All right. So, here’s the plan. One week ago today, the second season of “Orange Is The New Black” was released all at once. As we know by now, that’s how Netflix rolls. Some of you (assuming anybody actually reads this thing, which is highly, highly unlikely) might have already stormed your way through the entire season. Others might be about half done. Then, of course, there could be those who simply haven’t even had the chance to sit down and reacquaint themselves with the series at all. I have no idea where any of you fall in this discussion (assuming, again, that there is “any of you” in the first place).
Still, I am determined to do something, anything, that corresponds with this most recent run of the series. Thus, we find ourselves here: Each Friday for about the next six weeks, I’m going to offer up Five Things About Season Two Of “Orange Is The New Black” that pertain to two episodes at a time.
This formula is based on the facts that:
1) Binge-watching, as a practice, isn’t for me. Even if I wanted to slog through an entire season’s worth of episodes for any series ever, I couldn’t do it. I don’t have the free time, plus I feel like the approach cheapens the narrative. How could you really digest all that’s happened if all you’re concentrated on is getting to the next episode? Duh.
And 2) Well, two is a good number. It’s a good pace. Sure, I know some people can easily go through one episode a night, but if we focused on five different episodes each week, what fun is that?! We’d be done in nearly two weeks. Plus, two is unequivocally the maximum number of episodes I can knock out in a week’s time. So, there.
Anyway. Here we go. Behold five things about the first two episodes of the second season of “Orange Is The New Black.” Because Taystee’s story needs to be told, darn-it. And we need to listen. Naturally, spoilers abound:
1. So, wow, that first episode was rough, eh? I’ve always heard people knock the show because of both the Piper character and the actress who plays her (people hate them some Taylor Schilling), but if anything, that first episode served as the clearest example of how weak the series would be without its bit characters. This much, we might have already known, but it took the season premiere to remind us of exactly how applicable that adage is. The whole operation just falls flat without them; everything seems far too one-dimensional and far too contrived. Case in point: Piper’s dreadfully predictable monologue on the plane, where Schilling forces some tears in a bid for an Emmy and reflects on what she did at the end of season one. Ooooooo, that was cringe-worthy. That in mind, however, we now move to Thing Number Two …
2. … The series quickly won me back once we returned to New York and caught up with the “Orange Is The New Black” we’ve all grown to love. An opening flashback. A story begging to be told about someone who isn’t the main character. Examining the other end of what Piper did last season. The repercussions. The plotting. The brooding. For as disappointing as episode one was, episode two made up for it … and more. I mean, who doesn’t love Taystee? If you even slightly enjoy watching the series, you almost have to love her, right? She embodies it all: The humor. The disregard for others. The attitude. And now, as we learned in that second episode, the back-story that tugs at your heart. The whole thing made that character much more full and much more layered, especially when you consider how she was the one who was happy to come back to jail after she got out in season one. The episode was everything any fan could have ever wanted …
3. … Which leads me back to that premiere. I’m not going to insert links here, because I don’t want to run a Google search, because I don’t want to accidentally have the rest of this season spoiled for me. But, don’t we recall a time when Laura Prepon announced to the world that she was leaving the show, or am I just making that up? Something about her “scientology beliefs” that forced her to say she didn’t think she could practice her religion and simultaneously be part of this series? Didn’t that happen at one point? And then, wasn’t there some rumblings that she was going to come back anyway, eventually? Is this just my imagination? Well, if it’s not my imagination — and I’m not mis-remembering, as some would say — then I can actually live with the way that the season premiere went down. They had to get her off the show, right? And the way they did it wasn’t entirely unbelievable. Plus, it left the door open for a comeback, which, if my remembering skills are up to par (they aren’t), would prove to be valuable once she inevitably changed her mind and made it known she wanted to come back to the show. While the whole traveling/flying/new prison/magically meeting Alex thing was suspect at first, it made sense: They had to go to court. The trial was in Chicago. They are the only two members of the cast linked by the same crime. Alex turns on Piper. Alex gets out of jail. Alex leaves the series. And Alex makes the scientology gods happy. We can buy into that, right? …
4. … Right. As long as they bring Piper back to her prison-home in New York once episode three comes around. The approach made all the sense in the world: Come out with an episode focused solely on Piper and Alex. Get Alex off the show. Follow it up with an episode dedicated solely to everyone else (and, well, Taystee, of course). And boom: All is well. But be warned: If we don’t get that Piper/Pensyltucky showdown we’ve been waiting for, it would be a massive let down. Though now that we have Vee, Taystee’s surrogate drug-dealing mother, in the mix, things are looking to get fun. (Side: For as unbearable as Piper’s breakdown was in that first episode, how great was Taystee’s sad face outside her boy’s funeral in episode two?! Give that woman an Emmy!). And while I could see the frustration some may have in the call back to season one, when Piper realized Alex was in the same prison she was in, I actually sort of enjoyed seeing Taystee’s response after noticing that Vee was watching her. As if those cells weren’t already complicated enough from an interpersonal standpoint, the end of that second episode all but promised that the coming season is going to be just as tangled as the first one was.
5. The Comfort Dorn Funny Line Awards: While coming up with an idea for how I could tackle this season on this blog, our city editor here at the FNP suggested something brilliant after hearing me proclaim, again, that there is always at least one moment in each episode that sneaks up on you, is genuinely funny, and honestly makes you laugh out loud. Thus, The Comfort Dorn Funny Line Awards. Behold the winners for the first two episodes. Note: Because the show uses a whole bunch of words I’m not allowed to use here, I will simply leave those spaces blank. Yes, I understand it will take something away from the humor, but half of these awards will be earned through how they are delivered in the first place anyway. My point? Go watch the episodes and listen to these things as they are uttered on the show. You’ll see what I mean. Or your money back.
Some Dude on the plane to Another Dude on the plane: “There ain’t no mountains in the Midwest, dumb-___. There’s planes and corn and a ___-ton of white people who don’t vote in their best interests.”
Another Dude responding to Some Dude: “Excuse me, Carmen Sandiego.”
Maintenance guy: “I am in jail. Every ___ day.”