And so it goes. After 13 episodes and one as-long-as-a-movie season finale, we find ourselves at the end of the second run of “Orange Is The New Black.” With consistency in mind, I’m going to stick to episodes 11, 12 and 13 for this post, again reiterating the possibility that maybe sometime next week, we’ll go all macro on this second season (stress the “reiterating the possibility” part). For now, though, let’s dive into how the whole thing wrapped up with the following five things to think about. Naturally, as always, spoilers abound.
1. As you’ve probably read by now, Laura Prepon will be in “every single episode of season three,” as reported by, well, The Internet. With all that’s gone down between her and Piper through these last few episodes, the common assumption is that she’ll be heading back to prison as we reopen the story next June. As far as her arc in this run goes … I’m OK with it. No, really: I am. They had to find a way to get her off the show when she decided she didn’t want to do it anymore … and then they had to find a way to get her back on the show when she decided she wanted to do it again. So, in that respect at least, kudos to the writers for figuring out how to make the whole process seem as believable as they could. What I don’t quite understand, though, is exactly how we’re supposed to view that character. As I said last week, she’s a pretty shady dude all around, and all things considered, she’s made Piper’s life hell for as long as she’s been in it. Therefore, if Piper is supposed to be our central point for this series … is Alex some type of vague half-villain? Their romance, in some very subliminal ways, is getting old. I mean, we get it: Alex took Fish Out Of Water Piper, exposed her to fast-lanes and exciting living, put the screws to her countless times, and can’t stop writing her letters. Piper, meanwhile, constantly finds ways to get Alex back in her life, even if this latest attempt is supposed to be disguised as an act of love (the streets ain’t a safe place to be for Easy A these days). So, if my inclinations are correct, and we begin season three with Alex back in orange, is she going to be cast as the bad guy throughout the rest of the way? It’s a question worth thinking about because …
2. … Well, because now we are left without a bad guy. We all knew Vee had to somehow get off the show by the time this season wrapped, and, at the end of the day, I’m happy with the way it all went down. With Blue Oyster Cult’s fabulously kitschy “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” ringing loud, you couldn’t have found a more just way to end these 13 episodes. And God bless Lorna for even giving Rosa the opportunity in the first place (I’m also very happy to read that the lipstick-obsessed standout got bumped up to a season regular for next year). It marked the end of the most memorable added character this season, and it did so in style. Rosa gets the opportunity to experience life on the outside one more time (the face-morphing was a neat trick), while Vee finally, mercifully, gets what she deserves after a ruthless turn as the resident pot-stirer. Hats off to Lorraine Toussaint (with a quick shout out to Ugly Betty’s Yoga Bluman!), who played the character masterfully. By the time we got to that thirteenth episode, you couldn’t wait to see how her story would come to an end, if only because you couldn’t stand watching her manipulate those women any longer. By the time Emmy comes around next year, it would be a complete travesty if Toussaint doesn’t get some love. But speaking of Emmy …
3. … My heart breaks for Crazy Eyes, played by Uzo Aduba, who did get a nod this year for her season one work. Now, if she’s left on the awards sidelines next year … well, me and Emmy are going to have words. The turn from lovable, off-beat crowd favorite to annoying, right-hand-woman-Vee-supporter was a turn of the century. Aduba played it so well that by the time we see her crying with a set of Uno cards at the end of the season, we can’t help but feel our hearts melt, even if it’s just a little. The story of Crazy Eyes has always been a compelling one, and everything that happened throughout this second season only brought the fascination with her to new heights. Looking in on those interviews with the officers called in to investigate the attack on Red was both startling and exhausting. Until that point, our patience and love for the character had been tested immensely (stupid Vee), but once we saw precisely how lost she really is in her journey through both life itself and life in prison, all those feelings of sympathy and favor and love and tenderness came roaring back. It’s kind of the same way you feel about …
4. … Red, whenever you see her laid up in a hospital bed. If we learned anything about that character from these final three episodes, it’s that she simply doesn’t have it in her to kill. She talks a mean game, and she can be ruthless whenever she is called upon to be as much, but at the end of the day, she prefers cooler heads and logic over knee-jerk reactions and violence. Watching her interaction with Sister Ingalls as they were both in hospital beds was both endearing and fun. Not only did it illustrate how much people look to Red as a Leader of Women, but it also served as a reminder for exactly how much compassion she holds for her fellow inmates. Now, as for stray thoughts:
– Who else thought that it was actually Vee who got shanked at the end of episode 11? As I said, we knew she had to go somehow, and I thought that was the time.
– Conversely, who else thought a main character would die at the hands of Vee before she left the show? Once I saw two attempts to kill her go wrong, I couldn’t help but speculate that someone important was going to be killed off because of something the Vee character did. I’m glad I was wrong.
– The newsletter is gone. THANK YOU.
– Interesting: Did anyone else catch Larry’s reaction when Piper asked him and Polly to report Alex to her probation officer? He was upset with the fact that Piper wanted Alex back in prison, presumably to be closer with her … even though he now has Polly all locked up. Is this foreshadowing for an eventual reconciliation between the former couple? Was it Piper trying to see if she still mattered to Larry? Was it both? Was it neither?
– I really liked the night-the-power-went-out episode. Between atmosphere and plot development, that thing was very well done.
– On the other hand, I really did not like how Caputo and Figueroa’s, um, meeting ended. Throughout this entire season, we were led to believe that he was really a good guy and all he ever wanted to do was stand up for what’s right. That entire sequence was unneeded.
– A friend wondered aloud to me this week if I think Daya is actually lying about the whole baby thing to Bennett. It’s crossed my mind, but didn’t they give her a pregnancy test?
– The Sister Ingalls story was one of the strongest so far. After all this time, we learn that she’s an attention-seeking fraud. What a nice change-up from theft and drugs.
– I can’t say this enough: This Polly and Larry nonsense is idiotic. You mean to tell me that just like that, she leaves her husband to start a life with her best friend’s recent-ex-fiance and a baby she had with said husband? And this all happened within, what? Five episodes? Come on, now.
– Can we all agree that Figueroa will find some way to extract revenge for all this? If Mendez came back for a couple episodes, why should we think that she’s bound to go quietly?
– And for those wondering about Mendez … no, he won’t be back next season because of his work on a new HBO series. Mary Steenburgen, however, will appear in the next batch of episodes as his mother, which lands somewhere between “exciting” and “wow.”
5. The Comfort Dorn Funny Line Awards:
Piper while discussing an ad for Safe Place with Healy in her newsletter and why he would start the group in the first place: “That’s a good thing. Otherwise, we’d all still be getting electroshock therapy for hysteria.”
Healy: “My mother had that.”
Healy: “It’s pretty effective, actually. She made a lot of soups after.”
African-American prison guard to officer Wanda Bell as he’s walking through during a storm outside: “Bad news, Hurricane Wanda. You’ve been downgraded to a tropical storm.”
Prison guard: “The weatherman said you’re gettin’ wider, though. You could have a few trees fallen when your a__ hits land.”
Wanda: “OK, Steve Harvey. We get it.”
Caputo as he sees Rosa’s van coming at him and a gang of nuns: “What the ___!!!!” (Sorry: the way he says that phrase gets me every. single. time.).