If you haven’t seen the second season of Orange Is the New Black, I’d recommend watching and then coming back here to avoid any potential spoilers.
As many other reviewers and TV writers alike would admit, Orange Is the New Black took me surprise last year. It’s not the type of series I’d normally watch. I’m not one for nudity, for one, and the subject matter — a woman in jail for drug trafficking — isn’t exactly on my list of “hey, I’d like to see more on…”
But as JC and I sped through episode after episode (and proceeded to rewatch it in January, while introducing it to my brother-in-law on a three-day weekend), I realized that this show was not only great and full of potential but creative and different from anything else that I’d really seen. I could rave about everything that made it unique, but there have already been a number of people who have talked about that, so let’s move on to season two.
I had one issue with this new season of Orange: my one-year-old son. Apparently, a one-year-old doesn’t sleep all day, which meant I couldn’t binge watch the entire series in a weekend. I had to wait until he went to bed and then gulp down three episodes at a time, so it took me about a week to complete. Now, 13 episodes in a week is still rather speedy, but it still meant that every day I found myself craving more episodes until the final one. And let’s be honest: I’m still disappointed I have to wait for another season.
What I found incredibly interesting about this season is that, unlike the last, it wasn’t a show about Piper. The show had always balanced Piper’s story with revelations of side characters’ backstories and how they ended up in prison. But in the end, it was really the story of Piper and what happened to her with some B-stories here and there. But after her incident with Pensatucky that landed her in the SHU, Piper learned a thing or two, and Litchfield suddenly wasn’t about her. She started to blend into the background, and those B-stories suddenly came into the forefront.
Red wasn’t running things anymore. And a new (but old) face appeared at the prison: Vee. I actually loved having Vee arrive (though I can’t say I loved Vee). Suddenly, the entire prison became a question of who really ran it. Red? The cooks? Vee? It became a turf war, which I just found absolutely fascinating.
More so, we got to see who really tried to fight those “in charge.” Poussey’s development as a character was in full force as she fought against Vee tooth and nail. It was impressive and unexpected. And in the end, she really won (partially because Vee’s own threats and power turned her “family” against her).
But then there were the other storylines. Seeing Rosa’s backstory (though I must admit; her younger self was probably the only one that I just felt didn’t match the older character we were watching) and her development as she became only weeks away from left. Discovering the truth about Lorna and her fiancee. Seeing how kind and compassionate Tasty was versus Vee’s two-faced cruelty.
On top of that, we had the COs. As much as I hated Healy last season, I suddenly felt bad for him as he desperately tried to make a difference. Poor Caputo did everything he could to do right by the prison — even (hilariously) bringing Fig down in the process — but I doubt we’ll see him in a permanent promotion, given the events in the final episode. And even Pornstache was interesting; oddly enough, the time away from the series made me forget how big of a jerk he was, making his arrest somewhat bittersweet. You actually felt kinda bad that he was going to jail for something he didn’t exactly do.
Probably the only part of the season I didn’t love was Larry and Polly. It just felt forced and somewhat unrealistic. Would they really just sleep together once and then get together — ending a marriage that just had a newborn child — because they were “in love”? Eh…
Nonetheless, it was an interesting season. For so many shows, the second year ends up becoming a sophomore slump, taking a hit with viewers because it just doesn’t stand up to the previous season in quality. But Orange knew what it was doing — and succeeded at that. So kudos, Orange, but do I really have to wait another year?