I have this habit of watching tv series in binge instead of watching it weekly. The anticipation is killing me, that’s why I have not watch this season’s Game of Thrones yet. Instead let me spaz a bit about the return of my personal favorite series: Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black. (Fair warning, TLDR, possible SPOILERS-ridden post ahead!)
“Hello, passengers. We want to thank you for flying with us today. We know you have a choice in your air travel…kidding! You have no choice at all, because you’re prisoners. Relax and enjoy our in-flight entertainment, which is staring off into space.”
If you were watching the last season like I did, you’d remember the series with its array of character. Touching without being melodramatic, darkly comic, feisty, and deliciously fresh, Jenji Kohan’s creation is one of those most awaited return to TV. After (almost) a year, the series much awaited sequel arrived on Netflix on June 6th. If you remember the first season like i do, you’d know it ended in a dark cliffhanger of where Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) and Pensatucky (Taryn Manning) had a physical altercation. But we did not immediately understood whatever happened after the incident (though we’d learn its consequences in later episodes).
Instead, the season begin almost similar to the first one, where Piper is taken from ‘home’ and found herself in the middle of a harsh, new environment. She was removed from Litchfield Federal Prison and taken to god know where, and isn’t it just scary to head out to battle that you do not have a clue what are you going to fight? But unlike the premiere of the series, we saw a different Piper here no longer the same bratty white girl, she appeared more hardened, jaded, and burdened by guilt. As i saw Piper went through the same entry procedure we saw before: photo, prints, strip, spread, and cough. There’s a feel of the ‘loss of innocence’ here, which sets the tone of the whole season. And as if that is not enough, we were hit with one of the show meanest twist.
Then we cut to the Litchfield prison where the other inmates experience similar shift in their habitat. Red (Kate Mulgrew) was dethroned from her contraband empire and bumped from her cooking gig, found herself as an outcast, abandoned by her usual protege (yet finding a new, unlikely ones). This actually put further emphasis to the theme of (racial) segregation that could be found in multiple episodes arcs of the season. For one, I never realized that the baths of the girls are segregated by their race! But the racial clique appeared more obvious by the divided work task (the latina chicas, led by Mendoza(Selenis Leyva), are taking over kitchen duty now). This become the source of conflicts and focus in the first half of the season. It still lingers, naturally, but bigger problems just took place.
The new problem is someone from Red’s own past and arch nemesis. A black inmate called Vee, who we will learned have another past connection with one of the girls in Litchfield. The existence of Vee which became the main villain of the season replacing Pensatucky which i felt is criminally underused this season. But Vee’s arrival stir some tension between the inmates.
One of my favorite things from the first season is the flashback of each characters of the inmate. This season they still continue the tradition. Somehow this issue felt like it’s taking more portion of the series. It was as if season one were zoomed mainly on Piper, and now we finally got a wide-lens view of the women of Litchfield. It might read as if the show was looking its focus (it is a show about Piper), which was different, but i actually love it. I think the flashback are what made the show special as the hidden past of each character unfolds it gave the viewer a different, more personal, point of views. These details become a good reflections and given a deeper understanding to the personal arc to each character and their pathos. It made us re-think our own morale judgement towards the characters in questions and create an ambivalent as right and wrong become less clear-cut, become more ambiguous.
My favorites of the season include the return of Pornstache Mendez as well as the arrival of the annoying Soso that reminds me of Piper at start of the first season. The personal arc was more well done than the first season, there’s a heartbreaking story behind Taystee (Danielle Brooks) and Crazy Eyes (Uzo Aduba) both are the scene-stealers of the season, as well as the big reveal of Lorna’s secret (which i still don’t know how i feel about it). The prison finally have a huge renovation (both in physical condition and *hopefully* directorial posts). And lo and behold: a lesson of woman anatomy from the transwoman Sophia (Laverne Cox).
Now that we’re at the end of season 2, Piper only have a couple of months left in the slammer now. Does this mean that season 3 would be its finale? I really hope Orange Is The New Black wouldn’t be one of those show that just overstays their welcome and experience major lost of quality. But for now, i can not wait what would the third season bring in only, oh … a year away!!
PS: Dear creator and writers, please make Larry Bloom a more appealing character, or please just write him off (preferably in a fatal, gruesome death)
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK (2014) SEASON 02
CREATOR Jenji Kohan | PRODUCER Jenji Kohan, Liz Friedman | ORIGINAL SOURCE “Orange is The New Black: My Year in Woman’s Prison” by Piper Kerman | THEME SONG “You’ve Got Time” by Regina Spektor | FORMAT Web Television, Series | PRODUCTION COMPANY Lionsgate Television | DISTRIBUTOR Netflix | COUNTRY United States | SEASON 01 | EPISODE 13 | RUNNING TIME 50-60 minutes | RUNNING PERIOD July 11, 2013-now
STARRING Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, Michael J. Harney, Michelle Hurst, Kate Mulgrew, Jason Biggs, Maria Dizzia, Laverne Cox, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Dascha Polanco, Natasha Lyonne, Taryn Manning, Lea DeLaria, Yael Stone, Uzo Aduba, Selenis Leyva, Vicky Jeudy, Madeline Brewer, Constance Shulman, Beth Fowler, Pablo Schreiber, Matt McGorry, Nick Sandow, Alysia Reiner.