Daya's In A Tricky Position On 'OITNB'

by Kayla Hawkins
Cara Howe/Netflix

Over the past five years, Orange Is the New Black has developed a cast of thousands, all with different, detailed backstories and motivations. While that gives the series one of TV's best ensembles, the only downside is occasionally losing track of what's going on or why exactly something happened in a previous season, like how Daya got a gun on Orange Is the New Black. As the climactic final moment in the season, OITNB built up to this moment over the course of many episodes, to the point where leaving Daya holding a firearm as the final image of the season left fans desperate to find out what happened next.

Well, it's been almost a year since OITNB dropped, and now, when marathoning the show's fifth season on June 9, you may have to brush away some cobwebs to remember exactly how the show led up to that impactful moment. So if you're scrambling to remember exactly what happened, here's a little primer on exactly how the show built to that exact moment. As the first and most important reminder, Days gives birth right at the end of Season 3, to her daughter, and her mother, Aleida, intervenes to send the child to live with her drug dealer boyfriend, Cesár. In the Season 3 finale, Cesár is arrested and Daya's infant child is sent into the foster care system. This is where Season 3 left Daya: hurt, vulnerable, and with a sense of loss. Throughout Season 4, as Daya actress Dascha Polanco told Vanity Fair, "Daya's definitely experiencing some postpartum depression [...] a woman going through postpartum — at that point, they’re very fragile and very sensitive."

While Daya isn't a huge part of the subsequent conflict between the Dominican women and the rest of the prison, she does join Maria's gang and starts working in the salon where they are dealing drugs. Daya, depressed, still reeling from the loss of both her baby and his father, the still-missing CO Bennett, doesn't listen to her mother's pleas to stay away from the group and avoid possibly being caught around drugs, as the prison begins racially profiling women of color and searching them more frequently. Aleida gets to leave the prison, but is unable to find or take care of Daya's baby or any of her own children because of the rules of post-release. This means that when the season ends, she's on the outside, watching the conflict at Litchfield on television, rather than behind bars. So when Daya picks up the gun, she is sad, alienated, and without her mother or any stronger, older figure in her life.

But that only explains Daya's mental state — how did a gun find its way into her hand? For that, look to the state of Litchfield's management throughout Season 4. Caputo has become the warden, managing the prison. Because of the union battle in Season 3, most of the prison's most qualified Correctional Officers left the job. In their absence, the prison continues to hire new officers with far less experience, and the authoritarian head CO, Piscatella, who attempts to achieve a well-organized prison, is the one who turns to the organized racial discrimination.

And the worst of all is Humphrey, who is a rarity for OITNB: a truly evil and irredeemable character. An Iraq War vet who decides to work at the prison in order to gain access to the affordable housing Caputo opened on the campus, Humphrey is sadistic, cruel, and enjoys dominating the inmates with sick power games. He coerces Maritza into coming to his apartment and forces her to eat a baby mouse, and forces Suzanne to physically assault Maureen, her ex-girlfriend, pretending it's a fun game. The abuse from Humphrey, along with the neglect from many of the other COs, leads to a protest, started by Blanca, that escalates into a violent conflict that ultimately results in Poussey's death.

When Caputo chooses to stand up for the CO that killed Poussey in a news conference, the women rise up, pushing past the COs keeping them in their bunks — and Humphrey is an immediate target for his many abuses. His final transgression was to bring a firearm to work, and when he is pushed by a wave of prisoners, his gun falls on the ground in front of Daya. Because of her previously discussed mental state, Daya, who had no knowledge of the gun beforehand, picks up the gun and points it at Humphrey... and that's where Season 4 of Orange Is the New Black ends, with the tense showdown between one of the series' most vulnerable characters and probably its most despicable. Going into Season 5, finding out how this showdown will end is one of the series' biggest questions.