Each season of Orange is the New Black elevates the series to new levels of melodrama, intrigue and wit, whether through exceptional performances or touching, compelling storylines and subject matter. Season 5 is no different, and while the #Netflix series might be considered a dramedy, the latest batch of episodes tend to sway firmly in the direction of drama.
Note: Spoilers for Orange is the New Black's fifth season.
As the group of inmates fight against the injustices within the prison system, including the death of their beloved friend Poussey (Samira Wiley) at the hands of a sadistic prison guard, viewers are taken on a three-day journey inside the prison riot. From start to finish, the season cycles through the empowered inmates as they each deal with the current state of Litchfield Penitentiary. We get a taste of the incarcerated lives of our favorites characters through stellar performances in what have turned out to be some of the most impactful scenes of the entire series.
1. Suzanne Cordoning Off The Area In The Cafeteria Where Poussey Died
Episode 3: "Pissters!"
Featuring: Uzo Aduba
At the end of last season we saw that Suzanne, a.k.a "Crazy Eyes," had a tough time dealing with Poussey's death and the finality of losing someone she was so close to. Considering this season kicks off right where last season left us, the characters are still grieving. The prison is still out of power since the inmate takeover, so the only light in the cafeteria emanates from candles.
Suzanne and Maureen wander in, still battered and beaten, but Suzanne stops in her tracks when she sees fellow inmates casually walking the floor where Poussey died. She uses trays, cups, anything she can find to cordon off the "sacred" place while the cafeteria falls into silence. As she places candles in the center of the space to honor Poussey, Brook joins her to sit in the center as her eyes fill with tears.
2. Suzanne’s Séance To Summon Poussey's Spirit
Episode 4: "Litchfield's Got Talent"
Featuring: Emily Althaus, Kimiko Glenn, Danielle Brooks, Adrienne C. Moore
Suzanne, Brook and Maureen remain in the sacred circle through Episode 4. When they hear mysterious noises, Suzanne decides they should perform a séance to summon Poussey's spirit as they believe she has unfinished business. Taystee, Cindy and Janae join the trio, even though they think the attempt is foolish.
As Suzanne appears to get messages that seem to connect to Poussey, the group starts to question the practice. The scene shows the various ways the girls are grieving and to what degree they will go to find peace, even if that means Brook and Taystee arguing about who Poussey cared more about, a best friend or a girlfriend.
3. Taystee Interrupting Judy King's Statement To Make A Speech Of Her Own
Episode 5: "Sing It, White Effie"
Featuring: Blair Brown, Adrienne C. Moore, Vicky Jeudy, Amanda Stephen
Taystee becomes the central character when it comes to the riot resolution, taking charge in negotiating the demands. When she enlists celebrity inmate Judy King to make a statement on the women's behalf, she changes her mind in front of the assembled media and makes her own speech. Taystee wants justice for Poussey and hopes that her friend's tragic death sends a clear message to the outside world. She doesn't want the media to focus on the antics from inside the prison — she wants them to focus on the list of demands and how the prison system doesn't support the inmates. Judy King cannot truly represent the women in Litchfield, so Taystee lets Judy go free after her tearful and heartbreaking plea.
4. The Flashback Showing How Poussey And Taystee First Meet
Episode 6: "Flaming Hot Cheetos, Literally"
Featuring: Danielle Brooks, Samira Wiley
In a surprise cameo, Samira Wiley finds herself back in Litchfield in the form of a heartwarming flashback detailing the moment Taystee and Poussey meet. Taystee is sitting in the library when she hears Poussey mimicking other inmates, so Taystee joins in on the fun. The two instantly hit it off and what begins is a life-changing friendship.
5. Burning The Cheetos To Make A Point To MCC
Episode 6: "Flaming Hot Cheetos, Literally"
Featuring: Danielle Brooks, Taylor Schilling, Adrienne C. Moore
Management & Correction Corporation (MCC), the private company that runs Litchfield, agrees to some of the prisoner demands and delivers boxes of supplies, mostly Cheetos and tampons, to the prison. Seeing that they are not being taken seriously and the supplies are just a bribe, Taystee, Cindy and Alison get help from Piper in collecting the goods back from the prison population. They then dump them outside, in front of the media, and light the bags of Cheetos on fire. The action proves that they will not back down to MCC or the governor, taking the seriousness of the riot up a few notches.
6. Brook’s Beautiful Tribute To Poussey
Episode 7: "Full Bush, Half Snickers"
Featuring: Kimiko Glenn, Danielle Brooks, Taylor Schilling
Taystee and Piper feel the need to do something constructive, so they create a memorial for Poussey. The only legitimate idea comes from Brook, so they give her the freedom to build something in Poussey's honor. The memorial takes the form of a living library; rather than one room of novels on shelves, books are hanging from the ceiling and stacked through the halls. The beautiful tribute to Poussey and her love of books also allows Taystee and Brook to squash their simmering tension. In a touching moment, the two realize they both loved Poussey and she would have wanted them to come together in this situation.
