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How Season 6 of “Orange Is The New Black” Finally Revels In Hardcore Prison Shit

Spoiler alert

I didn’t catch on to Orange Is The New Black until it became the show that nobody watches anymore. The former darling of Netflix, debuted in the summer of 2013, and its arrival was heralded with the level of fanfare that tends to make me skeptical because it’s only a matter of time before the love turns to hate, and that’s when I usually go in for the kill.

I had no choice but to binge-watch the show that has is endearingly the fave of haters, who love to publicly reject with celebrated disdain.

So, in the summer of 2017, it was my turn to indulge in all the seasons of delight and infamy. And I basically discovered a cast of characters that were criminally stuck in the rut of generic offerings — until Litchfield prison was no more.

I liken my flexibility with OITNB to my affinity for Spirit airlines. I get why people hate Spirit, but it works for me because I’ve figured out ways to make it work.

I get why most have bailed from the series that tends to center the annoying Piper as the privileged heroine, while the Black and Brown inmates are susceptible to the elements of degradation, that afflicts in the scripted and non-scripted realms.

But once the riots happened and season 5 ended with the level of uncertainty that elevates the quota of relevance, with the possibility of renewed investment, that’s when you have to succumb to habitual viewing.

Season 6 is currently available, and there’s no doubt that the dignity of writing and dramatic fare has been restored.

This is has everything to do with location, as the crew moves to new grounds that provide the perfect combustion of chaos and mayhem — raising the stakes considerably.

The shock factor is visible from the very first episode, as our displaced inmates are grappling with the aftermath of the riots, and how the unfamiliar and very crude surroundings exacerbate the chilliness of the tomb of their discontent.

At first, everyone is strewn about to resemble the after effects of a terrific blasts. And then slowly but surely, the pieces begin to form into an irregular puzzle as one by one, mini-reunions are granted, courtesy of shifts and changeovers. Not everyone makes the transfer, but the ones who do, are obviously back to fulfill critical roles in the overall scheme, and while they’re at it, they all look worse for wear.

The main theme of the new season is embodied in the hardcore shit of a maximum security prison, and how the political climate ensures that normalized disorder remains the key component in exacting and retaining the tyranny of injustice — against society’s most vulnerable.

Right off the bat, the women are thrown into the boiling water of intense interrogation, and the scenes reveal how the mental beatdown is performed for the task of recruiting the weak-minded, who have no choice but to give into the fate of betrayal and lifelong guilt trips.

Season 6 excels in depicting the graphicness of the system that we all know is royally fucked up. But this time, we’re able to observe the righteous transparency of the soldiers of injustice, who are nonchalant about their deadly tactics when it comes to the sickening methods of coercion, and how prisoners are chopped into mince meat and tossed in the bin of victimhood.

Piscatella’s death haunts the entire season, and the search continues for the targets who will be cursed for their participation in the deadly mayhem.

This PR nightmare has birthed a scandalous pudding that puts MCC in an unenviable position, and this becomes the dramatic thread that encourages a range of emotions, which naturally breed some of the best acting we’ve seen thus far.

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Everyone’s “lawyered up!”

Suzanne (Uzo Aduba)is still as riveting as ever, as she continues to thrive in the half-imaginary dominion, as a way to counteract the potency of the present. But the story arc is really embedded in the conflicts that hold Black Cindy and Taystee hostage. Both Danielle Brooks and Adrienne C. Moore come into their own as actresses that can handle the assignment of demonstrating inner turmoil with thespian-like tendencies.

The flashbacks are also a genius interlude that give the newbies some depth as we’re treated with the earlier deposits that illustrate qualities that manifested — to conceive these roving troublemakers.

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Some new kids on the block

Caputo is influx as he’s been cast out from his position and contemplates future employment in another facility, that sounds like an even worse deal than what he’s already survived. His ongoing tryst with his replacement and dependable fuck buddy — “Fig” does nothing more than gross us out, even with the attempt at making them unexpected paramours.

Piper’s search for her long-lost love Alex, finally ends with their unremarkable reunion as they pick up where they left off. The only joyous addition to Piper’s existence is the C-Block resident bully, Madison “Badison” Murphy, played with relish delight by Amanda Fuller. The cell they share lightens up with scenes that end with chewing gum plastered in Piper’s hair.

