(Warning: This post contains spoilers from Orange Is the New Black's series finale. Read at your own risk.)
That's a wrap on Orange Is the New Black. After seven seasons, Jenji Kohan's groundbreaking prison dramedy came to an end in bittersweet fashion as the show bid farewell to the colorful characters we've gotten to know over the years.
The final episode kicked off on a somber note with a dramatic remake of the opening song by Regina Spector, setting the tone for the following scene which confirmed that Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning) died from an intentional drug overdose after believing she failed her GED test. Dixon (Mike Houston) and Suzanne (Uzo Aduba) paid tribute to their fallen friend with a Mountain Dew toast and an emotional sing-a-long to Pennsatucky's favorite song, the Mountain Dew jingle. Later in the episode, Taystee (Danielle Brooks) received Pennsatucky's GED diploma in the mail, revealing that despite her fears, she actually passed the test.
Before the show's tonal shift toward darker stories, Orange Is the New Black's earlier seasons were defined by the comedic moments that made the horrors of what it's like to be an inmate all the more palatable. The finale paid homage to that with funny moments, like Suzanne and Lolly (Lori Petty) releasing all the chickens into the wild. Unfortunately, their bold move got Warden Tamika (Susan Heyward) fired when it's discovered that the chickens were being used to smuggle drugs into the prison. However, Tamika wasn't torn up about losing her job, even with Hellman (Greg Vrotsos) replacing her as warden.
Meanwhile, Nikki (Natasha Lyonne) took up the mantle of kitchen mother in place of Red (Kate Mulgrew), who was diagnosed with dementia. Red's memory might not be what it was, but she still had some fight in her. In her last moment on screen, she remembered Frieda's (Dale Soules) betrayal and attacked her, vowing to get payback. And after a mental breakdown in the previous episode over the death of her newborn son, Lorna (Yael Stone) was also moved to B-Block with Red who took her under her wing and nurtured her.
Elsewhere, Flaca (Jackie Cruz) used her job in the ICE detention center's kitchen to help connect detainees with family members and legal representatives. Things didn't work out so well for Karla (Karina Arroyave), who was ultimately deported and separated from her two sons. While trekking through the desert along the border in an effort to get back into the United States, she suffered an ankle injury and was unable to continue on with the others hoping to cross the border.
Lushhek (Matt Peters), perhaps feeling guilty for his part in Pennsatucky's death, got high and confessed to smuggling drugs into the prison and was immediately let go. In taking the wrap for smuggling, he also helped Gloria (Selenis Leyva) avoid additional prison time. Gloria was soon released and wa last seen at home taking care of her family. And after squashing her feud with Maria (Jessica Pimentel), gave her former enemy a children's book which Maria read to her young daughter through plexiglass until her time behind bars was up.
One of the underlying themes of this season was redemption and that was best seen through Fig (Alysia Reiner) and Caputo (Nick Sandow), whose antagonistic actions in earlier seasons made them easy to hate. Fig evolved from mean-spirited prison executive to an empathetic mother-to-be, horrified at the treatment of ICE detainees while Caputo was forced to confront his speckled history of sexually harassing female inmates and guards. In one of the episode's sweetest moments, the couple, who are expecting, also decided to adopt a boy no older than two. However, they met and seemingly took a liking to a little girl named Vanessa who sang Afroman's explicit drug anthem "Crazy Rap."
It's been a long journey for Taystee, who was found guilty of murdering Piscatella and was sentenced to life in prison after her friend Cindy (Adrienne C. Moore), who was released from prison and was now homeless, sold her out to avoid additional time. Taystee struggled throughout this season with depression in the wake of her conviction, even attempting suicide. And after failing to find admissible evidence that would clear her name, she accepted that reality that she'll likely remain behind bars for the rest of her life. But instead of wasting away, Taystee hit up celebrity ex-con Judy King (Blair Brown) to help start the Poussey Washington Fund, a nonprofit in honor of her dead friend to help those recently released from prison.
With things coming to an end, the show took a trip over to Ohio where Big Boo (Lea Delaria), Norma (Annie Golden), Gina (Abigail Savage), and Yoga Jones (Constance Shulman) were sent after Season 5. Alex (Laura Prepon), who was recently transferred there, reunited with her old friends who also welcomed a newcomer into the mix.
The story started with Piper (Taylor Schilling), so it made sense that it would end with her. In a full-circle moment, Piper added a unique spin on her love of cleanliness — which she explained in the very first episode — and adapted that to clean living and a "clean conscience." The finale saw her confront Larry (Jason Biggs) about their failed marriage and find closure with her ex before moving on with her life with Alex in Ohio, committed to their relationship by moving closer to be with her while also enrolling in civic law classes. The woman who refused to recognize her privilege and seemed dedicated to making the same mistakes over and over finally let those lessons sink in and changed her life for the better.
All seven seasons of Orange Is the New Black are now streaming on Netflix.