Few shows are as daring as Netflix's Orange Is The New Black. The show expounds upon its original source material, Piper Kerman's memoir of the same name. The series gives fictional characters dimensional backstories, all while highlighting the problems with the prison industry that Kerman and so many others experienced firsthand.
In the show's fifth season, the inmates at Litchfield Penitentiary have had enough of being treated without dignity. As was hinted in the season 4 finale, they've staged a full-on riot, with Daya (Dascha Polano) pointing a gun at CO Humphrey (Michael Torpey). The inmates are storming down the hall from all directions, and a riot is brewing.
We didn't have to wait long to find out if Daya actually fired the gun. She shoots Humphrey, but not fatally. The shocking moment comes after Humphrey pleads for his life in Spanish, only to learn that Daya doesn't speak the language.
The other inmates are quick to start kicking Humphrey — after Poussey's (Samira Wiley) death, tensions between the prison's inmates and guards are at an all-time high. But Gloria (Selenis Leyva) stops Daya, saying it's not too late. Gloria brings the wounded guard to Sophia (Laverne Cox) for medical attention. She wasn't a doctor, but she has emergency training thanks to her previous career as a firefighter, which means Sophia has more medical knowledge than any of the other inmates. Sophia helps Gloria take Humphrey to the medical unit, where he's placed under care, in a bed between Suzanne (Uzo Aduba) and Maureen (Emily Althaus).
Meanwhile, the rest of the inmates start carving out places for themselves to hunker down during the riot. Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning) and Big Boo (Lea DeLaria) stake out the commissary. Nicky (Natasha Lyonne) and Morello (Yael Stone) find themselves in charge of the medicine supply, despite Morello's warning that it's probably not a great idea for Nicky, an addict, to be around drugs. Red (Kate Mulgrew) is in Piscatella's (Brad William Henke) office, determined to find something she can use as leverage against him. And Brook (Kimiko Glenn) is in the library, mourning Poussey's death, when Judy King (Blair Brown) joins her, terrified after the riot interferes with her planned release.
And Taystee (Danielle Brooks), Cindy (Adrienne C. Moore), Allison (Amanda Stephen), and Janae (Vicky Jeudy) have serious beef with Caputo (Nick Sandow). He's just wrapped up the press conference in which he said Poussey's death wasn't Bayley's (Alan Aisenberg) fault — even though it definitely was. Devastated at the loss of her best friend, Caputo's former assistant wants justice, as do the other Black women.
"You done our girl wrong, Mr. Caputo, and you gonna fix it," Taystee tells him, before punching him in the face. Using an iPad taken from MCC's PR rep, Taystee and the others force Caputo to read a statement they wrote about Poussey's death. They post it on Twitter, hoping to go viral.
"She didn't deserve to be in here, and she definitely didn't deserve to die in her," Caputo says in the (forced) statement. He leaves off the next line, which names Bayley as her murderer, but Taystee repeats it to the camera.
Over the course of the episode, it becomes clear that Daya didn't realize what she was getting into by firing the gun. She points it at her fellow inmates, including Maria (Jessica Pimentel) when she offers to help. To the guards' knowledge, though, she's not responsible for the gunshot they just heard — the inmates use the guards' walkie system to spread the rumor that Humphrey was planning a mass shooting. (There's a deeply depressing theme throughout the episode as various characters name different mass shootings to describe what Humphrey's allegedly doing.)
And where is Piper (Taylor Schilling) throughout all of this? She and Alex (Laura Prepon) are determined to lay low — there are only a few months left in Piper's prison sentence, and they don't need to call any more attention to themselves. There's a wrinkle in their plan, though, when they find MCC's Linda (Beth Dover) in the bathroom and decide to take pity on her.
"She's so pathetic," Piper tells Alex of Linda. "She reminds me of me." At least the show has caught on to the fact that many of its viewers don't love its protagonist.
The episode ends on a cliffhanger, with a shadowy figure knocking the gun from Daya's hand and rendering her unconscious.
Frieda (Dale Soules) finally became a series regular this season, and the second episode opens with a flashback about her growing up during the Cold War. Her father taught her to be prepared for the worst, which, in his case, meant having a bunker in their home, stocked with emergency canned goods and other supplies. His mindset towards young Frieda was harsh — he abandoned her in the woods to see how long it would take her to find her way home — but it also made her the best Nature Scout in her troop.
That sense of preparedness has carried over into Frieda's current life, too. She grabs peanut butter and other supplies before two guards trap her, along with the prison's three white supremacists/neo-Nazis, behind a grate. And while it's hard to feel sympathy for Litchfield's skinheads, it's uncomfortable to see the guards lord their power over them, at one point playing "fuck, marry, kill" and saying one of the women has "dick-sucking lips." Eventually, Frieda outsmarts the guards with her survivalist skills, though, pretending to poison them and then offering to make an antidote so they'd release the four women from the grate.
