******** Spoiler ******** This is a detailed recap of the final part of the film. If you intend to watch Part 4 and do not want to see spoilers, read this after seeing the film.
In Part 3, there was very little information on what had happened to Korey. This final part fills in the gaps for us. It began with Korey hearing his verdict. He was sentenced as an adult and sent to prison. When he was taken to his cell, one of the guards told him to let him know if he can do anything for him. Korey was locked in a room with two bigger inmates by that same guard. They shoved him into a smaller room and beat him up while the guard stood there and let it happen. His face was bruised and bloody and a nurse didn’t offer much help, especially because the guard who let him get beat up was lurking in the corner. Korey stiffly made his way out of the infirmary and the guard repeated the same phrase.
“Let me know if there’s anything you can do for me.”
-Prison Guard to Korey Wise
His mother came to visit him and asked if his brother had come to visit. Korey hadn’t had any visitors before his mom arrived. He asked if Delores could ask Yusef’s mother if Yusef could write to him, but she told him that it wouldn’t be easy for her to ask. She didn’t have any money to give him for commissary. He told her that he would try to transfer so that she could visit him more. Korey gave the guard two candy bars and the guard told him to request solitary confinement if he is beat up again.
In 1991, Korey was at Attica Correctional Facility, which is 352 miles from Harlem. He was fighting a group of Caucasian men in the laundry room. One of the men who beat him had a swastika tattoo. A guard came in and the fight ceased, but as soon as the guard left the room, the fight resumed. The men drug him out and the guard found him severely beaten in his cell. Korey refused to see the nurse and requested solitary. Without regular human interaction and left alone to his thoughts, he grew delirious and thought about his life before Central Park and a conversation he had with his big brother, Norman. A guard came in and said the chaplain wanted to speak to him. That’s when he found out that the same big brother he was thinking about, was recently murdered. It is revealed through a flashback that Norman was transgender and had began going by the name “Marci”. He remembered his mother and Marci arguing and Deloris not accepting Marci. One of the guards brought Korey magazines and taught him how to play solitaire. He told him that he liked when the guard called him “kid”. The guard gave him a Mr. T Chia Pet and told Korey that he got him a cleaning job.
He found enjoyment in listening to popular music while he was cleaning and got into a fight with another inmate over the volume of the television. He went to his parole hearing the next day and they told him that he couldn’t go further through the process until he admitted his guilt in the rape, which he didn’t do.
In 1993, Korey was transferred to Wende State Penitentiary, 366 miles from Harlem. He had wanted to be transferred closer to his mom, but ended up even further away. A group of prisoners jumped him in his cell and he called for help. The guard who arrived on the scene forced his hands off the bars and Korey was repeatedly stabbed. The same guard saw him after he was treated and told him that he had put together a welcome committee for him (the men who jumped him). He told him that he wouldn’t get any special treatment and Korey decided to stay in solitary confinement. He imagined how things would have been different if he’d decided to stay in the restaurant with his girlfriend instead of going to the park. He went to another parole hearing, but had the same result as the previous one.
In 2001, Korey finally got closer to his mother at Auburn Correctional Facility, 266 miles from Harlem. This is where we finally catch up with Part 3. Officer Roberts came and changed the channel on the TV for the prisoners to see the news reports of 9/11. It was time for another parole hearing and Korey refused to go. He was never going to admit guilt for a crime he didn’t commit and made the conscious decision to stick with his principles. He was outside in the yard when a man approached him and knew his name. The man introduced himself as Matias Reyes, the man who fought Korey over the TV. Reyes apologized for what happened in the TV room. Reyes requested to speak to authorities and wanted to confess to attacking Patricia Meili in 1989. He told them about how he committed the crime and stated that he’d done it alone.
Nancy Ryan met with Linda Fairstein to talk about the confession tapes and said that Reyes’ DNA was all over the crime scene. Fairstein refused to believe what she had been told and firmly maintained her position on the issue. Korey was hanging his socks in his cell when a guard told him to come with him. He took him to the Chaplain’s office and Korey was afraid that someone else has passed away. The chaplain handed Korey the phone and it was his mother telling him that a confession was made and Korey was getting out. Antron got a call to turn on his TV. Kevin was mopping the floor when a nurse waved him in a room and pointed to the TV, where he saw the report that he would be exonerated. Yusef was working at a coffee shop when he picked up a newspaper and saw the story on the front page. Raymond was released from prison and walked out with his father. Korey was seen walking down the street and went to the same restaurant he was in with his girlfriend that night in 1989.
In an interview done with the cast of “When They See Us” Jharrel Jerome, who played Korey Wise, said he didn’t know much about Korey’s time in prison. Korey didn’t like to talk about his time there, which is understandable.
When he first went to prison, he looked small and childlike in comparison to the other prisoners. He was truly a boy among men. He should have been protected, but he was thrown to the wolves. It was hard for me to watch the scenes when Korey was beaten. I wondered why the guards had let it happen. I especially wondered why the second guard let it happen. The fact that he’d wanted the other prisoners to beat him confused me, especially after years had passed since he’d first been incarcerated.
I was really uncomfortable by what the guard had told him when he first got there (quoted after the first paragraph). I have to say that it makes me sick that the guard accepted two candy bars from Korey for intel. He doesn’t live at the prison and has the ability to access whatever food or candy he wants on the outside. Korey was stuck there and didn’t have very much money on his books in the first place. Korey didn’t have as much support as the other boys. His mother couldn’t visit him very often because he was too far away and she didn’t have money to give him. The other boys were visited by the parents more often and even Raymond talked to his father over the phone on a regular basis. Korey spent most of his time in prison truly alone.
I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like for Korey to be in solitary. There was no definitive answer as to how long he was there, but he was in solitary at more than one prison. After transferring from the first prison to Attica, he was beaten not long after he arrived and once again, chose to stay in solitary confinement. I was very touched that Officer Roberts was so kind to him. He really made solitary a little easier for Korey by bringing him the magazines and cards. I smiled when Korey opened his Chia Pet because he had told the officer that he’d wanted one and I know officers aren’t supposed to give prisoners anything from the outside. Roberts knew that Korey didn’t belong there and it really was a bright spot in an otherwise dark episode.
I was surprised to find out that the man that had fought Korey over the TV years before would later introduce himself as Matias Reyes. He didn’t personally tell Korey who he was, but he seemed to be touched by the fact that Korey had not given up hope. I guess he was in a better place spiritually and wanted to take responsibility for his actions. His choice to confess helped end some of the suffering that the men had to endure. I was extremely irritated that Linda Fairstein would not admit that there was even a chance that the men were innocent. She was convinced that she’d done her job correctly. I really loved that the episode ended with Korey going back to the restaurant. Even after going through such a traumatic experience, he feels that Harlem is still his home.