The final season of Orange Is The New Black is a thousand miles away from season one. Gone are the days of light banter and toilet paper party decor. With many of the comic relief characters locked away in Ohio and Taystee battling with the news that she will be facing a life sentence, there was little hope for the season to be the saucy, funny show it once was.
Over the seasons, Litchfield has become a darker, more frightening place where the characters’ futures have become increasingly hopeless. By season 7, the series has evolved into something far more upsetting, realistic, and brilliant.
Through the use of old and new characters, the final season explores the horrors of immigration detention centers. Martiza’s return to the show and release from prison started as something entertaining and hopeful and then descended into tragedy.
Even more tragic was the storyline of the new character Carla, who is doing everything she can to get back to her children. It’s clear that the staff at MCC do not care for her struggle and the ladies working in the kitchen at Litchfield become her only hope. It was only Blanca who got her happy ending when she was reunited with Diablo and the reunion is a moment to remember how much her character has developed. Back in season one, we all thought she was crazy and now, we find ourselves tearing up that she finally gets to return to Diablo.
Piper’s struggle in season seven illustrates just how difficult it is for inmates to get back on their feet after prison. Piper has always been the most privileged character on the show and yet even she surrenders to the strict rules laid out for her during the probation period. Her troubles with Alex always seemed inevitable but in the final moments, it was a relief to see that she chose to wait for the love of her life up in Ohio.
And now for Taystee’s storyline. Taystee started out in season one as a bubbly, caring character who reoffended because life was easier in the inside. After the death of Poussey, the riots, and her trial, she ends up facing life in maximum security. Taystee has always been a strong, hopeful character but after her appeal is denied, she grows tired of fighting.
Over the last few seasons, Taystee has become the real hero of Litchfield. Her ending is thus the most triumphant when she makes the decision that she wants to use her time to make the lives of others a little bit easier. It was the most beautiful, tearjerking ending we could have hoped for. Taystee’s triumph is a triumph for hope in a bleak, cruel and unjust world.
Overall, the season finale delicately handled some heavy issues in a realistic and compelling way that opens our eyes to the injustice of the prison system. It also gave each character a final farewell and while some were bleak, others were hopeful and all of them were realistic.
The season finale was one of the most tearjerking episodes yet and the writers could not have done a better job wrapping things up for the wonderful and troubled ladies of Litchfield. An incredible and enlightening season.