that episode, but here, Beecher really hit a metaphorical and possibly literal nerve with his accusation and shanking. Then, when Keller didn’t forgive him, he decided to sleep with other men in either an attempt to manipulate, hurt, or both.

I think Shemin was purely about revenge with the excuse of his and O’Reily’s plan thrown in, but I’m not sure Browne was. However, I’ll get to him when I do that episode.

For now, based on Keller’s expression, I’m not sure he hasn’t already decided Ronnie has to die, but I doubt this is what Meloni intended.

I’m also not sure what to make of O’Reily’s. Is he thinking he can possibly use this for another scheme, or is it, ‘The relationship drama between you two is seriously messed up in a way I don’t like’?

Inside the pod, there’s some awkward attempt at flirting on Beecher’s past, and I kind of wonder what he would have done if Ronnie took him up on his offer to have the top bunk. Would he have been all, ‘No, actually, my best friend is the only one I’m psychologically comfortable with being up there, so, you stay on bottom’?

Bloom, I’m not sure if he’s going for shy, flattered, uncertain, uneasy, or some combination.

I find it odd that, right away, Beecher seems to kind of be assuming Ronnie does have an interest in men. I guess he could trying to feel that out, but since this is relatively sane and stable Toby, I sort of imagine he’d be subtler about it.

Instead, after the awkward flirting, he straight out asks if Ronnie and Keller had sex in the past, and Ronnie’s reasonable reaction is, “What?”

Going back to chemistry, when it comes to Tergesen and Bloom, from my view, there’s little-to-no sexual chemistry, but I do think there could have had potential for the two have some truly interesting scenes together. Aside from their introduction, all their conversations have been about sex and/or Keller. Just a normal conversation about something else would’ve been nice to see.

Of course, seeing the conversation where Ronnie was all, ‘Feds offered me a deal to turn on my current boyfriend and your ex,’ and Beecher’s immediate reaction would have been awesome.

In Revenge is Sweet, I’m not sure if it was intended or not, but I spent most of the episode laughing at Keller’s antics. The end isn’t funny at all, but most of the rest is in a twisted way.

Keller is trying his hardest to peer into Beecher’s pod. As far as I can tell, there’s no sign of his roommate, Meaney, during this episode. Is Meaney in the hole, PC, solitary, or the infirmary? How long has Keller been trying to peer into the pod? Has anyone said or done anything about this?

There’s an inaccurate flashback, and one thing I like about this show is that there are mild instances of unreliable narration when it comes to the characters. I saw a tumblr post about how there are two versions of the B/K laundry room kiss, and the second one is Beecher’s memory. In it, Keller is more assertive than he actually was.

What Beecher said was, “He’s cute. Does he like to fool around?”, but here, it’s, “Ronnie’s cute.”

Count is called, and Bloom and Tergesen do a good job with the ambiguity. The characters are physically affectionate, and they’re shown talking pleasantly. It could just be two friends or it could be an indication the two recently had sex.

Keller knows them both, and he knows the two situations, but like the audience, he’s not sure which applies.

Later, Keller goes to talk to Ronnie in the shower.

Randomly, Ronnie has a necklace he wears throughout the episode, but I’m not sure what exactly is hanging from the chain. Why doesn’t he take it off in the shower? Did he sleep in it? Having it in the shower isn’t dangerous, just not something I understand, but people should not sleep in necklaces.

I continue to be impressed with the cameraperson(s). Again, Meloni’s full body is on display, but Bloom’s bathing suit area is blocked.

Keller is so lacking subtlety it’s funny. He couldn’t care less about Ronnie jerking off, but, “As long as old magic didn’t get any action last night.”

“Meaning?”

This is another reason I wish Ronnie had had more episodes. There are implications he gets that there’s something or was something between Keller and Beecher, but this isn’t explored at all. How does he feel about this? How does he really feel about Keller? I get the impression what happened with Beecher happened because, ‘hey, a blowjob would be nice, and I have no reason to dislike the guy offering,’ but was that it, or did thoughts of Keller play a part?

Completely off his game, Keller gives a lame line about there being rules against sex, and Ronnie channels a large chunk of the audience in laughing. “Yeah, right. Since when do you following the (f-bombing) rules, man?”

“Since you got stuck with Beecher.” He warns about Beecher’s promiscuity.

I’m not sure if Ronnie honestly hasn’t read the room or if there’s a deliberateness to him telling Keller about the awesome blowjob Beecher gave him last night before bouncing.

Later, Keller confronts Beecher in the cafeteria, and Beecher’s like, ‘Hey, I’ve finally found the one person I can hurt you by sleeping with due to there being self-imposed limits to your methods of retaliation.’

