‘Orange Is The New Black’ Bids Litchfield Inmates Goodbye


Digital Spy

Netflix’s highly acclaimed television show “Orange Is The New Black” concludes their series run with an intense and emotional seventh season.

Natalie Dest, Managing Editor

*Spoilers ahead*

The words “You’ve got time” lead the opening credits for “Orange Is The New Black;” where serving time is exactly what the inmates of Litchfield Penitentiary have been doing for the past six seasons.

Premiering on July 26, the seventh and final season of one of Netflix’s most successful and groundbreaking series finally bid its farewell.

“OITNB” sprung about from Piper Kerman’s 2010 memoir about her 13-month stay in federal prison due to drug smuggling. However, the Emmy-winning-series gained popularity by looking beyond protagonist Piper Champan’s [Taylor Schilling] story, and diving into the heavily diverse group of women she’s incarcerated with.

It’s hard to come by another TV series that features such a contrasting group of women, each portraying their own personal story. It’s the final season where these stories explore growth, empowerment, mental illness and death, that makes the show’s wrap so compelling.

During the fifth season, creator Jenji Kohan decided that she would conclude the series after seven cycles, which is where the planning for the end began. But according to executive producer Tara Hermann, it wasn’t easy.

“We are a room of debaters; for sure, there was a debate about how everybody ended us,” Hermann told Vulture. “Jenji often has to make the final call. But mostly we fought and talked it out and got to a place where we all felt good about where they all landed.”

The series finale entitled “Here Is Where We Get Off” included a montage detailing what became of each of the inmates. It even included characters the audience hasn’t seen since the fifth season after the inmates were separated to different federal prisons.

“It was intended so you could hold those people in your mind and imagine them, just like we hope that everybody can keep imagining all of the characters living in this maybe-parallel universe,” said Hermann. “Their stories go on, and we wanted to place them for people so you felt satisfied for their ending, and then also you can maybe visit them in your mind every once in a while.”

Perhaps the most surprising part of the montage is when Alex Vause [Laura Prepon], is transferred to a prison in Ohio and reunited with several former inmates of Litchfield Penitentiary.

Chapman began her final season trying to establish her new life after being released early from prison in the sixth-season finale. Torn about leaving her new wife Vause [wed in a prison ceremony] and being apart from her for up to three years, the two struggle to keep their relationship afloat. Vause suggested that the two try an open relationship, which results in Vause getting involved with prison guard CO McCollough [Emily Tarver]. This leads to a relationship of blackmail, drug sales, sex and stalking by the end of the season.

Vause ends up breaking up with Chapman due to her relocation to Ohio, however, in the finale we see Chapman moving to Ohio to be closer to Vause. The couple is last seen laughing together during a prison visitation.

“The Piper that we created on the show took a lot of turns and detours that the real Piper hadn’t, so we definitely needed to make sense of all that through the character. She had gone to some dark places, but in the end, we knew we didn’t want her to end up taking the easy road,” said Hermann. Vause, however, was given a darker story to show how she responds to feeling vulnerable.

“She tries to bail,” Hermann said. “She’s foreseeing heartbreak or hurt, so she tries to get out of it before it happens to her.” But, in the end, the couple gets one of the few uplifting endings of the series. “Of all the stories, this is one where we could get away with a hopeful, happy ending,” Hermann said.

As for one of the show’s most memorable tragedies, the painful breakup of Taystee’s and Black Cindy’s relationship continues throughout season seven. After Taystee is wrongfully accused, and eventually convicted of murdering a prison guard, the inmate is sentenced to life in prison after Cindy testifies against her in exchange for early release.

Their relationship grows toxic after Taystee sends an anonymous letter to Cindy’s family that causes much turmoil, leaving her homeless. In the final episode, we see her taking steps to mend her broken relationships while Taystee finds purpose again through tutoring other inmates for their GED’s and starting a fund for the passing of inmate Poussey Washington from previous seasons ago.

Regarding the ending to the show’s close trio, Nicholas is trying to stay sober and out of trouble’s ways, Lorna Morello obsesses over the loss of her son Sterling after delivering him prematurely, whereas Galina “Red” Reznikov struggles in isolation and eventually becomes diagnosed with dementia.

For each of the inmates, the final season zooms in on each of their personal struggles with hopes of a happy ending. Although some characters are left with uncertain futures, the producers leave it up for the hopes and faith from the audience.

Just as the inmates of Litchfield have done their time, so has “Orange Is The New Black,” itself. If you have yet to see the final season or any season for that matter, “OITNB” is no doubt of a worthy investment.