Meanwhile, the video Taystee, Cindy, Allison, and Janae made of Caputo still hasn't gone viral, much to Taystee's disappointment. But outside the prison, things are getting serious — guards from a maximum-security prison, as well as police, have arrived at Litchfield.
Inside, Maria's still trying to take control of the riot, given Daya's insecurities and fears about being sent to a maximum-security prison. She gathers the inmates in the chapel to hold a meeting about "Litchfield 2.0." To emphasize that the inmates are in control now, the women bring the guards onto the stage, and the inmates begin throwing things at them. They force the guards to strip down to their underwear, take one guard's insulin, and force another into a "cavity check" as he cries in front of the crowd.
Many of the guards have mistreated the inmates, but it's hard to watch. At one point, even Flaca (Jackie Cruz) whispers that what Maria's doing is "kind of messed up." Eventually, Alex tells Piper that the gathering is "fucking insane" — just as the crowd dies down, and Maria hears her. Alex tells Maria she's not going to be a part of the torture and walks out of the room. Gloria, meanwhile, encourages her peers to "come together."
Eventually, the video of Caputo does go viral — but not for the reason the group intended. Cindy was drinking Caputo's iced coffee in the background of the clip, and internet users started sharing her image with the hashtag #BlackLattesMatter. It appears the women have been imprisoned since before the Black Lives Matter movement was created in 2012, as they don't understand the "joke" behind the meme.
Taystee is affected most of all, lamenting that "people don't care" about Poussey's death. It's only the second episode, but Danielle Brooks' powerful acting is already a highlight of the season.
During all of the commotion, Suzanne, Maureen, and Humphrey are still in the medical center, and Suzanne ponders if they're in purgatory. She halfheartedly questions whether they can kill Humphrey again, if the three of them are already dead. Rather than being scared, the CO is intrigued by the discussion, offering his own morbid ideas about how best to murder someone. It's not the first time we've seen these tendencies from him — he forced Maritza (Diane Guerrero) to eat a live mouse — but it's still disturbing.
And while it doesn't seem like Maureen actually believes they're in purgatory, she still decides to give killing Humphrey a try. She blows oxygen bubbles into his IV when no one else is looking, sending him into a stroke that leaves him paralyzed.
If anyone was wondering what Bayley's been up to since killing Poussey — which, really, we weren't — it turns out he's working for his dad's dog-grooming service. He tries to turn himself in to the police, saying he's confessing for murder, but they don't believe him, because he's drunk.
Outside the prison, Piscatella wants to storm Litchfield, but the head of MCC refuses, since Judy King is still inside and it could create a PR nightmare. Instead, MCC decides the authorities should ask the inmates what their demands are.
For Taystee, the demand is simple: Bayley must be arrested and tried for Poussey's death. The other demands range from better tampons and access to better lawyers to having hot Cheetos available to the inmates. Allison orchestrates a group vote on the demands among the inmates, eventually creating a list of 10 demands. Taystee is disappointed that Bayley's arrest falls at number 9, but they tape the list of all 10 to the prison fence.
It remains to be seen whether the demands will be met, though. One of the demands is "amnesty for all involved" in the riot, "provided that there are no casualties" — but the way Humphrey's looking after the stroke, he might not live through the end of the riot.
There's also a flashback this episode, but it's not from one of the inmates — instead, we meet a college-age Linda, who's at odds with her sorority big sister, Meggan. Fed up with Meggan's constant putdowns about her sisters' shortcomings, Linda leaves her alone outside at a party, and she freezes to death in the snow. Instead of feeling remorse at Meggan's death, Linda lies to the police, telling them Meggan is suicidal, before assuming the role of sorority leader for herself.
Inside the prison, Linda's doing surprisingly well at impressing the inmates, other than Piper and Alex. She wows Maria with a faux story about her career making counterfeit documents, and Big Boo takes a liking to Linda (or, as she's going by in prison, "Amelia von Barlow"). She's also continually appalled at the inmates' substandard living conditions, which aren’t what she envisioned while working for MCC. Meanwhile, Piper and Alex find photos of Caputo on Linda's phone, causing them to panic about what she'll tell him.
And while Taystee's plan to go viral didn't exactly work, Brook is dealing with loss in a different way. Abandoned by Judy, she finds herself sitting on the floor of the cafeteria with Suzanne and Maureen, blocking off the space where Poussey died. Gloria hands them their dinner as they sit on the ground, in a beautiful moment of wordless acting.
And, as has become par for the course, the episode includes more disturbing revelations about the guards. Luschek (Matt Peters) reveals his affinity for prison-themed porn. And in an incredibly difficult-to-watch moment, Coates (James McMenamin), hiding in a ceiling passage, watches Pennsatucky masturbate.