Which isn’t going to work. I truly believe Beecher’s family and Sister Pete are safe from Keller, but otherwise, there are no limits, including old loyalties of his own, to who he’ll hurt when it comes to Beecher. He’ll kill to protect and to punish Beecher.

Instead of laying this out, not that Beecher might truly believe him, he knocks the tray out of Beecher’s hands before storming off.

In gym, he and Ronnie talk, and it’s made clear Ronnie has an unashamed, genuine attraction to men.

Is Ronnie gay or bisexual? How long has he been open about his sexuality with Keller? How long has Keller been open about Keller’s bisexuality with him?

Within this conversation, he mentions Keller being into college boys after one of Keller’s divorces, and Keller is perfectly calm with him saying this.

Look, I don’t know if the word ‘bisexuality’ was ever used in this show. Even if it were a more recognised concept in the show’s universe, I can believe Keller might shy away from using it. I guess my thing is, I don’t believe he ever had any deep-seated guilt or religious insecurity or even fear of the consequences many closeted people have.

Now, if there was a story of: He had sex with these guys, tried to steal their wallets, and then, killed them when they tried to fight back, I could buy something like this. I don’t have trouble with the idea of Keller once going on a killing spree before coming to Oz. It’s just him having so much inner turmoil over his sexuality that I don’t buy.

I know he was running a con when he answered Beecher’s question of his sexuality with, “I do what I have to,” and he was clearly attempting to manipulate Sister Peter into helping him make headway with Beecher when they had the conversation where she asked if he liked sex with men, and he responded, “I like sex,” but again, he’s fine with discussing his past interest in college boys with Ronnie in a moderately full gym. He’s told both Beecher and Sister Pete how much Beecher means to him. When O’Reily mocks him several times for basically being Beecher’s angry puppy, the only time he gets truly dangerous is when he’s empathising that seriously, you will not hurt Beecher.

It could be argued Beecher’s the exception to everything, but specifically, when it comes to sex, I don’t buy this. I’m not arguing it’s not canon, just that I don’t agree with the decision made. Beecher being the big, great love of his life, sure. Beecher being an exception to internalised shame and fear so deep that he murders in cold blood? No.

The case of insanity or severe psychological issues doesn’t smooth this over. Keller does have some textbook sociopathic tendencies, and kudos to both whoever wrote certain scenes and to Meloni for either the acting choices he made or for brilliantly following the directions given, but those same scenes make the idea he’d kill some men he slept with for the reason of inner turmoil of some kind absurd to me.

Then again, I’m not a licensed psychologist nor psychiatrist.

Back to the scene, Keller decides to kiss Ronnie, and Ronnie’s like, ‘What.’ However, Keller persists, and Ronnie gets into it.

A guard breaks them up, and Keller bounces.

In this scene, I think Bloom was going for awestruck and somewhat overwhelmed, but I could be wrong.

Later, after lights out, Beecher is up for some more fun, but wearing his necklace in bed, Ronnie refuses. He lays it out: Keller was a big-brother figure who he absolutely idolised. Now, though, Keller and him have had sex, and either before this sex was had or as a condition for further sex and possibly even remaining friends, he had to promise he wouldn’t sleep with Beecher.

“He says he loves me.”

I don’t blame Beecher for laughing here.

Neither does Ronnie. He knows, in some ways possibly better than Beecher himself, that Keller isn’t in love with him. “But, Beecher, we're in Oz.”

You have to take happiness where you find it, especially in a place like Oz. Knowing it wouldn’t make you happy in another world doesn’t mean you should discard it in the world you’re in. He’s in for possibly over a decade, 13 years, and with 50 years before Keller gets a chance at parole, Keller’s essentially a lifer. He loves Keller, the sex was good, and that’ll be enough for right now.

Beecher goes over to the window, and Keller moons him.

Next Agent Taylor talks to Ronnie about the homosexual murders, and Ronnie’s loyal by being uncooperative until the possibility of reduced time is brought up.

As I indicated earlier, I don’t blame Ronnie for considering this. He knows Keller isn’t in love with him, he has a pretty good idea, at least, Keller might be using his affection for Keller as a tool to hurt someone else, and morally, there’s a hell of a difference between stealing cars and cold-blooded murder.

I’m adamantly opposed to the death penalty, but if I had a loved one in prison who could get time off for helping put someone they knew for an indisputable fact had killed in cold blood on death row, I would not judge my loved if they decided to make such a choice. I wouldn’t push them to make it, I would understand if they choose not to, but I wouldn’t try to dissuade them from making it, either. Whichever they chose, they’d have my support.

