Johnny Basil

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Johnny Basil aka Desmond "Zil" Mobay, played by Lance Reddick, is a character on the HBO drama Oz.

Character overview[edit]

An African American police detective, he is an undercover narcotics officer working under the false identity of Desmond Mobay and trying to bust the drug trade in Oz. "Mobay" is a Jamaican who wishes to work for the gangsters within Oz. Basil gets too deep undercover, and in the process of attempting to prove his loyalty to the gangsters, he becomes a heroin addict himself and kills an incarcerated police officer. Later, after being confronted by Augustus Hill, he confesses to the murder. He serves time in the police unit of Oz, Unit J, where he is eventually killed by Clayton Hughes, an incarcerated former correctional officer.

Season 4 Part I[edit]

Basil arrives prepared to join with the Homeboys, the African American drug dealers within Emerald City. He gets a job as the Warden's assistant to keep the Warden informed and to have unmonitored access to phones and computers; with these, he regularly emails his partner, Nancy Mears, and his supervisor about what is happening within Oz. Warden Leo Glynn is, initially, the only person in Oz who knows of Basil's true identity, and he warns him about a similar operation that took place before, resulting in the murder of the undercover cop, Paul Markstrom. Glynn also warns Basil that he is not allowed to use drugs. Basil tells Glynn not to worry and that undercover narcs have ways of faking it. Plus, he added, half of the inmates are already high so they won't know the difference. Later, it turns out that Basil underestimated the inmates, especially Simon Adebisi, Enrique Morales, and Chucky Pancamo, the big three who don't use drugs.

In a deleted scene, Sister Peter Marie is the other person who knows about Basil's true identity. She visits Glynn because she was concerned that Mobay was a drug addict. Glynn asks Basil to come into the room and tells Sister Pete that he is an undercover cop. She says that he is very convincing and tells him to be careful.

Inside Em City, he rooms with Augustus Hill, who tells him that if he wants drugs, he should go to Kenny Wangler and the Homeboys. When Wangler and Junior Pierce die in a shooting that takes place, Basil asks inmate Arnold "Poet" Jackson if he can join the Homeboys. Homeboy leader Simon Adebisi is suspicious of Basil and asks him for the name of a person who can vouch for his criminality. Basil has planned a potential parolee at Lardner named Nester Parks to vouch for him, in exchange for having an easy parole hearing.

His partner Nancy visits him regularly, posing as his girlfriend so they cannot be easily viewed as cops. Augustus Hill recognizes her, however, from the night of his arrest but does not say anything until later on. Basil notices this and calls Nancy to tell her not to visit for a while. He also asks her if she ever encountered a man named Augustus Hill and she says no.

As his first test, the other inmates ask him to snort heroin in front of them, in order to prove that he is one of them. They know he has bought heroin, but they do not know if he has used any (he has not). He takes the heroin and ends up in the hole during a drug shakedown. When released from the hole he is addicted to heroin, but Simon Adebisi does not yet see him as worthy for being one of them.

His second test involves being able to take a punch from Chucky Pancamo, boxer and the Italian leader. The other inmates gamble on how long Basil would stay standing. He is severely beaten, but stayed standing long enough to gain some of the gangsters' confidence. Poet gives him some heroin as comfort for his wounds, which he uses immediately.

When his partner Nancy visits, she suspects that he is using drugs because his e-mails are incoherent and don't make sense. Instead, she suggests that he be replaced. However, he convinces her and Warden Leo Glynn both that he does not use heroin and that he is close to busting Adebisi, Morales, Pancamo, and their allies.

Meanwhile, the gangsters vote in a straw poll over whether or not he is worthy of membership. Pancamo votes yes; Adebisi votes no; and Latino leader Enrique Morales abstains. To break the tie, his third test is to kill an inmate, making it look like an accident.

