Vernon Schillinger

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Vernon Schillinger
Oz character
Portrayed by J.K. Simmons
First appearance "The Routine"
Last appearance "Exuent Omnes"
Profile
Other names Vern

Vernon Schillinger is a fictional character played by American actor J. K. Simmons on the HBO series Oz. TV Guide included him in their 2013 list of The 60 Nastiest Villains of All Time.[1]

Schillinger is one of the most powerful and feared inmates in Oswald Maximum Security Penitentiary ("Oz"). As leader of Oz's Aryan Brotherhood, Schillinger controls most white inmates and has a reputation for ruthless brutality and rape. He is shown to be a high-ranking member of the Brotherhood outside of prison, thus giving him power outside of Oz through a vast network of allies.

Character overview[edit]

Schillinger is the head of the Aryan Brotherhood inside the Oswald Maximum Security Penitentiary ("Oz"). An ardent racist, he is serving an eight-year sentence for aggravated assault for beating up a black drug dealer with a crowbar for selling drugs to his sons. He indulges in varying degrees of sexual sadism, especially toward fellow inmate Tobias Beecher, whom he rapes to "initiate" him into prison life. In addition to Beecher, Schillinger commits several acts of rape over the series against weaker white inmates; ironically, he is virulently homophobic. He is also quick to have the Brotherhood kill other inmates to prove that the Aryans are a legitimate threat to the rest of Oz's inmate population.

Throughout the series, Schillinger has a number of major family issues: his father, whom he hates, taught him everything he knows about white supremacist ideology; his sons are both amoral drug addicts; he has disowned his sister for marrying a Jew, and his daughter-in-law is a prostitute. Many of his underlings are imprisoned for hate crimes and readily affiliate themselves with his group. Despite his status as a leader, he seeks approval from his superiors such as former mentor Wilson Loewen, who views him as having "a big ego and no balls to back it up." Schillinger strongly objects to his name being mispronounced, averring that it should be "Schilling - ur", not "Schillin - jur". Few characters on throughout the show's run actually pronounce it properly.

Season 1[edit]

Schillinger is among the inmates in the specialized Cell Block E, or "Emerald City." After Tobias Beecher is threatened by his larger black cellmate, Simon Adebisi, the initially harmless-looking Schillinger offers to let him move into his "pod." Beecher naively accepts the offer, unaware that Schillinger is a prison rapist who intends to turn Beecher into a sex slave, or "prag." As a result, Schillinger rapes Beecher once he is inside the pod and burns a swastika on his right buttock. Schillinger subjects Beecher to a series of rapes and humiliations, most notably forcing him to perform in drag for a prison talent show. To cope with the constant trauma, Beecher begins using drugs, much to Schillinger's disgust.

Schillinger forces Beecher to wear a T-shirt bearing a Confederate Flag in hopes that he will be killed by black inmates. However, after taking some PCP, Beecher flies into a rage and throws a chair at Schillinger, shattering a window in Schillinger's pod and temporarily blinding him in one eye. After Unit Manager Tim McManus transfers Schillinger to the prison's general population, he threatens Beecher in the gym. Beecher reacts fiercely, beating Schillinger unconscious with free weights before defecating on his face in front of other inmates. Schillinger realizes how vulnerable he is and tells McManus how badly he wants to be paroled in his upcoming review. McManus reluctantly allows him to move back into Emerald City.

Throughout this season, Schillinger is wary of the high-profile leader of the Muslim prisoners, Kareem Saïd, because of his ability to gain access to and sometimes influence McManus and other prison officials. He fears that Saïd could mobilize the black inmates in a takeover of the prison. These fears prove true when a prison riot breaks out in Emerald City, during which Schillinger lies low, allowing biker inmate Scott Ross to command his Aryan troops. During the riot, Schillinger sees correctional officer Diane Whittlesey murder Ross after the SORT team supplies her with a gun.

Season 2[edit]

When law school dean Alvah Case investigates the riot, he offers Schillinger a letter of recommendation for parole. Despite this, Schillinger uses his knowledge of Ross' killing to blackmail Whittlesey. After Emerald City is reopened, Beecher begins taunting and threatening Schillinger in the hopes of ruining his chance at parole. Schillinger goes to various inmates and attempts to hire one of them to kill Beecher, but they all mock Schillinger for being too weak to do his own dirty work. Beecher learns of Schillinger's actions and, with the help of Whittlesey and McManus, gets Schillinger's parole hearing canceled and his sentence extended by ten years for plotting to kill him. Schillinger is moved out of Emerald City permanently.