They would not have my support, however, if instead of calling an actual lawyer, they ran to the cellmate they sexually rejected the night before and, after being told, ‘I used to be a lawyer,’ going, ‘hey, that guy you clearly have some twisted something going on with? The FBI just offered me a deal involving him, and I’ll cheat on him with you, the absolute one person he might never forgive me for being with, if you’ll tell me if this is a good deal, cool?’

Despite the utter stupidity of this, I will say I do like Ronnie being, “I'll, uh, I'll make the consultation worth your while,” as his hand goes up Beecher’s leg. He’s clearly learned a few things from Keller in the past.

Afterwards, Beecher finds Keller, and Keller’s like, ‘Oh, we’re actually talking now instead of doing this sadomasochistic dance?’

Beecher tells him Ronnie’s planning to sell him (Keller) out, and there’s classic B/K sexual tension as they both lean forward to where their foreheads are almost touching. Keller accuses him of lying, and Beecher’s exasperated but calm. “Believe what you want to believe. Write me from death row.”

He leaves.

In a storage room, Keller gets Ronnie to admit a deal was offered, and Ronnie clearly thinks he can get out of this by words and a blowjob, and it might have been better if he started running and screaming.

There’s an extremely uncomfortable scene of Keller receiving a blowjob before snapping Ronnie’s neck.

Okay, so, he ejaculated in Ronnie’s mouth, right? Even if he waited until Ronnie swallowed, there’d still probably an autopsy, and semen would be revealed. It’d be estimated to have happened at around the time that, oh, Ronnie got his neck snapped. If the semen can somehow be matched to Keller...

Does Taylor ever bring up, ‘Hey, I offered this guy a deal to turn on Keller, and less than 24-hours later, he was found with a snapped neck’?

I’ve come to the conclusion that certain people, and I honestly don’t know who, only that there were several people, involved in the show’s creative process, took the irritating view that having a couple be a couple makes for bad TV. And I have always called bull on this view.

So many shows either throw tons of dramatic obstacles or outirght strive to keep the two apart instead of just letting a relationship naturalistically develop as the characters have both separate plotlines and shared ones as a couple. There’s still rich drama that can be mined. Not every couple will stay together or get a happily ever after, but they could be an actual realised couple before it happened.

I’m not sure what exactly the original plans for B/K was or even if they were intended to be a couple. However, I am sure things did get changed along the way.

From what I understand, Meloni gave plenty of notice about wanting to leave to focus solely on Law & Order: SVU, and a decent send-off was written. Along with the fact an extended season was asked for/demanded, thus, bringing about ridiculous plots liking the ageing pill storyline, I do think him wanting to come back changed certain plans for Beecher’s story and resulted in different stories for Keller than if he’d never originally been written off in the first place.

Even season 2 Keller, I wouldn’t buy him being a serial killer of gay men, and as I’ve said, if I just watched season 2, I wouldn’t believe Keller did have any genuine love for Beecher. It’s a testament to Meloni’s acting I so quickly believed what frankly the narrative didn’t build up to. Beecher was shown falling in love, and Keller was shown executing a con with no implications of hesitancy with only one wordless scene that could imply remorse, and as I said before, it could just have easily been, ‘Okay, how am I going to handle any potential consequences when they come?’

If the answer was: Convince Beecher I really do love him, it didn’t exactly play out. Season 3 Keller and beyond, his love for Beecher, though sometimes incredibly twisted, has always been sincere.

Now, I could buy season 2 Keller coldly snapping an old friend’s neck, but on a characterisation level for season 3 and beyond, this doesn’t work for me. Ronnie was a normal guy who had a strong history with Keller. Keller didn’t want Beecher sleeping with him, and he handled that without violence. Maybe, if Keller being a serial killer of gay men made sense to me, I could believe Keller would kill Ronnie to protect himself, but-

The thing I don’t like about Ronnie’s introduction into the story is, I could see potential, but when it comes down to it, the character was pointless. He’s never mentioned again, nothing he did or said, his death even, has any affect on any character. Nothing new is learned about Keller. He had a friend he was once close to, and when he was cornered, he turned on that friend.

I was racking my brain trying to come up with any way Ronnie might have been truly added something, and I’ve come up with it: The writers might have been trying to lay out the foundation for Keller confessing to Hank’s murder and/or setting up the fact Beecher is still willing to do extreme, morally ambiguous things to protect Keller, but if so, it was a wasted effort.

If Ronnie had never happened, I would have no problem buying Keller hauling ass to protect Beecher when he found out real trouble was brewing, and I doubt most other people would, either. As for the other, for one thing, though I would have easily believed it this without the Ronnie storyline, I don’t believe it needed to be set up right now, simply because: Keller didn’t take the wrap for Hank due to anything Beecher has or hasn’t done to and/or for him.