Even with all of the uncomfortable plots, though, Orange Is The New Black manages to sneak in a few moments of humor. Prisoners being mistreated isn't a fun topic, but the show excels at blending brief, funny moments into otherwise serious (and often sad) episodes. There's a great montage of Boo walking around in Caputo's suit that adds just the right amount of levity to an otherwise heavy episode.
Leanne (Emma Myles) and Angie's (Julie Lake) propensity for pantsing their fellow inmates has paid off. The two addicts pants Gloria — and the gun falls out, revealing that she was the one who took it from Daya (presumably to stop her from making decisions she'd regret later). After a brief scuffle, Angie has the gun, and she has no problem pointing it at her fellow inmates to get them to do what she wants.
As far as character backstories, we learn that white supremacist Kasey Sankey (Kelly Karbacz) and Allison have something in common. Before being incarcerated, Allison and her husband introduced a second "wife" into their family in an attempt to save their marriage. Sankey, meanwhile, told her husband he could sleep with another woman while she was in prison. But she was hurt to see photos of the two of them together on social media, as she thought it would be a private arrangement.
At Litchfield, skinheads Helen (Francesca Curran) and Brandy (Asia Kate Dillon), along with Anita (Lin Tucci) and Yoga Jones (Constance Shulman), have decided to torture Judy, convinced she's receiving special treatment during the riot. To get them to leave her alone, Judy tells them she's got a helicopter drop of pizza and booze on the way to the prison.
Suzanne and Brook's grief has taken an interesting turn, too. Maureen suggests that Poussey's spirit has “unfinished business” on Earth, so she and Suzanne orchestrate a séance. Taystee is skeptical, but Cindy convinces her to join in. Unfortunately, it leads to a fight between Taystee and Brook over who knew Poussey better.
And as for Angie's newfound power, she and Leanne decide to put on a talent show, with the hostage CO's as competitors. They force Linda and Maria to be the last two "judges," though Angie's vote is the only one that matters in the end. CO Stratman (Evan Hall) earns praise from Leanne and the audience for his stripping routine, but Angie chooses Josh (John Palladino), MCC's PR hire, as the winner.
The "prize" is that Josh gets to choose the show's loser. He quickly points to Caputo, who went off-script by not blaming Bayley at the press conference that inspired the riot. Caputo's punishment is entrapment in a Port A Potty.
Red and Blanca's persistence also pays off in this episode. They find a case file revealing that Piscatella was responsible for the death of an inmate at the prison he worked at before being transferred to Litchfield. The pair are also relying on a lot of "energy vitamins," which seem like they're going to cause a health issue for one of them, or for Piscatella, if they get ahold of him.
And Sophia has apparently had enough of working in the prison's medical unit. She decides she wants to be more like Sister Ingalls (Beth Fowler), so she voluntarily surrenders herself as an escapee to the police. They take her to a maximum security prison, where she learns that Sister Ingalls got pneumonia and was given a "compassionate release" from the SHU.
In classic OITNB fashion, the episode ends on a surprising twist. The skinheads wrap scarves around their heads that resemble hijabs before dragging Judy to the prison roof. A helicopter captures photos of the group just as Judy passes out from vertigo. It's not a stretch to assume the media will spin the story as a celebrity being harassed by Muslims during the riot.
Things are escalating even further now that the photo of Judy and the others has been released. Thanks to the hijabs, multiple news outlets are reporting that Judy King has been taken hostage in a "possible terror situation" at the prison. One news chyron actually reads "Muslims attempt murder of Judy King."
And thanks to the press coverage, the governor is finally getting involved. He calls the head of MCC, who happens to be an old friend, to ask why they've allowed this "PR nightmare during my election year." MCC's excuse is that they're "standing down" because they don't want the hostages killed, which doesn't fly with the governor, who says he'll send in a Correctional Emergency Response Team (CERT). At least the inmates have one small victory, though: Gina (Abigail Savage) has fixed the power.
Back in the outside world, Aleida (Elizabeth Rodriguez) is having trouble finding a job. Her nail designs are impressive, but the salon she wants to work at tells her she'll have to fork over $20 a day for two weeks of unpaid training. The illegal business practice doesn't fly with Aleida.
At Litchfield, Gloria calls Aleida with one of the newly discovered cell phones, wanting to tell her about the riot and Daya's actions. But she can't bring herself to do it, so she pretends everything's fine and she happened to find a phone. Still, it's not long before Aleida sees the news and realizes Gloria's lie. She's angry at her friend — but she's even more upset at how the inmates are being portrayed by the media. The newscaster Aleida sees says that inmates have no intention of become members of "polite society" after being released.
Furious, Aleida calls the news station to let them know that what their employees are saying isn't true. When the producer she speaks to realizes Aleida was in prison at the same time as Judy King, she invites her to appear on the channel.