In gen pop, Schillinger is then brutally attacked by black inmates. He and a fellow Aryan, Mark Mack, decide to randomly kill of a non-white inmate to win back respect for the Brotherhood, targeting Jewish inmate Alexanger Vogel. Warden Leo Glynn cannot find any evidence to conclusively nab the Aryans, who are not prosecuted for the murder. As a result, the Aryans are once again feared in Oz and Schillinger renews his plan for revenge against Beecher. He employs Chris Keller, a bisexual serial killer who once served time with him in another prison, to play a sick mind game on Beecher to break him down. As the plan goes forward, Beecher is informed of his wife's apparent suicide, and Schillinger tauntingly implies that he actually arranged her murder.

Cyril O'Reily, the intellectually disabled brother of Irish inmate Ryan O'Reily, arrives in Oz and is put on Schillinger's cell block. Schillinger promises to take Cyril to see his brother in Emerald City, but instead orchestrates his gang rape by the Aryans. When Ryan realizes what has happened, he orders Cyril to assault him and so he can be sent to solitary confinement, isolated but safely away from Schillinger. After his release, Cyril suffers terrible flashbacks and nightmares about the gang rape. Meanwhile, Keller seduces Beecher and gets him to relapse into alcoholism. Schillinger, Keller, and Aryan Brotherhood prison guard Karl Metzger ambush Beecher, revealing Schillinger's revenge plan and breaking his arms and legs.

Season 3[edit]

When Augustus Hill testifies against Malcolm Coyle for murdering an innocent family, Saïd asks Schillinger, among other inmates, to help protect him. Schillinger agrees because he also is a family man and respects the fact that one member of the family died while serving in Vietnam. CO Sean Murphy starts a boxing tournament in Emerald City, to which Robson agrees to compete for the Aryans. Schillinger taunts Cyril about the gang rape before he fights Robson, but Ryan pours chloral hydrate in Robson's water, thus allowing his brother to win the match. The Aryans leave Cyril alone.

Schillinger's son Andrew arrives in Oz for his part in the lynching of a black man. Schillinger, upset that Andrew is a heroin addict, tells the Brotherhood to ignore his son until he is clean. Ryan, Keller, and Beecher devise a plan to turn father and son against each other. Beecher befriends Andrew as he helps get him off drugs, angering Schillinger. When he confronts his son, Andrew rejects his father's ideology. Feeling that Andrew has betrayed him, Schillinger arranges for his own son to die of a drug overdose in solitary, having CO Len Lopresti, a Brotherhood sympathizer, secretly provide Andrew with a highly potent package of heroin.

Beecher, after counseling from Saïd, tells Schillinger that Andrew's death was a setup. Schillinger attacks Beecher, who is now protected by Keller and the Muslims. Schillinger and Beecher both end up in the hospital ward as a result of mutual stab wounds. When Schillinger is discharged, he realizes that Adebisi is plotting something against the white inmates. He asks all the other whites, including Beecher and Keller, to form a bond of solidarity — albeit only a temporary, opportunistic one — to prevent the blacks from taking over the entire prison. As another race riot is brewing, Glynn locks down the prison.

Season 4[edit]

When Schillinger's younger son Hank visits him in prison, Schillinger pays him to kidnap Beecher's kids as revenge for what happened to Andrew. Schillinger then pays Jewish inmate Eli Zabitz to help frame Keller for the kidnapping, turning the two against each other. He then has Hank remove the hand of Beecher's son Gary and ship it to Oz. Father Ray Mukada asks Schillinger to give up Beecher's daughter. Hank returns Holly and is arrested by the FBI. Despite Schillinger's concerned about being given up on an interrogation, Hank is freed from the murder charges on a legal technicality. Unbeknownst to Schillinger, however, Beecher hires the Italians to murder Hank.

Hank's wife, Carrie, informs Schillinger that he is going to become a grandfather. Reverend Jeremiah Cloutier helps Schillinger let go of his previous unhappiness and to focus on the birth of his grandchild. Schillinger then asks Sister Peter Marie to be involved in the interaction sessions, much to Beecher's surprise. During the session, however, Schillinger is taken to Glynn's office and told that Hank's body has been found in Massachusetts. Convinced Beecher is behind his son's death, he enlists Robson to kill his old foe. However, Keller takes the blame. A black pimp, Curtis Bennett, comes to Oz and tells Schillinger that Hank allowed him to pimp out Carrie, whose clients included black men. Furious, Schillinger forces Carrie to get a paternity test.

