Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie
Who: “Orange is the New Black” is available to Netflix subscribers exclusively, as it is Netflix produced original content.
What: “Orange is the New Black,” a comedy drama about a Manhattan woman whose past catches up to her and for which she must serve time in federal prison.
Taylor Schilling plays Piper Chapman, a seemingly run-of-the-mill woman and maker of homemade soaps. Unfortunately, Piper learns that she must serve a short sentence in federal prison after she is implicated in the bust of an international drug cartel, of which her former girlfriend, Alex Vause (Laura Prepon), was a member and who Piper aided and abetted. What’s more, Piper finds, at first, that she is wholly unequipped for prison. Though some, like unabashed, self-proclaimed “lesbian junkie” Nicky Nichols (Natasha Lyonne), are kind and helpful to her, others show her no mercy. In addition, the guards, all men, are mostly drunk on their own power, the prison counselors play favorites and are easily offended, and the prison population is divided by race, unofficially but automatically, which offends Piper’s liberal sensibilities. If all that weren’t complicated enough, Piper’s ex Alex is sent to the same prison, and Piper’s emotions are deeply conflicted, as she reasons that only Alex could have pointed the finger to get her in trouble in the first place, while at the same time, the old attractions between the two women remain undeniably present.
When: All 13 Season 5 episodes became available for viewing on June 9, 2017.
Where: The show is set in New York, though flashbacks for each of the prisoners who comprise the cast of characters sometimes venture away from New York.
Why: Many panelists saw the teaser trailers for the series while watching other programming on Netflix and also on network TV. Listen to prior podcast episodes to discover how individual panelists found this show.
How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)
CPU! has been covering Orange is the New Black since its debut on Netflix’s ever growing streaming service. You can read about the first season here and listen to podcast episodes about Seasons 2-4 below:
Orange is the New Black, Season Two
Orange is the New Black, Season Three, Part One
Orange is the New Black, Season Three, Part Two
Orange is the New Black, Season Four
Our OITNB Couch Potatoes and enthusiasts – namely moderator and Chief Couch Potato Kylie, Kristen, Krista, Nick, Amanda, and Andrew – triumphantly return to the CPU! Water Cooler to talk all things Season Five of the wildly popular (and Orange) Netflix drama for this latest podcast episode. We engaged in our usual heady and heavy discussion about some of the plot lines that we saw emerge in the tightly entertaining and engaging fifth season. What do you think? Do you agree? Do you disagree? What are your hopes, fears, expectations, speculations, or predictions for the resolution of the fifth season’s cliffhangers going into season six?
This particular CPU! episode was recorded in October 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of OITNB Season Five. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!
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Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! In our next episode, schedule permitting, our DCTU/Arrowverse panel will return to the Water Cooler after a brief absence to round-up reactions to all four CW/Arrowverse shows so far this season, just in time for the end of the mid-season hiatus (if scheduling does not permit, our Once Upon a Time panel will appear instead to digest the “soft reboot” of Season 7)! Stay tuned!
Questions, Predictions, and Future Considerations
1) REPEAT QUESTION: Are the OITNB producers planning to end the show at the end of Piper’s sentence? (That will be a question for awhile).
ANSWER: Piper hasn’t been released yet, so…still a question.
2) Are we to assume that Suzanne’s (Uzo Aduba) flashback this season provided the back story related to the reason for her imprisonment: involuntary manslaughter of a child? Because her flashback episode was situated within the last three jam-packed episodes of the season, the panel assumed this to be the case but was not certain.
ANSWER: Unclear. OITNB does not revisit Suzanne’s back story at any point during Season Five.
3) Where is the story in terms of Piper’s overall sentence, and how much longer does she have in prison?
ANSWER: Panelist Krista believes, if the source book on which the show is based still provides any kind of story framework, that Piper has two to three months maximum left to her original sentence; however, the show does not focus on time passing in Season Five, as it picks up right after the events of Season Four and transpires over the course of a few days.
4) Will we see Healy (Michael Harney) again? Panelists Kristen and Kylie predict that we will, since he seems to have voluntarily checked himself into an institution (rather than being involuntarily committed).
ANSWER: Healy does not make an appearance in Season Five…will he appear in future seasons? Unknown.
5) Will Laverne Cox/Sophia be in Season Five, given that Cox is part of a show that has been picked up by CBS for the new TV season? How will the prison or the show deal with the controversy of leaving Sophia in solitary for her “protection.”
ANSWER: Well, Laverne’s CBS show (“Doubt”) was quickly canceled after only a couple of episodes; however, she appears in one episode this season. Because she only appears in one episode, the show bypasses Sophia’s time in solitary and related controversy with little explanation regarding the experience’s effects on her. Sophia returns to doing hair while the prisoners riot, as of the final moments of the Season Four finale and throughout Season Five. Perhaps some of the rioters break Sophia out of solitary? The show offers no explanation for her appearance, but she definitely looks worse for wear when she does appear.
