With Litchfield Penitentiary on a knife edge, here's what to expect
*Warning: this article contains several spoilers from season 4 and season 5.*
Cliffhangers don’t come much more intense than the end of Orange is the New Black’s fourth season. Across the show’s 52 episodes so far, never has this show been on tenterhooks quite like the end of season four, with so many subplots yet to be resolved.
As season five approaches, there are countless questions to answer, and a whole number of potentially deadly outcomes to Litchfield Penitentiary’s current state of emergency. Without further ado, here’s what you need to know:
When is Orange is the New Black Season 5 released?
Orange is the New Black Season 5 arrives on June 9 2017. As usual, it’ll be available to binge in its entirety via Netflix as soon as it comes out.
Have we seen an Orange is the New Black Season 5 trailer?
A ‘first look’ teaser for the new season was aired on April 11, captioned “It’s about to get real.”
It sure looks that way. The trailer shows Daya (Dascha Polanco) aiming a gun directly at twisted corrections officer Thomas Humphrey (Michael Torpey), who unleashed all sorts of evil in season 4. Just about every inmate has a motive to kill him. Daya’s surrounded by shouting inmates, all egging her on to pull the trigger.
The next glimpse sees Alex Vause (Laura Prepon) and Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) walking towards the chaos. “We’re laying low, and we’re staying out of trouble,” Piper declares, before catching sight of the standoff. “If this is a real riot, do you think this is a step forward or backward for equality?” she asks. Alex drags Piper away from the scene, and the last thing we hear is a gunshot. And if you listen closely, it sounds like a body hitting the floor. Talk about a way to set pulses racing.
A second trailer (revealed May 9), shows life at Litchfield being transformed. Inmates ask big questions about their treatment and rights (“We get beat for no reason… We’re denied basic humanity,” says Taystee) and attempt to change life inside the prison. It would appear that after the previous season’s dramatic stand-off, inmates are being given a bigger say on how things are run.
Several teaser photos have also been revealed by Netflix.
How many episodes are there?
As with previous seasons, there will be 13 episodes of Orange is the New Black season 5. Episode one is titled ‘Riot FOMO’.
Sign up for the newsletter
What’s going to happen in season 5?
This is where things get interesting. Season 4 ended in dramatic, heartbreaking style: Litchfield Penitentiary is breaking at the seams. Inmate Poussey Washington is tragically crushed to death by Suzanne in episode 12, and Caputo’s handling of the situation causes chaos. And it’s been revealed that season 5 will take place over just three days. Speaking to E! on the red carpet of January 2017’s SAG Awards, star Danielle Brooks (who plays Taystee), said: “You better get ready. Get your popcorn, your tissues.”
Problems begin in season 4 when Litchfield’s owners MCC attempt to stitch up innocent prison guard Baxter Bayley for Poussey’s death, and news spreads nationally. Filmed on camera, Caputo refuses to paint Bayley as a monster, attempting to take the moral high-ground. But his inability to address Poussey by name on air gets him into trouble. Taystee – at the time working in his office – overhears Caputo’s news statement, and she begins to spread word in the dorms. That’s when the riot begins.
Transitioning to season 5, the last scene sees Humphrey’s gun – illegally snuck into the prison – slipping out of his hands and sliding towards Daya, who picks it up in a state of shock. What happens next is hinted at in season 5’s ‘first look’ trailer, via the sound of a gunshot. Something big is about to happen, we know that much.
It’s clear that season 5 will deal with the extensive fallout from Poussey’s death. Her relationship with Soso was blooming just before she was killed. They discussed their lives in the outside world, how they’d thrive outside of Litchfield – and then their future is cut short. At the end of season 4, Soso is in a state of shock.
Caputo is meanwhile trying – and failing – to keep a lid on the situation. Visibly shaken by Poussey’s death, he calls her father to share the bad news. But the media fallout, made public to inmates by Taystee, looks set to get the better of him.
After her stubborn standing on the table heroics, Blanca Flores will become the new de-facto leader of Litchfield. Laura Gómez, who plays the character, recently confirmed the spoiler.
Speaking about the story being compressed into three days, Taylor Schilling said: “I think the stakes are higher in this season than they have been in a while just by virtue of the compressed time and seeing people in compressed circumstance really raises the stakes. It’s exciting to watch, I think for all of us.”
Dascha Polanco, who plays Daya, told The Hollywood Reporter she could see her character pulling the trigger. “She might pull back and think about being a mother and not wanting to miss the opportunity of being with her child. But a woman going through postpartum — at that point, they’re very fragile and very sensitive.”
Is this going to be the final season of Orange Is The New Black?
Netflix has confirmed a sixth and seventh season of Orange is the New Black. After the premiere of season four, creator Jenji Kohan confirmed her delight that the show was still going strong. “Three more years. Not quite a political term, but still plenty of time to do some interesting things,” she said. “Thanks Netflix! Both thanks and you’re welcome Lionsgate! And kudos and gratitude to the stellar cast and crew and writers and producers and editors and musicians and mixers and shleppers… with whom I have the pride and honor of crafting this show.Three more years!”
The show will run until at least 2019.
Who is starring in season 5? Is anyone returning?
Lolly (pictured) ends season 4 by tragically being sent to The Psych by a sympathetic Healy. But actress Lori Petty believes her character will return, telling The Hollywood Reporter: “I’m just waiting on the phone call to get back on the plane. I’m sure it will come, but we have 13 episodes and they’ve got a lot to take care of, so we’ll see…”
Stella Carlin (played by Ruby Rose) will be making a return to the show, after making only a small cameo on season four when she was sent to maximum security. Carlin was embroiled in Piper’s panty scheme in season three, and has essentially been absent from the show ever since. But an Orange is the New Black insider reportedly told Australia’s Daily Telegraph that Rose is “back together with all the girls on the show,” adding: “They even went to Elton John’s Oscars Party together in March.”
We could also see the return of John Bennett (Matt McGorry), the father of Daya’s daughter. His current whereabouts are unknown and he hasn’t been seen since season three, but he could make a comeback after the dramatic climax of Daya’s gun standoff.