We really need to talk about this season of Orange is the New Black…
DO NOT READ ON IF YOU HAVE NOT FINISHED SEASON FOUR…and don’t feel bad if you haven’t, everyone binges at their own pace 🙂
Shit just got extremely real on the latest season of OITNB. I remember when I first started watching the show, I thought, “Wow, a new show about women in jail written by the same girl who did ‘Weeds,’ should be fun.” And it was! Throughout the first three seasons there were tons of character development episodes with typically a few main prison-wide problems that drove the plot. This season, however, was different in a major way.
If you found yourself lying in bed hysterically crying after episode 12, you are definitely not alone. This season touched upon almost every prevalent issue in America right now. The writers and cast masterfully covered race, abuse of power, corporate greed, and much more. They touched upon each matter in such an authentic and severe way it was almost hard to watch at times.
Obviously, at the end of the day, “Orange is the New Black” is just a Netflix show…but it was impossible not to cringe at some of the things that took place this season.
10. Episode 11: Suzanne Reads off a Receipt at Super Savings
This is probably something a lot of you missed, and honestly, I did too until I consulted a friend of mine about this topic. In Suzanne’s flashback she works at Super Savings, a store that looks very similar to a Walmart or Target. She is responsible for greeting customers and checking their receipts as they exit the store.
Here is the part you probably missed: when reading a customer’s receipt, Suzanne recites, “Orange juice, toothpaste, AR-15 assault rifle. Looks good!”
This was a perfectly subtle way to show how outrageously easy it is to obtain a weapon of such high caliber. After reading the receipt Suzanne immediately returns to her conversation with her boss completely unfazed. I am not trying to start a conversation about gun control, but showing how an assault weapon was obtained in a superstore like that left me feeling uneasy, even if it is just a show.
9. Episode 2: Alison Abdullah Moves into Cindy’s bunk
Like I said, this season touches upon everything, including the Israeli-Palestine conflict. As of last season, Cindy converted to Judaism while Abdullah is Muslim and wears a hijab. At first they argue over whose space is whose and where they can put their things, but they eventually come to an agreement and even end up being good friends by the end of the season. This little tidbit was not significant to the plot. However, it was interesting how the writers decided to include it and interpret such an important dispute.
8. Episode 8: Linda Pulls a Gun on Crystal Burset
Everyone has gotten terrible vibes from Linda throughout the entire season.
She is commonly referred to as “Linda from purchasing” and is keen on doing what is most economical rather than what is most practical for the inmates. In layman’s terms, she sucks.
Anyway, for those of you who don’t remember, last season Sophia Burset was put in solitary for her own protection against homophobic inmates. This unfair solution for Sophia carries on into this season. Under Linda and the MCC’s authority, she is forced to stay in solitary. Crystal, Sophia’s wife, makes many attempts to find out what is really happening behind bars, but is continually kept in the dark. Crystal shows up at Caputo’s house one night while he and Linda are on a date, and demands to know what is happening with Sophia. Linda, being the horrible character that she is, pulls a gun on Crystal who just wanted to speak with Caputo. Linda then says that the gun is registered and Crystal is trespassing on private property and must leave immediately, all while keeping the gun aimed directly at her chest.
Again, not trying to weigh in on gun control at a sensitive time like this, but having a gun pointed at you for inquiring about your wife’s disappearance is something that I could not wrap my head around.
7. Episode 11: Lolly Goes to Psych
Early on in the season, Lolly kills a guard who was paid off to kill Alex Vause. Lolly was extremely delusional and believed he was a government spy, but she ended up saving Alex’s life. As the season progresses, her delusions become more frequent and severe and she even admits to Healy that she killed a guard and buried him in the garden in one of their therapy sessions. Eventually, his body was found and Healy realized he had wrongfully dismissed Lolly’s claims. This was one of the many points in the season where I found myself having to grab some tissues.
Although Lolly was clearly mentally unstable, watching her take sole responsibility for killing a man was heartbreaking because she was one of the only warmhearted characters. As Healy walked her into psych, she remained confused and screamed for Healy’s help as she was dragged inside.
6. Episode 9: The Flies or the Mouse
I almost had to turn away for this part. It was clear that C.O. Humps was a disturbed man who abused his authority. His character, along with many of the other C.Os reminded me tremendously of the Stanford Prison Experiment.