To combat all of the bad press, Cindy and Taystee decide they'll make Judy King give a statement to the reporters swarming Litchfield. With Josh's help, they concoct a speech about how she's not a hostage. Josh also suggests that she share stories about some of the injustices at the prison; when he realizes she hasn't suffered any, she agrees to lie.
Janae's not okay with Judy speaking for the rest of the prisoners, though — she doesn't have the experience they do. (The episode includes a flashback to Janae's disillusionment after she visits a private school in Riverdale, where students are much better off than at her South Bronx school.) As they approach the press, Taystee realizes Janae is right.
Taystee interrupts Judy and gives a speech herself, saying Poussey's name and listing the ways the inmates are mistreated. She cries while talking to the press — someone give Danielle Brooks an Emmy — before pushing Judy into the crowd, since she was supposed to be released anyway.
As for the gun, Angie and Leanne forget where they hid it. While searching for it, they discover the hiding place Pennsatucky set up for Coates in the laundry room. Pennsatucky sees the gun in Angie's pocket, grabs it, and points it at them, trying to help Coates go free. (The dynamic between her and Coates is deeply unsettling, to say the least; after Boo sees them kissing, Pennsatucky says she can't control the "chemicals" that are her feelings for him.) She gives Coates the gun, but he accidentally fires it and shoots Leanne in the hand.
Caputo also has several visitors to the Port A Potty where he's trapped, a punishment the inmates have taken to calling "the Poo." Red visits him to criticize his decision to hire Piscatella, but Caputo says he couldn't do anything about it since there were no charges against him. The warden also begs for help from Maria, telling her he'll make sure time isn't added to her sentence. When Maria tells him Piscatella already added five more years to her sentence, Caputo says that it can be taken off her file — if it's even been logged there — since there hasn't been a hearing.
For the most part, the season has been blissfully free of Piper. She shows up in this episode only to ask Alex why others are copying her by dragging their beds onto the lawn. The reason, of course, is that Alex told them she's a murderer. And while Alex doesn't mention the dead guard by name, Piper's angry that she has revealed this part of herself to the others at all.
As for Coates, he's quickly able to escape the prison, thanks to the gun. But when he walks out the door, he unwittingly enters the press conference where Taystee and Judy were speaking. Coates faints in surprise before being flanked by officers. Will he finally be brought to justice?
Finally, some comic relief.
The sixth episode opens with Pennsatucky being held in solitary confinement, with the other inmates chanting that she should be sent to the "Poo." Suddenly, the Law & Order theme starts playing, thanks to a phone Boo's holding, in a scene that's instantly one of the season's most memorable moments. Boo tells the others that Doggett has the right to a fair trial, and they reluctantly agree.
In a ridiculous mock trial scene, Boo tries to discredit Angie by saying Saved By the Bell can't be her "favorite" if she doesn't remember a certain episode. Much to Leanne's chagrin, the others decide to punish Doggett to "community service," because "one crime does not define a person."
Outside the prison, it looks like Coates might not be punished for having the gun after all — we see him in a shock blanket, saying he knows nothing and wants to go home. And Bayley is having suicidal thoughts; he attempts to take his own life by drinking the dog hair dye from his father's dog salon, but it turns out to be non-toxic. When his parents tell him he needs help, Bayley is relieved, saying he needs to be locked up. And Aleida does appear on TV, but her frequent use of curse words renders her message incoherent.
The governor's office, meanwhile, has decided to send boxes of supplies to the prison, including Hot Cheetos, Takis, and tampons. Taystee and the others are excited to see that some of their demands are being met. The supply drop also gave us Red and Blanca dancing to "Hot Cheetos & Takis," adding on to the Law & Order moment to provide some much-needed levity.
In a flashback, we see Taystee's group home mother tell her that her birth mother has reached out. An 18-year-old Taystee meets her birth mother, Mia, in a public park, and Mia explains that she sent her to the system because she was only 15 when she got pregnant and had no parents, home, or money. Taystee is disappointed to learn Mia hasn't told her new husband and younger daughter about her, eventually slamming her against a car before running away from the group home.
In the present day, Janae has decided to help Brook deal with her anger at the prison system over Poussey's death. She takes Brook running outside, saying that eventually, all you'll be able to think about is the pain in your legs.
No longer in charge of handing out medicine, Nicky's taken up providing advice to other inmates. When Lorna comes to Nicky to discuss her recent dreams, the two end up having sex. Lorna notices her nipples are darker, which she assumes means she's pregnant. Nicky tells Lorna that she's "batshit crazy" and needs help.
Frieda, meanwhile, sends out personal invitations to Gloria, Yoga Jones, Anita, Gina, and Norma to join her bunker. The women are skeptical at first, but Frieda reveals that she's found access to a secret room with couches, shuffleboard, and other recreational activities. Frieda calls herself a "survivalist," and after seeing all of the space and food she's secured, the others are happy to join her and "retire from all that nonsense out there."
