When They See Us season 1 finale recap: Part 4


When They See Us closes out the final episode with an emotionally jarring yet inspiring ending for which you’ll most definitely need more than one tissue box.

When They See Us has been a difficult series to get through because it’s not fictional, it actually happened. What we’re seeing on screen is a dramatic reenactment but it’s also a reality that these five lived. To no fault of their own, they were thrown behind bars and could do absolutely nothing about it. Can you imagine being in prison as a child for something you didn’t do?!

The third episode didn’t spend much time on Korey, but the final episode of the limited series does, and it’s very, very difficult to watch. This is primarily because he was separated from the other four and sent to Rikers Island to live out his sentence. But the most upsetting part of his story is learning how he went from one prison to another in pursuit of being closer to his mom. He didn’t want to make her spend money and go out of her way to see him every time, but it was just something they never quite got through.

Korey’s time behind bars was probably the roughest of them all as he was always the target for someone to beat and punch on. It gets so bad, in fact, that he eventually asks to be in solitary confinement so he can be kept safe from all the people trying to hurt him. He does strike up a friendship with a sympathetic guard who cares for him and wants to protect him however he can. That’s basically the only comforting thing that happens but eventually they too separate at one point.

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Because he’s in solitary for so long, Korey’s mind begins to play tricks on him as he hallucinates and spends all his time living in the flashbacks of his past life. It’s the only way he knows how to survive this horrendous punishment, and it’s what gets him through until his eventual exoneration, which certainly didn’t come easy considering he never got parole since he wouldn’t “confess” to his crimes.

The Central Park Five has a very tough story, one that no one can ever understand or fathom. Seeing the events that had to take place for them all to be exonerated was something DuVernay did beautifully. It started with the man who was actually responsible for the crime coming forward to confess, a man that Korey had been in prison with.

Even with a confession and solid proof, those involved in the original trial refused to believe that the Central Park Five were innocent. They were too stubborn to accept the truth, but luckily this didn’t affect the men who finally had a clean slate on life. Oh man, the feelings and emotions in the final moments of When They See Us is something I can’t quite explain.

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As the credits roll on the series, we learn where the actual Central Park Five ended up and what they are up to in their lives after all of this transpired. They will never get the time back they lost, but they certainly moved forward in life despite all that had been against them.

DuVernay ends the limited series by showing each of the actual Central Park Five in an artistic and beautiful manner, reminding us that this is a true story and what happened was very real. It wasn’t a made up story, and it wasn’t fiction, it actually happened—and it can never be erased.