A preview of Netflix’s Season Five of Orange is the New Black is here, and it looks like the first episode begins exactly where the last one left off. The cliffhanger ending saw a riot break out after much-loved character Poussey died at the hands of a prison guard. One particularly nasty corrections officer – Humphrey , who had managed to sneak and illegal firearm into the prison – is tackled to the ground and finds his own gun turned on him by Daya, a recent mother who doesn’t have a whole lot of time left to serve. Egged on by the surrounding prisoners, will she shoot him? Or save herself from a life in prison away from her child by putting the gun down?
The clip begins with Daya holding the gun directly at Humphrey’s head, while the other inmates shout at her to shoot him. We cut to Piper and Alex, who are desperate to stay out of trouble (Alex murdered an undercover hitman who was posing as a corrections officer at Litchfield early on in Season Four. “If this is a real riot do you think this is a step forward or a step backwards for equality?” Piper asks, before the pair run in the opposite direction. We cut back to Daya, who shouts for quiet. Then, as the video cuts to black, we hear, but don’t see, lots of things happen at once. Daya (or someone who sounds like her) shouts, “God damn it!” A gunshot. Screams and gasps. A wet sound. What sounds clattering of bullet casing falling to the floor. Something that could be the soft thump of a body falling.
This clip implies that Daya shoots Humphrey. But if that really is what happens, would Netflix really give it away upfront? If that’s not what actually happens, are the sound effects true to the scene itself? Trailers often use different audio tracks to the finished product. If the noises following the gunshot – which sound a lot like a human person being shot by a gun – aren’t the ones from the show, then it seems likely that Daya fires her gun at the ceiling to try and quiet everyone down. That stalling action would make sense, as we know that this next season takes place over just three days – the writers behind the show will need to stretch out the action from the riots over the course of the first couple of episodes.
These seem the most likely options, but there are lots of other potential directions the story could go in that are ripe for consideration.
Taystee shoots Humphrey
Taystee is the most upset by Poussey’s death, the one who started the riot, and the Litchfield inmate who seems most agitated and most desperate to see Humphrey shot at this moment. Could she take over and shoot? It’s at odds with the Taystee we know, but she has experienced hardship and trauma. We also see her continuing to lead organised resistance of some kind – see this picture from the new series of her using someone’s iPad while Janae wears the jacket of MCC’s communications man.
But there’s another gun. In Season Four’s eighth episode, “Friends in Low Places”, Linda From Purchasing pulls a gun out from nowhere. The dialogue specifically discusses how she could have a gun. “I was mugged once in Newark,” she explains. “Don’t worry, it’s registered.” She takes it with her to Caputo’s house for seemingly no reason, and we then see her place the gun back in her handbag – so it seems like she has it on her at all times. It is never seen or mentioned again. Could there be anything closer to the definition of a Chekhov’s gun?
Linda From Purchasing’s job is all about saving the prison money, and she’s good at it, because she’s more than happy to put the needs of the inmates at the bottom of her list of priorities. She demonises the prisoners and their families, turns a gun on a black couple without a second’s hesitation, and seems genuinely scared of the inmates. As series four progresses, she’s also shown as increasingly unstable and potentially violent, despite her cool exterior.
At the time of the riots, we know that Linda is in a bathroom stall, and we get a close up of her handbag on the floor by her feet. We also know that, despite her professional obligations, this is her very first time in a prison at all – she’s avoided it at all costs up to this point, and now, there’s a riot going on around her. We have a scared, racist white woman with a gun in her purse and a vendetta against the prisoners, inside Litchfield for the first time, when all hell is breaking loose. This is a very, very likely candidate for a potential shooter.
If Linda shoots Daya, the riots would escalate, but if the story went in this direction, the two illegal weapons could complicate the outside world’s perception of the riots.
Officers and MCC employees are taken hostage in a series referencing the Attica Uprising
In the last episode of Season Four, the inmates chanted “Attica! Attica!” While some confessed to not understanding the meaning of the phrase, it’s a reference to the Attica Prison uprising of 1971. During the uprising, inmates gained control of the prison by taking staff hostage. They used the hostages to make demands including better medical treatment, fair visitation rights, an end to physical brutality, and the promise that none of the inmates would face prosecution for their actions over the course of the riots.
The negotiations lasted four days, but the police eventually used force to regain control of the prison. When the uprising was over, at least 43 people were dead, including ten correctional officers and civilian employees, and many more inmates.
It seems likely that Season Five of Orange is the New Black will continue to reference the Attica Uprising – it is set over just three days, and new pictures seem to show the inmates in control with no guards in sight. Could Humphrey be the single death that prisoners are truly to blame for? Are Caputo, Linda and the rest of the MCC team taken hostage? What about the other correctional officers? Will this series, like the Attica Uprising, end in unprecedented levels of bloodshed?
If that does happen this series, what about Season Six?
This show is renewed for seven seasons, but a prison uprising is pretty hard to come back from. The Attica inmates didn’t escape further prosecution, and it seems unlikely that anyone from Litchfield will either. Commentators have insisted for a long time that a real shake up needs to happen within Litchfield, and as the drama at the prison’s heart has escalated season after season, it becomes more and more improbable that some inmates remain at a minimum security prison. Could Season Seven be moved to the maximum security facility on Litchfield’s grounds?
Orange Is The New Black Season Five will air on Netflix on June 9th, 2017.