'Orange Is the New Black': 7 Key Takeaways From Season 4 Trailer

An unprecedented prison war is poised to break out next season on the Netflix series. Plus, what the trailer says (and doesn't say) about the fates of inmates Alex, Sophia and Nicky.
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'Orange is the New Black' season 4

"Pain's always there, but suffering is a choice."

Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning) appears to be speaking for all of her fellow inmates at Litchfield Penitentiary when she utters the above words in the trailer for the upcoming fourth season of Orange Is the New Black, released Tuesday by Netflix.

The new season sees Piper (Taylor Schilling) and the rest of the orange-clad favorites being packed in like "sardines" as they're joined by a surplus of new inmates and a shipment of more inexperienced, but ruthless new COs. The result sparks unprecedented levels of tension that appear to bubble up into an all-out war between the inmates and the new powers that be, not to mention the battles between the usual prison factions.

Since the Jenji Kohan-created series shrouds itself in secrecy, here's a closer look at the most revealing tidbits teased in the trailer — including nods to the fates of Alex Vause (Laura Prepon) and Sophia Burset (Laverne Cox) — to help digest what lies ahead on the prison drama (which returns June 17).

1. The Outcome of Alex's Greenhouse Confrontation

Last season, as most of the inmates were enjoying their minutes of freedom in the nearby lake, Vause's fate hung in the balance. The finale ended with a cliff-hanger as she came face-to-face with Aydin, drug kingpin Kubra's henchman, in the prison greenhouse — proof that her season-long paranoia had been justified.

Though her face isn't shown in the trailer, her voice is heard at the 0:55 mark asking Red (Kate Mulgrew), "Can you keep a secret?" Lolly (Lori Petty) is then shown sneaking over to the greenhouse — signaling that Alex likely emerges victorious in the Aydin showdown and turns to Lolly and Red to help cover up the mess.

Prepon quickly squashed fan fears that she could be leaving the show by posting on Instagram about both kicking off and wrapping filming on season four. Though Netflix remains mum on what's to come for Alex, the streaming service did release early photos last month of Alex still on the grounds (main photo above). And with Piper's love interest Stella (Ruby Rose) sent down the hill to Max, the door is once again open for an Alex and Piper reconciliation.

2. Sophia Starts the Season in SHU

Feeling regret over sending Sophia to SHU, even when he rationalizes that it's "for her own protection," Caputo (Nick Sandow) spends the season-three finale intending to break her out. But his new promotion leaves him with bigger fish to fry, as he must tend to a guard walkout and the subsequent mass inmate breakout.

After the finale failed to provide viewers with even a glimpse of how Sophia is faring, the trailer provides brief photographic evidence that Sophia remains in solitary confinement when she reappears. As Caputo slides open the window to her cell, Sophia stands at eye level, wearing only a bra and a look of hatred, cocked and aimed Caputo's way. He then shuts the window closed. The continuing storyline is designed to shed light on how transgender inmates are often treated every single day, Cox told The Hollywood Reporter.

3. Still No Sign of Nicky

Only three episodes into season three, fan-favorite Nicky Nichols (Natasha Lyonne) was carted down the hill to Max and has yet to be seen again. After she conspired to sell Vee's leftover heroin with Luschek (Matt Peters), the latter blamed Nicky when he was caught with the stash of drugs by Caputo. Though the trailer provides no clues as to whether or not Nicky will resurface — she is absent from both the teaser and the earlier photos — Lyonne did attend the show's Television Critics Association panel to speak to reporters about season four, a welcome sign that her impending return is simply being kept under lock and key.

4. Bennett Also Remains MIA

Another fan-favorite storyline came to a halt last season when John Bennett (Matt McGorry) disappeared during the second episode, seemingly abandoning Daya (Dascha Polanco) and their unborn baby. The actor, who was pulled away to film his ABC series How to Get Away With Murder, has said that while he hated the backlash over the deadbeat dad storyline, the outcome is realistic given Bennett's and Daya's doomed-to-fail CO-inmate relationship. The trailer provides no insight as to whether or not Daya will see the fiance who jilted her again when the show returns, as the guard is absent from the two-minute-plus tease.

5. Piper's Power Trip Makes Her a Target

We last saw Piper in full Godfather mode: the prison panty-selling entrepreneur was so sick with power from her thriving business that she decided to cement her leadership by governing with fear. When Stella steals from her, Piper plants contraband in her former lover's bunk and gets her shipped off to Max (there's been no word from Rose or Netflix about whether she will return). 

Seemingly high off her new role as Litchfield dictator, Piper heads into season four with a target on her back as she ascends into villain status. Maria Ruiz (Jessica Pimentel) is shown confronting Piper with a foreboding message: "I am going to bury you." Given Piper's introduction in the trailer — "I've been in Litchfield for a while now, and I've started to feel unsafe lately," she says — this hardly feels like the only threat that will get hurled at Piper and her throne.

6. The New Guards Reign and One Has It Out for Red

When MCC took over Litchfield last season, the new management brought changes with its regime: The inmates worked in a lingerie factory, the food quality took a nosedive and new guards were brought in to replace the old ones who went on strike. Without any of the required training, the new COs didn't play by the rules, as evidenced by the relationship between Officer Coates (James McMenamin) and Pennsatucky. In the trailer for season four, more inexperienced guards are brought into the overflowing prison and, by the looks of it, they will be running a tighter ship. "They hate me, I hate them, our relationship is simple," says one of the new male guards, who is then shown getting into a stare down with Red. A van of emergency personnel in full riot gear descends on the prison and the trailer ends with the blaring siren that signals a lockdown, as Piper sheds tears and Crazy Eyes (Uzo Aduba) struggles from a hospital bed.

7. New inmate Judy King to play a bigger role

Aside from adding to the head count of the now "for-profit prison," little details have emerged about the new faces joining Litchfield and what drama they will bring to the current crop. But the trailer does feature one new inmate: cooking show host Judy King (Blair Brown), the Martha Stewart-like character who turned herself in at the end of last season. In the clip, Judy, who has been described as amoral, is wearing a robe while talking to her biggest fan, Poussey (Samira Wiley), about how people try to desexualize women her age and that she won't allow it. 

The fourth season of Orange Is the New Black launches June 17 on Netflix.

Photos: Courtesy of Netflix

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