Here’s what you need to know ahead of Orange is the New Black season 5

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Warning: Orange is the New Black season 4 spoilers

If you’ve forgotten everything that happened during the last season of Orange is the New Black, we can’t blame you.

Would YOU survive an Orange is the New Black prison riot?

Every year brings a new 13-episode tranche of the show, each a collection of high drama and dozens of complex, entangled plotlines.

Don’t worry, though – we’ve got you covered.

Remembering every character’s name is basically impossible, let alone recalling everything which happened to them a year ago.

That is, a year in real time. In Orange is the New Black time, literally no time has passed, and barely any time will pass in between the new episodes, coming on Friday.

So before you start your binge, let’s quickly recap.

Season 4 at Litchfield Penitentiary

The atmosphere in the newly privatised prison grows more strained as the season goes on, eventually coming to a head when the sadistic CO Humphrey (Michael Torpey) urges Suzanne to beat up Maureen.

Partly in response, the inmates attempt to get Piscatella (Brad William Henke) – the head of the guards – fired, all standing on tables in the cafeteria in protest.

As Piscatella, the only out gay guard on the show, marches in with his guards to remove the prisoners by force, Suzanne has a breakdown about sending Maureen to the medical facility.

Poussey – sweet, wonderful Poussey – is killed by CO Bayley (Alan Aisenberg) in the chaos, with the inexperienced guard improperly restraining her as she attempts to get to Suzanne and comfort her.

Suzanne’s immediate reaction to Poussey’s death – the most shocking moment of season 4 – is to pull a bookcase on herself, landing her in the medical area with Maureen.

After Caputo (Nick Sandow), who was made Director of Human Activity in the first episode, rebels against ruling corporate robots MCC and refuses to fire Bayley over Poussey’s death, her best friend Taystee (Danielle Brooks) snaps.

She leads the prisoners on a furious march down the hall, in a scene which forms the basis for the whole of season 5.

As CO Humphrey goes for the gun he shouldn’t have, but has hidden on himself, Maritza (Diane Guerrero) pushes him and it falls to Daya (Dascha Polanco), who picks the firearm up and aims it square at Humphrey.

To the side of this main plotline, we also have several other ongoing storylines which are sure to influence season 5.

Alex Vause

Here’s what you need to know ahead of Orange is the New Black season 5
Alex murdered a hitman who came after her because of her cartel past and buried his body, only for it to be found and pinned on her partner-in-crime Lolly (Lori Petty).

Though Lolly subsequently took the fall and was sent down to Psych, Alex is still paranoid that the authorities will find out about her part in the murder.

Sophia Burset

Sophia (Laverne Cox) is stuck in isolation for almost the whole season, only being released right at the end.

She grows increasingly distressed by her horrific situation, as she’s denied medical treatment and left to rot. She floods the room, sets it on fire and attempts suicide as she spirals.

Sophia regains her salon after being let out of isolation, but it’s anyone’s guess how much she’ll be able to use it in the chaos of season 5.


Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning), who has gone through a transformation since being involved in a near-fatal fight with Piper, was raped by CO Coates (James McMenamin) in season 3, but unexpectedly develops a friendship with him in season 4.

This caused her to be temporarily shunned by Big Boo (Carrie Black), but the pair will be back as friends in season 5 – though still dealing with Pennsatucky and Coates’ problematic relationship.

Daya Diaz

Daya spends most of season 4 worrying about her baby, who was moved into foster care after César – her and her mother’s ex-lover – was arrested.

When Aleida (Elizabeth Rodriguez) is released from prison, she promises to get her daughter’s baby back from the authorities – but Daya has a more pressing issue to worry about now.

What’s coming up in season 5?

Season 5 will take place over the course of 72 fraught, gunshot-filled hours, as the prisoners riot, loot and deal with Poussey Washington’s (Samira Wiley) death in a variety of ways.

Love and sex aren’t locked out of the story either, as several pairs including Suzanne (Uzo Aduba) and Maureen (Emily Althaus) and Piper (Taylor Schilling) and Alex (Laura Prepon) address their complicated relationships.

The new season also promises to delve further into race relations, gender discrimination, different types of privilege and how the US treats its prisoners.

Schilling has told CNN that this season is the “most overtly political” one so far.

She said that while filming season 5 in a presidential election year filled with racist, xenophobic sentiments from Trump, they found that “everything takes on more importance.

“It was a nice confluence of art and life,” she added.

“In our own lives there was a lot of chaos, and in this prison there was a tremendous amount of chaos.”

“All of the devastation around that loss (of Poussey) was heightened for six months of shooting,” Schilling said.

“[In] each of those three days, the grief and the fury were at the surface.”