I just wrapped S5. I have thoughts. So, so many thoughts.
PLEASE NOTE: This “reaction” is only for folks who have watched the entire season. If you’re trying to keep up with the storyline, it won’t happen here. This is not a traditional recap.
This whole, long season picks up right where it left off a year ago. We cover 4-5 days in Litchfield where a riot/rebellion is taking place in the aftermath of Poussey’s death. It’s an interesting, if surreal, angle: what happens when the inmates take over the prison?
A lot. A whole lot. Some I was pleased with (like the guard who did the strip tease), a lot I was “meh” about, but all in all it held my attention long enough to make it thru the whole season in its opening weekend.
So like I said, some thoughts:
Because OITNB has a million characters, I’m only mentioning the ones that actually stood out to me.
Um... how do I say this right? I don't much care about any of the storylines that don't involve brown people. And that's not me being racist. I watch white people's stories all the time. Just none of stories from the white characters pulled me in this season. The saga of the bunker? Meh. Morello being preggers? Meh. Though she did get a rise out of me when she took Suzanne off her meds. I was PISSED. Red being humiliated? Sad, because I like Red and she’s an old lady, but still Meh. The two meth heads? Meh. Pensatucky? Meh. Nicky? Nice makeover, but meh. The MCC chick masquerading as an inmate Interesting twist, but still meh. Boo? Meh. The fake Martha Stewart? Didn’t care at all. Alex and Piper's engagement? Gigantic and consistent meh. I did feel bad for the lady who found out her dude had moved on via Instagram.
Taystee: Lawd, someone give that girl an Emmy today. Between her speech about Poussey and racism at the press conference and the way she (understandably) choked out her bio Mom? Geez.
That bio mom? I have a lot of empathy there (great casting, btw). I mean, 15 and pregnant and in a bad situation? I understand why she gave up her daughter. I believe Mom had the best of intentions to make Taystee family, but "hey, I have an 18 year old daughter!" is a lot to spring on a husband and she had shame and didn't want to rock her boat. She was 32 and turned around what sounded like a hard start in life. I understand why she didn't tell too, and why Taystee didn't want to have sh-- to do with her.
I do wonder though, if the bio-Mom had claimed her, would it have changed the trajectory of Taystee's life? I don't believe that would have been a "and they lived happily ever after" situation. The type of lady who lies to her husband and other kid by omission and denies you in front of them, doesn't suddenly become the perfect mom you always wished for. That was going to be complicated, at best. Taystee probably still would have ended up with Vee.
Also, Taystee’s wasted potential disturbs me on so many levels. With the right education and upbringing or even just a non-felonious mentor, she would have made a good businesswoman and been a real asset to the outside community. She's soooo smart. Her intelligence was just never channeled properly and it wasn’t developed as it could be because her focus was always on survival. I wonder how much time she gets added on for being a ringleader of the rebellion.
Suzanne: I love Uzo Aduba’s acting. She deserves all the awards, but Suzanne gets on my GD nerves. I think she's supposed to though. I just want her to get the mental help, real help, that she deserves. But IRL, incarcerated people rarely do.
Maritza and Flaca: They made me so sad. Because they're young and superficial and harmless; they're largely in prison because of no money and bad lawyers. IRL with decent resources, they would absolutely would be vloggers and they would be VERY good at it. They, like so many other women locked up, have so much wasted potential.
Black Cindy: She also annoys me. You gave someone lithium, or any drug really, without knowing the affects? Also, I think Vee pointed out in Season 3 that she’s a bit of a clown.
Abdullah: Did we ever learn what she is locked up for? I don't recall. Totally wasn't surprised to see she was in a polygamous relationship. Didn't bat an eye when her husband kissed the new wife. I did cringe when she took off her hijab when the riot squad rushed in. She didn't want to make it worse for herself by being identified as Muslim because for so many that equals terrorist and additionally bad treatment.
Gloria: I understood why she was willing to sell out everyone and free the guards. She thought her son was dying, and she had a vague promise from the governor to get out to see him. And she's smart enough to know that despite all the hoopla in the prison, there wasn't going to be much change, if any at all. There was at least something POSSIBLY in it for her. I wasn’t as mad at her plan to free the hostages.
Oh, and TV death to the woman who hopped on her back and stopped her from running out of the prison. That was some crabs in a barrel in the worst way.
Ruiz: Not only did she steal Gloria's plan (which Gloria shouldn't have told her about), she did it with no offer on the table for herself. She didn't even know the governor made the deal. She actually thought there could be change, and threw everyone's chances away for "five minutes" with her daughter. I can't believe she did that sh--, but I genuinely hope she gets her freedom, just to make it worthwhile.
Daya: Sigh. The co-captain of Team Bad Decisions. I mean, her mother is a mess, and she is by default. But she's smarter than her mom and she knows this. But she keeps making bad decisions anyway: She's gonna be in prison forever for the guard. And that's all her fault.
Janae: Mayne, listen. Her flashback going to the private school up the road nearly took me out. She hadn't been exposed to more, so she thought what she had was fine, but then seeing that there's so much more and it's not available to her? Gah!
Worse, that what she thought was acceptable was by far inferior? She realized she was the best among mediocrity. I appreciated that when confronted her teacher didn't lie to her. And I understood all of her "Why even bother playing a game that's rigged?"
I ask myself that question way too often. Way. Too. Often.
Also, the white dreamgirl. I cried and cried with Janae during that scene. I had to sit and think about the why after. Black pain-- and hair-- appropriated for white entertainment. (Black Effie's "You're Gonna Love Me" was about way more than a man.) And... and... the girl's soulless, mediocre rendition was being marveled at. Like Janae, White Effie was the best among mediocrity too. But when wealthy white girls are inferior, they're still considered better than the best black girl. And you can work your black ass off, legitimately be better and not get half the praise or reward.
Poussey: Okay, actually her dad. He’s the real MVP. Bless him for not relieving CO Bailey of his guilt. Bailey? I do feel bad for him because he's not a monster (neither was Poussey) but he still needs to face the consequences of his actions. But he showed up on Daddy’s porch all stammering and hoping for redemption and apologizing and Dad was rightfully like, "what am I supposed to do with that?"
Dad: "I'm not interested in giving you whatever you think you need so you can atone ... may you never have a day's peace."
Far be it for me to tell the parent of a murdered child how to grieve or behave, but I wish the black parents of murdered children would take the stance of Poussey’s Dad more often. Let people -- and America-- sit in their terribleness and guilt and work it out themselves without your forgiveness. Forgive at home in private, for your own peace, but don't let them feel better off of you. It's not the job of the parent of a murdered child to make it ok for anyone but themselves. Just focus on yourselves. You deserve that.
Last thought: after all that trouble in the prison and all the extra years some of those women will catch, did anything change at all? Was there even a chance for it to, as Fig pointed out they're fighting an institution and those don't change (message!) Was it worth it? The prison will be physically cleaned up and likely go back to operating just the same. The women who formed friendships and a sense of community will have to start over in a new prison, perhaps with longer sentences.
The final scene has the potential for an even more harrowing outcome with 10 inmates waiting for the unhinged riot squad to approach. It’s very similar to that mid-season finale of The Walking Dead where Rick’s group waited for Neagan to decide who to kill in that sense. I have no idea who will survive, but hope they all do.
Oh, and the Asian lady who dipped. May she go and stay gone. Forever! *Cardi B voice*
Ok. That's all I got. For now. Let me know your thoughts on the S5 of OITNB