“I would have thought that was fairly obvious.”

And it was to Beecher.

I think I’m going to do 4.12 Cuts Like a Knife next, but I might change my mind.

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I am going to be ignoring almost everything involving the ageing drug storyline. Beecher’s in a few scenes involving it, and I don’t care. I thought the refugee storyline had potential, and especially with the current questions in certain countries regarding refugee treatment, I wish the show had done more with it.

But the ageing pill storyline was utterly ridiculous, and the fact it only lasted for about two episodes was still about two episodes more than it should have been in.

There’s a TV scene where Beecher and Keller are nonchalantly sitting next to one another, and one of the neo-Nazis suddenly dies from the pill.

Couldn’t have happened a nicer, more well-adjusted prisoner.

One thing I like on a characterisation level is: His friend immediately yells for Murphy.

Despite the ridiculousness of the ageing storyline, I feel compelled to bring this up: Keller was sitting near these two upstanding gentleman. Are we absolutely sure it was the drug as opposed to Keller having some objections to Beecher being in the study? ‘Cause, him not talking to Beecher and either working out a deal with O'Reily or just deciding he’ll kill one of the neo-Nazis involved to get it shut down, I can totally buy happening.

Later, that black guy working with white supremacist Vern to kill Said, well, he’s become genuine in his conversion to Islam, and after deciding not to kill Said, he vomits all over the game O’Reily, Beecher, Luke Perry’s reverend character are playing, because, the universe has this thing about punishing Beecher whenever he tries to do something good. Remember, he tried to get Said to give the guy a chance an episode or two ago. So, even though he was right to do so, he still must be punished.

Also, the guy is an idiot. ‘Oh, yeah, I’ll just shank a sleeping Said, during the day, in a glass pod. There’s no way anyone would see me either do it or about to.’

Next, the man Keller and O’Reily framed for killing Shemin and Browne is let out of solitary. I imagine the fact Keller and Beecher are standing so near one another when he walks past is intentional.

Then, Keller’s in the library sitting near Framed Guy when someone else comes in to confront him about killing the aforementioned two.

“I’m innocent of that,” he says. Looking at Keller, he adds, “There’s others who gotta pay for that crime.”

In the next scene, Keller is on edge when talking to O’Reily, and he realises, aloud, that the fact Beecher slept with Shemin and Browne might cause people to suspect him (Keller).

Nah, I mean, he’s so subtle about his feelings towards Beecher what with the puppy dog pleading in the middle of the cafeteria, ‘Please, let me move back into our pod,’ the stabbing Vern before curling in a protective ball around Beecher, the being incredibly open to hugs and kisses regardless of who’s around, the staring down into Beecher’s pod at night, the knocking Beecher’s tray away after Beecher taunted him about sleeping with an old buddy of his (Keller’s) own, and all these other little, minor things that are easy to dismiss as them just once singing in choir together.

Anywho, amused O’Reily isn’t particularly sympathetic to the fact Keller’s obsessive love has gotten him in the crosshairs, but since he knows how easily Keller could drag him in, he helps Keller get Framed Guy put in the infirmary.

Later, Vern and Beecher are doing the victim-offender program, and unlike Sister P, I am not annoyed at the officer who interrupts the session to take Vern to the warden’s office.

When it comes to real life rape victims, if they want to do a victim-offender interaction program and/or feel as if doing so would help them, I’d be unlikely to discourage them. They have to deal with what happened, and they don’t need me or anyone else going, ‘But I don’t understand!’, or, ‘But this wouldn’t help me!’

When it comes to fiction, however, for frell’s sake, Beecher, stop listening to Said and just let your boyfriend kill Vern.

So, Vern’s told the son who cut off a little boy’s hand, killed said little boy, and held a prepubescent little girl hostage along with said little boy is dead.

What a loss the world has suffered.

Vern freaks out, and instead of throwing him in solitary or the psych ward, he’s just allowed to bounce.

Let it be noted, when it comes to real life, I’m strongly against the practice of solitary confinement, and I do feel there can be a tendency to use involuntary psych holds in ways that they should never be used.

I don’t know how Keller found out about all this, but during lunch, he’s tearing through the cafeteria looking for Beecher, and he’s told Beecher has a playdate with Holly.

As cute as him having a playdate with his daughter is: Did Beecher have lunch with her? Did he quickly scarf down his food before going? Get permission to eat after the visit? Have a big breakfast?

Keller freaks out about wondering how he’s going to get to Beecher, and serious question: Him just walking to the playroom isn’t an option?