6) Where will Season Five pick up given the end of the season? Will it pick up right from the moment at which season four ended, or will time of any significance pass?
ANSWER: Season Five picks up at the literal second when Season Four ends.
7) Will Daya (Dascha Polanco) shoot Humps? Or, will another prisoner intervene? Or, if she does shoot him, will someone go to bat and take the fall for her? Will Humps survive this riot? If he does, will anyone find out about what he did to Maritza, Suzanne, and others?
ANSWER: Daya shoots Humps – in the leg. She then proceeds to lose the gun for a while, and the only prisoner who seems to care about her welfare and the potential ramifications of her actions is surrogate mama Gloria (Selenis Levya). Humps is taken to the infirmary to recover; however, Suzanne’s former paramour Maureen decides to exact revenge for his merciless treatment of the prisoners (and for him inciting said present riot) by blowing air bubbles into his breathing tubes. As a result, Humps suffers a stroke and, subsequently and quietly, dies.
8) Will Judy King (Blair Brown) make it out of prison? Will she grab the gun from Daya? Will she be a casualty of that final riot?
ANSWER: Judy King makes it out of prison, with a little help from the white supremacists, who wear hoods, are caught on camera, and are mistaken for Muslim terrorists. Ah, irony. Judy then proceeds to try to sell her prison story in an exploitative way by appearing on a prime time news talk show hosted by Meredith Vieira (really?), without much thought about or consideration of the consequences or the potential effect her choices may have on others. Judy King is kind of The Worst.
9) Will Litchfield continue to run after all of the chaos at the end of Season Four? Will the prisoners be split up? Or, is that a way the series might end?
ANSWER: “Continue to run” is a relative turn of phrase, considering that the prisoners are controlling the prison, and mass chaos not only continues but increases as Season Five progresses. As for the prisoners splitting up…well, when SWAT units enter the building to regain control by force, Leanne and Angie, in a final blaze of glory, decide to burn the prisoner’s paper records and, as a result, start a fire in the prison offices. As a result, Litchfield is engulfed in flames, and, while prisoners are brought to safety, outside and in the yard, by SWAT team units, two buses appear to ship prisoners, seemingly, to two different alternative prisons. Where and how will we start Season Six given this information? Stay tuned.
10) How will Soso and Taystee (Danielle Brooks) deal with their particular grief about Poussey? Will they come to bond more? Will Soso remain a part of P’s “family?”
ANSWER: Soso spends most of the season consumed by grief and depression in the wake of Poussey’s death, with minimal support from Poussey’s prison family (the African American girls), though Soso kind of becomes a de facto member of their group. She does not regain some stability until she decides, in tribute to Poussey, to make an interactive, living, artistic tribute to P, with books from the library where P worked strung from the ceilings throughout the prisoner-controlled Litchfield halls. In the meantime, Taystee, who is unimpressed by Soso’s methods of dealing with her loss, decides to take matters into her own hands to attempt to achieve justice for her best friend. She forces Caputo (Nick Sandow) to record a video statement apologizing for Poussey’s death, which she proceeds to upload to the internet. She also takes on the company allegedly overseeing the prison by entering into hostage negotiations with the company/with negotiator Fig, after the prisoners capture the remaining guards, declare them hostages, and cage them up in a locked guard booth, where many prisoners proceed to torture and to humiliate them. Unfortunately, Taystee’s efforts are not always successful. Listen to the podcast episode for details.
11) Will Sister get out of solitary, or will she be left there?
ANSWER: The show, apparently (according to panelists Krista and Nick but escaping the notice of panelists Kylie and Kristen), explains that Sister contracted pneumonia while in solitary and was, therefore, given compassionate release from prison. So, I guess Sister is gone for good, and at least two of us missed the explanation behind her departure!
12) Will Red (Kate Mulgrew) have a better story line next season?
ANSWER: If getting high on speed pills and becoming the sole object of dishonored guard Piscatella’s ire comprises a better story line, then I would say that Red does alright.
13) Do we still care about Piper and Alex as a couple? Did Piper miss any of Alex’s written “confessions” that she hid around the prison in an effort to assuage her guilt?
ANSWER: Piper and Alex do everything they can to lay low this season; in fact, Alex makes it her own personal mission to stay out of the fray because she thinks that Piper often sticks her nose where it does not belong and, often, in sacrifice or to the detriment of the stability of their relationship, a subject of much conflict and debate between the two women this season. Piper, probably for the first genuine time since the beginning of this show, obtains some self-awareness this season. While she cannot promise Alex that she will always stay out of situations that seem to matter to her, because doing so is not in her nature, she at least promises that she will listen to Alex if Alex expresses unhappiness with Piper’s meddling and mischief. Piper also proposes marriage to Alex, who accepts the proposal. So, the panel believes we are sort of stuck caring about them for awhile longer. As for Alex’s written confessions – either Piper found them all in Season Four or is too distracted to keep looking for them in Season Five, what with all the rioting and such.
