This will be the second-to-last “Orange Is The New Black” Five Things post (I know: Have mercy). Because the season runs an odd number of episodes, we’ll likely finish it up next week by going through episodes 11, 12 and 13. Then, depending on how life feels, we may come back for another installment of “And now it’s time to talk about …”. But no promises (trust me: I am fully aware that half of the four of you still reading have already finished the season by now while the other half has simply vowed to never read this blog again).
Either way, behold five things about episodes nine and 10 when it comes to season two of Ms. Kohan’s latest Internet Television venture. Naturally, spoilers abound.
1. Piper leaving prison was a good thing. And for as much criticism as Taylor Schilling receives (rightfully so, by the way), I thought she played the whole “I’m out of prison, look out world!” angle well. The trick even worked during the viewing scene, when she stood there with her family, awkwardly explaining away her life to curious family members. More so, it was a bit odd to see Larry be the one to stand up and end that merciful romance (fingers crossed this means Biggs is on his way out of the series permanently). When you put arguably the two weakest actors/characters of the series in a story/scene, the law of averages says someone’s going to look not as bad as the other and in this edition of the Battle Of Who Could Care Less, Schilling came away the winner. Still, after all they’ve been through, it’s just so hard to buy into the notion that those doors will be closed forever. I mean, she only has eight months left on her sentence, right? Why shouldn’t we believe that those two kids will lock eyes on the street some day again and fall right back into their old ways? Oh, wait …
2. … Maybe because Piper now knows the woman he slept with was her best friend. Again, for as unimpressive as Schilling can be (and, for that matter, for as annoying as Maria Dizzia’s Polly Harper can be), I found the scene where her and Piper convene in the visitor’s area of the prison to be much more affecting than I would have thought it could be. The way they played that unspoken dialogue between not only two old friends, but simply just two people who have known each other for a long time, was admirable. The poop on Polly’s doorstep move wasn’t really needed (just a bit too cheesy), but until that point, the entire process felt surprisingly authentic. Think about it: If your best friend was in prison and you decided to start going to bed with her fiance, would you even have the courage to actually say the words you’re supposed to say out loud? And more so, would she even have the patience to sit through hearing the truth as it’s explained through your own, betraying teeth? Even if you think it was a bit too heavy-handed with the metaphors, you can’t deny how arresting the sequence was. Though speaking of being arresting (or arrested) …
3. … Mendez. Say hello. Wave goodbye. All told, his quick departure might be the most surprising development so far this season. Like I said last week, we knew he was coming back. What we didn’t know, however, was that it would be for a two-episode run. Here’s a question: Is there .01 percent of you that feels bad for him in any way? He was clearly the scum-of-the-earth character (and kudos to Nicky from season two of “The Wire” for playing that so well!). He was obnoxious and unforgiving and there was absolutely nothing that appeared to be redeemable about him. But now he finds himself going to jail for a long, long time because of Daya and Bennett’s mistakes. Thus, the question again: Is there .01 percent of you that feels bad for him in any way? Probably not. Anyway. Because that was such a high-profile character, I was certain he’d get a longer time back in the saddle before he was inevitably sent away for good. The Caputo-firing-Mandez scene was a testament to Pablo Schreiber’s acting chops. He played it perfectly. The whole ordeal left you with the sense that, “Wow. That guy really is messed up. He thinks this is love.” Wait. You know what else is messed up? …
4. … Alex’s relationship with Piper. So, let’s get this straight: Alex brought Piper home to her place that she shared with her then-girlfriend … and that wasn’t enough of a smoke signal regarding how sketchy of a person Voss was? The relationship was doomed from the start. The bigger takeaway: At what point do we begin to view Alex in an unforgivable light? For all that she brings to the series, let’s consider what she’s done: Land Piper in prison for drug charges that she kind of/sort of bamboozled her into. Sold Piper out to get herself out of jail. Consciously contributed to the dissolution of Piper’s pending marriage. And now, we find she had a girlfriend she was living with when she first sucked the series’ main character into her life. I mean, honestly: She’s not a great person. Why don’t we view her as such? Now, as for stray thoughts:
– Because I forgot to mention it last week, it absolutely must be noted this morning: The series gains 100,000 bonus points for the reference to the 1999 Clive Owen lost gem of a film “Croupier.” That garnered, at the very least, a five-minute internal laugh.
– Turning the funeral into a wedding was tacky … but at least slightly fun to watch. Silly Kal.
– Mendez helping Bennett calm down was a little interesting (Revisit thing No. 3).
– It’s good to see Red have her family back.
– Boo, on the other hand? WHY?! OH, WHY?!
– It’s sad to think about where Vee and Red’s relationship may or may not be heading. It seems as though this is a battle that Red can’t win, yet it’s not going to stop her from trying. If this season ends with Red in a coffin and Vee running the prison … oh, it’s going to be awfully hard to come back next year.
– Speaking of Vee, you know what’s interesting? This series somehow managed to take a complete fan-favorite (Crazy Eyes), and truly make her detestable. The way she plays the right-hand-woman role in Vee’s tiny gang makes you question all the good thoughts you ever had about that character. Fantastic job by Uzo Aduba, turning Ms. Eyes around.
– The Poussey stuff is sad. On every end. And now, all of a sudden, she wants to drink too much, which is never good for foreshadowing, as we’ve seen. She’s heartbroken and lost. It’s sometimes hard to watch.
– Vee offers “The Fault In Our Stars” to Rosa. Ha!
– Shout out to Assistant State’s Attorney Rhonda Pearlman from “The Wire!” I literally gasped when I first saw her appear on screen.
– Which brings us, of course, to Healy. Whoa, there. The curious case of Sam Healy continues to unfold in a weirdly fascinating way. He’s either bat-poop nuts or out-of-this-world weak. Dude’s clearly got anger issues, but boy, it’s hard to feel any sympathy for him when you hear the way he reacts to Pearlman’s questions. You kind of feel like he’s on the verge of killing 29 inmates or something, all in one fell swoop. Weirdo.
5. The Comfort Dorn Funny Line Awards:
Nicky, after getting up in front of the support group and talking candidly about her past issues with drugs and addiction: “And in conclusion. ____ the Germans!”
Red to Sophia as they discuss the latter’s son, who turned Sophia in to the police, and his impending visit: “Well, if it were me, I’d kick him to death, but we all have our own way of parenting.”