Orange Is The New Black (OITNB) ended after a seven-season run with a whirlwind of emotions. All our favorite gals took center stage once again. From nostalgia for the season one baddies, yearning for our lost ladies, and hoping for those wrongfully prosecuted, season seven wraps itself up neatly with its final goodbye.
I’m still not completely okay with OITNB being over. I’ve been following it since it first released. There was some crying, some rewatching of old clips, and on a whole, just feeling sad that when next summer comes around, I won’t see those orange jumpsuits dotting my TV screen.
Here’s a recap of what went down with our favorite on-screen baddies at the end of the series.
??Warning: major, major spoilers ahead! ??
1. Where it all began: Piper Chapman and Alex Vause
The show ended with the same line it began with, “I love getting clean…” and we see Piper (Taylor Schilling) come full circle. She has hope in her eyes, she’s finally living on her own, and, more than that, she’s finally made a decision – to be with Alex (Laura Prepon).
The final episode documented their breakup, then left us with one final moment of Piper and Alex looking into each other’s eyes, laughing until the screen turned into that bright orange we all grew so connected to.
2. #FriendshipGoals: Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson and Poussey Washington
The one character that didn’t get justice was Taystee (Danielle Brooks). I’m not happy with where the show left her off. She was innocent, yet her innocence was never proven.
Yes, she’s doing some good, and I craved to see that same smiling Taystee from the first season. Sure, she donned a new haircut and continued teaching. Sure, she decided to make the most of her life sentence by starting the Poussey Washington Fund and establishing a financial literacy course for soon-to-be-released inmates. But she never got the justice she deserved.
And for that, I won’t forgive the show.
I’m still not over her death, but honoring her death through Taystee’s foundation was so meaningful.
3. The OG fam: Nicky Nichols, Lorna Morello, and Galina “Red” Reznikov
As for Nicky (Natasha Lyonne), I had hoped OITNB would give her a better ending.
But for now, clean for a while, she’s helping others get clean as well. She’s now taken over the kitchen at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center and the mother hen role that Red once held.
I guess the stark reality of the show is that the same people don’t get ultimate happiness. They just get flat satisfaction. In her final scene, Lorna (Yael Stone) is seen listening to Red singing a Russian song. Lorna lies in Red’s nap, thumb in her mouth, eyes far from reality.
The final season was heartbreaking for Red (Kate Mulgrew). Our favorite cook developed early-onset dementia after spending too much time in solitary. Despite Nicky wanting to take care of her, Red is moved to B-block, aka “Florida,” to spend the rest of her time in prison.
4. My Beyonce lovin’ baes: Marisol “Flaca” Gonzales and Maritza Ramos
We see Flaca (Jackie Cruz) in the kitchen, telling the ICE detainees that she’s going to try to help them. We know, from the beginning of the episode, she wants to help them in a way that she couldn’t help Maritza.
Maritza’s (Diane Guerrero) ending is one that I couldn’t stop crying over.
The image of her being deported back to Columbia, a country she had never called home, keeps replaying in my mind. I think of her praying to Beyonce, hoping she’d be her savior and realizing that, in this current climate, there is no hope.
5. The unexpected alliance: Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett and Suzanne Warren
In season one, I couldn’t stand Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning), but she soon became one of my top ladies. Her relapse and subsequent overdose were crushing to witness. The woman that wanted to learn, learned the worst lesson of all.
And the worst part? That she did, in fact, pass her GED.
Suzanne (Uzo Aduba) truly brought the show some humor and joy – and thankfully, her ending was great. When the show began, we saw Suzanne being called “Crazy Eyes,” peeing in front of Piper’s bed, and having trouble understanding her emotions. Throughout the series, there’s a progression in Suzanne’s character. I applaud the show for letting us be a part of her journey.
6. Family-girl-gone-bad: Dayanara “Daya” Diaz
We aren’t quite sure what happened to Daya, because her fate ends with a fight between her and her mother, Alieda. The regression of Daya’s character, with a subsequent fall into addiction really got me in the feels. However, per the usual, the show beautifully dealt with how deeply trauma took over her personality.
Maybe this is the ending that made sense, after all.
7. The explosive ladies: Gloria Mendoza and Maria Ruiz
Gloria (Selenis Leyva) gets released from prison after Luschek (our Litchfield guard that always seemed a bit lost, be it when he was smuggling drugs or hooking up with the girls) confesses to forcing her to sell phone calls to the immigrants under the ICE lockdown.
We finally catch a glimpse of her reunited with her family. Thankfully, her ending is a happy one.
Gloria’s ending connects with Maria’s (Jessica Pimentel) and we see her, finally a changed woman, making peace with her ex-husband and his “new Maria” while reading a story to their daughter, Pepe.
8. The final betrayer: Cindy Hayes
Cindy (Adrienne C. Moore) faced some major problems in this season. From her betraying Taystee to being forced to cut ties with her family, to finally reuniting with them at a cafe, she was given the justice she deserved to deal with.
And for now, I think that’s good enough. At least we have some small remnant of hope for what her life may turn out to be.
9. The one that got away (literally!): Blanca Flores
Blanca’s (Laura Gómez) reunion with her boyfriend Diablo was the ending we needed.
From finally getting her case overturned and fighting for her freedom, she goes back to the “murder capital,” Honduras, to be with the man she loves. We’re left with an image of them standing together, bright yellow flowers brightly blooming between them.
The finale ended with all our original characters. We were blessed with glimpses of people like Boo, the yogi, Norma, Leanne, Angie, and Brooke – all seemingly content with their lives, even as we bid them farewell.
Season seven beautifully crafted both political and social issues onto the screen: it dealt with issues like the #MeToo movement, ICE, the reality of prison centers, and the right to abortion.
Hands down, this show was woke as fuck and broke open the seal on critical conversations that so often get brushed under the rug.
Ultimately, though, Orange Is The New Black gave us the truth: even if life has some sweet moments, there truly is no one happy ending. It’s the ending we all deserve – no matter how difficult it is to swallow.