The final season of Netflix’s prison series “Orange is the New Black” will be set free to the public on July 26.
However, it’s been some time since the previous chapter of the Jenji Kohan-created comedy-drama dropped on the streaming platform and some viewers may need a refresher on what’s going on with the previous and current inmates and correctional officers of Litchfield Penitentiary (this is especially understandable because the cast is huge). In an effort to save these fans from some second-screen Google searching while watching the new episodes, we’ve put together this refresher.
Taystee took the fall
Season 5 saw panicked and untrained officers shoot and kill the abusive Captain Piscatella (Brad William Henke) when they mistook him for a prisoner during a riot after a guard suffocated the innocent Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley). In an attempt to cover up their mistakes, the officers blamed inmates.
Despite her efforts to qualm the riot and seek justice for her friend Poussey, Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson (Danielle Brooks) is fingered as the culprit for Piscatella’s death and unfortunately ends Season 6 with a second-degree murder conviction. Much of this case hinged on the false testimony of Taystee’s fellow inmate and (up until now) close friend, Cindy Hayes (Adrienne C. Moore), who received immunity for turning on her friend.
Blanca’s in trouble
Blanca Flores (Laura Gómez) was a character who started out as someone on the periphery of the main characters’ orbits who was mostly there to look unkempt and scary. She’s since evolved into a three-dimensional human who has helped fuel narratives of everything from immigration policy to fertility treatments.
Blanca thought she was getting out last season — her boyfriend, Diablo (Miguel Izaguirre), was even waiting at the front gate with flowers. Instead, she found herself being loaded onto a van to who-knows-where as the company that owns the prison gets into the immigration detention business.
Piper’s on parole
Taylor Schilling’s Piper Chapman was the entry-point to this world of “Orange Is the New Black,” as the character is loosely based on author Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name about the 13 months she spent in prison for a money laundering conviction. The fictitious Piper was released on parole at the end of last season — although not before she married girlfriend Alex Vause (Laura Prepon), the former drug cartel kingpin who both brought Piper into a (brief) life of crime and turned on her to authorities when she got busted. Alex is still incarcerated.
Piper’s parole in the Season 6 finale, especially when shown in conjunction with Taystee’s conviction and Blanca’s immigration issues, is one of numerous examples of how “Orange is the New Black” discusses a historically prejudice prison system.
Daya and Aleida’s family drama
Aleida Diaz (Elizabeth Rodriguez) was released from prison in Season 4. However it hasn’t been easy for her to find work and she has taken up with, of all people, Litchfield Penitentiary’s maximum security facility captain, Rick Hopper (Hunter Emery). Together, they are smuggling drugs into Litchfield.
Unfortunately, Aledia’s still-incarcerated daughter Daya (Dascha Polanco) isn’t doing so hot either. Not only is she part of the family business — and partaking of the goods — she’s now serving a life sentence after taking a plea deal after it was learned that she shot a guard and therefore incited the riot. Daya’s daughter is also now living with the man who believes he’s the baby’s father, former CO George “Pornstache” Mendez (Pablo Schreiber).
It looked like things were turning around for Lorna (Yael Stone) before the end of Season 6. She met Vince (John Magaro), a guy on the outside, through a pen-pal system. He seemed to appreciate her kooky personality and sometimes loose grasp of reality. They were both thrilled that she was pregnant.
All of this seemed in jeopardy in the Season 6 finale, when Lorna was seen grabbing her stomach and screaming in pain. A guard dragged her to the nurse as the pants of her uniform filled with blood.
Gloria and Red are in the SHU
There are way too many cooks in solitary.
Gloria Mendoza (Selenis Leyva) was thrown in the SHU because she tried to put an end to the guards’ deplorable “Fantasy Inmate” game (a contest run by certain COs who assign a points system to various forms of inmate torture and frustration).
She’s not alone down there. Her fellow prison chef, Galina “Red” Reznikov (Kate Mulgrew), is down there due to a fight with ultimate survivalist Frieda Berlin (Dale Soules). Frieda, like Cindy, had also betrayed her friend and told federal investigators that Red was integral to the riot.
Not that there’s ever really a “safe” place in prison, but the coziest inmate quarters is probably what’s known as the Florida Block. This is where older inmates and those who might not be fitted for general population are sent.
This is where Frieda’s hiding out these days. Last season, she fooled the guards into thinking she was capable of self-harm to avoid some nefarious sisters from her past (they are no longer a threat).
Florida is also home to Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren (Uzo Aduba) and Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett (Taryn Manning). These ladies have become confidants.
Why did the chicken enter the prison?
This isn’t really a setup for a joke inasmuch as an actual question that has troubled inmates of Litchfield since the first season. There, a certain chicken is legendary for her ability to seemingly walk among the inmates in the prison courtyard and then back to freedom. The trailer for the new season suggests she may have returned.