Orange Is the New Black 6: To The Max

Ashtyn Britt
abritt@lc.edu

 

After leaving off season five of Orange Is the New Black we see our favorite group of prisoners being separated to different unknown locations after completing the prison riot.

We find out immediately this season, that most of our favorite characters have now entered Maximum Security with the most dangerous criminals and more violent guards. We’re introduced to plenty of new and interesting characters, plot twists you’d never expect, smart commentary on real-life social issues, and two wonderful new villains.

I suggest if you want to avoid any spoilers, you leave this article now and start binge watching season six on Netflix! I promise you won’t regret it. Even now, I won’t give away all the plotlines, so you can still be surprised and enjoy parts of the show. Now, on with catching up with a couple of our favorite faces to see in prison:

Piper and Alex had been separated at the beginning of the season, mostly focussing on Piper wondering where her fiance is. She doesn’t seem to care about anything going on around her, asking anyone and everyone possible if they have any idea where Alex may be.

When she is told by Red that “the tall one” is dead during the investigation, referring to Piscatella, Piper assumes she means Alex and then proceeds to blame Red to the investigators for the riot and what happened to Piscatella. A few episodes later, when Alex returns, it’s revealed that she had been sent to a real hospital to get surgery on her shoulder twice after Piscatella broke it last season.

Piper and Alex then begin to plan and live their lives together in prison, with some brief interruptions from new character “Badison” trying to hook Alex into one of the prison gangs, as well as torturing Piper for fun. It is through primarily Alex and Piper’s story we discover the war between C block and D block of the prison, the two people in charge of each block being rival prison drug lords.

These are no regular drug lords, though. They are old sisters, Barbara and Carol, who have each wanted the other dead for over thirty years now. They’re both serving life terms for murdering their youngest sister Debbie when she was a little girl. They also both have a long-standing vendetta against Freida, who helped pit the girls against one another in prison when they were young while exposing how they got their contraband items into the prison to the warden, which is how Freida was downgraded to the Litchfield Minimum Security Prison we all know and love. Now that Freida is back, Barb and especially Carol want their pound of flesh.

Piper discovers that before Freida’s betrayal, C block and D block for the most part actually got along fine and would even play kickball together. So, Piper decides to bring kickball back to try to reunify the prison, unknowingly giving Barb and Carol the chance to set up an attack for their blocks to try to kill each other, distracting the guards long enough for them to sneak off to Florida to try to kill Freida.

When Piper is given early release, it is a shock to everyone. Piper is forced to miss the kickball game, and suddenly she is overcome with sadness over how much she will miss her prison family, and how she will still have four years before Alex can join her back to the free world so they may properly get married. Piper then makes Alex swear to not do anything bad, to try to possibly get her education, and to get out as quickly as possible so they may be reunited.

Then, Alex surprises Piper on her last day in prison with a “prison wedding,” with Nicky as the officiate. The prison wedding is also attended by Lorna, Flaca, and Cindy. As we see Piper leave alongside Blanca, we discover that while Piper is in fact released from prison and wondering what to do next that Blanca is actually being transported by ICE to a new immigration detention centre.

We also see how, after a brave move by a recently christian-converted Maria convinces the CO to make the D block and C block teams mix their players up, the entire attack is abandoned by both teams and they simply play a nice game of kickball. When no panic has stirred at the prison, Barb and Carol assumed the other betrayed them and then proceed to kill each other.

Suzanne, Taystee, and Cindy have had some amazingly complex story arcs this season. Taystee is being falsely blamed and charged with the murder of CO Piscatella from last season, who we as the audience know was actually caused by an accident from one of the officers of the Correctional Emergency Response Team who broke up the riot at the end of season five.

Taystee decides to take it to court, and is supported by members of the Black Lives Matter movement and is even given good representation by a lawyer from the ACLU. We also learn more about the impact she made nationwide by leading last season’s riot, receiving fanmail, being able to give interviews to the press, and hearing about how the whole country is talking about last season’s events.

There is also a new character, a CO named Tamika Ward, who was a good friend of Taystee’s when they were teenagers. They at times still have a good friendship, until she hears Taystee say anything about COs or how they treat inmates, which hurts Tamika and makes her turn against Taystee. However, this doesn’t stop her from attending Taystee’s trial at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, it is shown through a flashback that Cindy and Suzanne heard the CERT Officers admitting to killing Piscatella and their plan to blame it on an inmate while the two were hiding, before being caught and sent to Max. On the bus to Max where the prisoners agreed on what story they would go with, Cindy made Suzanne swear to stick to the story and not tell the truth.

While Suzanne struggles without her medication and adjusting to new prison life, not to mention keeping the truth of what happened to CO Piscatella a secret, she is soon put back on her medication and sent to what the prisoners call “Florida,” where the old ladies and transgender prisoners are kept and is shown to be the most peaceful place in the prison. Suzanne becomes friends with Pennsatucky and Freida, and avoids Taystee and Cindy for the majority of the season. We also see her later joining the kickball team, and enjoying herself as she plays the game with other inmates.

When Cindy is told during the investigation at the beginning of the season that she had her prints on the gun, she accidentally lets it slip that it was because she took the gun away from Taystee. This leads the investigator to tell Cindy that if she didn’t give them more useful testimony, she wouldn’t be allowed immunity from life in prison. So, Cindy tells them that she saw Taystee point the gun at Piscatella’s head instead of the whole truth, and agrees to testify against Taystee in court.

Cindy deals with severe stress and guilt the rest of the season, even trying to call and warn Caputo and confessing to what really happened, but still follows through on testifying against Taystee in court. It is due to Cindy’s testimony that Taystee is found guilty, and leaving her fate unknown to the audience until season seven next year.

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