Hanging out for season 5 of Orange is the New Black but can’t quite remember how we left the Litchfield crew? Look no further than this quick refresher on Netflix’s award-winning series…
Piper and the ladies of Litchfield Penitentiary are back for season 5 of Orange is the New Black and tensions are higher than ever before. Tune in to Netflix from this Friday (9 June) for 13 intense episodes set over the course of three days.
But before you do, make sure you’re up with the latest in our season 1-4 recap below…
WARNING: HUGE SPOILERS FOR ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK SEASONS 1-4 FOLLOW.
(AND ADULT THEMES ABOUND!)
Orange Is the New Black follows the locked-up-life of 32-year-old Piper Chapman (‘Chapman’ in the show), as she serves a 15-month stint for drug smuggling at the behest of an old ex-girlfriend (Alex Vause). Piper’s educated, privileged, and out of her depth, but her criminal doings (and sexual leanings) surprise no one as much as her fiancé Larry Bloom.
Almost immediately things start to take a turn for the worse. Piper inadvertently offends the prison matriarch, Galina (Red) Reznikov, by insulting the food served in the cafeteria, where Red is the head chef. Oops. As punishment, Red starves Piper by refusing to serve her food, while others are afraid to intervene. Piper eventually finds a way to make it up to Red by concocting a lotion for her sore back; a valuable commodity in prison.
Meanwhile, with Piper’s ex-lover/accomplice Alex also doing time in the same prison, things start to get emotionally confusing. Piper’s relationship status swiftly goes from ‘in a relationship’ with Larry to ‘it’s complicated’, to ‘single’ as a result, leaving her in a state of depression.
When approached and attacked by fellow inmate Pennsatucky, (watched on – and condoned – by Mr. Healy, the corrections officer and inmate counselor), Piper snaps and fights back, giving Pennsatucky a serious beating and leaving her in a bloody mess – sans teeth – in the courtyard. But then what?
Piper wakes up in a cell having spent a month in the Security Housing Unit (AKA solitary confinement) for her assault on Pennsatucky. She’s signed out of Litchfield and put onto a bus without explanation, eventually finding herself in a maximum security prison in Chicago. Thankfully it’s only temporary – she’s there to testify against her and Alex’s ex-boss and drug kingpin. Alex tells all in order to secure early release, but Piper, fearing repercussions, keeps shtum, and so she remains in prison.
Back inside Litchfield, the bulk of the season focusses on Piper’s discovery that (the totally unlikeable) assistant warden Natalie Figueroa has been fiddling the books and spending large amounts of prison money on herself. Piper passes the information on to prison administrator Joe Caputo, who then confronts Natalie and forces her resignation, allowing him to take her job.
“Piper wakes up in a cell having spent a month in the
Security Housing Unit (AKA solitary confinement)”
Next up, Red sees a familiar face readmitted to the prison. It’s her old nemesis Vee from years back. Charismatic, manipulative, and unpredictable, Vee gives Red a thrashing and manages to convince the impressionable ‘Crazy Eyes’ that it was actually her doing.
Piper also discovers that Larry has fallen in love with her best friend, and business partner, Polly Harper. Lastly, she informs Alex’s parole officer that the sneak is planning on breaking her parole, which results in one thing: Alex and Piper are set to be banged up together yet again.
In season 3, Piper is assigned to work for a lingerie company, which sees the inmates making lacy undergarments. Hey, it’s better than number plates, right?
Piper soon realises that the wasted offcuts could be easily turned into more underwear – that the company won’t know about – so soon she’s smuggled them off the production line and posted them for sale on a website created by her brother… But only once the items have been worn by some of the inmates. Yep, it seems Piper’s found a seedy hole in the market and is able to capitalise on it.
“Is there someone trying to kill her,
or is she just paranoid?”
Alex, meanwhile, returns to prison and spends the season convinced that someone on the inside (a member of the drug cartel) is out to get her for blabbing on them. Is there someone trying to kill her, or is she just paranoid? We spend most of the season wondering the same thing. But it turns out: yes. Yes, there is.
The climax of season 3 is glorious. The happy combination of a gaping hole in the boundary fence and a lack of guards keeping watch means the inmates see their chance to flee. But The Great Escape this ain’t. They know they won’t get far, so in lieu of trying to escape for good the women simply frolic in the surrounding lake, enjoying sweet freedom if only for a moment. It’s a wonderful scene. Oh, and Crazy Eyes finds a friend – finally! Will she be not-so-Crazy Eyes in season 4? Time will tell.
Season 3 ends with a bus arriving full of new inmates, which sets season 4 up nicely to be brimming with new characters and new power dynamics…
While the majority of the Litchfield ladies relish the taste of temporary freedom, Alex is in grave danger in the greenhouse at the hands of a hitman sent by her former boss. Luckily for Alex, Lolly is lurking.
Leaping in just in time, Lolly grabs the hitman disguised as a corrections officer and stomps on his neck, but it’s Alex who’s later left to finish the job. When they return to the greenhouse to dispose of the body, Frieda figures out the pair’s game and offers up her advice on ‘murder math’. But dismembering and burying bodies doesn’t come as easily to Alex or Lolly. A full confession to Counsellor Healy and the eventual discovery of the body sees Lolly dragged off to the psych unit, while Alex remains haunted by her own horrific act.
“A full confession to Counsellor Healy and the eventual discovery of the body sees Lolly dragged off to the psych unit, while Alex remains haunted by her own horrific act.”
As the series progresses, Taystee is appointed as Caputo’s office assistant. Celebrity chef Judy King arrives to serve her time, stirring the pot with special treatment and her subsequent lesbian antics. Piper faces fierce competition in the panty racquet, leading to the inadvertent formation of a white power movement. Luschek cashes in on his relationship with King to get Nicky out of maximum security and Morello is in turmoil over her husband’s potential cheating. Add to that a complete disregard for the prisoners’ feminine hygiene and conditions are ripe for disorder.
Following the lake escape Caputo brings in more militant guards, including Guard Captain Piscatella whose ruthless rule creates more chaos than it does calm. When the hacked hitman’s body is finally discovered in the garden, the prison goes into lockdown and Piscatella’s intense interrogation leads all factions to unite. As the inmates stand on the tables in an act of solidarity and protest, attempts to restore order take a much darker turn. An excessive use of force by CO Bayley spells prisoner Poussey’s tragic end. And it leaves best friend Taystee and girlfriend Soso reeling with nothing left to lose.
With no justice forthcoming, Taystee starts a riot. But when CO Humphreys drops his gun, Daya picks it up and points it back at him. The power is now in Daya’s hands, will she pull the trigger?
What can we expect in Season 5?
Will Daya reflect on the consequences of shooting Humphreys and pull back? Or ‘shoot him in the head’ as those around her urge? Either way we will see a resolution to that nail-biting cliffhanger, and it will certainly be a turning point in prisoner/guard dynamics.
Piper, Alex, Healy, Taystee, Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’, and Red are all expected to return for another season. Ruby Rose is also rumoured to reprise her role as Stella Carlin, but not until the season’s second half.
Season 5 premiers Friday June 9 on Netflix. And with all 13 episodes set over just three days expect even more intensity and drama. Check out the latest trailer below, clear your schedule and stock up on popcorn – because when it comes to episodes of Orange is the New Black it’s hard to stop at one.