And in a change of heart, Maria has decided to join Alex's group of women sitting the riot out on the lawn. Caputo's words put her prison sentence in perspective; she wants to get out as soon as possible to see her daughter again. Piper doesn't love that Alex is the leader of the outside group, but she finds a new role for herself with Taystee.
Nita (Gita Reddy), a rep from the governor's office, calls the prison to discuss the hostage situation, saying the snacks were an "act of good faith." Disappointed that the office doesn't seem concerned with the rest of the demands — namely, justice for Poussey — Taystee and Cindy decide to collect all of the Cheetos and Takis. Piper relishes in the chance to have power and helps collect them.
Once all of the snacks are collected, Cindy, Taystee, Allison, and Piper set fire to them in front of the prison and all of the reporters gathered there. (If the show needed a way to keep Piper at Litchfield longer, this stunt could definitely add time to her sentence.)
Because the show can't be too funny, though, the humor is balanced out with a bittersweet scene at the end of the episode. We see a flashback to Taystee's first day at Litchfield, when she met Poussey in the library.
Apparently, Pennsatucky's idea of community service is handing out her mom's "yellow drink," which is made from soaking candy bars in water. The other inmates love it, and it looks like she's finally back in their good graces (other than Leanne's, that is).
But now that Suzanne is out of the medical unit, she's not adjusting well to the riot; she believes her parents are at Litchfield for visitation. Allison says that to help with her mental illness, they should recreate the living conditions she's used to in the prison. She and Cindy create "Bitchfield," a prison within the prison to make Suzanne feel at home. It doesn't work without other inmates, though, so they borrow the hostage COs, forcing them to do count and make their beds according to the rigid instructions the inmates are subject to.
And, surprisingly, Piper and Taystee are still working together after the Cheetos fire. Piper suggests they do something "constructive," so Taystee suggests they make a memorial for Poussey. After listening to a litany of bad ideas from the other inmates — Maureen is intent on making hair dolls — they give Brook's idea a chance. Brook gathers the books from around the prison and creates a living library: a hallway filled with books that everyone can share.
Less surprisingly, Lorna's pregnancy announcement doesn't go as planned. She calls Vinnie to tell him the news, but he hangs up and says he's coming to rescue her from the riot before she can get the words out. When he arrives and sees Lorna's promposal-inspired banner about a "lasagna in the oven," he gets back in his car and drives away.
On the whole, the inmates are coming together and getting along during the riot. There are people selling handmade necklaces and offering pube-braiding services, and inmates are trading tampons for candy and other provisions. The white supremacists even get along with some of the Latina women, setting up a makeshift coffee shop, complete with an open mic performance space. And Flaca and Maritza have moved on from their beauty tutorial videos to giving other people makeovers — first off are Blanca, Nicky, and Alex. (Of course, there's plenty of sex going on in this time of peace, too — Boo and Linda consummate their budding romance, and Piper and Alex have sex in the episode as well.)
Red and Blanca are still missing all the fun, though. Having uncovered Piscatella's history, they've moved on by attempting to unlock Humphrey's phone — and they eventually succeed by cutting his finger off.
And in classic OITNB fashion, all isn't well that ends well. After relaxing with Frieda's group, Gloria realizes she's missed a number of text messages — her son Benny is in the hospital.
Red and Blanca's plan to trap Piscatella and force a confession from him has run into some snares.
The duo uses Humphrey's phone to text Piscatella, asking for his help on the inside. It's not a bad plan — Piscatella is fed up with being overpowered by the governor's office and the others on the outside. When he tells the riot gear-clad officers outside that he's been in contact with Humphrey, they remind him that the governor wants them to negotiate. Piscatella, though, stands firm in his opinion that the inmates shouldn't be "rewarded."
But Nicky and Lorna find out about Red and Blanca's antics — and Nicky realizes Blanca gave Red speed (a.k.a., the so-called "energy vitamins") to keep her mind sharp during the entrapment attempts. Nicky tells Red to let the drugs wear off before taking any action, reminding her that her idea could "get us all killed." Nicky helps Red as the speed's effects fade, but Lorna does release Blanca. She sets a Home Alone-style trap for Piscatella, but ends up falling on it herself.
Meanwhile, the governor's office is bringing in the big guns. Apparently, the governor has personally asked former assistant warden Natalie Figueroa (Alysia Reiner) to negotiate with the inmates. She tells Taystee and the others that the private prison budget doesn't allow MCC to meet the inmates' demands, but they've seen the MCC executives' salaries online and don't buy it. Taystee tells Figueroa that the new guards need to be trained like the old ones were — to treat inmates with humanity.
Unfortunately, Taystee's efforts might be for naught, thanks, again, to Judy King. King has decided to go on The Review, interviewed by Meredith Vieira (playing herself), to discuss her tribulations. Judy's husband warns her it's a bad idea to discuss the riot on TV before giving a statement on TV, but she ignores him.
