Fifth season of Orange is the New Black is dedicated almost exclusively to the few day when Litchfield penitentiary was in riot. It follows the development of the situation and elucidates it from various angles; it tells about a vast number of characters, tracing each of theirs storylines quite meticulously, with conflicts and alliances forming and crumbling apart all the time. Several COs are taken hostages, including Caputo; they become a bargaining chip in the negotiations aimed at improving inmates’ lives, as well as making it right by Poussey. The negotiation are being held by Taystee – for the inmates, – and by representative of the governor (who brushed aside the corporation as soon as the conflict hit the media), with several other inmates and Caputo heavily involved. The COs in the meantime become exposed to quite a few unpleasant manifestations of the inmates’ love, but remain relatively safe, with the exception of Humps (one of the guards) who was shot in the very beginning and later got unlucky enough to get a bad in the hospital ward next to people wishing him ill. The inmates were united only for a brief moment, which soon elapsed, and some sort of feudal chaos took over, with several unions competing for resources, some of them also trying to establish some sort of order, and a great number of loners and tiny groups just minding their own business. At some point Piscatella in disregard of a direct order infiltrates the prison to take the inmates down one by one, and for some time he manages to get away with it. The several days of the wild reign come abruptly to anticipated end, when special ops finally gets the order allowing suppression by force.
Over the course of the show the internal time gets increasingly dense and slow: the duration of the season stays relatively unchanged, while the period of time it covers gets shorter and shorter in each new season, – it’s like a river spats broadwise and because of that slows down its pace forward. This approach allows Jenji Kohan to go deeper into the characters and their stories, instead of rushing the plot along, and as a result, we have incredibly complex narrative with unrivaled number of elements, all of which are relatively harmoniously balanced – relatively, because sometimes the tempo lagged a little bit when some characters were put aside for a period of time too long not to notice their absence; also, it’s quite obvious that some characters (like Bursett) were intentionally removed from the story to unload it at least a little bit. This, however, is pretty much all the criticism of the season I have in me. I think it’s brilliant, ingenious, and generally a remarkable work of cinema, powerful and beautiful in its sincerity.
All the stories of the season, each and every one of them, is interesting to follow; some of them produce wonderfully poetic images and situations, others provide the viewer with something to smile (or even laugh) at, and the best – combine humor with sadness of life to achieve some amazingly powerful pinnacles. I could’ve dived into specifics here, but learing it all anew will be much more enjoyable for you; besides, there’s too much going on there to squeeze it all into just a few paragraphs. Highly recommended for self-study.
Created by: Jenji Kohan
Directed by: Andrew McCarthy, Constantine Makris, Phil Abraham, Nick Sandow, Uta Briesewitz, Michael Trim, Erin Feeley, Laura Prepon, Wendey Stanzler, Mark A. Burley, Jesse Peretz
Written by: Jenji Kohan, Jordan Harrison, Rebecca Angelo, Lauren Schuker Blum, Tara Herrmann, Josh Koenigsberg, Molly Smith Metzler, Lauren Morelli, Anthony Natoli, Carolina Paiz
Performed by: Taylor Schilling, Uzo Aduba, Natasha Lyonne, Danielle Brooks, Jackie Cruz, Lea DeLaria, Selenis Leyva, Taryn Manning, Adrienne C. Moore, Jessica Pimentel, Dascha Polanco, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Nick Sandow, Yael Stone, Kate Mulgrew, Laura Prepon, Jason Biggs, Samira Wiley, Laverne Cox, Annie Golden, Laura Gómez, Diane Guerrero, Vicky Jeudy, Julie Lake, Emma Myles, Abigail Savage, Constance Shulman, Lori Tan Chinn, Tamara Torres, Lin Tucci, Kimiko Glenn, Dale Soules, Lori Petty, Emily Althaus, Blair Brown, Rosal Colon, Francesca Curran, Daniella De Jesus, Asia Kate Dillon, Shannon Esper, Arianda Fernandez, Kelly Karbacz, Miriam Morales, Jolene Purdy, Amanda Stephen, Catherine Curtin, Joel Marsh Garland, Matt Peters, Alysia Reiner, Pablo Schreiber, Alan Aisenberg, Beth Dover, Jimmy Gary Jr., James McMenamin, Nick Dillenburg, Evan Arthur Hall, Mike Houston, Brad William Henke, John Palladino, Emily Tarver, Michael Torpey, Berto Colon, Deborah Rush, Ian Paola, John Magaro, Mary Steenburgen
Time: 12h06m (a. 13 episodes)
Entertaining quality: 5+ out of 5
Art quality: 5+ out of 5
Links: (website) | (wiki)