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[This story contains spoilers up to season six of Netflix’s OITNB.]
The Orange Is the New Black final season trailer sprinkles in hope amid many grim realities.
The seventh and final season of Jenji Kohan’s series from Lionsgate Television — which debuts all 13 episodes July 26 on Netflix — will pick up after the game-changing events of last summer and the official look, released Wednesday, promises an epic conclusion to the groundbreaking prison dramedy.
Season six ended with the deaths of the villainous Denning sisters (played by Mackenzie Phillips and Henny Russell) and settled an all-out war between the feuding C and D blocks of Litchfield Penitentiary’s maximum security prison. “Max” became the season-six home for the main cast after season five’s riot over Poussey Washington’s (Samira Wiley) shocking death.
Amid a peaceful finale game of inmate kickball, Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) was let out of prison on early release, Blanca Flores (Laura Gomez) was transferred to an immigration detention center and Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson (Danielle Brooks) returned to Max to face life in prison for a murder she didn’t commit.
“Life likes to test you and when you make a bad choice, living with what you’ve done can be its own punishment,” Taystee says to open the trailer as she returns to Max after her trial. Despite support from the ACLU and Black Lives Matter movement, a jury found Taystee guilty of the second-degree murder of corrections officer Desi Piscatella (Brad William Henke), partially due to perjurious testimony from her closest friend Cindy Hayes (Adrienne Moore). The trailer teases an anticipated confrontation between Taystee and Cindy about the betrayal and shows former warden Joe Caputo (Nick Sandow), an ally for Taystee during the trial, now offering words of wisdom to Cindy: “Don’t focus on what you can’t fix. Focus on what you can.”
Taystee’s fate came as a tragically realistic parallel to Piper, one of Litchfield’s white and more privileged inmates who was let out early when a guard pushed her file to the top of an early release list. The OITNB writers had told The Hollywood Reporter that the final season would follow Piper as much on the outside as the show did on the inside, as well as open up the world to include Litchfield owner Polycon’s new detention center. And after giving viewers a taste of Piper out in the world with first-look images, the trailer provides a deeper look into the struggles the ex-con will face now that she has her freedom.
Already torn about leaving new wife, Alex Vause (Laura Prepon), behind at Litchfield, Piper is now seen struggling with paper work and undergoing drug testing while she presumably searches for employment. “I’m trying to get back on my feet. Now, this is my life,” says a free Piper in the trailer.
Real-time snapshots of Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning), Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren (Uzo Aduba), Flaca Gonzales (Jackie Cruz), Maria Ruiz (Jessica Pimentel), Frieda Berlin (Dale Soules) and Daya Diaz (Dascha Polanco) show the inmates returning to their respective color blocks (blue for C block, khaki for D block and pink for B block, nicknamed “Florida”). Several Max guards return, including new DeLorean owner Joel Luschek (Matt Peters) and Artesian McCullough (Emily Tarver), who has been suffering from riot PTSD.
Red (Kate Mulgrew) and Gloria Mendoza (Selenis Leyva), who were last seen in solitary confinement in the SHU, continue to lean on their friendship. Red, who might be poised to return to her boss ways after the death of Carol Denning (Henny Russell), is seen telling Nicky Nichols (Natasha Lyonne), “That’s my good girl,” as Lorna Morello (Yael Stone) looks on. Lorna, who was heavily pregnant, was last seen bleeding and being taken to the hospital ward. In the new footage, she is shown smiling in her cell and playing pool, likely in a flashback scene.
In visitation scenes, Blanca is briefly seen in the detention center and Daya, despite her mother giving up on her over her drug use, gets a visit from Aleida Diaz (Elizabeth Rodriguez), who was released from prison last season. She and her corrections officer boyfriend Rick Hopper (Hunter Emery) had been smuggling drugs into the prison for Daya to sell and Hopper is shown taking a special interest in Daya in the new footage.
Alex also gets a visit from Piper. “It is good to see you,” an emotional Alex, who has four years left on her sentence, emphasizes. In addition to planning a surprise prison wedding for Piper, Alex threw away her grad school dreams and offered up her skills in the drug trade to the C block gang in order to keep Piper out of harm’s way for the remainder of her sentence. Before her early release, Piper still had five months to serve and her roommate Madison “Badison” Murphy (Amanda Fuller), who is briefly seen in the trailer being locked in SHU, was threatening to steal her date.
The trailer also plays up OITNB nostalgia by recalling past season footage that mirrors some of the moments to come in season seven, which includes Taystee’s emotional reaction to her conviction. (When looking closely, Poussey and Taystee are shown in a flashback embrace.) All of the characters are in their same cell block colors in the trailer, except for Taystee, who moves over to D block khaki and Cindy, who seems to have gotten a transfer into Florida.
Outside of prison, other updates show Caputo happy with girlfriend Natalie “Fig” Figueroa (Alysia Reiner), who had taken over as warden, and Sophia Burset (Laverne Cox), who was also out on early release after making a deal with Litchfield owner MCC/Polycon, reuniting with Piper in a salon.
The trailer, which makes a careful attempt to not give away any spoilers, ends on a hopeful note by stringing together words from several of the inmates. When Pennsatucky asks Crazy Eyes what she wants, the latter answers, “Ice cream — and justice.”
Mendoza says, “We’re going to get each other through this.” And when Red asks, “So it’ll be like old times?” Cindy is heard saying, “What do we do when we reach the place where we don’t know what to do? Giving up is not the answer. We have to find our own answers.”
Though the OITNB writers and cast had warned that the final season will continue to reflect the dark truth that inmates face in an unjust criminal justice system and private prison industry, the trailer does offer an ending montage of smiling characters Taystee, Daya, Aleida, Alex, Nicky, Ruiz and Piper that signal hope (while also showing an Alex flashback; glimpse of a retired Sam Healy, played by Michael Harney; and the return of Piper’s brother Cal Chapman, played by Michael Chernus). Even the elusive chicken — in the biggest throwback to “camp” Litchfield — returns for a spotting by Crazy Eyes.
“Maybe this is the beginning of a road back. There’s got to be a way back,” says Piper.
The text in the trailer offers this final message: “One color brought us together. One color inspired change. One color began a movement. One color gave us hope. Orange lives forever.”
Along with the trailer release, the key art for OITNB was unveiled Wednesday. The compilation artwork features profile pictures of Piper, Suzanne, Gloria, Nicky, Red, Daya, Taystee and Alex that were handpicked from artists around the globe in a bid to celebrate the passionate fans of the monumental series.
After six seasons of fearlessly tackling some of the most difficult, relevant and human stories of modern times, this final sentence at Litchfield will see the ladies coming to terms with the fact that prison has changed them forever. According to the synopsis, Piper will struggle with life on the outside while life in Max, as corrupt and unjust as ever, goes on without her. Taystee’s friendship with Cindy still hangs in the balance as her life sentence looms and Gloria and her kitchen staff are confronted by the harsh realities of Polycon’s newest profit stream, while others chase drugs or dreams and grapple with the reality of their place in this world.
OITNB, which is inspired by Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name, bowed to critical acclaim when it helped launch Netflix into the scripted originals business in 2013. The 16-time Emmy-nominated dramedy received 12 nods for its first season, including a historic nod for Cox, who become the first transgender person nominated. Though the streamer does not release numbers, OITNB has became one of Netflix’s most-watched original series since its debut.
OITNB returns July 26 to Netflix. Watch the official peek at the final season, above.
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