To Judy's dismay, though, Aleida is being interviewed in the segment, too. To her credit, Judy does say Poussey's name, but Aleida is quick to criticize Judy for talking about the prison, since she wasn't subject to the same conditions the rest of the inmates were.
Judy then makes the mistake of mentioning the fact that Humphrey was shot. It's a fact that the press, and MCC, wasn't aware of yet — and Judy follows up by telling Aleida that it was Daya who shot him. (Technically, Judy tells her it was the "Spanish girl who doesn't speak Spanish," but Aleida recognizes that it was her daughter.) Aleida calls Gloria, who passes the phone to Daya, telling her to take responsibility for her actions.
Unfortunately, Daya's not the only one affected by Judy's statement. Figueroa gets a phone call about the news and tells Taystee that amnesty for all inmates isn't an option now that they know a guard was shot, and that the riot is therefore not peaceful.
Piper and some of the others decide Daya should turn herself in so everyone isn't punished for the riot and will still have a chance at amnesty. Daya agrees, turning herself into Figueroa after calling Pornstache's mom and asking her to adopt her daughter out of the foster system. (After some pleading from her son, she agrees to raise the child as her own.)
And Caputo is still stuck in the Poo, but he's showed some small signs of humanity. After Gloria begs for his help to see Benny in the hospital, he tells her to use his office phone to call MCC. He's also joined in the Poo by Pennsatucky, who punches Angie after getting tired of the white supremacists pushing her around as punishment for Leanne's finger.
It looks like Piscatella is violating his agreement to stand down, too — in the end of the episode, we see the CO dressed in riot gear and picking the lock to one of the prison doors.
Piscatella is, indeed, in the prison — and Red's not wrong to call him the bogeyman.
Tired of waiting for instruction, the CO breaks into the prison, and starts kidnapping the inmates, one by one. Piscatella starts with Blanca, who puts up a noble fight, before moving on to Boo, Nicky, Piper, and Alex. The consequences of Nicky's capture, in particular, are dire: Lorna is the only one handing out the inmates' prescription medications, and she decides that Suzanne doesn't need hers, because "crazy is just a word people invented to keep the extra interesting people down."
Red is determined to convince the others that Piscatella's in the prison, even if no one else believes her. But when she finds Frieda's note in her cookbook, she thinks "Looking for your people?" is a trick from Piscatella.
While Red is looking for the missing inmates, Taystee, Cindy, and Janae look for reinforcements for their negotiations with Figueroa. Cindy and Janae free Caputo to help with the negotiations, unaware of his history with Fig. Also unaware of their romantic past? Linda, who approaches the Porta Potty section looking for Caputo. Chang (Lori Tan Chinn) informs her that he's not there — and also somehow knows he was once sleeping with Fig? — and sends her on her way. It's possible that Pennsatucky also heard Linda, and she might be able to use her identity as an MCC employee against her later on.
Pennsatucky's not the only one who's onto Linda, though. "Amelia" slips up and says to Boo that MCC would never increase Litchfield's budget without filing a breach of contract form. And two other people recognize Linda as the "hostage" Piper and Alex had first captured. Sensing that her disguise is fading, Linda interrupts the negotiations to beg Caputo for help. Instead of taking pity on his former flame, he tells Figueroa and the other inmates that she's a recent transfer from the psych ward.
Still, it's not clear how long Caputo will actually be on Taystee's side. This episode's negotiations focused not on justice for Poussey, but on the prison's lack of an education program. Figueroa argues that the construction work was a "life skills" experience, while Caputo tells her it was a chain gang. It's easy for him to be on the inmates' side here, but will he defend them when it comes to Bayley?
Regardless of the demands, it looks like Maria's not the only one who wants the riot to end. Gloria uses Caputo's office phone to call MCC, and the man in charge tells her that she can see her son if she frees the hostages. So she might have a hand in the riot's ending.
The episode ends with Red challenging Piscatella after finding his hostages. Her willpower is strong, but he's got a lot more force and equipment than she does, so it's probably not going to end well.
With three episodes to go, the riot's end seems nowhere in sight. Figueroa and Caputo's negotiations have taken a sexual turn and made almost no progress. But unbeknownst to MCC (and most of the inmates), there's a second hostage situation going on.
Piscatella still has six women captive in a closet, and he's not showing Red any mercy. The sadistic CO cuts off her hair, saying he'll show her prison family who she really is. We also learn what Red discovered in Piscatella's file, through a flashback to his time working in a men's prison. Piscatella had a relationship with one of the male prisoners, and a group of other inmates beat his boyfriend when they found out. Piscatella chained the ringleader of the group to a shower, where he burned him alive with scalding-hot water.
None of his hostages manage to free themselves from the duct tape handcuffs, but Piper does manage to get the tape off of her mouth and scream for help.
