If season 5 of Orange is the New Black was a sandwich it would be made of 5-star bread with 3-star filling. Usually, OITNB has a lot of filler, that’s what you get when you’re technically considered to be a comedy-drama. Yet this season felt incredibly fillery.
For context, I love this show. Ever since season three, I’ve considered it to be one of my favourites and I’ve anticipated every new season with fevered excitement. On paper and mostly in practice, season 5 sounds very tempting. After the dark ruckus at the end of season four OITNB moves to spend its entire season over the course of three days.
Doing what How I Met Your Mother did in its final season, the writers are putting its season in a bottle and essentially taking an experimental gamble. I love bottle episodes and I love concepts like this, thus I’m naturally more inclined to like this season more than most. Yet, I’d be the first to admit that there’s a lot of wasted time, useless filler and stupid character decisions packing out the middle of what should’ve been a smaller, six-episode arc rather than a whole season.
It’s a bit of a mess frankly and it would’ve been completely a write off if it weren’t for the first couple and last couple of episodes.
Spoilers by the way.
The first couple episodes are set directly at the beginning of the riot as panic ensues and people are moved into positions they would hold for most of the season. The characters scatter and the excitement brews as the season lay its cards on the table and lets the rush and panic set the story.
The final couple of episodes do something similar as the riot gear glad police storm Litchfield and people run, emotions in the air.
The problem with the season is in all the stuff in the middle. Annoying characters are annoying for longer with no comeuppance. Neo-nazis get turned into comedy characters. Rapists get forgiven and become objects of affection (I’m completely ok with Pennsatucky forgiving Coates for what he did but that “happy ending” was way too much”). No real mention or focus on Black Lives Matter. The sidelining of dozens of series regulars for frickin’ meth head girls Angie and Leanne. Useless flashbacks. Boring side plots. Forgetting old storylines.
These are some of the more annoying moments that bring the season down but despite it, my end feelings are more positive. I still feel happy about the show as a whole and I really love the final episode in particular. The storylines come together and the emotions are heightened and when ‘To Build a Home’ begins to play, I’m fully won over.
The final five minutes of this season had me in tears as characters were torn apart and they all stood together against the oncoming police. It was a deeply moving end to a problematic season but it still feels me with great hope for the future.