Orange is the New Black season 5 has finally dropped and there is a lot to talk about. Writer (and wifey to Samira Wiley) Lauren Morelli takes us inside the writer’s room.
Obviously, if you have not finished season 5, spoilers ahead!
OITNB season 5 starts off right after Poussey’s death — an incident which left many viewers shocked and upset. So why did the writers decided to do it? Morelli said,
“We went back and forth a lot and ultimately it really came down to Jenji saying some things that I held onto that were so right on: Poussey had so much hope in her. You really feel the loss of that hope, of that smile. There are plenty of women in this prison that you think are going to stay in this prison, this is their life. But with Poussey, we felt like one day she’s going to get out and have a chance at life after this, and to be robbed of that felt like the right story way to go.”
She said other characters who were in the running included the core group of black women since they really wanted to go with a Black Lives Matter story.
Of course, Samira Wiley’s casting in Handmaid’s Tale probably had something to do with the decision.
And Poussey isn’t the only major death to deal with this season. In the season finale, Piscatella is killed by the SWAT team by accident,
“We actually debated his death a lot. Not in terms of if it would happen, but how it would happen. Which comes back to doing the entire season of the riot. How bad does it get and what do we see these women do? There were debates of whether or not Taystee should actually kill Piscatella. The ending with Taystee can be very sad, but there’s also this incredible moment of salvation for her when she chooses not to kill him. I think having him go down at the hands of the riot, given that, and then having him die at the hands of his own men felt ironic and fun and sort of the like delicious death you want for Piscatella.”
The entire season takes place over three days of rioting, and while all the major characters are present (we finally have Laverne Cox back in play!), the season is really all about Taystee, played by Danielle Brooks.
“Even without the literal win, Taytsee grew up and rose to this occasion and saw both how to be a leader and also how sometimes, you are so focused on one thing that you lose sight of the greater good. When she finally turns around to her family that she had sort of abandoned, I really love, love that scene between Black Cindy and Taystee in episode 11 when they need help with Crazy Eyes and Taystee isn’t around. Black Cindy comes to her and says, “Look at what you’re doing and meanwhile those of us who are still alive need you.” That, for me, feels like almost honoring Poussey’s memory the most because Taystee will go on and she’ll be better because of this fight.”
OITNB season 5 is currently streaming on Netflix.