Despite Frieda's best efforts to stay out of the riot's drama, she and the other women in her bunker fall squarely in the middle of it. The group goes to investigate after hearing Piper's cries for help. Gina opens the door and leads Piscatella back to the bunker, where he falls into one of Frieda's many booby traps. Freida also shoots him with a dart covered in some sort of plant that immediately renders him unconscious. Score one for survivalism!
We don't see much from the rest of the inmates in this episode, but there are a few interesting exchanges. Linda has what she thinks is a heart-to-heart with Pennsatucky, so she frees her from her Port A Potty. Instead of thanking her, though, Doggett punches Linda, who said she agreed with her statement that prisoners are worse off after Litchfield than before they were sent there.
There's also an incredibly uncomfortable scene where Stratman fingers Leanne — with Angie in the room. The cause for this unlikely pairing? Leanne and Angie decide the CO is perfect for a fingertip transplant. To stop them from slicing his fingertip off, Stratman suggests she "test it out" first. If only these two knew there was a perfectly good sliced-off fingertip, courtesy of Red, already floating around the prison.
Suzanne, meanwhile, heads back to the medical ward after Lorna denies her access to her prescriptions. Much to her chagrin, she sees Humphrey there and realizes he's no longer breathing. That's definitely going to throw a wrench into the negotiations — Caputo assured Fig that Humphrey is still alive. It's fair to guess he won't be the warden when all of this is over.
Now that the group has moved Piscatella to Frieda's lounge — which is an abandoned pool from when Litchfield had swimming activities in the '70s — no one agrees on what to do with him.
Red wants to torture the CO, a notion that makes the rest of the group uneasy. When no one else supports Red's plan, Norma ties her up to keep her away from Piscatella.
After Red says it's not her fault — the others believe it is, since she and Blanca tried to lure him into the prison in the first place — the group begins turning on each other. Piper is criticized for taking the Cheetos, Nicky slams Gina for cutting off the power, and Gina's not happy that Yoga Jones and Anita helped kidnap Judy, leading to the terrorism reports on the news. In the end, Frieda brings the group to a peaceful resolution: They'll hold Piscatella captive until the end of the riot, and will them "hand him over." Gina has a video of him torturing the others, so they're confident authorities will believe their side of the story.
The negotiations, meanwhile, do seem to be moving forward. Figueroa agrees to providing the inmates with better healthcare when Taystee points out that regular care would help lower the prison's costs of ER visits.
Gloria's plan to see Benny, though, has hit a snag. She successfully brings the guards out to the Poo, making Pidge (Miriam Morales) and Ouija (Rosal Colon) think she's torturing them. Really, she's planning to release them so she'll be granted furlough. (It helps that Ouija and Pidge are snorting coffee grounds like cocaine, so they're not paying Gloria much attention.)
Maria overhears Gloria on the phone with Benny before he's taken into surgery. She's not angry at Gloria's plan — she says she's brave and that she doesn't owe her fellow inmates anything. Gloria's plan seems to have worked, as the guards have apparently escaped through a hole in the fence, but Ouija pulls her back as she tries to escape.
Lorna and Suzanne aren't doing well, either. After being told that both Poussey and Humphrey are in a "better place," Suzanne doesn't understand how they can both be in the same heaven. She starts ripping out Litchfield's ceiling tiles, trying to get to the paradise herself.
Cindy goes to Lorna, who's still denying people their prescriptions. Lorna refuses to give Cindy Suzanne's medical file, so Cindy grabs a bottle of pills, which she tells Allison are lithium. Allison warns her not to give Suzanne an unknown drug, but Cindy still does, hoping the pills will calm her down.
As for Lorna's own mental health, she does take a pregnancy test, but the results aren't clear. From Lorna's point of view, we see one line and then two lines. But it's not revealed if the second line is actually there, or if it's just in Lorna's head.
And if Boo didn't know Linda's true identity before, she definitely does now. Boo sees a photo of Linda and Caputo on her phone, and she becomes convinced that Linda is a "mole" for MCC.
Blackmail, break-ins, and… an engagement? There was so much packed into this episode, I almost forgot Frieda's group still had Piscatella tied up. Red does speak to Piscatella briefly, but he doesn't appear to have any remorse for his actions.
Gina, meanwhile, has posted the video of Piscatella breaking Alex's arm online, and it's apparently brought in more than a million views. Protesters are swarming Litchfield to speak out against the prison's mistreatment of inmates — and things are bad enough that the governor's office is ready to meet the inmates' demands. (Side note: If the video's going viral, won't the people who tried to kill Alex realize she's still alive and send someone else for her?)
They're ready to meet all of the demands — except for one, that is. "The prosecution of CO Bayley is a separate legal issue," Figueroa tells Taystee. Taystee tells her and Caputo that the deal is off until there's justice for Poussey.
