Netflix really made a good decision when it took on Orange is the New Black for its streaming content as one of their first original series along with House of Cards. The show has been a runaway hit, and has made stars out of the cast, as well as raising public consciousness to the problems of the penitentiary system. Last week was the premiere of Season 4 of the series, which ended on a cliffhanger that will immediately lead into what looks to be an intriguing Season 5. This is what to expect for Season 5, as well as a review for Season 4.
One of the problems with Orange is the New Black is it is based on a book. This is not a series of books or graphic novels like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, or even Preacher. This is based on one book, and it is a memoir. Most books, if they are lucky, get adapted into one movie, but the fact that Orange is the New Black has kept going for four seasons proves that it has swayed from the source material. I haven't even read the source material written by Piper Kerman (who is called Piper Chapman on the series), and the show credits Weeds creator Jenji Kohan as the creator, and gives Kerman the credit of consultant.
Season 4 really showed how the show is really veering off Piper (Taylor Schilling), and she often feels like a side character in what should be her own story. This is probably the biggest problem yet most reason why people tune in for this series: an astounding diversity of characters. The issue is that the show keeps introducing new ones, and it is often difficult to keep track of the old ones.
The fourth season started right after Season 3 left off, with the hole in the fence that allowed the prisoners to essentially escape. Oddly enough, almost all of them didn't make a break for freedom, but most of them came right back after their little trip to the lake.
Of course, this created an issue with security, and a more rigid security force began to be put in place, led by Piscatella (Brad William Henke). Then other new prisoners began to come in, and this is where the audience really needs a scorecard to keep track of them.
There was one small thread that had to be cut as Alex (Laura Prepon) was threatened. Fortuantely, Lolly (Lori Petty), a constant conspiracy theorist, went even more nuts than she normally did and killed the assassin posing as a guard. Alex, along with Red (Kate Mulgrew), was able to keep the secret by chopping up the body and planting it in the garden, but later in the season, when the secret was out, it came out in the worst way.
Sam Healy (Michael Harney), who had been serving as Lolly's counselor, really thought that she was getting on the right track. There is a really good scene where Lolly even gets to him as she builds a time machine, and this box of imagination gets regrettably destroyed before the season ends, in a display of sadness that this show is really embracing. If you thought that this show was a comedy, think again. It even has a scene where Healey almost kills himself. As for Lolly, it would be good to see her again if she ever gets out of Psych.
Suzanne (Uzo Aduba), aka Crazy Eyes, has had a tragic voyage. She has feelings for another prisoner, but then is let down. Then the guards make her fight that prisoner, and she breaks down, a lot. It could be a while before she gets back to as normal as she gets. It is amazing that she can be so funny and serious at the same time.
Not hardly seen this season was Sophia Burnett (Laverene Cox) who has become a real spokesperson for transgender issues since the show's first season. It is Nicky (Natasha Lyonne) who sees her in solitary, and the season teased that Sophia might have killed herself with blood on the walls. It ended up that Sophia was returned after her wife made a case of it. It feels like the show wants to do something more with her, but can't seem to decided what.
The show eventually got back to Piper, and her plotline about selling lingerie from prisons. Her workforce, several of them Dominican, decided to go into business for themselves. Piper resorted to snitching in order to stop them, and then unintentionally instigated a race war with the white prisoners. Hardly any mention of the relationship between her and Alex occurred, and the "other woman" Stella (Ruby Rose) was only seen once. The scared Piper has been essentially replaced with a tougher one, but is still scared, but for different reasons.
There was an interesting development with Judy King (Blair Brown). The character looks to be modeled after Martha Stewart, who also was a celebrity TV chef and spent time in prison. In addition to developing the numerous prisoner characters of Litchfield, the show also took its time to develop the politics one has to play when one runs a prison.
This was the case with Caputo (Nick Sandow), who is developing a relationship with someone in the prison system who has never visited a prison before. One of the things the show has emphasized is how poorly the prison system is ran, with an episode before Season 4 comparing it to slavery. This was made evident in the scene where Poussey (Samira Wiley) is unintentionally killed in a riot, and Caputo is essentially told what to say in order to make the prison still look good. It feels odd to see something like this after the Orlando massacre, and it makes the show unintentionally very topical.
Then the end of the show, where the prisoners rebel and start a genuine riot, with Daya (Dascha Polanco) getting a gun and pointing it at Humphrey (Michael Torpey), a guard who has shown himself to be quite evil. It is probably the wisest move to end the season there, even though all the viewers, including myself, wanting to see how that plays out. Considering all of the tragedy that has happened this season, I would not be surprised that it doesn't end well.
What is in Store for Orange is the New Black Season 5
Clearly that riot plot has to be resolved, and I predict that the first episode will handle the initial stand-off, and spend the rest of the season dealing with its aftermath. It looks like Piscatella will be out, but will his replacement be even worse?
Oh, and there are more prisoners coming to Litchfield, as it becomes privatized with cheap laborers. This could develop into something more complicated, even more than Season 4.
Piper will hopefully get back in the spotlight again, and maybe her relationship with Alex will buildup again. Speaking of relationships, Soso (Kimiko Glenn) and Poussey developed a deep relationship together, and we never really saw any emotional breakdown from Soso after Poussey's death.
As for Lorna (Yael Stone), there was a subplot of her new husband involved in infidelity, but I don't quite remember any closure there. Nicky has also had to deal with being an addict, which wasn't really settled either.
One thing that seemed to have a lot of closure, perhaps too much closure is the relationship between Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning) and the guard that raped her. It was interesting to see him actually apologize, but Big Boo (Lea DeLaria) doesn't buy it. Something could develop there.
Oh wait, Alex was supposed to be killed at the end of Season 3, right? Just because she killed the potential killer, that doesn't mean it's over. Where was that subplot in Season 4?
Orange is the New Black Season 5 Release Date
As far as when Season 5 is coming out, you will have to wait a long time, waiting until Season 5. Since it is usually released on a Friday, look for it on June 9 or June 16, according to Movie News Guide. There are at least three more seasons, so the writers have hopefully thought this far ahead, and perhaps they know how the show will end, even if it is different than the book.