This time last year, we were all in mourning. If you’re like me – you still are. Orange is the New Black Season Four ended on a crushing blow that saw Poussey Washington, a favourite of all, die at the hands of a bumbling guard and in retaliation, the inmates of Litchfield caused a revolting riot. The shock-waves surrounding Poussey’s death and the subsequent breakout still hurts, especially as you begin Season Five and aching absence of Samira Wiley (and her radiant smile) is palpable.
Nevertheless, no matter how much we reel from the shocking death, we’re on tenterhooks to see how Season Five will unfold, especially as the last shot was Daya poised to shoot sadistic guard Humps, surrounded by cheers and madness. With promises that this will be a darker series, the narrative going over only three days, Orange is the New Black is poised to make another ground-breaking series.
As mentioned earlier, the Netflix series revolves around the unfolding of the riot other the course of a few days. Within this shift in power, several of the COs are taken hostage, injured, and the inmates are left to take over the ruling of the prison which is where fractions divide and chaos ensues. On the outside, Piscatella, a SWAT team, and more await the prisoner demands in the wake of Poussey’s death.
The first seven episodes of the latest season of Orange is the New Black opens very disappointingly, in the context of the “darker and most impacting season yet. That’s a true statement but that doesn’t mean the first half of the season isn’t good nor is it completely devoid of emotion, it’s just that it focuses on the somewhat frivolity of a riot. There is madness and fun, but sometimes it is too outlandish and can distract from the deep messages that they are sewing in the beginning. Too much wackiness and weirdness is exhausting.
There is a lot of humour that is enjoyable, especially its referential humour. In the first episode, a shooting is referenced by a lot of recent or famous shootings. The dark comedy elements is cut by this sorrow as the different references goes on further and further…
That is until you get half way through the series and you realise that this was a spring board for you to leap into despair, destruction, and devastation and you end the final episode like “Wow, fuck you Jenji Kohan, fuck you.” The last few episodes hit hard, deep, and are palpable right until the crushing crescendo and cliff-hanger that you leave sweating with visceral exhaustion.
The acting is superb. In particular, Danielle Brooks, who is outstanding as a leading cast member throughout. She has the biggest and greatest speech in the history of the show as she fights for justice. That monologue in Season Five is breath-taking. Honestly, powerful stuff. If she doesn’t end up with an Emmy nomination, that’ll be a crying shame. Danielle Brooks has earned her stripes (or, well, orange uniform,) and she deserves every ounce of recognition here.
Where Orange is the New Black goes from here is debatable. It certainly cannot go back to its previous format but it can create and craft something new. With character lives on the line, all we have to do is wait.
A long, difficult, arduous, wait.
Until then, enjoy this gif. Long live Poussey. (It. Still. Hurts.)
Orange is the New Black Season 5 is out on Netflix now!