-- Surely everyone needs a warm up before diving into a deep bout of binge watching, especially before tackling the fourth round at Litchfield Penitentiary. Allow us to lead you. Season four of "Orange is the New Black" will premiere on Netflix Friday, June 17. Before losing yourself to the utterly bizarre drama behind bars, here’s a refresher on the first three seasons.
Season one introduces us to Piper Chapman, an engaged woman who appears to have it all together -- except for her 15-month jail sentence. In what seems like a different lifetime, Piper was involved in drug trafficking with her on-again-off-again girlfriend, Alex. Despite your deepest, most naïve hopes, Piper is unable to simply make it through her sentence unscathed. Within episodes, her life behind and beyond bars begins to unravel. Her toxic relationship with Alex makes a hardly surprising comeback, forcing Piper and her fiancé to eventually call of the engagement.
Aside from the romance heating up, Piper also manages to make some enemies; most notably, Tiffany Doggett, or Pennsatucky, as she is so affectionately called. The growing hostility between the two reaches its climax in the season finale, when Doggett attacks Piper, who finds little help from the nearby vengeful guard, Healy. Piper is left with no choice but to aggressively defend herself.
Throughout the season, two other pivotal plot lines make their way to the foreground. Inmate Daya and guard Bennett consecrate their forbidden love, leading to her pregnancy. In the end, Daya frames a different officer, the creepy C.O. Mendez, who is suspended, maintaining the secrecy of her relationship. Meanwhile, the ever-powerful head of the kitchen, Red, is removed from her post, wreaking havoc on the politics of the prison.
Season two picks up with audiences on the edge of their seat, wondering whether the once beloved Piper is now a convicted killer. Alas, she is not, and Dogget makes it out OK. The relationship between Piper and Alex continues to spiral out, as an appearance in court leaves Alex free while Piper remains locked up. Life beyond Litchfield, in the meantime, takes an all-too-classic turn when Piper’s former fiancé and her best friend Polly become an item.
Just in time for Red’s temporary dethroning, former inmate Vee returns to Litchfield and seizes power, quickly establishing herself and her network of groupies. The rivalry between the two intensifies until Vee’s manipulation eventually comes back to her and her own followers turn on her. The season concludes with yet another violent scene in which a terminally ill inmate steals a van and runs Vee over.
This season also takes us behind the scenes of the prison. Corruption high up leaves the facility falling apart. The warden is ultimately forced to resign, and Caputo, a beacon of light, fills her position.
Season three continues the movement away from Piper’s story line, as the protagonist shares the spotlight with the other inmates. The third installment gives us a glimpse into the former lives of many of the inmates, telling us how each landed in Litchfield. Oh, and surprise, surprise, Alex is back.
Just when we thought we had found our good guy, a frightened Bennett ghosts on Daya and their baby-to-be. Meanwhile, inmate and recovered addict Nicky, who got her hands on some heroine at the end of the previous season, is caught with the drugs, though she manages to resist using. She is sent to max security and, much like Bennett, is never seen again.
But perhaps the most important story line that developed in the last season involves Piper and some panties. After an underwear company begins operating out of the prison, Piper decides to capitalize on the extra material otherwise going to waste, and begins selling worn panties with the help of her brother on the outside. It doesn’t take long for the power to get to her head.
Also important are two of Litchfield’s newest inmates, Lolly, who Alex is convinced was sent to kill her, and fan-favorite Stella (played by Ruby Rose). Stella and Alex’s highly anticipated affair stirs up some drama in the forever-unstable love saga of Piper and Alex.
The administrative drama continues as well, as Caputo struggles to keep the prison afloat amidst a corporate takeover. The season ends with an enchantingly hopeful scene, in which the inmates storm the nearby, momentarily accessible lake, bathing in a treasured moment of freedom.
And with that, we’ll leave you to it. Happy binging, everyone.