The series finale of Orange is the New Black left a lot of questions unanswered. After all, with such a large ensemble of characters, there were a whole lot of stories to wrap up, so it makes sense not all of them could get neatly formed conclusions. One of the biggest storylines left open-ended was Daya's — that is, until the actress who played her offered some clarity. Dascha Polanco explained Daya's ending in Orange is the New Black's finale, so fans can be content with at least one additional wrapped-up storyline. Warning: Spoilers for Season 7 of Orange is the New Black follow.
In Daya's finale scene on Orange is the New Black, she was fighting with her mother Aleida (Elizabeth Rodriguez) about which of them will have more control over the prison. It's a pretty heartbreaking scene, especially because it highlights just how much Daya had changed over the course of the series. At the start of the show, Daya was relatively innocent and uninterested in the politics of prison. But by the time she got to this final scene, she was leading a gang and fighting for as much control as possible in both the prison and her family. In that last scene, her mom was so upset about the person that Daya became, she punched her in the throat and strangled her. Daya collapsed to the ground and the scene ended, leaving audiences unsure whether or nor she survived.
Since watching the finale, fans have been debating Daya's fate and offering theories about what might have come of her. It's all been conjecture, though, until Polanco recently shared the explanation she got from the writers of the show: "They made it very clear to me that I don’t die," she told The Hollywood Reporter.
Even though the writers were very clear with Polanco about Daya's fate, their answer didn't line up with a lot of people's ideas about Daya, including Polanco's herself. Polanco said:
I thought that she did [die]. But the writers told me, 'She doesn’t die, but she gets knocked out really good.' And I realized it was going to be left as that question.
That answer can give hope to all the fans who have been distraught over Daya's suspected death. However, the fact that she does survive doesn't necessarily mean she will definitely have a happy ending. Beyond the show, she's still set to be in prison for life, and she's still in a major feud with her mother.
Polanco also pointed out that Daya is a product of her environment, and that her story is real life for a lot of people. She said:
Her story is the product of a cycle that we, as a community, need to intervene in. If we really had a true justice system where it’s set up for incarcerated individuals to succeed, we would see less of this type of evolution.
You can watch all of Orange is the New Black on Netflix now.