Netflix has released a new trailer for “Orange Is the New Black.” Which is to be expected, since season five is premiering on June 9 and most TV outlets try to milk trailer releases for publicity as often as they can. But this trailer and its attendant announcement are significant for a few reasons.
1. The trailer tells us that the season will pick up exactly where it left off, with Daya aiming a gun at the head of corrections office Thomas Humphrey in the wake of Poussey’s death. In one of those prolonged TV cliffhanger moments, all the women around Daya are screaming for her to shoot. Meanwhile, as they approach the chaos, Piper and Alex are talking, with Piper trying to intellectualize: “If this is a real riot,” she asks, “do you think this is a step forward or backward for equality?”
2. At the end of the clip, we hear what sounds like a gunshot. But only a TV innocent should assume that means Humphrey is dead. That gunshot also sounds like the show’s signature cell-door-slam, so the creators of the trailer may be screwing with us. And then maybe Daya does fire the gun, but shoots someone else, or just shoots at the ceiling. Or maybe someone shoots her. We shall see.
3. Netflix also tells us that the whole season — all 13 episodes — will take place in simulated real time over the course of three days. Is that a good idea? Well, it didn’t work out well at all for “How I Met Your Mother,” whose final season tediously revolved entirely around one weekend. But the approach may be more suited for drama, as the successful early seasons of “24” proved. And a prison riot just might contain enough minute-to-minute action to keep an entire season afloat.
4. In the set of photos Netflix released with the trailer, one picture shows Piper and Alex lying on a floor in what could be a lockdown situation.
5. None of this would matter in the least if “Orange Is the New Black” hadn’t rebounded from mediocrity in the second half of its fourth season, when we got Lolly’s backstory, the unforgettable branding scene, and some resonant racial politics. Until that point, the Jenji Kohan series seemed to be losing momentum and depth.