If it’s not, I’m just imaging him going, ‘Hey, guard, I have a visitor, take me to the visiting room, which is near the playroom, and while I’m macking out on my ex-wife, you can figure out why I’m not on any list that I should definitely be on.’

Who knows, maybe, he did try this. This is pure fanfiction material, but I find the idea of Murphy being all, ‘Okay, Keller, you will now be scheduling any visits around when Beecher doesn’t have visitors,’ funny.

Beecher’s playing with Holly, and waiting in the hallway, Angus is stabbed.

I have no idea how I’d react if I had a small child family member near me when an adult member of our family was stabbed, but logically, I know that picking the small child up to take outside to the bleeding family member would not be a good idea. Still, I don’t blame Beecher, because, a lot of people aren’t going to be at their most logical in such a situation.

In the infirmary, Angus has been stabilised enough for transport to a real hospital, and Holly’s cleared of any injuries. Beecher insists to his dad that Holly be taken far away, and then, he and Holly share a sad, sweet moment when he explains she won’t see him for a while, but then, they’ll be together forever.

Next, Keller and Beecher are talking in Beecher’s pod.

I love the fact there wasn’t a reconciliation scene. I wouldn’t have objected if there was one, but the fact is, it’s not necessary.

Keller’s Team Kill Schillinger, and Beecher’s Team Misguided but Technically Morally Right.

When Beecher refuses to have Vern killed, he suggests they pin the blame on Hank’s murder on someone else. Beecher rejects this, too. Beecher’s idea is to let Vern kill him in exchange for his family’s safety, and I can’t express enough how much I absolutely love Keller’s response:

“And what are you going to get out of him, a written guarantee?”

Now, I didn’t think/say those exact words the first time I watched this scene, but my thoughts were definitely along those lines, and the emotion in Keller’s voice pretty much completely lined up with how I was feeling.

Beecher, however, is set on this.

Keller recognises these facts: If he kills Vern against Beecher’s wishes, Beecher will likely react badly. This means that pinning Hank’s murder on someone else is the only other option, but even if he can do this without Beecher stopping him, Beecher going on a guilt spiral is extremely likely.

He comes up with the solution, and he knows, just like he’s not going to let Beecher offer Beecher up, Beecher would stop him from doing this.

And so, he pulls Beecher into a hug, and once Beecher relaxes into the hug, he gives a Glasgow kiss before finishing with a punch that has Beecher falling onto his (Keller’s) bed.

By the way, there are clearly people out in the quad who would have seen this, but nothing is done. This fact does not make my mockery of the newest Muslim convert any less valid.

Keller goes to Luke Perry’s reverend character, and he makes it clear it was him who ordered Hank’s death without Beecher's knowledge and consent. He wants the reverend to convince Vern of this.

The reverend does, though, it’s ambiguous to me whether the reverend himself actually believes this or just wants to try to protect little Holly and the rest of the civilian Beechers.

There’s a scene of Beecher and Vern shaking hands. Ugh.

Next, Sister Pete comes to talk to a handcuffed and shackled Keller wearing an orange jumpsuit, and I don’t buy her claim of suspecting Keller is lying but not knowing the whole truth. She doesn’t want to admit it, but some part of her has put together that Beecher did have Hank killed. Vern can believe that, either out of love for Beecher or as punishment for convincing Beecher that Keller had Holly and Gary kidnapped and the latter killed, Keller ordered the hit without Beecher’s knowledge.

She doesn’t want to admit she’s approving of him letting himself be punished for what a guilty man did do, but she is. All she will admit to is the fact she knows he’s lying but does believe lies can occasionally be done for the greater good.

Beecher comes in, and adorably, Keller immediately moves towards Beecher’s already opening arms.

“Sorry I can’t hug you back,” Keller says. Aw.

Sister Pete gives them some privacy, it's established Keller is being transferred to Massachusetts, and there’s a great bit of acting from Meloni when Beecher asks, “Why are you doing this?”

I don’t know for sure if this was intended, but I read his look as partly, ‘Really? After everything, you would still ask me that? There’s literally very little, if anything, I can do if this won’t convince you.’

Mostly, though, he’s finally killed the man he once was, and he’s free to be the one he wants to be.

He broke two arms and watched two legs be broken. He humiliated, and worse, cruelly outright broke Beecher’s heart.

All this time, he’s wanted Beecher’s forgiveness. He’s wanted hugs and kisses and a true relationship.

Yet, more than this, in something he may or may not have admitted even to himself, he’s wanted to be someone who’s worthy of Beecher’s love, and now, the man in the gym is forever gone. The man who said, “I don't love you. I've never loved you, not for a second,” and made the claims he didn’t care who Beecher slept with will never say such things again.

