Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Orange is the New Black Season 5 Netflix Series Review

Orange is the New Black (2013-)
Season 4 (2016)
Watch Orange is the New Black on NetflixCreated by: Jenji Kohan
Taylor Schilling, Danielle Brooks, Taryn Manning, Uzo Aduba, Kate Mulgrew, Laura Prepon, Laverne Cox
Rating: TV-MA

Piper Chapman was convicted of an old crime and sentenced to jail. She acclimates to prison culture and finds friends and enemies alike. In season four, the prison became for profit and the population was doubled to maximize revenue. Season 5 picks up immediately at the end of season four, chronicling a three day prison riot.

Season 4 ended up being rather morose, though topical. Season 5 manages to reboot the series in a way, focusing on just three days as the inmates are no longer beholden to guards. It's a great way to keep the show from becoming mundane, balancing humor with the repercussions you know will eventually come. Many characters in the show are still trying to reconcile the events in season four, seeking some kind of justice. It's a poignant season in that regard, though it's uneven at times with no idea what to do with Piper Chapman and what seems like a spoof episode later in the season. It leaves us with big questions about season five.
Watch it.

Knowing that this season focused on only three days, I wondered if the pacing would dip, but none of the episodes feel like filler. The series has always balanced prison with humor. Caputo's girlfriend gets trapped in the prison and feigns being an inmate.

Inmates capture and imprison the guards, and while that's mostly played for laughs culminating in a talent show. The guards do  get to see life from the inmate's point of view, and that could be a plot point in the next season.
There's an arc with Humphrey that's twisted and treated quite glibly. Piscatella becomes a somewhat sympathetic characters which I didn't expect.
Various characters have designs to turn the situation into a windfall, though all experience varying results. Taystee is the de facto leader, attempting to reform the prison with a list of demands throughout the season.

Freida leads a splinter group and shines in episode two, both in the present day and her flashbacks.

Piper Chapman is relegated to more of a side character this season, something the show should have done earlier. As little screen time as she had, it still seemed like too much. Her arc never connected. She just wanted to avoid trouble, which doesn't provide much interest.

Episode nine becomes a slasher spoof, that didn't seem to fit the tone of the show. It's strangely comedic before episode ten goes in a dark direction. There are a couple or rough scenes, though as sad and terrifying as the ending of season four was, the end of this season is uplifting in a way. It seems there will be some major changes next season, either with the cast, location, or the show's focus.

Guards state the inmates won't be returning to this prison and they're divided among a number of buses. We'll either follow the characters across various locations or the show will cut some of the cast and reboot to a degree.

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