Meanwhile, Bruno Goergen, a fellow cop arrives in Oz for killing a weapons dealer. Goergen was a white cop who is bigoted to the Latino, Italian, and Black inmates. He gets beaten up by Leroy Tidd and Mondo Browne after saying "nigger" in front of them. Suspecting that he was beaten up because he was found out to be an ex-cop, he blackmails Basil for protection in exchange for keeping his undercover identity secret. Deciding him to be "Mobay's" imminent murder victim, he lures Goergen to the elevator shaft, using Hill as bait. Basil tells Goergen that Augustus Hill has found out he is a cop and wishes to expose him. As Goergen and Hill struggle beside the open elevator shaft, Basil pretends to help Goergen but then pushes him into the shaft, killing him. This solidifies the trust of the two uncertain gangster leaders, and he is granted membership.

A new unit manager named Martin Querns comes to Em City, empowering Adebisi, Pancamo, and Morales. He allows them and their followers to do as they wish as long as there is no violence in Em City. Drugs, therefore, flow freely, and Basil, along with Browne and Tidd, are pressured to entice "babies" (new customers) to buy drugs. Basil uses the money he brought to Oz to pretend to find his "babies." He meanwhile snorts the heroin that he buys, since he has become a full-blown addict.

The gangsters decide that Basil must sell drugs in front of them to prove that he is one of them. Warden Glynn suggests that another undercover detective should pose as a customer, so there are no complications regarding the sale of drugs by a police officer. The cop, Cecil Brand, is seen purchasing drugs from Basil and Poet, and Pancamo assures Adebisi that Basil is indeed worthy of membership.

In the meantime, Detective McGorry from homicide is interrogating inmates over who killed Bruno Goergen. "Mobay" agrees to help her if he finds sufficient information. Adebisi finds out the identity of Cecil Brand and commands Basil to kill him. Basil is about to, until Augustus Hill confronts him about his true identity as an undercover cop. Hill tells Basil that he won't tell anyone, but he calls Basil a fraud because he uses drugs, uses his badge as a weapon and kills people in the name of the law. "Good night Mobay or officer whoever the fuck you are" Hill says. Angry, Basil grabs Augustus and tells him that if Hill exposes his identity, he is next down the elevator shaft. He then beats Hill to a bloody pulp. Shamed, Basil confesses to McGorry and Warden Glynn that he murdered Goergen because he wanted to prove that he is not a fraud, but real. He is tried for murder and later sent to Unit J for at least three years, the unit for incarcerated police. As a result of Basil's arrest, the drug investigation is over.

Season 4 Part II[edit]

In Unit J, Basil no longer under the identity of Mobay rooms with Clayton Hughes and a sheriff named Alvin Yood. Yood is a white sheriff from midstate who is imprisoned for assaulting a teenager in an interrogation and is a relatively comedic person to be around. Hughes, on the other hand, is a C.O. turned Black militant who often berates Yood for being White and Basil for taking his side in the arguments.

During mealtime, the Homeboys who work the cafeteria urinate in Basil's food.

Warden Leo Glynn urges Basil to visit his wife, lieutenant, and former partner Nancy. He apologizes to his lieutenant, who is sorry to lose him to prison, and to Nancy Mears, who is angered by his presence. Nancy tells him that it's policemen like Basil who make a bad image for cops everywhere, and she is not sorry that he's in prison for doing drugs and committing murder while undercover.

Basil also sees his wife, whom he is scared to see since he let her down. After her visit, Basil insults Clayton Hughes, who in turn murders him. Hughes is sent to solitary as a result. Basil is later seen being placed on the infirmary being zipped in a body bag.

Murders committed[edit]

  • Bruno Goergen - Murdered by Basil, pushing him on the bottom of the elevator shaft because he was threatening to put word in Oz that Basil was an undercover cop, and also so Basil gets in good with Enrique Morales, Chucky Pancamo & Simon Adebisi if he killed someone in Oz so he continues to bust the drug trade in Oz.

External links[edit]