The girls of Litchfield are back and this time they’re in charge!
It is hard to believe this Netflix original series is now in it’s fifth season, and over its four year run, has continued to go from strength to strength. Whilst season three was a little all over the place, season four was a return to form, with a particularly emotional death of one of the key characters being a chance for a key turning point for the next season.
Picking up immediately where season four left us, the aforementioned death of Poussey is the catalyst for the riot and prison takeover that the ladies instigate, and in an unusual but highly welcome change for the series, this plot point is the focus of the entire season. The season itself takes place over a short span of time as well, roughly a week, and whilst this singular focus might throw some people off, it actually does the series as a whole, wonders. It reignites that spark that made the first season so great, and where previous seasons had suffered for messy and sparse plot threads, this season sees a united front and that goes massively in its favour.
Whilst there are still sub-plots and the usual flashback sequences, everything centres around the riot, and the ladies taking back the prison for themselves. This gives the characters ample opportunities to interact, perhaps with characters they hadn’t before, and whereas the previous season had seen all-out war between the various factions, season five shows previously bitter enemies uniting against a common evil.
It is actually surprisingly empowering, and huge credit has to go to this amazing ensemble cast. The stand-out is Danielle Brooks as Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson, who delivers an incredibly empassioned speech that is crushingly relevant both in the context of this season and in the context of some recent world events. More so than ever, this season tackles a lot of big issues, including the black lives matter movement, the mistreatment of minorities by law enforcement, white privilege and the media twisting of events.
Despite dealing with some weighty topics, this season is perhaps also the most fun season so far. The turning of the tables with the guards under lock and key and the prisoners taking over is very entertaining, and it manages to strike the balance between comedy and drama perfectly.
Whilst many series in their fifth season, in a comparatively short amount of time, may start to become formulaic, Orange is the New Black is still thriving, and this season is maybe the best one yet! Roll on season six…
Orange is the New Black is available to stream on Netflix now.