Orange is the New Black aired on Netflix this past weekend and what a rush it has been binge watching the up and down roller coaster that the second season was. Following a similar structure as the first season, but mixing new elements such as new characters, an all-affecting conflict, and a different direction that shows that Litchfield has more problems than what Piper is directly dealing with. The flashbacks return, showing welcome light on some of the older and lesser used character in the first season and we even get development on characters we really despised in the first season. Orange is the New Black season 2 confirms that even the worst/best people have a shade of gray which makes us re-question our loyalty. I know several times over my live-tweet marathon of the show that some of my tweets can be easily reversed based on some of the dynamic changes my favorite characters went through.
Anyways, today’s post is a further breakdown of what I thought of the season.
Spoilers ahead! Watch this series if you haven’t!
All images are attributed and owned by Netflix
An Already Developed Piper is Not the Center of the Universe
The first season really went into the dynamic change of Piper as she adjusts from smiling and naive person into becoming the battle-hardened ‘felon’ that she kind of knew she was all along. A lot of the drama followed Piper as she lost connections with the outside world as she fell consumed with surviving the prison. Season 2 kind of abandons that, as we start with Piper as an already hardened and tougher figure, laying on the heat and truth to her fellow naive inmates. Dynamic character development soon falls to her original supporting role when something bigger than her moves in. The arrival of Vee, the falling of Fig, and crumbling relationships and sanity of her fellow inmates make for bigger and better drama. I’m personally very glad that they didn’t spend too much time retreading familiar territory of the first season. Other story lines such as the ‘war’ between Red and Vee, the Latino hold of the kitchen, Healy’s inner battles, and even the trials of Rosa the thief were so interesting and captivating.
The Welcome Reversals of Caputo, Healy, and Pennsatucky
Speaking of the dynamic changes of characters, season 1 hated characters get fleshed out more and become more likable in a believable fashion. Season 1 had me disgusted with the masturbating Joe Caputo, the cold-hearted Sam Healy, and the ‘wont-shut-up-and-makes-me-want-to-gouge-her-eyes-out’ Pennsatucky. With season 2, the stories shift away from these initial antagonists (I don’t count Caputo so much, but Healy and Pennsatucky for sure) and gives them some background and gives us some reason to empathize with them. Forever alone and emotionally scarred Pennsatucky turns to the gay agenda takeover (as long as there is no ‘eating P****’) to get some attention. Sam Healy goes to therapy and tries to apply what he learns to his inmates which he legitimately tries to care for, despite being hurt some-what in the process. And Joe Caputo shows that he also cares for his inmates [for a promotion, but still, he totally cares more than Fig does] and he rocks out in a band! I really like that season 2 turned to a new villain and gave the season 1 villains a break and showed them that villainy isn’t totally one-sided. Speaking of the season 2 villain…
Vee is Deliciously Devious and Dangerous
It’s perfect that season 2 brought in a new villain in the form of a former ‘boss’ of the prison. Starting in a sea of [mostly] fresh inmate faces, Vee shows that she can rise to the top using cunning and manipulation not seen on this scale before. The way she plays just about everyone to rise to power was absolutely fascinating and hair raising. I told myself, “holy shiiiiit”, just about every time I saw her make a move or someone talk about how scared they were of her. The things she did like drive a stake between the beloved Taystee and Poussey, slock Red in the face, and framed Warren were ridiculously ruthless. Naturally I hated her as a character for all the awful things she did to some of my favorite characters, but Lorraine Toussaint absolutely killed it during the present day scenes as well as the flashbacks.
Not Enough Cal or Pornstache
One of the small [and probably pity] complaints was that the lack of some pure-hearted evil and fun in the form of Pornstache and Cal, respectively. Cal in season 1 was such a nice break from inmate jokes in his charming personality which was only really present a handful of times in season 2 (which is probably attributed to the fact that season 2 overall focused on Piper less). Pornstache on the other hand was unfortunately only there for a few episodes, which he legitimately killed at in his few moments. His embodiment of such a ridiculous level of evil with the dash of pure silliness gave us a break from the normally somber tone of the show. Was there a way to fit more Cal and Pornshache given how season 2 played out? No, probably not, but that won’t stop me from complaining pointlessly that they weren’t in there anyways. 😀
More Backstories with More Feels
So like I mentioned above, Orange is the New Black season 2 follows a similar structure of season 1 with mixing flashbacks of particular inmates of how they landed in jail. Some of these flashbacks start with a lighter tone and a small hint of how they ended up in jail, but normally end in tragedy and tears when they’re hauled away. There are two particular flashbacks that really hit home with how I perceived a character. The first is Morello, who was initially charming and adorable, but turned out to be legitimately crazy and confused. The second was the heartbreaking flashback of Gloria who was dealing with abuse of herself and her children. It’s so good that Orange is the New Black is able to characterize some of their supporting players in such a distinct and memorable way.
The Terrific Performance by Uzo Aduba
Arguably one of the strongest performances of the season is definitely Uzo Aduba’s Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’ Warren. Her character went from an amusing side character/annoyance to Piper to an intimidating and heartbreaking inmate at Litchfield. The way Vee ended up manipulating her at the end and how she responded to her interrogation had me curled up in the fetal position, captivated by her every action on the screen. And even though [mostly] everyone had a nice happy ending, Suzanne was betrayed, isolated, and broken. I’m hoping she goes back to her relatively innocent and lovable nature in the next season.
Overall the whole season was a blast to watch and I’m a little sad that another year has to pass by before we see the after effects of that finale. Alex probably coming back, the corruption of Caputo, a Latino story line that doesn’t involve the baby, Pornstache the father, etc. Anyways, let me know what you guys thought of the season!
Take it away Morello!