An 'Orange Is the New Black' Season 4 Full Recap Will Help You Keep Track Of The Show's Many Twists
Already forgotten what happened to Piper after episode 3, or still reeling from everything that changed over the course of the past 13 episodes? Well, this Orange Is the New Black Season 4 recap will remind you exactly what went down during the fourth season of the series. Season 4 represented a continuation of developments that started way back in Season 1, as well as an increasingly dark look at life behind bars in a privately owned prison, and all that entails.
Since OITNB is so addictive, it's hard to watch it without getting sucked into a marathon watch, and when you've powered through six episodes in one Sunday afternoon, it's hard to remember exactly what happened, or which characters had flashbacks in certain episodes. And, while some fans have been critical of the show's choices, overall, it's certainly one of the show's most consistent and thematically strong. As you'll see, almost every thread dropped in the first half of the season comes back by the end in some way.
A full recap means full spoilers, so be wary — and don't forget to grab some tissues, because this season was just as emotionally devastating as the previous three, and maybe even more so.
Episode 1: "Work That Body For Me"
The season opener picks up right where the last season left off. Most of the inmates are frolicking in the lake, and in order to reclaim order, Caputo brings tougher, more militant Correctional Officers in from Max, including new guard captain Officer Piscatella. Lolly saves Alex from the assassin sent to kill her on behalf of Kubra, her former boss, and they cover up the murder with Freida's help. Meanwhile, Piper is still convinced of her toughness, but no one else — including the influx of new prisoners — is buying it.
Flashbacks: Nope, none this episode.
Episode 2: "Power Suit"
Celebrity prisoner Judy King begins to make waves by receiving special treatment, like a (mostly) private room. Caputo continues to deal with the fallout of his new position, like repopulating the CO force with veterans and dodging Crystal, Sophia's wife, who wants to know why Sophia is still in solitary confinement for "protection."
Flashbacks: Maria Ruiz was raised as a part of a Dominican gang, but always rebelled against her father's tribalism. That is, until the new majority of Latina/Dominican prisoners leads her to form a gang of her own in Litchfield.
Episode 3: "(Don't) Say Anything"
In an episode defined by work and jobs, the most fun development of the season occurs: Taystee is promoted to Caputo's office assistant. Piper refuses to open her underwear business to Ruiz and her gang, who form their own competing business instead. And Lolly is unable to handle the guilt and paranoia about killing Alex's assassin.
Flashbacks: Brook Soso reflects on her past as a well-meaning but weak-willed activist while accidentally letting her prejudices about Poussey's background (she assumed her mother was a "crack whore") almost derail their relationship.
Episode 4: "Doctor Psycho"
Sophia bravely protests her treatment by flooding her cell and starting a fire, but still is not released. Red is roped into the Lolly-Alex-Frieda murder triangle, and while they're still unable to move the body, Lolly's "confession" is perceived to be one of her hallucinations.
Flashbacks: Healy gets one which reveals a pattern of entitled behavior around women stemming from his abandonment issues, which leads him in the present to lash out at Judy King for forming a close relationship with Luschek, and Healy forces her to host a cooking class.
Episode 5: "We'll Always Have Baltimore"
A lot of political commentary, as there's a shortage of tampons and pads and a complete disregard for the women's health and safety. At the same time, Caputo and his new girlfriend, the dreadful Linda from Purchasing, attend a ghoulish convention for the owners and operators of private prisons where the women's concerns are totally ignored. While hoping to drive Ruiz out of business, Piper inadvertently starts a racist "stop & frisk" policy and a white power group.
Flashbacks: Maritza, who, as the new van driver, is instrumental in Ruiz's new business, was a party girl/con woman in her life before prison. In the present, one of the many creepy new guards, "Humps," suspects that she's up to something.
Episode 6: "Piece Of Sh*t"
A guilt-ridden Luschek cashes in on his friendship with Judy King to get Nicky out of Max, but he gets roped into a sexual relationship with King as well, hinting at King's darker side. But Taystee, Cindy, Suzanne, and Cindy's new roomate, Alison have a plan to disarm her — sell a picture of her to the paparazzi using Caputo's work computer. And, in the "Piper is the worst" column, she frames Ruiz to take down her panty business, and Ruiz gets years added to her sentence.
Flashbacks: In lieu of flashbacks, it's Nicky return! Glimpses of her time in Max, as she goes from somewhat hopeful NA survivor and the closest thing Sophia has to a friend to a relapsing addict devoid of hope. Ruby Rose makes a brief cameo.
