All The New Backstories We Learned In OITNB Season 5

Lost ins't the only show that loves a good thematically-appropriate character flashback. Although the cult favorite ABC series originated modern TV's obsessions with peeking into a single character's past throughout a single episode, Orange Is The New Black raised the bar on the technique. Since the beginning of the Netflix series, we've gotten eye-opening looks at the pre-Litchfield Penitentiary lives of our favorite and least favorite prison denizens.
That much-appreciated OITNB trope has continued into the brand new season 5. In 2017's installments of the drama, we get to investigate what exactly makes everyone from the villainous corrections officer Desi Piscatella (Brad William Henke) to the enigmatic Frieda Berlin (Dale Soules) tick. Plus, we get new looks into the pasts of Taystee Jefferson (Danielle Brooks), "Red" Reznikov (Kate Mulgrew) and lovebirds Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) and Alex Vause (Laura Prepon).
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Since you're probably binging Orange at warp speed, it's hard to remember each and every detail of these character's backstories. So, we went back and recapped all the flashbacks for you. Scroll through the gallery for a emotional walk down OITNB memory lane.
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Frieda Berlin

If there’s anyone you would trust to hack a body up and hide it, it’s Frieda, and now we know why. Episode 2, "F*ck, Marry, Frieda," reveals the older woman grew up during the Red Scare-era and had an ardent survivalist for a father. His resourcefulness rubbed off on Nature Scout Frieda, who can find north with nothing but a needle and a leaf.

In present day, Frieda shows she learned more from Poppa Berlin (Danny Wolohan), than how to fashion a nature-made compass, since she has a bunker just like her dad. Frieda’s bunker is hidden deep in Litchfield — complete with electricity, a photo of her parents, and tons of hoarded nonperishable food — and ends up playing a major role throughout OITNB season 5.
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Linda Ferguson (Beth Dover)

Behind Linda’s preppy, corporate-approved smile is the face of a cold-blooded, er, manslaughterer. In episode 3, "Pissters," we meet throwback Linda, who’s a member of her college’s Means Girls-like sorority, Alpha Zeta Delta, and has a bullying Big Sister named Meggan (Stephanie Leone) to prove it.

Despite living in her sorority sister’s dark shadow, Linda manages to meet a cute guy a party with an impossible-to-define theme. Just as Linda and Cute Jim (Nate Klingenberg) are starting to get their flirt on, Megg demands her Little follow her outside to pee. Linda is so desperate to get back to the party and Cute Jim — everyone’s playing beer pong with Other Jim’s glass eye! — she abandons a very drunk Meggan in the snow as she attempts to urinate while fighting a UTI. Cut to the morning, where we find out Meggan frozen to death with her underwear around her ankles.

When police arrive to question Linda about Meggan's death, she puts on the performance of the century, hinting her Big was an alcoholic, cocaine user, and suicidal after a breakup. She even denies ever going outside with her. Fast-forward to the near future, and Linda has picked up Megg’s abusive mantle as the leader of the Alphas.
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Alison Abdullah (Amanda Stephen)

Abdullah will always surprise you. After last season’s surprise Kool-Aid red hair reveal, this season we learn the very feminist Litchfield newbie talked her husband into a polyamorous relationship to ease the stress of work, parenting their daughter Farah, and household obligations. She eventually brings a woman named Sahar (Malika Samuel) into her relationship.

Everything is working well until Abdullah starts feeling pushed out of her own family by the new woman. And, of all things, Farah’s new pierced ears kick off the drama. Despite all the tension, we never find out why, exactly, Abdullah ends up in Litchfield.
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Janae Watson (Vicky Jeudy)

OITNB always needs a dose of Watson’s forever-bitter side eye. We see a part of how that developed with a flashback of young Watson visiting an elite private school called Thurston during season 5’s "Sing It, White Effie." The seemingly all-white palace of education offers life-size chess, a south lawn for botany, and an entire reading for for SAT prep. It also offers an all-white school production of Dreamgirls with its own white Effie wearing an Afro wig and a dash of bronzer. What’s musical theater without a little cultural appropriation?