Chris Keller loves Tobias Beecher, and he’s willing to risk himself to keep Beecher safe.

Even if Beecher still doesn’t and/or can’t believe this, he knows it’s true, and he’s proven it to himself, if no one else. Ignoring any later actions of his, in this moment, he can see himself as worthy.

“I would have thought that was fairly obvious.”

And as I said before, it is to Beecher. He’s just heartbroken.

Keller has a line about loving the irony of getting away with so many murders and confessing to the one he’s innocent of.

Yeah, I’d like it, too, if I bought the reason for three of those murders being committed.

Narratively, this does make a kind of sense: Keller used sex as a weapon and viewed QUILTBAG college men as a manifestation of everything he hated inside himself, and now, the love of a man has somewhat redeemed him and finally killed the part of him that he hates.

Again, I just don’t agree with the decision at all to make Keller conflicted over his sexuality to the point he’d murder in cold blood.

Keller is not a good person. I love the character, but he’s not a good person. He has clear sociopathic tendencies. He’s not a white supremacist, but it has been established he does have some level of racism to him. He uses sex as a weapon. Unless it’s someone he’s attached to, he can easily kill with no remorse.

Him being somewhat of a better person due to his love for Beecher could work without him being a serial killer of QUILTBAG college men. This was made about sexuality in a way it didn’t need to be.

Sister Pete comes back to tell them it’s time for Keller to go.

Beecher’s face isn’t shown, and I’m wondering if he’s wondering about a kiss. If so, answering any questions he might have, Keller moves in for one, and Beecher responds.

It’s beautiful, and yet, I’m still going to pick apart this exchange:

Keller, “I’ll see ya.”

Beecher scoffs. “When?”

“Back here. Or in heaven.”

If some stretching is done, then, ‘When we die, I’ll see you in heaven,’ could work, but Keller’s answer is make much more sense if the question was either, ‘Where?’ or even, ‘How?’

“You really think we're gonna get into heaven?”

There’s some adorable grinning from Keller, and after declaring, “Ah, you and me together. God doesn't have the balls to keep us out,” he continues to smile as he’s led away.

Next, Augustus says something beautiful, and I wonder why I can’t just turn my brain off.

“The worst stab wound is the one to the heart. Sure, most people survive it, but the heart is never quite the same. There's always a scar, which is meant, I guess, to remind you that even for a little while, someone made your heart beat faster. And that's a scar you can live with, proudly, all the days of your life.”

First, I know enough about medicine that I might last a good five seconds if I tried playing Operation, but I would think that, actually, most people don’t survive a stab wound to the heart. I’d love to be wrong about this, however.

Second, Augustus has spent the whole episode giving a crash course on shanks, and throughout, stabbing has never been presented as a good thing.

Finally, I’m assuming this is a ‘better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all’ type platitude with the implication both Beecher and Keller, despite the pain of being separated, have been made better and stronger by their love for one another. And as much as I agree with this, I wouldn’t equate the knocking Beecher out or any of what Keller’s done here with a metaphorical stab wound.

Beecher isn’t happy, but Keller didn’t set up some unwilling patsy; he made the choice, he went in with his eyes wide open, and he’s going to be relatively safe from any payback. He didn’t betray Beecher or Beecher’s trust by doing this.

They both saw that the only options were to kill Vern, pin the murder on someone else, or have Beecher always be in danger from Vern. They both know that Keller does have a much better chance at protecting himself than Beecher does.

So, he choose he second option, and they’re both still alive. Beecher isn’t going to feel guilt similar to what Operation Andy caused.

Chapter Text

In the fifth season, there aren’t many scenes of Beecher and Keller together.

Having heard Keller is returning, Beecher is all anxious about seeing him, and Bob and Busmalis resign themselves to not having a decent card game with him. I’m not going to transcribe it verbatim, but I absolutely love Tergesen’s delivery when Beecher says he was hoping the answer to his question of how he looks would be sexually desirable.

1. Trust me, aside from potentially during season 2, there is never a time he does not look sexually desirable to Keller, and 2. Maybe asking two straight guys, one of whom has an adorable romance with an adorable woman, how he looks isn’t going to net assurances that one look at him will have his boyfriend totally down for sex, even though, yeah, Keller totally would be.

Meanwhile, Keller is all happily cheerful, and he seems relatively genuine when he tells Glynn he’ll be a model prisoner this time around.

Upon being told he’s not going to Emerald City, he’s like, ‘Okay, I’m cool with Gen Pop. It’ll be on your head when Beecher and I get caught screwing in a storage room instead of doing it during the night in our pod, but other than that, I will do nothing to piss you or my boyfriend off.’

