The fifth season of Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, made available to stream on June 9, is possibly the darkest, most harrowing season yet. Packed with multiple main character’s deaths, several painful torture scenes, and a cliffhanger ending promising nothing but a bleak future, OITNB‘s fifth season has made a serious statement.

The fifth season begins in the immediate moments where the fourth season left off: the eruption of a prison riot after the death of inmate Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley) is covered up and revealed to the inmates.

Almost the entirety of the season is focused on the events of the riot and the subsequent hostage situations that arise from it, with the exception of flashbacks, a story-telling technique the show has long employed.

Because of the on-going riot, the fifth season played out to be far more tense and dark than season’s past.

For example, the multi-season power struggle between Red (Kate Mulgrew) and CO Piscatella (Brad William Henke) comes to a terrifying head when Piscatella locks several inmates inside a room, ties them up with duck tape, and forces them to watch as he shaves Red’s hair, often cutting her scalp in the process.Piscatella is ultimately defeated when several inmates break into the room, and knock him unconscious.

In the season finale, Piscatella is set free – by Red, no less – only to be shot dead by an inexperienced Correctional Emergency Response Team (CERT) officer who mistakes Piscatella for an inmate.

And while his death is the only one seen in the final moments, the series ends with a moment that appears to promise at least one more.


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After CERT officers break through the prison and collect all of the inmates, they discover that ten are missing. Having been given full permission from the governor to use lethal force to end the riot, the officers scour the prison, looking to kill if necessary.

Hidden in a bunker, Alex (Laura Prepon), Piper (Taylor Schilling), Taystee (Danielle Brooks), Nicky (Natasha Lyonne), Red, Black Cindy (Adrienne Moore), Frieda (Dale Soules), Suzanne (Uzo Aduba), Blanca (Laura Gomez), and Gloria (Selenis Leyva) await their fate.

The season ends when CERT officers blast through the door of the bunker, leaving the ten inmates in an incredibly vulnerable position.

The end of season five suggests that Orange is the New Black will be forced to head in a new direction. At the end of the riot, many of the characters had been separated, and there is little doubt that none of the ten inmates in the bunker will be able to stay together – which is unfortunate considering Alex and Piper become engaged midway through the season.

Netflix has said in the past that Orange is the New Black is one of their most watched original series and has supported that claim by renewing the series for a sixth and a seventh season. While a release date for the sixth season has yet to be set, every season since the second has been released in June.

Watch the trailer for season 5 below.

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