Tears stream down young Watson’s face as white Effie’s deplorable wig belts out "And I Am Telling You." This is the moment Watson’s now-famous heartbroken glare starts to form. When Watson returns to her own South Bronx school, she’s noticeably changed. The student rages against her teacher for the upsetting systematic inequalities between her education and the one kids are getting in Riverdale, just two zip codes away.
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“Taystee” Jefferson

As usual, Taystee’s latest flashback breaks our hearts. This time, in episode 6, “Flaming Hot Cheetos,” we find out her birth mother Mia (Tiffany Mann) gave her daughter up because the young woman was only 15 years old when she got pregnant. At the time, Mia was living with her boyfriend’s aunt in a "nasty ass" apartment and the older woman threatened to throw everyone out if the couple kept the baby.

Now, Mia is happily married with a young daughter, but promises she wants to “do right” by Taystee. When the future Litchfield inmates thinks she’s finally about to move in with her mother’s family, Mia reveals it’s not “the right time” for them. She then drops an upsetting bombshell: Mia still hasn’t told her new family about her daughter. Taystee reacts by grabbing Mia’s hair and tossing her on a car before running off.
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Daya Diaz (Dascha Polanco)

This flashback is especially good, since young Daya is played by none other than Dasany Kristal Gonzalez, Dascha Polanco's real-life daughter. In episode 8, "Tied To The Tracks," we watch Aleida (Elizabeth Rodriguez) urge a 14-year-old Daya to pursue her friend Paolo (Danny Ramirez). The only problem is, the teen has already supported her friend Claire’s decision to go after the polite, dimpled Puerto Rican boy.

Aleida doesn’t care and tells Daya to be her own friend and look out for herself. This terrible plan backfires, with both Claire and Paolo turning on Daya.
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"Red" Reznikov

We haven’t gotten a solid Red flashback episode since season 2. That is until episode 9, "The Tightening," when we meet a 20-something-year-old Red, who works a Soviet Union factory job and hates her boring boyfriend, Dmitri. Of course, we know she’ll eventually end up marry the man her friend calls a "goblin."

We soon find out what led Red to this decision as we watch her hang out with her cool, speakeasy-and-jeans loving friend Nadezhda (Natalia Zvereva). Through Nadezhda Red starts dating a dreamy, cigarette-smoking guy who’s definitely not Dmitri. When, Nadezhda goes missing over some blue jeans, or as the USSR would call it, Western Decadence, Red tells her faux punk boyfriend off.

By the end of the episode, Red is back with Dmitri when he proves he’s the one "with teeth" by hatching a plan to escape Russia by way of getting married and pretending to be Jewish. True rebels don’t need feathered hair to be badass.
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C.O. Piscatella

Orange Is The New Black takes great pains to prove the people we see inside of Litchfield weren’t always this way. This strategy even extends to the prison’s most militant guard, who ends up holding multiple women captive during the days-long riot.

In episode 10, "The Reverse Midas Touch," viewers see Piscatella like we’ve never seen him before. He’s… sweet. And he has long hair. It’s revealed the guard had an illegal romantic relationship with an inmate Wes Driscoll (Charlie Barnett) during his time at the men’s prison named. Piscatella would bring his jailed beau chocolate — among other treats — and talk to Driscoll about his personal problems. The difference between Piscatella Then and Piscatella Now is startling.

Of course, something tragic causes a monumental change in the officer’s personality. That tragedy comes when another inmate, named Miguel Rosado (Marcos Palma), catches Piscatella and Driscoll in a tender moment. Rosado responds by gang raping and beating Driscoll with his goons. Piscatella gets his revenge on the rapist by handcuffing him to a shower and trapping him under a stream of scalding hot water, leaving him to die.
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Piper Chapman & Alex Vause

After five years on a romantic roller coaster of breakups, hookups, and betrayals, Piper and Alex are officially engaged. The only way to ease fans into the milestone is to take us back to their pre-prison lives.

At the top of episode 12, "Tattoo You," a flashback Piper gets a "beauty fish" tattoo to remind others of the magic in the world. And by "others," she passive aggressively means “Alex,” who became a Debbie Downer during the couple’s tropical vacation following a bout of seasickness. A little while later in the episode, flashback Alex explains she got a "Love is pain" tattoo to show her girlfriend love isn’t beauty — it hurts.

In the final flashback, Larry (Jason Biggs) returns to show us his bare butt and get a Kool-Aid man tattoo. Although Piper is supposed to get some ink too, she instead opts out of their pact and gets white wine drunk later in the evening. She’s just sloshed enough to call Alex and tell her she misses her.
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