Episode 7: "It Sounded Nicer In My Head"
Nicky returns to Litchfield, which makes this a good time to check in with her ex and best friend, Morello, who's been trying to maintain a marriage behind bars and hanging out with Suzanne. Unfortunately, Nicky finds ways to abuse heroin and crack. Piper tries to pull out of her racist path, but Ruiz takes revenge by literally branding Piper with a swastika.
Flashbacks: Lolly's past is both sad and somewhat surprising — sad, because her mental illness, characterized by auditory hallucinations, led to her losing almost everything. But also surprising because she's possibly the most positive person.
Episode 8: "Friends In Low Places"
Piper's prison family rallies behind her to "fix" her branding issue, led by Red, while the former Whispers panties employees wind up working in literal construction, against Caputo's wishes. But Caputo falls even further into corruption when he allows his girlfriend to pull a gun on Crystal, who is still looking for Sophia.
Aleida tries to avoid Ruiz's business, which has now turned to drugs, because she's due to be released and wants to reclaim her children and Daya's daughter from foster care.
Flashbacks: None this time — it's all about the present.
Episode 9: "Turn Table Turn"
Lots of breakdowns: Red over Nicky's drug use, Morello over her husband potentially cheating on her, Pennsatucky when her desire to forgive Charlie, the guard who raped her, loses her Boo's friendship. And Maritza is abused by CO Humps, who forces her to eat a mouse in a form of blackmail over her participation in Ruiz's drug ring.
On a lighter note, Judy King fakes a lesbian relationship with Cindy in order to get their clique the paparazzi money they wanted and to assuage her reputation as racist from an old TV show she did in the 1980s.
Flashbacks: In an episode where others are victimized, Blanca is unbreakable. Just as she refused to be cowed by her demanding boss when she was a home aide, she stands up to CO abuse by refusing to shower, then literally stands up when one demands that she stand on a cafeteria table for days.
Episode 10: "Bunny, Skull, Bunny, Skull"
Several characters protest the status quo. As Blanca continues to stand up, Piper gets the same punishment. Sister Ingalls and Caputo together manage to sneak a photo of Sophia trapped in the SHU to Crystal, showing the Warden might still have some humanity left.
Flashbacks: Once again, none, with Aleida's release standing in. She may be tough, but she still struggles, since the money she had on the outside was stolen, she's lost her family, and she's forced to move in with Cesar's other girlfriend.
Episode 11: "People Persons"
The body buried is discovered by the construction crew, sending the prison into indefinite lockdown, where the women and the COs both suffer cabin fever. Healy, who had been planning suicide, realizes that Lolly has confessed to an actual murder, and sends her to Psych, ultimately checking himself into a mental institution as well. Judy King and Luschek's sexual relationship ropes in Yoga Jones, while Nicky is forced to actually detox with Pennsatucky's help.
Piscatella begins conducting interrogations against Caputo's wishes, which pushes Red to exhaustion and leads Humps to force Suzanne to fight her ex-girlfriend Maureen Kukudio, severely injuring Maureen.
Flashbacks: It's been a while since Suzanne Warren was called "Crazy Eyes," as the show has developed more empathy for this character. When the crime that sent her to prison is revealed it's harrowing — because of her developmental issues, Suzanne kidnaps a neighborhood child in search of a friend, which ultimately leads to the boy's death.
Episode 12: "The Animals"
Sophia is finally returned to the general population of the prison, but as a shell of her former self. She is able to forgive Gloria for her role in sending her to SHU, the same way Boo and Pennsatucky forgive one another for their different views on Charlie.
In the wake of the violence and interrogations, all of the cliques/racial groups unite, even the white supremacist faction. A peaceful demonstration of standing on tables until CO Piscatella is fired erupts into violence because of his orders. CO Bayley unintentionally crushes the life out of Poussey by using an inappropriate level of force, undoubtedly the most shocking moment of the season.
Flackbacks: Bayley the guard gets exactly the backstory you'd think he'd have — a confused, immature, recent high school grad who spent most of his time playing pranks with his friends and narrowly avoiding trouble.
Episode 13: "Toast Can't Never Be Bread Again"
MCC wants to blame the death on Bayley, but Caputo, cowed in some ways by Piscatella's firm support of all the COs, sticks up for Bayley and instead implies that Poussey is to blame. This enrages Taystee and starts a riot, with every group refusing to obey orders and marching to one central hallway, where they corner all of the guards. The season ends on the image of Daya pointing Humps' gun at him, all three racial groups at a standstill.
Flashbacks: Poussey is given one final tribute as she explores New York City over an eventful and life-affirming night. It ends the series on a very beautiful — and tragic — note.
Image: JoJo Whilden/Netflix (14)