Except, no, he’s going to Protective Custody. Instead of telling him why, however, Glynn tells a guard to take him to an interview room after he changes out of his orange jumpsuit.

Agent Taylor is back. Let it be noted, for all my disagreements with this particular plotline, I find Agent Taylor to be an interesting character.

A witness for one of the dead college boys has come forward. This citizen picked Keller’s picture out of a mugshot, and tomorrow, Keller will be taken somewhere so that it can be seen if this person will also pick him up out of a line-up.

During this, Agent Taylor is good about giving nothing away about this potential witness. He repeatedly uses the term “citizen”, and he says “he or she” when using pronouns.

Less professional is him saying, “You’re real home is going to be death row.”

I read an awesome fanfic about Agent Taylor having a gay, college-aged son and being all, ‘This monster took away the sons of all these families, and I can’t give them their boys back, but dammit, I’m going to make the word safer for mine and get what little justice I can by proving him guilty.’

In the show, there’s never anything shown or alluded to about Agent Taylor’s personal life. Does he have a family? Is he part of the QUILTBAG community? Is he homophobic but incredibly careful about how and towards whom this comes out and still willing to pursue justice for the three students?

None of this is ever answered, and I wish some of it was. He’s relatively neutral towards Beecher, but he outright hates Keller, and for some reason, he takes the case of these three men very personally.

Meanwhile, Beecher’s lawyer girlfriend comes to talk to him when he’s playing with Holly.

I don’t know if Keller has some code against physically hurting women or not, but it’s interesting he never causes physical harm to her or the teacher. He does sort of chase her away, but really, it’s more like, she saw her boyfriend was more into this other person than he ever would be her, and so, she rightfully bounced.

It complicates matters, though, the fact that he and Beecher were on good terms when Beecher started with both her and the teacher. When it comes to Shemin and Browne, there were a lot of not good things in play: Beecher accused him of killing Beecher’s little boy, Beecher deliberately slept with Browne to cause an emotional reaction in him, and there were several other potential factors in play.

It’s also possible he views Beecher being with a woman as not cheating in a similar vein to some men viewing their girlfriends/wives being with other women sexually as fine but want to be the only man she’s with in such a way.

Back to the scene, it’s cute when he says to Holly, “Give Daddy a kiss,” but I did not like the line reading when he asks if his lawyer girlfriend, “Will you give Daddy a kiss?” Or when he comments on how good she smells.

Though, it is amusing how Holly literally rolls her eyes and has impatient kid face at all of this. I’m assuming this was scripted, but honestly, having been a little kid who naturally had similar reactions when confronted with adults kissing, I find the idea of everyone just being, ‘This in no way detracts from the scene, we’ll leave it in,’ equally probable.

Beecher is not alone in seeking out female companionship, but, even with the icky line readings, he definitely wins the prize for having much both better taste and standards. I mean, he likes a nice woman who genuinely tried to help him. It’s not either of their faults he’s utterly in love with someone else, and I give him points for being honest with both of them about the other.

Keller, however, has decided to start something with Howell.

Thankfully, Sister Pete arrives to talk, and for now, Howell bounces.

Sister P asks how he’s doing, and he’s longing for Beecher. They talk about his possibly ending up on death row, and she promises to find him a lawyer and try to get him to some time with Beecher.

She and Beecher talk, and after a slight hesitation, he agrees that asking his girlfriend to find a lawyer from her firm for his boyfriend would be a good idea. He’d also like to spend some time with said boyfriend.

When she talks to Glynn, however, he refuses on the grounds of he doesn’t care if a guy who sexually tortured and murdered several men is happy.

But tacitly allowing rape as a method of social control, allowing abuse of certain prisoners by the guards, and not caring if certain inmates kill other inmates is all fine and dandy?

There’s shots of Beecher and Keller both staring out of their cells.

Later, Sister Pete sees Keller again, and he’s not doing well. When he was literally in another state, he was able to make peace with never seeing Beecher again, but now, knowing Beecher’s so close by but being unable to touch him, never mind simply see him, is psychological torture.

Beecher isn’t facing this. He’s happy to snog his lawyer girlfriend until she reveals she’s going to be taking Keller’s case. Then, he’s like, ‘I will lose you if you do this. But more than that, I might possibly lose him, and we both know that that is what really matters to me.’

Specifically, he says she’ll fall in love with Keller, too, and this is odd to me.

One, way to have faith in your girlfriend, and two, why does he think Keller will even try to seduce her?

The two most plausible options to me are: He’s assuming the worse of Keller and his girlfriend, or his self-worth issues are rearing their head big time here.