Pennsatucky’s life on the run is a brief road trip that ends with her willingly joining her comrades-in-crime. And what she finds is the shifts in power that incite a territorial war, that’s devised by the OGs of the blocks, who seamlessly gather the troops for a war that they’re being forced to care about — or else.

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The OGs

All pettiness aside, the grittiness of trying to keep your head from being plunged into shit water, long enough to drown you, is the reason why season 6 is a stellar introductory course to the coarseness of prison life. This switch in climate can’t be glamorized by the sheen of the orange jumpsuit, that has been replaced with hues that spell — danger.

The hardcore prison shit both inside and outside is exactly what was needed to give Orange Is The New Black the levity that it deserves after doing too much time on the bench.

It’s tough witnessing Aleida’s inability to prosper after being released to a society that isn’t receptive to her background. And after failed attempts at securing a decent living that promises the possibility of successfully securing her kids, she reverts to drug trafficking in the same prison that holds her daughter — whose job as the middle-man reaps serious consequences.

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Hustle mode

Daya’s destructive habit was inevitable as she juggles the reality of spending the rest of her days behind bars, and the affair with “Daddy,” that fuels her ability to coast through emotional disorganization with practiced haziness.

Lorna’s pregnancy makes her somewhat immune to the minefield around her, as Red and Nicky are both spicy ingredients in the quest to stay alive, and out of range of the bullets that have to be expertly dodged. There’s no love lost between Gloria and Ruiz and the hostility between the two hits a tempo that exposes intense personalities, that will do whatever it takes to slobber all over the grime in an effort to leave enough parts clean.

Frieda isn’t handling the bullseye on her back very well, and even Suzanne isn’t “Crazy” enough to provide relief or distraction from the strobe lights that her detractors are aiming her way.

The best parts of the season is culmination of all the segments that lead to the finale. And this time it’s personal.

Aleida’s partnership with one of the correction officers, both between and above the sheets, is the tragedy of how almost impossible it is for former inmates to successfully function outside the prison system. And it only gets bleaker for women of color.

When she discovers her daughter is a junkie, her pain is temporary as she surrenders to the fact that for the sake of the kids — her mission can’t be thwarted — no matter what.

Piper’s early release and Blanca’s transfer to a detention center courtesy of the newly-installed initiative, ICE , is the distastefully appropriate way to heighten the unfairness of White privilege, and how it never fails to insulate the fragility of White women at the expense of Black and Brown.

The real bummer is the awful deal handed to Taystee and how being found guilty of second degree murder despite her innocence is the final straw in a narrative, that regardless of it’s political relevance — still leaves a bitterness that won’t wash out easily.

The “White Savior” complex that revitalizes Caputo into action is another boring element that might impress some, but hopefully most will be left with the instinctual “eye roll” or “side-eye,” especially since he refused Taystee’s plea for help when it mattered most.

Black Cindy’s heartbreaking guilt over the damning role she played in her friend’s imminent downfall is also an assault on the sisterhood that is left in tatters.

And for the most part, we all crumble under the strain of watching the crookedness of the officers in charge as they not only maximize their power to empower greed and recreational needs, but also exact crime and punishment with extreme force.

There were times when I couldn’t bring myself to watch the physical and mental assault bestowed on the women. And through most of the season, it almost felt like being granted access to the behind-the-scenes testimonies of prison life — unfiltered.

Orange Is The New Black isn’t a dramatic wonder like the shows that are rightfully recognized as such, but this season definitely upped the ante by rejecting the sugarcoating, and presenting the hardcore truth of prison life.

And this grueling change of pace allowed the characters to mature into interesting versions of what we’ve been craving all along.

This also paved the way for the brilliant assimilation of new faces, which inspired nail-biting scenes, that established the core of a show that has finally graduated from the “orange” into murkier territory.

Season 6 of OITNB will leave you disgusted at how fiction magnifies the unsettling and even horrifying items of our current status.

Prison may seem like hell on earth, but so are the reddened and slippery streets of America, and once that sinks in, you may find yourself appreciating the clones of our possible existence — now more than ever.

Juggling Wordsmith. I have a lot to say! https://medium.com/membership https://www.patreon.com/Ezziegirl

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