Written by J. Johnson
If you haven’t caught up to season 4 of Orange is the New Black then, you must do it now. This new season will surely have you on a roller coaster ride of emotions that begs the question, “Can I have please see more?” It’s easy to break apart each moment in this season, but as a whole, it was a buildup to the climax ending that sends you in tears. The credits rolled on that final episode, the uplifting track of Muddy Waters forecasting the visual of Samira Wiley’s character Poussey Washington looking over the Hudson River, and breaking the fourth wall by smiling with a powerful smile.
The loss of a very hopeful and pivotal character in, Poussey as well as other events in this season delivered many messages that exist in reality. For instance, the privatization of prison, the incarceration people being put in prison for multiple years for minor offenses, and prisoners being treated less than human. Orange played to these issues that it resulted in arrivals like character Piscatella, the hiring of unhinged veterans guards and continued violation of Sophia’s rights. Like mentioned before, this season wasn’t just moment-to-moment but focused on a buildup that escalated and tracks with the entire season that came before.
With so many problems being ignored or escalating through the season, it was inevitable that things would boil over to a tragic degree, and it had to be a major character for us to truly feel the impact. Plus, given the season’s renewed focus on racial issues – and the clear parallels to the Black Lives Matter movement – it makes sense that it would be one of the black inmates.
All the conflicts that arose in this season the true tragedies were the death of Poussey and the life of Bayley. Both were put in a situation that went too far causing a chain of events ending in tragedy. Being made to feel remorse for what her killer is going through is more than a little discomforting sending you on that roller coaster emotions. The devastating climax to her story caused outcry from some who feel that she, as a black LGBT character, deserved better, and was used as a scapegoat to make commentary about wider social issues. Deliberate parallels were drawn between the death of Poussey and the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Poussey’s last words were “I can’t breathe”, and after Caputo’s press conference Taystee is infuriated that he “didn’t even say her name”.
This season felt grittier and the problems the inmates were facing were had a darker tone than seasons past. Since the issues are complex and dealt with things like racism and severe abuse of power, it’s easy to understand why the producers had to portray scenes in a gruesome fashion to get a point across. In this way, the writers created an opening for discussion on real problems we currently face in society.
Orange is the New Black is streaming now on Netflix!