If it’s the latter, that’s still not exactly fair to his girlfriend.

Speaking of seduction, Keller is using his sexuality to score stuff from Howell. Ugh.

On the positive side, his boyfriend’s girlfriend comes to see him, and I’ll take the awkwardness of this over him and Howell anytime.

There’s an extremely interesting exchange where he says, “I’m not afraid to die. I just want to die for the right reason.”

“And the right reason would be-?”

“Love.”

So, his suicide had been planned by the writers at this point, hadn’t it?

She brings up Beecher, and it’s revealed Beecher wrote him about her. And the fact that Beecher loves her.

Even knowing she doesn’t end up being one of his victims, I was all, ‘Get out of there! Howell, for once doing something good and pop up to say time is up! Get out of there! At least, take several big steps away from the bars.’

Instead, she decides it’s cool and ethical to point out, if he fries, he’s nothing but a memory. If she helps him, he and Beecher will be reunited.

He responds she’ll do everything she can to get him off, because, “If you love Toby as much as I do, then, you’ll want him to be happy.”

When he offers his hand, she’s uneasy, and she asks if he killed the three men.

“No.”

Reluctantly, she shakes his hand.

Beecher has a plot where a family friend named Adam Guenzel and a friend of Adam’s arrive due to raping a girl. The friend is turned into a sexual slave by the Aryans, and Beecher tries his damnedest to protect Adam until homophobic Adam pushes him too far, and he makes a deal with Vern to let Vern have Adam in exchange for being able to take mail to the ward Keller is in.

Eventually, Adam dies in an escape attempt.

As much as I hate the character, Mike Doyle did a fantastic job, and he and Tergesen had great chemistry.

On another note, for all I loathe Vern with every fibre of my being, J.K. Simmons is outstandingly talented.

Over in Keller’s cell, Beecher’s girlfriend is actually sitting inside with him. He actually brings up a good point about one of the dead college boys: Even if he did dump one of the bodies, this doesn’t automatically translate into him having killed the person.

When she asks, okay, allowing this possibility, then, what were you doing dumping a dead body, however, he merely insists, “Wasn’t me.”

Then, he unsettles her and me both by leaning into her personal space, but all he does is make the logical point: If this person didn’t have a fairly bright light source, then, it’s extremely unlikely they saw him clearly enough to make a positive I.D.

He doesn’t bring up the fact that, if they did have a light source, he would have noticed, and if he caught someone catching him dumping a dead body, he probably would have done something about the person way back then, but I am.

She starts to leave, and he asks her to tell Beecher about a dream he had of Beecher being elected President of the United States. After she leaves, him grossly kissing Howell transitions to Beecher and her kissing.

When the snogging ends, she asks Beecher if Keller ever talked to him about the murders, and he lies no. Then, she lies about having no message from Keller.

Healthy!

Later, Beecher’s girlfriend reveals the witness is claiming to have had a flashlight, and he simply continues to insist it wasn’t him. Knowing he’s lying, she takes herself off his case.

He’s not happy about this.

Maybe, next time, don’t be creepy and continue to poke at the awkwardness of the fact you share a boyfriend? And maybe take advantage of attorney-client privilege to say, ‘Hey, yeah, I did do this, and if is representing a guilty person goes against how you do things, fine, but please, use your sincere belief everyone deserves a fair trial to get me a decent lawyer.’

Next, she and Beecher break up.

At one point, evil Howell puts Keller in the hospital when he isn’t in the mood for sex. Sister Pete visits, and he asks about the possibility of Jesus being gay. At first, she thinks he’s just being, well, him, but he points out Jesus was both human and divine, and the human part might have had human urges and desires. Jesus, however, likely tightly controlled certain urges while he’s never fought against his own sexual urges.

I don’t completely buy this, but okay.

One thing I do really like about Sister Pete’s character is I honestly don’t know how she feels about homosexual relationships. As far as I know, she never says. All I can say is that she takes her job towards helping all inmates seriously, loves Beecher, and has a complicated relationship with Keller due to his sexual actions towards her, not his sexual practises with other men.

Here, he asks if she thinks he’d have been better off if he’d been celibate, and all she says is that people fight their natures as a way of distinguishing themselves from animals. When he declares he’s definitely failed that test, she says he shouldn’t think like that.

Later, Keller’s sentenced to death row, and Sister Pete comes to talk to him. In response, he goes full frontal, because, the last time he used his sexuality against her worked so well for him.

Finally, Beecher and Keller are both conscious and in the same room, though with Keller behind bars, together. Keller isn’t exactly sure this is real at first, and then, they share a passionate kiss through the bars.