Condensing an entire season to take place over the course of three days was ambitious, but I can’t say I disagreed with the results. SPOILERS AHEAD, obviously.
What I Liked:
- Flashbacks (mostly).
I thoroughly enjoyed most of the flashbacks this season (more on the ones I didn’t like later). Young Frieda as a survivalist Girl Scout during the Red Scare shed some light on one of the more intriguing characters, foreshadowing the apocalyptic themes that would be prevalent this season. Seeing young Red in Russia in the late 1970s was fascinating, and Twitter lost its mind over young Dayanara, played by actress Dascha Polanco’s own daughter. None are as powerful as the flashback of a teenage Janae Watson touring an elite preparatory school filled with privileged white students and stumbling across a white girl singing “Dreamgirls” in an afro wig. It carries a powerful message of white privilege and cultural appropriation, punctuated by the line “they’ve got so much culture, they don’t even know they’re stealing ours!”
- Red and Flores: the dream team I didn’t know I needed.
The unexpected collaboration between Blanca Flores and Red is everything I didn’t know I was missing. They’re just different enough for juxtaposition, but they’re both shrewd women with a surplus of stamina uniting for the common cause of taking down Desi Piscatella. Last season, we saw both Flores and Red get tortured in some way by Piscatella- Red was deprived of sleep and Flores was forced to stand on that table. Presumably, this is why they seem the most hell-bent on bringing him to justice.
Taystee is the true hero of the season and NEVER GETS HALF THE CREDIT SHE DESERVES. She’s pretty much the smartest prisoner at Litchfield, and seems to be the only one who actually cares whether there’s a purpose for the riot. While the other prisoners run amok, Taystee negotiates with Caputo, Figueroa, and by extension, the governor’s office.
Frieda is one of the most fascinating characters in the prison. It’s clear she’s been inside for decades, and last season she nonchalantly admitted to having committed four murders in a year. Several characters now owe their lives to the bunker and her knowledge of poison.
Despite her release from prison, Aleida continues to be a force of nature. Her hard-hitting, sharp-tongued monologues of spiraling obscenity are always fun to watch, and her square-off against Judy King is satisfying.
- The return of Mrs. Figueroa.
The bitch is back. Watching her spar with Caputo is always entertaining, and I wouldn’t mind seeing her again, questionable moral compass and all.
- All the callbacks to people who hadn’t been mentioned in a few seasons.
Yadriel, the father of Maria Ruiz’s infant daughter, has only been seen in flashbacks since he stopped visiting at the start of season 3. His reappearance was touching, and I never thought I’d be so excited to see Pornstache. While we’re on the subject of babydaddies, does this mean we can expect the return of Bennett next season?
What I Could Have Done Without:
- The Piper and Alex flashbacks.
I honestly stopped caring about Piper and Alex’s relationship sometime after season 2. The flashbacks don’t add anything significant to their dynamic, and do we really need to see Larry again?
- The Metheads (Methheads?)
Why exactly do the trash-toothed meth duo of Angie and Leanne get so much screen time? We aren’t emotionally invested in them as characters and they’re fairly one-dimensional, save for Leanne’s Amish backstory reveal in season 3. They’re unabashedly despicable in way that can be amusing once in awhile, but I don’t know why we see so much of them this season.
- Pennsatucky’s apparent romance with her rapist.
I get that this is more complicated than it sounds on paper, but I 100% side with Big Boo on the opinion that CO “Donuts” Coates should be kept as far away from Pennsatucky as humanly possible.
- Piscatella’s “Friday the 13th” remake.
I know that his systematic, horror movie-esque capture of the prisoners was meant to be cheesy and campy, but it’s more or less than moment the show loses all plausibility.
“I have to go feed the eyebrow.” – Red
“Two zipcodes from here, they got laptops and galleries. They got so much culture, they don’t even know they’re stealing ours!” – Janae Watson
“All you had to do was a be an equally bad mother, not a hundred fucking times worse!” -Aleida Diaz
“Maybe you realize that you’re just hopelessly in love with an incredible, insane, beautiful woman who is never gonna love you back.” -Nicky Nichols
“In Russia, we have no proverbs. We have vodka and misery.” -Red
“It’s better when you forget there’s a whole world outside of the this place, and then maybe you don’t feel so bad.” -Maritza Ramos