Nita tells Caputo that since the inmates didn't accept the deal, they'll have to move forward with the CERT officers and their riot gear. She asks him where the hostages are "so we can avoid them in the crossfire" — and they discover the hostages have already escaped.
Maria tries to take Gloria's credit, telling Nita it was all because of her that the hostages were released. Unfortunately, there's less in it for her than she expected — Nita tells Maria that she and MCC can't give her less time in prison for helping release them. (Back inside, the others are less forgiving of Gloria, locking her in with Luschek, the only CO left.)
After learning it wasn't Taystee who released the hostages, Nita decides Taystee has "no intention" of ending the riot, so she directs CERT to storm into the prison. From the looks of it, there will be casualties — my guess is that Linda will be wounded in the crossfire. She hasn't had a great go of it in this episode. After Boo blackmails her for $5,000, she proceeds to tell the cafeteria of people who Linda really is at MCC, prompting her to throw the substandard shoes and pillows she's "purchased" for them at her.
And while Gloria didn't make it out of the fence after the hostages, one inmate did: Pennsatucky. Unfortunately, she used her newfound freedom to break into Coates' house, where she puts on his CO shirt and crawls into his (empty) bed in a truly disturbing scene.
On a happier note, love is in the air for several couples. Nicky calls Vinnie and tells him that Lorna really is pregnant — Lorna took roughly a dozen pregnancy tests, all of which were positive. She admits that Lorna can be a lot, but says she's doing it out of love, and from Vinnie's reaction, it seems like there's definitely still hope for their marriage.
And another marriage might be on the way, too. After a phone conversation with her mom, who's in the throngs of protesters outside Litchfield, Piper realizes that she wants to spend the rest of her life with Alex. Through flashbacks, we learn that Piper has a fish tattoo to remind Alex to see the beauty in things. We also learn that Piper was less than impressed with Larry's tattoo of the Kool-Aid man, whom he called "a hero with a practical ability." (Hi, Jason Biggs!) Piper asks Alex to marry her, and she says yes.
Oh, and Bayley thought it would be a good idea to apologize to Poussey's dad. It wasn't, and now the former CO is aimlessly wandering around Philadelphia after skipping out on the bus ride back to Litchfield.
Is this the end of Litchfield as we know it?
After Taystee refused Figueroa's offer from the governor, the CERT team is storming Litchfield. The officers are beating and tasing inmates, despite orders to use minimal force.
Cabrera (Danielle De Jesus) has decided to use Luschek as a human shield, attaching herself to him with handcuffs. In a rare moment of human decency, Luschek helps Gloria, telling her to run into Healy's office and use the phone to call her family. She manages to reach them — and it turns out Benny's okay.
The CERT team doesn't know about the bunker and the pool area, though, and the inmates there are safe. (That's not including Gina, Anita, Yoga Jones, and Norma, who decide to surrender and go back into the prison.)
In addition to those who were there before, Cindy, Taystee, and Suzanne are there. The former two carry Suzanne there, still unconscious, with Nicky's guidance. Luckily, Frieda has an Epi-Pen, which wakes Suzanne up.
The CERT storming puts things in perspective for some of the inmates, too. Angie tells Leanne that she's "raped guys before," expressing remorse for what she and Leanne did to Chapman. "What if we're the bad guys?" she asks Leanne. And despite thinking no one would care if the two of them died, Leanne is surprised to see her mom in the crowd as she and Angie are dragged from the prison. She comes to this realization after she and Angie set fire to the inmates' files, and knowing MCC, there might not be digital copies.
It looks like Nicky's call to Vinnie works — he's in the crowd too, and he jumps the fence that's holding back the protesters. He and Lorna profess their love for each other before she's lined up with the other inmates.
After being counted on the lawn, the inmates are forced onto buses, not knowing where they're being taken. Maritza and Flaca are split up, and Lorna doesn't get to say goodbye to Nicky, who's still in the pool area.
When a head count reveals that 10 women are still missing, Caputo and Figueroa tell the team about the pool area and how to get there. As the officers see a figure emerging from the room's direction, one of them opens fire, but it's not an inmate. It's Piscatella; Red unties him and tells him to walk out. If the press hears that the team killed a CO, it won't end well for MCC (and the governor is probably not going to win that reelection bid).
There are 10 women in the pool room, but it looks like the officers haven't figured out that Pennsatucky and Chang have escaped through the fence. Linda's still among the inmates, which explains one of them, but the count should still be off by one. Is there another non-prisoner hiding among the inmates, too? (Speaking of Pennsatucky, there's no resolution about the sympathy she feels towards her rapist; Coates comes home to find her there, and they sit down to watch TV together.)
The fate of the inmates in the pool area — Red, Blanca, Cindy, Taystee, Suzanne, Nicky, Piper, Alex, Frieda, and Gloria — is still unclear at the end of the finale. In a powerful scene, the women stand together holding hands before an explosion knocks the door in.
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