I faced a bit of a moral dilemma in trying to watch this show again. After watching the semi-torture porn that was last season, it was tough to decide. Which is why I was more than excited when a certain little event happened. (You know the one.) A few laughs/cackles, excited screams and taps on a keyboard later, I was watching Season 5 of Orange is the New Black, somewhat guilt-free.
I’m not saying that I advocate for how I watched the first half of the season, but I felt that I did so in the most rebellious way I could. In essence, I was following along with the spirit of the season. Some of my friends have stopped watching entirely- but my curiosity got the best of me.
So here I am, once again, to give you the scoop on all things Orange. Well, half of the scoop.
We open the season where we left off of course, with Daya spending an excruciating 5 or so minutes deciding if (or how) she will shoot Humps. It was the main reason that I tuned in, due to OITNB’s love of cliffhangers. I will admit, it was satisfying to see Humps’ fate play out-one of the few times a comeuppance was satisfying, and dealt by the hands of the ones that were tortured under his command. Even better that they threw him under the bus for starting the shooting in the first place.
From there, we run into quite a few roadblocks. After binging as many episodes of the first half as I could, I went back and watched some of it again to be sure none of what happened was imagined. Was it me, or were these episodes much more chaotic than they needed to be? While I can understand that getting caught up in a prison riot takes a mental toll and creates factions and is generally batshit crazy, it must have been easier to write this season than it was to view it, in my opinion. A lot of things happened in a little bit of time, and only some of it was heartfelt enough to mean anything throughout the entire thirteen hours of Season 5.
Also, certain characters have so little screen-time it was baffling, Sophia Burset especially. Granted, maybe Laverne Cox had something else to film but I still feel that we saw more of Humps’ dick than her. Daya was taken out early as well by her confession to Humps’ shooting, with Aleida’s character being stunted as a result. But I can agree that it may be time to thin out the bulging cast, as an ultimately bigger cast does not seem to serve the storytelling. To be honest, I wish it was the methheads that were axed. While I did enjoy what “Litchfield’s Idol Got Talent” brought on a comedic level, Angie and Leanne’s possession of the gun really didn’t enhance any main plotline…much like most of their time in Litchfield so far. I won’t blame them entirely- they are mostly the clown characters in nature- but I had enough of their “contribution” very early on.
Speaking of which, the gun plot point became rather stale, rather quickly. Suspending my disbelief that *one* gun was somehow enough to steer Litchfield’s entire atmosphere off-road more than once was only something I could do for so long, especially with a hostile police force just outside. The hot glock potato that ensued in the first half of the season probably contributed to the disorganization, which may have been the intent but could definitely jar or bore an audience if played up for too long.
Although I wasn’t surprised about this, all of the mayhem made most of the prisoners quickly forget why any of this was even happening: Poussey’s death. Obviously, the black crew and SoSo have not finished mourning, and before they can, they find themselves at the head of a revolt. Taystee especially is going through all of it with a judicial eye, and wants justice as soon as it can be given. In the meantime, a heart-wrenching library memorial is put up in Poussey’s name by Taystee and Soso, and then the real work begins. Taystee has larger goals for the welfare of the rest of the prisoners, so that none of Season 4’s events can happen again. She attempts to out Bayley and put the details of Poussey’s death into the public’s hands, but the plan ultimately died as the internet deemed the information unworthy of viral success…which to be honest does not seem believable to me. I know that the internet is an ABSOLUTE inundation of the best and the worst of information, but with a few well sorted hashtags (namely #Blacklivesmatter), the video realistically should have soared.
And Judy King (remember her?) is a very small part of that for a time, before she gets off and out almost as quickly as she came, and then immediately on TV. It looks like I read Judy well enough last season- she’s cold blooded, and a prime example of privilege in the prison system.
Also on the outside, ex-officer Bayley is spiraling and haunted by killing Poussey. He wants to be guilty, but has no idea how now that Caputo has released him. He can’t be arrested, no matter what he tries (which is an interesting little flair of his privilege), and he seems to just be wandering around, looking for anyone to punish him. I watch his scenes, wondering if I’m supposed to feel sorry for him. I think the writers wanted to leave that to interpretation, but making him sympathetic last year after killing someone kind of states otherwise. More on his “journey” later, I suppose.
Some standout notes:
What is up with Pennsatucky and Boo’s relationship? It’s unfortunate to see something that grew the former’s character Ella kind of deteriorate because she still has feelings for her rapist. Also, what the fuck OITNB. Why???
Red and Flores’ sub-plot of taking down Piscatella proved to be very entertaining in the beginning, but I wonder about their tactics. I agree that the best way to take down authority is to humiliate before dismantling, however who does it serve when the guards are trapped and Piscatella is essentially laying siege to Litchfield? Maybe it’ll knock some sense into Caputo’s head.
While I watch the other half of the season (on Netflix this time), I will leave the first 6 episodes with 3 out of 5 stars as a rating of sorts, most of it for Danielle Brooks’ acting. Give her an Emmy and off of this show, but hold the gruesome death.