Everyone’s favorite inmates are back for another round in Litchfield. Orange is the New Black hit Netflix on Friday, with all 13 episodes released at once (standard Netflix practice). Since doing a recap for each episode doesn’t work, I’ll be splitting the season into 3 episode chucks all week. SPOILERS will be included, so be careful if you haven’t gotten your binge in yet and let me know what other shows you’d like State of Mined to cover.
Don’t Fear the Reaper….
You wanted a finale, you got a finale. Orange is the New Black capped off season 2 with the wonderfully tight, albeit too serendipitous, “We Have Manners. We’re Polite”. All roads led to this conclusion but there was definitely a feeling that the bow was a little too tight. Starting from the top, let’s see the events that closed out our second year in Litchfield.
The nursery rhyme that the title comes from is one of code, conducts and refinement. It’s about what to do and when. A motif that runs through the super-sized, 90 minute episode. Around every corner, someone’s code is questioned and in those moments they learn that there are definitely times to alter said code.
With SIS investigating Red’s slocking, Suzanne was setup to take the fall for Vee. Yet another lamb to the slaughter in the name of Vee. Of course, all her demise could ultimately be avoided if Red would just tell who it was that attacked her, which brings us to her code. Red is old school, and much like her first physical encounter with Vee, she’s not going to snitch. It took a compromise of sorts with Sister Abigail where they both agreed to set aside their personal ideals for the greater good. Yes, keeping the G-Code meant something personal for Red, but in doing so, she would enable Vee to continue ruining the lives of her “baby girls” as she liked to refer to them.
Another set of values that were finally checked were Taystee’s. After Pouessy destroyed the supply of tobacco in the warehouse, Vee decided to cut ties with the only purpose P had for acting out; Taystee. Vee laid it out clearly; good people do bad things, and usefulness is more important that loyalty. Her examples of Amazon prices and other company practices were cold, and very fitting. It was just what the rest of the girls needed to finally come to their senses and recant their earlier statements about seeing Suzanne leave with Mr. Loxley.
Turned out the actions were too little too late, as SIS had wrapped up their investigation, but Caputo, going back on his own ideals, ha some paperwork fudged to give Suzanne an alibi. Pretty much everyone recognized Vee as a full on evil entity within the prison walls. There wasn’t a person in that prison who didn’t want to see her gone, which made her eventual escape all the more intriguing because we just KNEW she had it coming. We’d earned the right to see her punished for all she’d done, and there was no way OITNB would deprive us. So when Rosa hit her with the van, it felt good. It just didn’t feel right.
With the 90 minute runtime, we got to see so much that had almost nothing to do with the most compelling story of the season. Notice that I haven’t once mentioned Piper, Alec, Larry or Fig. Their stories were addressed, but didn’t grab the way the Vee story did. Everything about the finale felt like a small setup toward something greater, and the finale exemplified that. The nun-uprising at the gates, Suzanne’s rants during the interrogation, even Morello describing Toy Story to Rosa; it all felt like a slow build to the convenient end.
We do have some nugget to look forward to next season. How will Alex react once she finds out that she’s back in prison because of Piper? How will Suzanne take the downfall of Vee, the only person to treat her with love and respect in quite some time? How will Caputo handle his new position? It’s all interesting, and leaves us wanting more, but what I really, really want is to see more of the inmate history.
The finale may have bypassed that storytelling element for a more focused outing, but I think it’s safe to say we’ll learn more about the women behind the walls. Maybe Piper will have more of a role with the rest of the population. Yes, she was the central character, but her story felt more personal than last time. Season one saw her very much learning and adapting to her new surroundings. This year, if she wasn’t out on her own, she was acting as a wily veteran. Whether we liked her or not. It was the more ancillary characters who got depth, and the chance to react to their surroundings as opposed to create folly for Dandelion.
OITNB season two was far from perfect, and while it was great to see an old friend, she was taking a new approach to conversation this time around. Now, all we’ve got is time and memories on our hands until season three rolls around. We’ve got tiiiiiiiiiiime.
What do you think; did you like Vee’s demise? Was the show as good as it was last year? Let me know. @TheArnold_SoM