Orange is the New Black
I’ve watched Orange is the New Black since the first season hit Netflix. I’ts always been a show I enjoyed but it’s never been a favourite as such. I find it funny and touching and it fills the void that Bad Girls left in my life, it just never quite met the same standard. Until this season that is.
Season four has been hard hitting, real raw, difficult, uncomfortable to watch and as binge-worthy as ever. If a show can make you feel, it is doing it’s job and jeeez, did this season make me feel. This is hands down a tour de force, a success in all measures. Anyone that has finished it cannot stop talking about it and it’s causing quite the controversial stir over social media given the last two episodes. Hats off to the writers, I can see myself quoting this season for the rest of the year. So many discussions between characters that are painfully relevant to what’s happening on our planet.The progression of characters and their backstories continue to intrigue and impress me. I struggle to express how much I enjoyed something without discussing specifics so there will be spoilers from here on out, if you haven’t yet finished the season, please do not read on from here. You have been warned. This will also probably be all over the place whilst I try to cover a little bit of everything.
I REPEAT, SPOILERS AHEAD, DO NOT READ ON, DO NOT SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE.
Season 4 opens exactly where season 3 left off, with prisoners soaking in some sun and some rancid lake water, Alex potentially in the hands of death and Piper walking around thinking she’s the baddest kid in school. A load of new inmates drop on the doorstep and a heap of new guards whom are all soldiers returned home after serving time in Afghanistan and I hate them with a burning passion.
I found it a breathe of fresh air that Piper and Alex had less screen time this season and we got to see a lot more of the Dominican family, characters that have generally had a bit of a backseat throughout the series as a whole. Maria steps up to rival Chapman for the crown of Litchfield seeing Pipes in some pretty dire consequences, but, well… she was a bit of a dick and she did kinda deserve it. Maybe not quite branding… but something. With the crashing of the pantie business for both Piper and Maria, the Dominican family takes over the salon which has been sat empty since the isolation of Sophia. Providing the inmates with beautiful nails, hair and of course, drugs.
Sophia is very much a mystery for most of the season, we learn she’s still in isolation through Nicky but we also find out through Nicky that she disappears without a trace and leaves behind a cell covered in blood. Most of this season we find inmates and her famiy trying to discover where she is or what happened to her and I spent a lot of it worried as she’s a firm favourite of mine. She turns up towards the end of the season, lost as a lamb and broken beyond measure in her mind but otherwise unharmed. Cheers OITNB writers.
I will get Piper and Alex out of the way. Alex at the end of the season 3 was about to be assassinated, saved in a timely manner by Lolly Whiteman. (Whose backstory was absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking all at once, a true reflection of the American mental healthcare system). The first half of the season, Alex and Piper aren’t really talking. Piper is being an apprehensive white supremacist dick and Alex is losing her mind over the body carved the pieces and hidden in the garden. Trying to deal with her guilt, Alex finds herself in a variety of situations such as turning to Red for her help, sneaking her hands down Pipers trousers at lights out and smoking crack in the garden with Nicky. Piper is trying to bring down Maria and her new rival pantie business, protect her employees and her own ass, keep her new bunk mate on a leash and retain some reputation with all the new inmates. Pipes is very soon brought back to earth and in the garden with Alex and Nicky, smoking crack and pouring her heart out, from there on, Alex and Pipes find themselves rekindled. The end. Kinda.
Now I want to knuckle down and discuss the characters of my favourite family.
Taystee finds herself a highroller with a new position working as the receptionist/PA for Caputo. Suzanne (Crazy Eyes) has turned her back on love and the chance to lose her virginity. Poussey is still in the cutest little love bubble with Soso, Cindy gets a famous girlfriend and worries her mother will see her on TV with a white woman and Janae didn’t really get anything… Just to be part of the canteen and bunk conversations. A new lady eventually joins the ranks, Alison Abdullah. A sassy af Muslim woman whom is bunked with Cindy and they bond after many a dispute over their like-minded thinking of Scientology. It was perfect. Allow me to elaborate a little.
With the arrival of new celebrity chef, Judy, the team come up with the idea of getting a picture of her to sell to the press. Abdullah providing the phone and Taystee having access to the internet makes for a nearly flawless plan until the group absolutely terrify the racist celeb in an attempt to get a snap. Poussey comes forward as a new friend for Judy and informs her of the plan, taking a sneaky picture of Judy diving on to and smooching Cindy. Cindy and Judy are then left having to fake a new relationship to help Judes image to the press.
Crazy Eyes’ backstory is finally revealed and is equally full of childlike wonderment as it is heartache. I cried real tears for her. Crazy Eyes also becomes the center of the attention to the new prison guards pitch her to fight with her lost lover in front of other inmates. Pushed to the limits by the shouting and jeers of those around her, Suzanne is left completely defenseless and without hope and left with no choice but to fight. Not only does Suzanne fight, she beats 10 rounds of shit out of Polly and is left devastated by it. So devastated in fact, that her guilt contributes to the most difficult scene I think I’ve witnessed from the show.
It’s no secret that Poussey Washington was my favourite character from Orange is the New Black. I find Samira Wiley completely endearing and charming and outstandingly beautiful. Her character manages to balance being well read and educated with an edge of cool as fuck. The internet is strife with fury and upset and there is no small wonder as to why.
When the inmates decide to have a peaceful protest against the powers that be, Poussey is dragged from her position by the very fragile and young officer Baxter. Suzanne is on full guard dog mode and dives on Baxter to help her friend. Baxter holds Poussey down with his leg whilst trying to fight off Suzanne, as a result, Poussey is crushed and suffocated to death on the canteen floor before the whole prison. Watching Taystee throw herself before her friend and cry in sheer pain and anguish shattered me into a thousand pieces. That was some Game of Thrones shit right there. No death in a show is ever necessary but this felt so unjust and painful, it just does not sit right with me. Let’s kill off the perfect, strong, black and lesbian woman in an interracial relationship that’s just shaping up to be too ideal. Yeah? No. Some very upset viewers right now and rightly so.
The episode following has us waiting an entire evening and a whole day waiting for her body to be moved from the canteen floor and watching the inmates reflect on what has happened and find some way or another to band together to try to stop the madness at Litchfield.
I’ve typed a lot and I’ve upset myself all over again. This is a wrap.
Rest in peace Poussey Washington.
Thank you Samira for doing such an incredible character such justice, I hope to see you on my screen again soon.