[Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for Orange Is the New Black Season 4.]

Quick Answer: The cliffhanger at the end of Orange Is the New Black season 4 left Dayanara Diaz holding a gun to a guard's head. Although Daya has a history of making rash decisions, she also has a new baby to worry about. This, coupled with the fact that OITNB already lost major characters in Season 4, makes it unlikely that Daya will actually pull the trigger.

Orange Is the New Black’s (2013 - ) much-anticipated fourth season took a drastic turn from its previous three seasons. While the show has never been one to shy away from serious issues, it has almost always served up enough tongue-in-cheek humor to soften the blow. But the fourth season, and in particular episodes 12 and 13 (“The Animals” and “Toast Can’t Never Be Bread Again”), unapologetically faced tragedy, drama and societal injustice head-on. 

The new guards at Litchfield have been tormenting the prisoners throughout the entire season. What started out as a simple lack of respect for the inmates as human beings escalated to a sadistic and, in some cases, outright inhumane manipulation of the women.  The worst offender is the new guard CO Humphrey, or “Humps,” a veteran with a particularly twisted tendency of torturing the inmates.


CO Humphrey (Michael Torpey) intimidating Flaca (Jackie Cruz) and Maritza (Diane Guerrero) on Orange Is the New Black 

Tensions explode after Poussey is horrifically killed in an altercation with a guard, and Director of Human Activities Joe Caputo makes a statement on the news excusing the actions of the guard. The prisoners riot, and the season ends with Dayanara Diaz holding Humps’s contraband gun up to his head, with all of her fellow inmates cheering her on. This leaves audiences with one burning question: will she pull the trigger?

Dayanara clearly has a whole lot to lose. At the end of Season 3 she gave birth to a baby girl. Although her daughter was taken away by the state shortly after, Daya’s mother Aleida, who was recently released from prison, hopes that she can get the baby back. If Daya were to shoot a guard – even one as despicable as Humps – there is no doubt that she would be in prison for a long, long time and would never get to see her daughter. She would also probably be sent to max, and thus would have to leave her new friends and new nail painting business that she has in the minimum security facility.


Dascha Polanco as Daya on Orange Is the New Black 

Then again, Daya does not have a history of making level-headed decisions. She repeatedly urged CO Bennett, former guard and father of her child, to turn himself in, even though that would mean that her baby would have two parents in prison. She had sex with Pornstache, another guard, and then framed him for raping her and impregnating her, a decision that she later regretted. And she was also very indecisive about the fate of her child – whether she should keep her daughter and risk her growing up to be like herself and Aleida, or give her baby up to Pornstache’s mother, a wealthy and kind woman who wanted to do right by her “grandchild.” Her trepidation is understandable, since these were all major decisions. Now that Daya is holding a gun to a man’s head, she is left to make what is perhaps her biggest decision yet.

Although Daya wasn’t an incredibly prominent character in Season 4, we still saw a fair share of her risky decision-making, all of which culminates in the season’s climatic finish. After her mother is released, Daya befriends Maria Ruiz, who has become a drug ring leader and power kingpin in the prison. She ignores the advice of Gloria, who warns her not to do anything stupid. At the end of the finale, when Ruiz asks Daya if she “knows what [she is] doing” and if she wants to “give it [the gun] to someone else,” she releases the safety and points the gun at Humps’s head. This seems almost out of character for the good-hearted Daya, but that may be the point: if even Dayanara, who is a sweet person and who hasn't been shown in any direct conflict with any of the new guards, can be pushed to this point by the corrupt system and the guard's indiscriminate cruelty, then anyone can.


Dayanara (Dascha Polanco) holding a gun to CO Humphrey (Michael Torpey) on Orange Is the New Black

So, will she or won’t she? With Daya’s indecisive and impulsive nature, and with the whole prison egging her on, it is possible that Dayanara will go ahead and shoot. But Daya is not just impulsive – she is also sweet and caring. She genuinely felt terrible about what happened to Pornstache and she wanted to confess. That was when her actions put a man in prison. This time, she would be putting a man in the ground.

But this big decision at hand is only one (admittedly, major) point of tension in an incredibly precarious setting. In the final moments of the finale all of the different racial groups of inmates – black women, white women, Latinas, everyone – who have been at odds all season are standing one on top of the other. Even though they are all turned against a common enemy, it is possible that those underlying animosities could rise to the surface as everyone waits for the shoe to drop. Celebrity Judy King is also caught up in this maelstrom, and her powerful position outside the prison gives her actions – and those actions done onto her – within the prison walls additional weight. Although she was trying to flee Litchfield as soon as possible, she may become a central player in the prison’s most parlous moments.

The largest additional factor is the fact that the press is already at Litchfield. Following Caputo’s announcement of Poussey’s death at a guard’s hands, news outlets are lining up outside of Litchfield’s gates. There are even cameras in Caputo’s office – both thematically and literally, the outside world is inside the prison. This set up raises the possibility of a hostage situation. After all, as the scene with the metal detector implied, guns are not allowed inside the prison. This means that CO Humphrey’s gun is likely the only one on the scene, and it is currently in an angry inmate’s hands. For once the prisoners have the power and the outside world’s attention. However the particular “will she or won’t she” question plays out, this set up is going to spell much bigger issues for MCC and Litchfield. 

Bottom line: Dayanara is not a killer. It’s not out of the question, but it does seem unlikely. Her own character traits and history aside, the show just got rid of two major characters, Lolly and Poussey, in the fourth season. It would be risky for the producers to effectively get rid of another character at the very beginning of the next season by sending her off to max.

Then again, there would be a certain catharsis in seeing Humps get his just deserts, and OITNB has never been one to shy away from risky writing. Whatever decision Daya makes, Litchfield is in for a whole lot of drama come Season 5.

 

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