7. Daya’s Phone Call Regarding Her Daughter
Episode 8: "Tied to the Tracks"
Featuring: Dascha Polanco, Mary Steenburgen, Pablo Schreiber
As the negotiations between the inmates and MCC grow more serious, someone need to step up and take responsibility for shooting the guard. Before Daya makes the critical decision to turn herself in, she looks back at her life and the decisions her mother made. She decides she wants a better life for her daughter.
Shooting the guard undoubtedly means more prison time and no chance at raising her daughter, so Daya contacts the mother of George "Pornstache" Mendez to tell her she did have the baby in the hope that the older woman would raise her. While showing a new maturity for Daya, the scene does raise the question of what will happen to her in the future.
8. Piscatella's Torturous Plan To Take Down Red
Episode 10: "The Reverse Midas Touch"
Featuring: Kate Mulgrew, Brad William Henke, Lea DeLaria, Laura Prepon
Piscatella sneaks into the prison and begins taking hostages, including Nicky, Blanca, Boo, Piper and Alex. When Red finds them bound and gagged, Piscatella finally has her exactly where he wants her. The scene in the janitor's closet might be one of the most disturbing in the show's history. Piscatella looks to win the power struggle with Red and tortures her as he makes her closest friends watch.
While debasing her, Piscatella uses a knife to cut of the top of her hair, leaving her with a bloody and bald scalp as the rest of the women try to scream and break free. The harrowing scene along with the entire episode was directed by Laura Prepon, who plays Alex.
9. Suzanne's Search For The 'Good Place'
Episode 11: "Breaking the Fiberboard Ceiling"
Featuring: Uzo Aduba, Adrienne C. Moore, Yael Stone
After Lorna convinces Suzanne to stop taking her meds, Suzanne loses control and the girls find her on top of a bunk breaking holes in the ceiling. She is begging for someone to let her into the "good place," presumably heaven, as she can no longer handle her current predicament. The girls are not equipped to deal with the situation, but Cindy comes to the rescue and convinces her to take her medicine (which turns out to be lithium).
It's clear Suzanne needs routine and structure, something that the prison system has failed to give her. She asks Cindy if by taking the medicine it will make her "good," as she has been led to believe that her mental illness is considered bad. Cindy eventually calms her down and in true Suzanne fashion, she requests Cindy sing her "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" to help her fall asleep.
10. Bayley’s Admittance To Poussey's Father
Episode 12: "Tattoo You"
Featuring: Alan Aisenberg, Thaddeus Daniels
Although Poussey's death was a tragic accident, CO Bayley has taken full responsibility. He can't get on with his life without suffering the consequences, so he tries to turn himself in and attempts suicide, both of which fail. His last chance at atonement is to apologizing in person to Poussey's father, but Mr. Washington says that Bayley's punishment is living with his actions for the rest of his life. This episode illustrates how the system not only fails the inmates, but the unqualified guards in charge of inmate safety. In this instance, it ruined two young lives.
11. Piper Taking A Cue From Her Mom's Story And Proposing To Alex
Episode 12: "Tattoo You"
Featuring: Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon
After Piper hears the story about how her mom fell in love with her dad, she realizes that she doesn't want to leave Alex's side (especially after their near-death experience in the janitor's closet). "Through love and through pain" they have always been the loves of each other's lives, so Piper proposes to Alex while in the bunker. Agreeing that timing has never been their strong suit, Alex says yes in what might be one of the only positives to come out of the riot.
12. Red Regaining Her Humanity
Episode 13: "Storm-y Weather"
Featuring: Kate Mulgrew, Brad William Henke
After several of the inmates take Piscatella as their own hostage in the bunker, Red is out for revenge. Everyone can agree that Piscatella must pay for what he has done in his past and for his treatment of the Litchfield inmates, but it should not be up to them. Red regains her humanity when she decides to let Piscatella go free. He leaves just as armed guards storm the prison, and as with every guard who steps foot in those halls, they act before they think. A fatal pepper bullet ultimately hits Piscatella in the head as he enters the hallway.
13. Waiting For The Final Showdown, Hand-In-Hand
Episode 13: "Storm-y Weather"
Featuring: Dale Soules, Uzo Aduba, Natasha Lyonne, Selenis Leyva, Laura Gómez
The season's final minutes are some of the most heart-pounding sequences in the series. Taystee comes face-to-face with Piscatella and breaks down, letting go of all the emotions she has pent up over the past three days. The SWAT team is looking for them as they are the last inmates in the prison and the location of their secret underground hideout has been uncovered. The anxiety of the climax is palpable.
As the doorway is blown off, the last remaining inmates continue to stand hand-in-hand, united in their dignity even as they await their fates. And with that we have a year before we find out what happens next.
Many of these scenes will have a lasting impact on the future of these characters. The riot has left Litchfield uninhabitable, and the inmates will undoubtedly be shipped off to who knows where.
#OrangeIstheNewBlack Season 5 is streaming now on Netflix!
What was your favorite moment from this series? Tell us in the comments below.