Orange is the harrowing New Black season six finale that gave fans an ending that reflects the tough times we're going through.
Not only did Blanca (Laura Gomez) leave prison early to be unwittingly taken to a detention center while her husband waited outside the prison with a bouquet of flowers, but Natasha Taystee Jefferson (Danielle Brooks)went down for the murder of CO Piscatella - which she did not commit - at the end of the season five riot. All hope of a return to the outside world is now gone - and if a witness does not withdraw his testimony, she will serve a life sentence in Litchfield.
To make this worse, Blanca's and Taystee's respective fates were revealed when Piper (Taylor Schilling) was granted early release, underscoring the racial imbalance in the U.S. - both as a result of the strict anti-immigration policies that defined Donald Trump's rule and the systemic racism that preceded it a few hundred years.
After the brief glimmers of hope we saw during last season's riot - where inmates temporarily held power over MCC, the company that owns the Litchfield Penitentiary - this was a steep descent into reality.
The show has always tread a fine line between drama and black comedy, addressing issues like sexual assault, guardianship, and racism throughout its runtime - but the finale marked the first time the reality of the situation hit women properly for many of them one: that they are at the bottom of the social ladder and that there is no happy ending in sight.
Here we dissect some of the key themes of the finale.
Taystee's fate has been looming over the past few episodes. Her discovery that her friend Black Cindy (Adrienne C Moore) testified against her after she made a deal with prosecutors to avoid further jail sentences felt like a nail in her coffin. It was both surprising and devastating to see Taystee break apart as the chief judge read her guilty verdict in a no-sound scene.
Taystee has been a beacon of joy throughout the run of the show, and it was heartbreaking to see her story turn bleak so quickly, all on behalf of the guard who killed her best friend Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley) on trial (That's why she started the riot at the end of season four).
As Danielle Brooks said Der Hollywood-Reporter , It doesn't feel like this injustice can be corrected, even though Black Cindy and Suzanne Crazy Eyes Warren saw officers shoot Piscatella's body after the riot.
It's been there for a lifetime, said Brooks. I don't see this turning around. Unless someone revokes their testimony, there is no coming out for them.
We can still hope that something wonderful will reverse the situation, but it seems like the writers pushed this act forward to show the reality of racial discrimination that pervades the judicial system.
In one of the final episodes of the season, Piper looks rather ridiculous at Taystee - on the eve of the criminal trial that will determine her fate - for advice on why she was relentlessly tormented by fellow inmates while she was in Litchfield.
Taystee explains that the only time they see their privilege is when they look at Piper.
At least that's only in here, she says. People have been fucking me all my damn life. You see a dangerous, poor black girl from the ghetto who should be locked up here forever. S.o if you want to swap places…. I am game.
Piper and Taystee have slowly become the show's yin and yang, representing two social factions on opposite ends of the spectrum - and this moment showed that brilliantly.
When Taystee's verdict was passed, Piper was packing her bags to leave Litchfield and return to the real world after a guard tampered with the numbers on her file to urge her to join the lucky 25 recipients of an early release (a public relations campaign by MCC after the uprising).
They were both present at the scene, but while Taystee was scapegoated by prosecutors for pulling the trigger - and being poked and beaten by the guards on her return - Piper received another life boost and left prison eight months earlier than expected.
Piper will be back though according to executive producer Tara Herrmann .
It looks like this.When Blanca (Laura Gómez) left the prison with Piper, she and a few other inmates were taken to a separate line, where ICE officials (entrusted with the enforcement of immigration services) put them on buses that were believed to be going to a detention center. It is the subject of the authors' wish to address the current political situation in the US, which has resulted in the Trump administration tightening measures to curb illegal immigration - including an extremely controversial border policy aimed at separating families has led.
The writers have invested brilliantly in Blanca's story throughout the season (before that, she was a minor character we knew little about). We saw her and her partner Diablo attempt to conceive a child by prison-quality artificial insemination (the specimen was smuggled in via the visitor's bathroom and moved by Nicky through a device made of straws) and began taking care of their outdoor lives - only to pull the carpet away so cruelly in the finale.
And now it looks like Blanca will be an important part of season seven as we look at ICE's temporary incarceration (MCC, now called PolyCon, also announced in the finale that it will be opening immigration prisons).
That's where we stop with Blanca - we see the face of ICE, Gómez told Buzzfeed. It seems like we are moving on in this direction, there is another side of the conversation about prison privatization that we are going to see and that is ICE, another side of the prison complex and how it is being used.
Interestingly, the decision to tackle Trump's immigration policy comes at the expense of the show's schedule. Believe it or not, we are only 10 months in Piper's sentence, which means it should be in the drama in 2014 - two years before Trump was elected.
But throughout the series there are references to the #MeToo movement and Trump's border wall - not to mention Blanca's fate, that is very 2018.
While we now know that both Piper and Blanca will return, it seems unlikely that the same would be true of Sophia von Laverne Cox, who was also released from prison.
Sophia has become something of a shadow figure since she was in solitary confinement for six months in season three. On season five, she explained to Gloria that she had finished playing in prison and just wanted to do her time without attracting any further attention.
Her release comes after she accepted a silent payment of £ 300,000 from MCC in agreeing not to join former director Caputo's lawsuit, which he hopes will turn the PR tide on the company and the public on Taystees Will affect favor.
She explains her reasoning to him without apology and announces that she can now send her son to college and support her wife. While she was a strong character on the show, it feels like her story ends here - and we'd be surprised to see her life from the outside all over again next year.
The two most notable absences this season - and the uprising's biggest losses - were Brooke Soso (Kimiko Glenn) and Maritza Ramos (Diane Guerrero), the late Poussey Washington's girlfriend and Flaca's basic BFF.
We know that many of the inmates have been put on buses and sent to various prisons (and we took a quick look at one that Big Boo now resides in). It's likely that Soso and Maritza are in the same jail, since they got on the same bus at the end of season five - and it's possible they'll play a role one way or another in season seven, but we will don't do it hold our breath.
Other notable absences include: Janae Watson (Vicky Jeudy) and Alison Abdullah (Amanda Stephen), Leanne Taylor (Emma Myles) and Angie Rice (Julie Lake), Kasey Sankey (Kelly Karbacz) and Brandy Epps (Asia Kate Dillon) and Chang's ( Lori Tan Chinn).
Despite all efforts, Alex was further embroiled in the gang war between C- and D-Block in Litchfield Max with the new girl Badison Sinclair and her boss Carol.
She's made deals here and there to get Badison to leave Piper alone (she tried to add more time to Piper's sentence) - and ends up at Carol's table in an unwanted position.
However, Carol and her sister (whose 40-year rivalry had sparked the rivalry between the prison blocks) literally killed each other after plotting to jointly murder Frida (whom she betrayed for a place in the Minimum Security Army both years earlier) from the prison ) had surrendered.
There is now a free seat at the head of the table, which Badison - arguably a more cruel tyrant than her predecessor - will take. It's fair to say Alex is facing an uphill struggle to stay out of trouble (she currently has three years left to serve).
While the ending understandably attracted some anger online, the writers should be commended for turning our expectations upside down and telling a somber but necessary story. Taystee's fate is heartbreaking, but as she says in her closing statement during the trial - she is one of millions of women who have been wronged thanks to the privatization of the prison system and systemic racism. These stories need to be told.
The same applies to Blanca, who suddenly found herself among the main characters in the series. The current situation in the USA is alarming and it is nice to see that it is so pointedly addressed in a mainstream drama.advertising
Orange is the New Black Season 6 is streamed on Netflix UK NOW