Sunday, June 19, 2016

TV Show Review: Orange is the New Black (Season 4)

The Netflix original series about a women's prison returns for its fourth season and continues the story right where the third left off with as much momentum and powerful storytelling. The fourth season may not be the best but it is certainly one of the most disturbing and emotional seasons.

The show does such an excellent job moving from character to character showing flashbacks alongside the current life in prison. Just as a character generates sympathy, they are shown another side as their actions turn more desperate from the complicated situation of being in prison. Despite telling a tale of criminals, the show always portrays the different aspects of life with no clear black and white, good and evil.

Some of the standout performance of this season were Jessica Pimentel as Maria Ruiz who takes up a leadership position in a new venture challenge Piper Chapman's panty business. Taylor Schilling returns as Piper who has developed a tougher attitude since her betrayal but finds herself outnumbered by the new group. Danielle Brooks continues to be amazing with a powerful performance as Taystee. Uzo Aduba explores her character Suzanne Warren AKA Crazy Eyes further. There are so many other characters and brilliant performances it is so hard to them all justice. Also Samira Wiley does great as Poussey with a growing relationship with Brook Soso (Kimiko Glenn).

The guards certainly take a villainous route as a new set of characters arrive since the walk-off at the end of season three. The hulking Brad William Henke comes in as Desi Piscatella, the leader of a new regime. Matt Peters plays Joel Luschek who is still guilty over crossing Nicky Nichols (Natasha Lyonne) and is exceptional self-centered. There are growing tensions between the guards and prisoners that come to a head in an emotional ending. Warden Caputo (Nick Sandow) has more of a story as he takes charge of the prison. 

The fourth season moves many of the stories forward and does a remarkable job balancing the present day prison story with individual stories while also telling multiple stories. I felt like every character got a brief moment in the spotlight but there are so many characters that some had to fall to the back to make room for new stories. This season is another great addition to what is becoming one of the greatest stories on streaming television. 

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