“Orange is the New Black” season four tackles past and future

At the end of “Orange is the New Black” season three, we were left wondering what direction season four could possibly take after the inmates broke out to go to the lake and privatization of the prison led to an influx of new inmates. What was going to happen to the characters we hold near and dear to our hearts? Season four answered most of those questions, but it also left us a little bit terrified of the future.

Continuing with a trend from season three, the show focused on more characters than just Piper (Taylor Schilling). We learned more about how the inmates ended up in Litchfield, some of the reasons leaving us hot emotional messes. New characters were introduced, a few we came to like, but many more we hated. Other characters finally managed to leave that prison hell.

A large theme this season was that of racial differences, a touchy subject I’m surprised the show tackled so well. It seemed like everyone was against each other, from the whites to the blacks to the latinas, specifically the Dominicans. This led to a lot of unnecessary conflict, but that was the point. The color of our skin is such a ridiculous reason to hate someone, especially when that person is more like you than you could have ever imagined. In the end, all the groups were able to put their differences aside to help one another, showing that race is not something we should use to divide us.

In addition to race, another important issue tackled was the privatization of the prison and the abuse it leads to from the administration and the guards. “Pornstache” (Pablo Schreiber) has nothing on the cruelty of the new guards we encountered. Almost all of them seemed to have zero regard for the prisoners’ lives and viewed them as animals, leading to tense situations that left many hurt and worse off. As for the administration, they were awful people from afar, something I’m glad Caputo could see. For them Litchfield was just an investment, so the well-being of the women didn’t matter, a perspective that will surely blow up in their faces sooner than later. Watching the constant abuse of power, I was reminded of the sad truth that there are numerous prisons in our nation that dehumanize their inmates without consequence.

Despite the major political issues focused on, there were still plenty of laughs to go around, though they seemed minuscule compared to the sad moments throughout the season. This season ended with a pivotal moment that will change the entire dynamic of the show. The future of Litchfield is unclear, and I can’t wait to see what it holds when the show returns in a year.

Show: “Orange is the New Black” season four

Creator: Jenji Kohan

Release Date: June 17

Rating: 4.5/5