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For a while now, it¡¯s felt as though Orange Is the New Black had come off the rails a bit; its performances continued to be great, but pieces of it began to feel unnecessary. At its best it was as compelling as ever, but at its worst in the last several seasons, it was too slow, focused on characters with no particular draw, and telling stories that often went nowhere. But in season seven of Orange Is the New Black, the show¡¯s last season and also one of its most ambitious, the train is firmly and unerringly back on the track.
In 2016, when Orange Is the New Black was given a huge, three-season renewal order, I wrote about what I felt the show needed to do in order to keep itself fresh. The best mechanism for the show, I felt then, would be if it could give up most of its main characters and welcome in an entirely new slate of protagonists. Characters like Piper, Alex, Red, and Taystee were already exhibiting diminishing returns, and the series was turning to increasingly heightened, sometimes goofy stories in order to keep the energy up.
Orange is the New Black season 7 wraps up the series, and many fan-favorite characters return for cameo appearances before the final credits roll.
Orange is the New Black recently returned to Netflix for its seventh and final season, and many fan-favorite characters returned in cameo roles for the series’ ending. Orange is the New Black’s status quo was given a major shake-up after the riot in season 5, with some characters being transferred away and others ending up in the maximum-security prison at Litchfield. Several members of the main cast were not in season 6, which instead whittled things down to a core group of characters and introduced new personalities.
For season 7, however, showrunner Jenji Kohan wanted to make sure that all of the show’s original characters got a proper send-off. In particular Maritza Ramos, who was separated from her best friend Flaca at the end of season 5, returns for one of the powerful (and most heartbreaking) storylines of Orange is the New Black season 7. Sophia Burset, who was released at the end of season 6, is absent for most of season 7 until Piper is reunited with her on the outside. We even find out what happened to Piper’s ex-fiancé Larry and ex-best friend Polly.
Orange is the New Black season 7 doesn’t have as many flashbacks as previous seasons, but it does have an especially touching flashback that reunites us with Taystee’s beloved best friend Poussey Washington. Here are all the characters who make a brief comeback in Orange is the New Black’s final season.
– Litchfield’s former resident hair stylist, Sophia was released from prison at thee end of season 6 and reunited with her wife. In season 7 she and Piper are reunited when their parole appointments coincide, and we learn that she has her own hair salon – Vanity Hair by Sophia.
– While trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life on the outside, Piper is encouraged to get in touch with her ex-fiancé, Larry Bloom, who got together with Piper’s best friend, Polly, while Piper was behind bars. Larry and Polly are still together, raising Polly’s son from her previous marriage. During an awkward dinner, they reveal that Polly is now expecting another baby.
– In Orange is the New Black’s final season, Taystee is deeply depressed and suicidal. As she is trying to decide whether or not to kill herself in the penultimate episode, “The Big House,” we see a flashback to a phone conversation that Taystee had with Poussey after Taystee got out of prison in season 1. A despairing Taystee is being kicked out of the house she’s staying at and admits to Poussey that she’s tired and wants to give up. Poussey tells her to keep going, because the pain she’s feeling won’t last forever. This scene also features as cameo by Emily Germann as the unnamed weeping woman who is always crying on the phone.
– Litchfield’s former celebrity inmate is back on top in season 7 when she gets a call from Taystee, who is seeking her help in setting up the Poussey Washington Fund – an organization that gives microloans to women after they’re released from prison, and educates them in financial literacy while they’re still behind bars. Judy is all too happy to help Taystee out in setting up the fund.
Orange is the New Black’s series finale, “Here’s Where We Got Off,” ends with a montage of different characters, showing us all where they ended up. Alex Vause is transferred to a prison in Ohio where, it turns out, a lot of the characters that we previously said goodbye to also ended up. In the prison’s cafeteria we are reunited with Big Boo, Yoga Jones, and Anita DeMarco, as well as Red’s former kitchen sidekicks Gina Murphy and Norma Romano. Meanwhile, outside in the exercise yard Alison Abdullah is helping Janae Watson practice her running by timing her, while Leanne and Angie are still thick as thieves. Former white supremacist Kasey Sankey runs up to Brook Soso and tells her she’s trying to educate herself out of racism, before shyly reading a poem about how she likes Soso.
Perhaps the most surprisingly heartwarming character cameo in this montage, however, is Pablo Schreiber’s return as George “Pornstache” Mendez. Having been fired and then sent to prison for having sex with Daya (in order to frame him for getting Daya pregnant), Mendez is now actually raising Daya’s daughter, Armaria, who has adopted by Mendez’s mother. Pornstache now has a “reverse-Pornstache” – a beard, but with no mustache – which is symbolic of how he has turned his life around.
And finally, Chang ends up at the ICE detainment facility, where she is underwhelmed by the new layout.
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