14) How long will Nicky remain clean? Have she and Tuckey (Taryn Manning) just become friends, given Tuckey’s willingness to nurse Nicky through a cold turkey withdrawal from heroin during the prison lock down?
ANSWER: Nicky, though tempted many times by an unguarded prison pharmacy and prisoners’ various stashes, manages to make it through the whole fifth season (which, in reality, transpires over about one to two weeks) without falling off the wagon. Presumably, she and Tuckey have an understanding, but I would not characterize this understanding as friendship. Tuckey, further, is distracted by other matters this season. Listen to the podcast episode for details.
15) Will we see the young, nice guard Bailey again? Will the old Litchfield guards return in light of all that has happened? And what exactly did Piscatella do to which Caputo hinted at the end of the season?
ANSWER: We see Bailey, and he is, rightfully, a mess. Piper helps him escape the Litchfield prisoner regime, but he spends the entire season wracked with justifiable guilt over his involuntary manslaughter of Poussey; he also spends the entire season searching for some sort of redemption or forgiveness of his sin(s), even tracking down Poussey’s father, who can only tell Bailey that he will have to live with what he did to P for the rest of his life. The old Litchfield guards mostly stay away, smartly, as the prison is overrun, but the show checks in with most of them. As for Piscatella, it turns out that, at his prior prison job, he slaughtered another prisoner by scalding him in hot shower water after this prisoner brutally beat and killed a different prisoner with whom Piscatella was carrying on an inappropriate relationship in his position as a guard. Piscatella was also exploring his newfound homosexuality in said relationship, so these dark incidents left Piscatella in a dark place, causing him to be the man we see in Seasons Four and Five. Listen to the podcast episode for details.
16) Will we see Lolly (Lori Petty) again now that she has been transferred to the psych ward?
ANSWER: Lolly does not emerge from the psych ward during the riots of Season Five.
1) Where and when will Season 6 begin? Will there be a time jump? Will the Litchfield inmates be in various other prisons? Will they return to a rebuilt prison? Will we see all of the inmates we saw at the end of Season 5? Will the inmates hiding by the old swimming pool, including Piper, Alex, Red, Frieda, Blanca, and others, be subjected to more stringent punishment? Will they all survive? Will they be captured?
2) What will happen to the guards originally left in the prison and captured by the prisoners? What fallout, if anything, will they receive?
3) Will Piper and Alex marry in prison, and will this proposed marriage make Piper a more likable character? Is that even possible?
4) Is this the end of Litchfield?
5) What will the fallout of the Litchfield riots be related to the company, the state, and the figureheads? Will the company be assessed any consequences for its incompetent management of Litchfield?
6) Will there be additional crossovers with other original Netflix series – or additional crossovers with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? Some of the panelists support this idea; some are less enthused with both this concept and with the crossover that occurred in Season Five.
7) Are there any prisoners, especially prisoners that the viewer has known since the beginning, for which we have not seen flashback stories? What flashback stories will see next season?
8) What was Freida’s crime that landed her in Litchfield/prison?
9) Will the company or anyone else discover Linda, the company woman playing prisoner who is also The Worst, among the prisoners?
10) Will Flaritza, i.e. Flaca (Jackie Cruz) and Maritza, be reunited? Will Nicky and Morello (Yael Stone)?
11) Will Daya ever get to see her baby again?
Our Orange is the New Black panel proved much more enthusiastic about the fifth season than about some of the seasons preceding it. Some panelists even labeled this season their favorite, or one of their favorites, indicative of a fine return to form for the show. In fact, the entire panel was both favorable and complimentary about OITNB Season Five. The panel also, ever so slightly, continued to warm to Piper, believing that she continues to learn lessons that her real-life counterpart never had to learn because Piper Chapman makes less intelligent choices than Piper Kerman. All in all, though, the panel reached a rare consensus of opinion, in that all panelists noted that the story trajectory, aside from a slower season beginning that appeared to lose some of the tension marking the fourth season finale, remained successful and compelling and regained the seemingly lost tension to almost “horror movie” proportions by season’s end, despite the absence of a fan and panel favorite character in Poussey. The entire panel plans to continue to watch the show and Season Six to find out what happens, particularly in the wake of the emptying of Litchfield and the two buses that arrived to separate our formerly (and mostly) rioting characters. Of course, the panel continues to acknowledge that the writing remains dynamic and top-notch but suggests that this season’s direction and pacing allow for better binge-watching in Season Five than in Season Four. The panel further continues to maintain high hopes and expectations that Season Six will continue the overarching, excellent quality of storytelling that has characterized Orange is the New Black since its premiere.
Orange is the New Black was renewed for a sixth (as well as a seventh) season, which is tentatively slated to premiere in June 2018. Until then!