A new trailer for Orange is the New Black dropped this morning: in it, we discover that during the new season, the inmates are entering full-scale uprising against the prison. “To whom it may concern,” the voice over reads over images of the rebellion in action. “We, the inmates of Litchfield, are human beings. We are protesting the abusive conditions under which we are being held.”
The trailer suggests that in the process, the inmates navigate the difficulties of protest and activism: how far one should attempt to be palatable, different tactics to persuade the public to side with your cause, how to remain united, whether or not to hide one’s anger, what specific demands to make, and how to have a clear, defined message.
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. But how far will it line up with these events? 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?
We’ll have to wait for 9 June 2017 to find out.