Mukada suspects Schillinger was the father of Shirley Bellinger's miscarried baby; Schillinger denies this but admits to being attracted to Bellinger. Before Robson is put on trial for murder, Schillinger sends the only witness a disturbing letter that drives him to kill himself. Schillinger also warns Cloutier not to cross the Brotherhood again, but lets him go unharmed. Saïd savagely attacks and beats Robson, forcing Warden Glynn to consider putting Oz on lockdown. Schillinger agrees to a truce between the Muslims and the Aryans. Schillinger tries to use the Aryans and Bikers to sabotage Beecher's chances for parole, leading to a warning from Saïd. When Beecher's parole is denied, Schillinger attempts to rape him, but Saïd stabs and nearly kills both him and Robson.

Season 5[edit]

Carrie proves that her baby belongs to Hank, but is killed in a bus accident on the way to Oz. The baby survives and is sent to live with Carrie's parents in Montana. Sister Pete averts an Aryan-Muslim war by arranging mediation sessions between Beecher, Saïd, and Schillinger. However, the Aryans declare war on the Italians when Schillinger learns about their role in Hank's death. During the sessions, Schillinger raping other prisoners, causing Beecher to attack him in a rage. Schillinger offers Beecher a job delivering mail to Keller in exchange for allowing Adam Guenzel to be left at the mercy of the Aryans in Unit B. Beecher accepts the offer, allowing Guenzel to be beaten and gang raped following his transfer.

Meanwhile, Robson has to get his gum tissue replaced. Schillinger suggests that Robson see Dr. Faraj, the Muslim prison dentist. In retaliation for Robson's racist insults, Faraj replaces Robson's tissue with that of a black man. When word gets out, Aryan leaders on the outside order a reluctant Schillinger to kick Robson out of the Brotherhood. Beecher, feeling remorse about what happened to Guenzel, attempts to get Sister Pete to talk to him. Guenzel is later killed after Schillinger convinces him to escape. Beecher testifies against Schillinger, who is moved to solitary. Before this happens, Schillinger tasks Wolfgang Cutler, a prospective Aryan member, to kill a black inmate. Cutler targets Saïd, but is instead attacked and nearly killed by black inmate Omar White.

Season 6[edit]

Schillinger is released from solitary, on the condition that he does not rape any more inmates. He immediately rapes Franklin Winthrop, who offers to kill Beecher's father if he can join the Aryans. Schillinger accepts, and Winthrop kills Beecher's father after paying the guards to lock him in a corridor. Meanwhile, a family friend of Schillinger's, Mayor Wilson Loewen, faces trial for reportedly assisting the Ku Klux Klan in murder of two young black girls in 1963. The trial leads to a full-scale race riot in the city, which spreads into Oz, putting the entire prison in lockdown. When the lockdown is over, Loewen is sent to Oz and put in Unit J with Beecher.

When Beecher saves Loewen from choking, Schillinger is so grateful that he agrees not to interfere with Beecher's parole. When Keller intervenes in Beecher's parole and gets him sent back to Oz, Schillinger decides to call a truce with Keller. Despite Beecher saving Schillinger's idol, the truce is ultimately undone when Loewen expresses regret for supporting Schillinger, having learned of his vendetta against Beecher. In addition, Loewen tells Schillinger that he never really admired him. Disgusted, Schillinger turns against Loewen and has him killed by Willy Brandt.

Ryan and Cyril's father, Seamus O'Reily, is sent to Oz for murder. He unsuccessfully attempt to have Schillinger kill Jahfree Neema, a black inmate who is dating Seamus' his ex-girlfriend. Schillinger refuses due to his long-time rivalry with the brothers. Seamus attempts to murder Jahfree himself, but is instead stabbed with his own knife and put in the prison hospital, while Jahfree is sent to solitary. In a desperate attempt to win back Beecher's love, Keller switches prop knives during the prison production of Macbeth, in which both Schillinger and Beecher have been cast. Beecher unwittingly stabs him in the play's climactic scene. New warden Martin Querns and Sister Pete conclude that Schillinger's death was an accident.

Due to the deaths of Schillinger and other Aryan lieutenants, the Brotherhood is reduced to pulling mail room duty; all are wiped out when an anthrax shipment is delivered to Oz in the series finale.

Murders committed[edit]

  • Alexander Vogel - Killed by Schillinger & Mark Mack, by hanging his ankles in the gym and carving JEW on his chest. Vogel had not done anything specific to offend Schillinger, he simply needed to make a kill - any kill - to restore his reputation after Beecher beat him up.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bretts, Bruce; Roush, Matt; (March 25, 2013). "Baddies to the Bone: The 60 nastiest villains of all time". TV Guide. pp. 14 - 15.

External links[edit]