Season 4 had more episodes than the other “Oz” seasons, which might be why one fan on Reddit, u/ag425, wrote in 2019 that the 16 installments, split into two, go “a bit off the rails.” The more absurd storylines included innocent Chinese immigrants being housed in the prison, and unit manager McManus’ (Terry Kinney) trying an unconventional replacement for solitary confinement.
However, the worst plot of the season was more something more out of a science fiction novel than a gritty prison series.
In the last half of Season 4, an experiment begins in the prison where inmates with longer sentences are offered a trial aging pill so they will age faster and be able to leave the prison earlier. Naturally, this downright bizarre solution to overcrowding doesn’t go well. One, prisoner Fred Wick (Chazz Menendez) dies thanks to the drug, while others suffer from terrible side effects.
The implementation of the concept isn’t the real issue, however. More importantly, this is a silly, fantastical storyline that doesn’t fit into the more realistic world the series had, at that point, built over several seasons. Even on a show as groundbreaking as “Oz,” an experimental aging pill belongs to a Philip K. Dick story, not a realistic HBO drama.