Dee Discusses: Orange is the New Black Season 2

Posted: August 19, 2014 by Dee in Dee, General Media, Television
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I loved Orange is the New Black, as you can read in my first season review here. So I was preparing anxiously for the day season two was posted, and then I marathoned the hell out of it until I was done. Maybe a little over 24 hours is how long it took me, that’s how intense I got about it. Toward the end I started getting sad that it was almost over, but I couldn’t stop. Netflix is all about letting people binge watch whatever they want, and that includes their own programming. I was shouting on Twitter and Facebook, trying not to be a spoiler while at the same time wanting to capslock about what happened. This show is amazing. It’s diverse, it’s fresh, it’s difficult, it’s morally ambiguous, it addresses serious issues, it is funny as hell, and it moved the plot believably forward. Plus it had a nun sit-in and the coolest group of scary elderly criminals ever. Netflix is really kicking ass in the entertainment department. They also have their Marvel mini-series coming up with Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones. I’m a huge Marvel fan so it’s safe to say I’m hyperventilating just thinking about it. But this is about Orange is the New Black, so let’s do it.

Last season we ended with Piper beating the hell out of Doggett, after Healy abandoned her alone with the crazed born again inmate. I remember thinking it was the most interested I’d ever been in Piper, so it was a good place to end the first season. This one starts with a cold and humorless hour that features only Piper. Once we get to episode two, it’s very clear that this show is best as an ensemble, and Piper is the most tolerable when she’s more of an ensemble player than the lead. Still, it was genuinely interesting to see Piper try and process, because she genuinely believes she murdered Doggett, and that’s why she’s been removed to another prison. I was wondering how they planned on keeping Piper in prison since her sentence was almost up. They start out with her finally going to testify against the man that she and Alex worked for. Or Alex worked for him, and Piper enjoyed the benefits. She sees Alex again and while she insists on telling the truth, she ends up lying to protect Alex. Which becomes a real kick in the teeth when it turns out that Alex told the truth, thus landing Piper back into prison. At least she got to go back “home.” And it does feel home to her now, she seems sincerely glad to be there, in a strange way.

This show gave us flashbacks for all the characters who didn’t get one before, and huzzah to that, because it means Poussey and Taystee get backstories. And Crazy Eyes! The emergence of a new main villain/character comes in the form of Vee, who might just be one of the scariest people on TV this year. She is methodical, she is charming, she is powerful, and she slowly manages to take over the black group in prison. She’s also the adopted mother/surrogate figure for Taystee, dragging her into the criminal life that eventually took her down. Vee spends the season charming everyone, most especially Crazy Eyes/Suzanne. It’s heartbreaking to watch how she manipulates the sweet but awkward Suzanne to become her loyal sidekick. Poussey right off the bat does not trust her, and tries to avoid becoming involved with her from day one. Poussey really became the stand out of this season, with her great flashback of first love while on an army base with her father, leading into the reveal she’s in love with Taystee. But still just wants to be her BFF, because they’re inseparable that way. She and Taystee stop being friends for a little while on the show, because of Vee, and it is incredibly painful to watch.

Vee and Red also have a history. Once upon a time they were both in prison at the same time, and momentarily, Red agreed to a friendship/alliance with her. Vee showed her true colors and beat her badly. Red had a hard season, starting out without her kitchen and without power. She rose back to power through sheer will power, and also be befriending the elderly group of criminals. I liked this new little group, and she used them as a cover for a new business option. They made a “garden” in the back and she used the greenhouse to sneak things in from her sons. A manhole was able to be opened up and a tunnel within to the outside world. It’s telling that Red never considered for a second escaping. Oh no, she wanted to use it to get her power back. I love that woman. But Vee eventually starts bring contraband and drugs back into the prison in her own way, and it nearly leads to Nicky falling back into drugs. Nicky and Boo this season had a competition to see who could sleep with the most women, but eventually they were like ‘ehhhh’ about it. Nicky mostly provided support and comedic relief this season, but it was lovely seeing her struggle and go back to Red for help. Their little “family” came back together, although Boo was out for working both sides with Vee.

red-vee-orange-is-the-new-black-piper-s-hardened-regression

There was a lot that happened so it’s hard to pin down every story. Suzanne we see was always a little off, but always very imaginative and sweet. It’s so difficult to watch her slowly unravel when she realizes that Vee used her. Vee attacked and hurt Red badly, and then pinned it on Suzanne, using her mental instability to make her think she genuinely attacked Red. Yiiiikes. Awful. Taystee eventually saw the light both because of Vee’s treatment of Poussey, and then coming to the conclusion that years ago Vee was the one that killed her surrogate brother RJ. He was trying to go out on his own, and she couldn’t have that. Rosa, the cancer ridden inmate, also gets a backstory as a bank robber who has a curse, all the men in her life end up dying. She meets a young man in the hospital who she grows to care about, and luckily he goes into remission. At the very end she steals the van taking her back and forth. Vee fled out of the manhole when everyone turned on her and she was getting pointed at for Red’s attack. Rosa runs her right over, and it’s a fantastic way to end the season. Other storylines include the Sister staging a fast in protest of the poor living conditions, but we see in her past that she liked the attention even more than the cause. That’s when the nun sit-in happens though, and it’s wonderful, before Rosa steals the van.

Notice that Piper wasn’t really mentioned a lot, and that’s because she does take a back seat this season in a lot of ways. Larry and her best friend end up sleeping together and ask for her blessing. She’s WTF about it, as she should be, although also she cheated so. Ehhhh. Shaky ground Piper. Her grandmother died and she was let out by Healy for 24 hours to attend, something she felt gave her preferential treatment and she almost refused it, but he insisted. He rarely got to do nice things, and she just had to accept it. Piper did run into Doggett again, who was more tolerable this season and seemed to come to a more even place. Less ranting. She joined Healy in making a regular guidance meeting, but it didn’t work out. Caputo realized that Figueroa was using prison money to line her own pockets and turned her in, and he was going to take over if he could keep the prison in order. Except that’s right when Rosa stole the van, almost ran over nuns, and killed Vee. Whoops. Piper did have a storyline where she was going to talk to a journalist about what was going on in the building, but obviously Caputo smoked out that problem. Pornstache was brought back briefly and made to think he fathered Daya’s baby. He was taken away for raping her, and eventually Bennett admitted to Caputo he was the one who impregnated Daya. At which point Caputo said he didn’t want to hear it, because that would ruin his chance at keeping things working well at the prison.

I think that’s about it. A lot happened in 13 episodes, wow. Basically, it was all fantastic. It didn’t feel like there was so much plot while you were watching, because it was all very tightly written and the characters were given proper development. It always impresses me how they humanize everyone on the show to the point where they can do awful things and you still get why, you can even like them. Except Vee. She was a flat out sociopath. But even then I got why she did the things she did. Power, obviously, always power. It’s too bad she couldn’t use that as a force of good, because she was capable of empowering other women. The acting was top notch as always. I really enjoyed everyone’s arc, and I was completely rapt the entire season through. Now I feel like I have to rewatch the show just to remind myself of some of these storylines. How long is it until next season? 😦

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