Roush Review: 'Orange Is the New Black' Delivers an Emotionally Epic Final Season

Matt Roush
Review Netflix

Prison is a state of mind in the emotionally epic farewell season of one of Netflix's most enduring signature series, Orange Is the New Black.

Even freedom carries a heavy burden, as Piper (Taylor Schilling) learns in her rocky and often humiliating transition to civilian life. All she wants is to stay connected to Alex (Laura Prepon) — but can their long-distance love affair survive another three years until Alex is out?

A fair question, but their struggle soon takes a back seat to more gut-wrenching stories of survival and the characters who face an uphill battle not to lose hope, like the undocumented former inmates caught in the unyielding web of ICE detention.

Back in the big house, a dejected Taystee (the magnificent Danielle Brooks) seeks purpose after her unjust life sentence, the formidable Red (a heartbreaking Kate Mulgrew) has difficulty recovering from losing her mental marbles in solitary, and plucky Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning) pursues a GED degree, among many other compelling storylines.

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Some end well, quite a few don't, as the for-profit bureaucracy mercilessly grinds on.

There are moments throughout the 13 episodes when you might also wish to seek release, but don't bail before the poignant final bows over the end credits, which remind us what a remarkable and diverse ensemble once wore the orange.  

(JoJo Whilden/Netflix)

Orange Is the New Black, Seventh and Final Season Premiere, Friday, July 26, Netflix