I know, it’s television! It’s not supposed to be entirely realistic, and Orange has never been (although it used to try to be). But Season Five really went off the rails in some dramatic ways. I’m very passionate about verisimilitude and also despite everything a huge fan of this show and therefore I’m incapable of continuing to live my life until I find at least 5-6 other humans on the internet who have made it through the entire season and can perhaps offer me comfort, empathy or information that will enable me to go on.
Sure, this season was riddled with generous extensions of disbelief, but some I was willing to entertain in exchange for the light-hearted moments they provided, like the pop-up coffee shop, Frieda’s weirdo Cold War bunker, or Nicky and Morello’s brief tenure as Doctors/Pharmacists. But when I’m asked to suspend my disbelief in order to create a violent and horrifying finale? NO THANK YOU. Also, well… let’s begin.
Just to be clear: I know these things can be explained if you try hard enough. But this show has never made me do these types of mental gymnastics before!
1. They’re allegedly short 10 inmates but that doesn’t add up. We have Nicky, Red, Piper, Blanca, Alex, Gloria, Cindy, Taystee and Suzanne in the pool with Frida. That’s 10. But Chang escaped, and Pennsatucky is having teevee time with her rapist. (DO NOT EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THAT) That’s 12 inmates missing. Linda would’ve thrown off their count because she wasn’t an actual prisoner, but that doesn’t account for the entire discrepancy.
2. So, Black Cindy just randomly grabbed a bottle of lithium on a shelf and knew how it worked and what it was for? What happened to the list of Suzanne’s meds? Also… was lithium really an irresponsible choice for what Suzanne was experiencing? I’M NOT A DOCTOR but it’s my understanding that lithium is regularly used to bring people down from manic episodes or schizoaffective symptoms, so I don’t understand why Taystee was convinced it was not the correct medicine to give Suzanne. Would one lithium pill have knocked her out cold like that? Also, would an epi-pen really have fixed that?
3. Didn’t anyone at MCC notice that Linda didn’t show up for work…
4. Aren’t there computerized records in addition to the paper records that got burned by Ange and Leanne? (Who, by the way… please remove these humans from this show…)
5. Why were prisoners being removed, cuffed, and shipped off in the first place? How was this even organized? I know! It’s a dramatic cliffhanger! But… what? We know there’s so little room for female inmates that Litchfield became intensely overcrowded and that there’s no room in Max, either, so where on earth could they be taking them? After the Mississippi uprising, the inmates were searched in the yard before being returned to their cells… and the same thing happened in Delaware. I’ve yet to find an example of an uprising where the entire prison was evacuated with all inmates relocated to other prisons.
6. What was the point of the rebellion organized by “Team Latte”? Somehow everybody emerged unscathed, guards and rebels, so…? What was their endgame anyhow? Without a coordinated resistance by all inmates, no further demands would’ve been met, so I wasn’t really clear why any individual or group of individuals was attempting to resist arrest. (Except Maritza and Flaca, who made a case for their delay — wanting to savor their last moments of freedom.)
7. Why couldn’t Caputo — or any inmate — overrule Taystee’s rejection of the deal? Why did Taystee refuse to take it after learning that it wouldn’t be logistically possible for them to orchestrate Bayley’s arrest? She’s really smart! I know I know PRIDE but also ??? I don’t buy that she’d do this. Why were we forced to witness so much of Bayley’s little emotional journey if it never intersected with the main story?
8. Wouldn’t somebody in the crowd or the hoards of press outside see Maureen and be horrified that she had an untreated and serious infection on her face? Or an elderly woman in a hospital gown?
9. I know this is a small thing but the entire place allegedly runs out of food… yet when the women discover Freida’s bunker, nobody seems eager to eat? Or to share food with people upstairs?
10. Also why didn’t negotiations involve like — we’ll give you [amount of food] if you give us [one hostage], like they did in Arizona? It seemed like everybody talked about being hungry for one episode and then forgot about it.
11. In Episode One, Alex was afraid to be on camera if the press came to Litchfield — yet she reveals no panic or alarm when a video of her abuse went viral?
12. This is from an earlier episode but this is a prison and some of them have some level of experience with firearms and all of them want to have the gun in their own possession. They’re willing to scramble for it on the floor — but when Ange gets the gun, nobody tries to just… strategically disarm her to get the gun for themselves? It would’ve been a lot easier (and safer, if they knew what they were doing like cops and superheroes on TV do) to get it from her when she was standing in the middle of the dorm talking about the talent show than scrambling for it on the ground.
13. My ex had Type 1 Diabetes and I’ve witnessed diabetic ketoacidosis in all its glory and I was in a hot panic about Davis from the moment they took away his insulin. WTF happened with that? He’d need to take it when he ate, he’d also need to eat regularly — how on earth did he make it through three days without insulin or regular food? This was also one of many choices made by inmates where they were made to seem less intelligent than we know they are. Keeping hostages alive is important.
14. Whatever happened with the video of Caputo making a new statement? Allegedly it didn’t have very many views but somehow Piscatella got it as a news alert about it?
15. Uh… what happened with Sophia…? Like, okay, she’s in Max, LOL, the end? What?
16. And finally… why is the SWAT team violently entering the building and assaulting unarmed female inmates who have their hands up after the hostages had been released? After a riot that began with a CO over-using physical force and thus killing an inmate? After the video of inmate abuse went viral and attracted National attention?
I know, I know, we’ve seen and we know that guards and authority figures are unnecessarily violent towards these women all the time just for kicks, but this comes at a weird time. Specifically their treatment of Maureen and the other woman in the infirmary felt sadistic and cruel. Aside from Team Latte, this wasn’t a violent riot. Only one hostage remained, although it seems nobody was even aware of that. The SWAT team was very well-protected against any potential violence that could be inflicted by these women, and they didn’t adjust their violence level of their offensive after entering and realizing they were not under attack.
It made for thrilling, extreme and affecting television — the image of Soso being hauled out of the book hallway was, honestly, the season’s most gorgeously tragic and intense moment and I cried like a baby — but I don’t feel like it was set up very carefully.
Haven’t we seen powerful men push around innocent people enough already? The level of interpersonal violence we were subjected to this season, including nonchalant instances and mentions of sexual assault, was … flabbergasting.
I’m as passionate an OITNB fan as a girl can be when she’s also really mad at OITNB, and pieces of this season were really interesting and fun, but it was also stuffed with irrelevant flashbacks and this final scene wasn’t really the payoff we deserved, yannow?
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