THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE!
Like many others, I was counting down the days until Season 4 of Orange Is The New Black was ready for us Netflix users.
It’s a show I love and find incredibly binge-watchable. So, after just finishing the sixth episode, I thought it would be a good idea to give you my opinion on the season so far, before I turn into a Litchfield Penitentiary watching hermit.
OK, so let’s start at the beginning. I must admit, having watched the series recap, I had still forgotten a few smaller story lines that have come back to me as the episodes progressed.
The first episode kicks off where season 3 ended – with the majority of Litchfield’s inmates basking in the lake, and Alex (Laura Prepon) cornered in the greenhouse by one of Kubra’s henchmen.
I will not reveal any spoilers, but wow, what a first episode! It had everything and really whet my appetite for the rest of the season.
One aspect that I enjoyed in season 3 was Litchfield becoming a for-profit organisation, resulting in further cost cutting measures and tougher conditions which the inmates have to endure.
This has continued in season 4, with overcrowding a real issue. Everyone now has bunk-mates, and normal activities such as sleeping, washing and eating arrangements becoming a lot more complex and difficult.
The prison has also seen an almost entirely new set of guards running the joint. Led by Desi Piscatella (Brad William Henke), the majority of guards are white males who literally apply a more ‘hands-on’approach compared with their predecessors.
As a viewer, you can’t help but feel awkward and rather sad at the way they treat the inmates, and more specifically the inmates from black and Hispanic communities.
It’s a shame because in previous seasons the guards were such likable characters, and their treatment in season 3 resulted in the majority of them walking out and being replaced by these SAS style sexist bigots.
The relationship between Poussey (Samira Wiley) and Brook (Kimiko Glenn) has really blossomed and they seem to be Litchfield’s loved up pair, as Piper (Taylor Schilling) and Alex are still hardly talking to one another.
I felt that the first five episodes of season 4 were full of comedy, and not much heavy drama yet. It was a great start because I knew things would go deep, and they did in episode 6 (again, I won’t ruin this for you).
I’ve enjoyed seeing a lot more of Taystee (Danielle Brooks) now she has a new job, being Joe Caputo’s (Nick Sandow) new assistant. I find Taystee to be one of the funniest characters in OITNB; her delivery and comedic timing are both fantastic.
And while we’re on the subject of Caputo, he is once again full of optimism and genuinely has the interests of both the prison and its inmates at heart, but corporate pressures and continued fund cutting means its almost impossible for him to make many changes.
Caputo and Sam Healy (Michael Harney) seem to be the only members of staff who want to make Litchfield a better place, but their actions rub some inmates up the wrong way, and it is easy to see why.
What is great about OITNB is the fact that it does not centre around Piper at all; the show delves into the back stories of many different characters, and so far we have learnt a lot more about Maritza Ramos (Diane Guerrero) and Maria Ruiz (Jessica Pimentel).
Maria and Piper going head-to-head in the pantie business world is both funny and tense at the same time.
So far I am loving season 4 and things have just started to heat up. Now, back to Netflix…