In June, Orange Is The New Black (OITNB) graced our Netflix accounts once again. Season five of the hit series was much anticipated by many following the incredible cliffhanger at the end of the fourth season: following the murder of inmate Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley), a prison riot begins to unfold. The season ends with Dayanara Diaz (Dascha Polanco) pointing a gun at corrupt prison guard 'Humps', whilst surrounded by her fellow inmates.
And that was it for a year. Netflix, what are you doing to us?!
Litchfield ladies are back
But now the Litchfield ladies are back, and they're angry. Episode one of the fifth season begins in the exact moment the fourth ended – CO Humphrey staring down the barrel. This was inevitable; there was no other way to launch into season five. Dark events begin to unfold as the episode goes on, with Diaz actually shooting 'Humps', who is then beaten by other inmates. It was fairly uncomfortable to watch inmates such as Maritza Ramos (Diane Guerrero) – who is not incarcerated for violent crime – quite sadistically abuse the CO.
However, it became clear that many of the inmates are furious, but feel they have finally got power over the corrupt system. Although I didn't particularly like the violence as this portrayed the ladies as animals, I understand why it was necessary. The writers over at Netflix really know how to grab viewers and keep us hooked.
Over the next few episodes there is some development, but not as much as I'd have liked there to be. In the previous series, every episode had me switching on the next immediately, but with this one I didn't feel that so much. However as the season developed I began to feel as if I myself was a part of the riot, understanding the prisoners (partly due to the flashback scenes – incredible), and becoming invested in their lives once again.
Impressed and moved
From the first season the show has dealt with real and contemporary issues, such as homophobia, transphobia, racism and sexism, to name a few. Season five did not fail to continue highlighting these problems, presenting them to us in the most harrowing way yet. This is especially true of episode ten, so major props to Laura Prepon there. From episode four onwards I found myself both impressed by the writing, acting and direction, and moved by the reality of the situation of the inmates – this really happens.
There are two things which I must further applaud those at Netflix for. One: their choice of actress to portray a young Frieda (Mia Sinclair Jenness). Not only did Sinclair Jenness look exactly how I imagined, but her acting was phenomenal. The second thing is the emergence of Frieda (Dale Soules) from a supporting to main character by the end of the season. Kudos, Netflix.
To conclude then, although the season was a bit slow getting off the ground, the OITNB team definitely brought it back around for me, with a breathtaking final four episodes and a great finale. Five stars!
What did you think of OITNB? Tweet us @KettleMag