If you need a refresher: the Stanford Prison Experiment was conducted by a famous psychologist who constructed a fake jail and randomly selected volunteers to be guards and prisoners. Even though it was just an experiment, the guards became so abusive, the experiment was cut short after just six days.
Anyway, Humps discovered that Ramos was in on illegal activities and knew he could coerce her into doing whatever he wanted to avoid getting caught. In this episode, he presented Ramos with a choice between eating 10 dead flies or one live baby mouse. After she argued with him, he held a gun to her head and forced her to choose. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something so disturbing on the show before, but it showed Humps’ true nature for first time in the season.
5. Episode 5: Stop and Frisks
Race and discrimination was another main theme throughout this entire season. After realizing Maria was going to be competition to her business, Piper decides to tell Piscatella that she is scared of gangs that are forming in the prison. After hearing this, Piscatella and the C.Os begin to stop inmates “randomly” in the hall and pat them down all over. However, the C.Os were not discrete and made it clear they were racially profiling all the Hispanics and African Americans in the prison and letting everyone else walk on by. Again, I know it is just a TV show, but it definitely has some real world validity.
4. Episode 7: The Branding
After Piper’s panty business was threatened by competition from Maria and her crew, she decides to get Maria caught, which ended up adding years to her prison sentence. Maria was extremely angry and decided to put a revenge plan in action. Since Piper had aligned herself with the “White Power” obsessed inmates, Maria and company lured her into a room and branded a swastika into Piper’s arm. This was easily one of the most cringe worthy and craziest moments in the entire season.
It was saddening because Piper previously was not a bad person, but became too power hungry and got involved with the wrong people. It shows how far some people will go to protect their assets, as well as how far some people will go for revenge.
3. Episode 12: Poussey is Suffocated
After all the different prison families decided to host a peaceful protest to try get Piscatella to resign for his brutal disciplinary tactics, it took a terrible turn. All of the inmates stood on top of tables in the cafeteria demanding for Piscatella’s resignation, which ended shortly after the guards began to drag them down. This chaos triggered Suzanne into a frenzy prompting Poussey to calm her down. Shortly after, Poussey was tackled by the only innocent guard, Baxter. Without realizing, Baxter remained on top of Poussey crushing her and preventing her from breathing. After a minute had gone by she was pronounced dead.
There were many reasons why her death was so heart-rending. Not only was it unforeseen, but also completely unwarranted. I literally found myself yelling at my computer screen, “Get up! Get up!” To add to the sadness, Baxter, the most innocent of the guards, was the one responsible for her death. I honestly have never cried so much at a TV show or movie or anything of that sort in my entire life. My world is still rocked from this scene.
2. Episode 11: Humps Forces the Inmates to Fight
It was clear by this episode that Humps was a really sick man. While talking to another guard, he has the bright idea to force two of the inmates to fight and bet on which one will win. After choosing Suzanne, who is clearly mentally unstable, Kukudio volunteers to fight her after no one else will and begins to attack. Suzanne is reluctant to fight back at first, but eventually beats Kukudio senseless as Humps and the other guards look on. This painful moment was another example of the guards’ insane abuse of power within the prison walls. The entire situation caused Suzanne to enter a psychotic break that she could not snap out of.
1. Episode 13: Poussey’s body
Before I go into the bad part of this episode, I have to commend Jenji Kohan on how beautifully executed this episode was. It follows Poussey’s euphoric last night out in New York City and how it ultimately landed her in prison. It really displayed why Poussey was such a universally liked character. Anyway, during the entire final episode, Poussey’s body remained on the ground of the cafeteria while the MCC deliberated on how to cover up the murder of an inmate. I used to love Caputo, until this episode. He let them get away with leaving her body for way too long and delivered a public address that did not even mention Poussey’s name. The entire episode reminded me of how the world is at the moment. People have been innocently killed everyday by those who are supposed to be protecting us and most of the time they are brushed aside without justice being served.
Jenji Kohan and the entire OITNB staff are geniuses. I have never been so endelved in a show before and still cannot believe how crazy, yet eye-opening some of the moments on the show this season were. It really was a step up from previous seasons and I encourage everyone to watch the show because it truly is amazing.