You may want to take a seat, because the official Orange Is The New Black Season 5 trailer is here, and it's a doozy. The Litchfield inmates are fighting to get the respect they deserve, but not everyone is in a place to fight. Like, say, Sophia, who is — handcuffed to a wall. No one would judge you for not exactly remembering how Sophia may have found herself in this predicament. It's been a while since fans have gotten a chance to catch up with Sophia Burset, played by Laverne Cox, which is why it's worth recapping where Sophia has been on Orange Is The New Black to try and figure this out.
In order to do so, let's go back to Season 3, when Sophia's wife, Crystal, let fellow inmate Gloria's son, Benny, get a ride with their son Michael to school. At first, it seemed like a good thing, a way for Michael to bond with someone who knew what it was like to have a parent in jail. But, Sophia soon started to feel like Benny was a bad influence on Michael, who began acting out. In fact, the opposite was true, which led to some very bad blood between Sophia and Gloria. It actually resulted in a physical altercation where Sophia pushed Gloria into the bathroom wall.
This violent moment led Sophia to be bullied by her inmates who started making up transphobic rumors that turned the prison's resident hairdresser into a pariah. Sophia was even attacked by a group of inmates in her salon. When Sophia let management know she felt concerned for her life and wanted more security around the salon she ended up in the SHU (Security Housing Unit, also known as solitary confinement) "for her own protection."
Throughout most of Season 4, Sophia is hidden away. It isn't until Episode 6, “Piece of Sh*t,” that viewers get to see Sophia, who is struggling on her own. When Nicky sees Sophia while performing her custodial duties, she asks for a blanket. “I’m going to lose my mind if I don’t get some rest,” Sophia says, adding, “And we both know what happens if you go insane in this place, right?” But all Nicky can give her is a magazine.
It's the magazine that pops up again later when Nicky finds Sophia's cell filled with blood smeared on the walls and floor. Sophia's foreboding message instead feels like a premonition. Sophia, unable to see a future where she's not trapped alone in a four-by-four cell, attempts to hurt herself or even take her own life, possibly by cutting herself with the staples in the magazine.
It's this cry for help that eventually gets Sophia out of the SHU in Episode 12, "The Animals." But, even though she may be out, she's struggling to find connections. It's why the scene of Gloria reaching out to Sophia, helping her fit her wig, is a surprisingly happy moment for an inmate that is always fighting for respect.
It's also why it's surprising to see Sophia back in what looks like the SHU in the Season 5 trailer. As far as fans know, things are better, but this shot has her looking rather despondent. Perhaps, she's also unsure of why she's there. She could be handcuffed to the wall once again "for her own protection," an excuse for the prison to punish her under the guise of helping her. Or, perhaps, Sophia is putting on an act, since it's clear the women of the prison are seeking media attention. That does make for a good photo opp. There's also always the chance she's chained herself there in solitary to Sister Ingalls, who found herself in the SHU after trying to help Sophia get out of there.
This lone shot of Sophia hopefully means that after a season with very little screentime from Cox, we'll get a chance to really delve into her story this time around. What is clear from the Season 5 trailer is the women are ready to fight for their rights, staging an uprising that will hopefully lead to some justice. Sophia may actually get some this time around, since she's been tortured time and time again by the prison. It probably won't be easy, but nothing ever is in Litchfield.