Orange Is The New Black – Some thoughts on S2 first 4 episodes

I don’t intend to binge watch the second season of Orange Is The New Black yet it is so hard not too because it pulls you in and before you know it 4 episodes have happened and nothing, nothing is stopping you from watching more. I watched season one over the course of a week which was a steady pace and a good way to enjoy it but the threats of spoilers this time round mean I will probably end up finishing S2 by Monday. Though the rare good weather might be able to lure me away for a few hours at least

Spoilers for the first four episodes of season two follow.

Episode 02×01 ‘Thirsty Bird

I have to admire the show for ignoring the criticism that S1 was too Piper centric and making the s2 Premiere focused on her with a bit of Alex, it is a bold choice and yet it works for several reasons.

You don’t have to wait 7 days for the next episode so spending an hour with Piper isn’t a chore, plus its a very good episode and Taylor Schilling’s best performance yet. Piper spends the majority of the episode having no idea what is happening to her, first on the bus, then on the plane and even when she arrives at her temporary home in Chicago. She is confused and frustrated but also has grown a lot as a person, she is tougher than she ever was when she first entered Litchfield Prison. I personally liked the detour the hour takes as Piper meets a bunch of new characters and eventually reconnects with Alex.

Sometimes watching a TV show is hard when external factors such as casting has already been made public in advance, so whilst Piper worries she has been given a harsher sentence for murdering Pennsatucky I knew that clearly it hadn’t happened as it was announced last year that Taryn Manning would be a regular in season 2.

Similarly with Alex I knew something was going to happen to the character to keep her off screen for the majority of the season as Laura Prepon is only in a handful of episodes in S2 before returning as a regular in S3.

Yet despite having foreknowledge about the fates of both characters I still really felt for Piper as she recounts the night she beat up Pennsatucky and how the rage she felt terrified her, I may have known Pennsatucky wasn’t dead but for Piper its a very real possibility and one that has haunted her. As for Alex well that twist was devastating, just as Piper and Alex have formed a connection again another betrayal rips them apart

Episode 02×02 ‘Looks Blue, Tastes Red

Taystee is one of my favourite characters so any episode that focuses on her is always a good hour of TV. Looks Blue, Tastes Red feels like the season’s proper premiere as we get to spend time back at Litchfield and with some of the show’s best characters.

There is a lot of tragedy behind women of Litchfield, mistakes that have cost them their freedom and wasted potential. Last season when Taystee left it felt like a victory even if it was one tinged with sadness as she left her best friend Poussey behind but then Taystee returned unable to cope in the real world for even a short time. It was sad though a benefit to the show itself as we got to spend more time with the character.

In this episode we see once again that Taystee has so much potential, she is intelligent even as a child, she spent many years tying not to get into the drug business and instead attempting to find legitimate work and now at the mock job fair put on by the prison she takes it deadly serious. She wants to win, not just because of the potential for an actual job (and boy was it heartbreaking when the truth about that came out) but because she aims to better herself. And really she does deserve to win, her answers at the interview are on point and her enthusiasm undeniable.

Even in the flashbacks as she takes up the previous offer and works for local drug dealer Vee she finds happiness and a family. So its hard to see that fall apart, really hard. I just want Taystee to get a lasting victory.

Episode 02×03 ‘Hugs Can Be Deceiving

This season is treating me so well already, hot on the heels of a Taystree centric episode comes one about Crazy Eyes aka Suzanne who became one of the many breakout characters of S1 and at last has a dedicated episode and one which once again breaks my heart

Suzanne just doesn’t fit, she is different and really there is nothing wrong with that and her mother in particular is shown in the flashbacks as attempting to make life easier for her daughter and is determined to make sure she is excluded for being black or a little odd. Back in the present Suzanne will always be Crazy Eyes to her fellow inmates and still excluded as an adult.

Enter Vee, yes the mother-figure/drug dealer from Taystee’s past is back in jail, a place she used to run and as soon as she is back slowly but surely attempts to get her power back. She starts with Suzanne and even though I know Vee is manipulating everyone around her for her own gain it was really nice to see her bring Suzanne under her wing, as well as attempting to reconnect with Taystee.

As we see an older Suzanne breakdown at her graduation and then flashback to what happened the night of the Nativity Play, the season gave me its second shock as we realise how Piper ended up beaten up and actually saved from a lifetime in solitary. It was a nice twist and it was a lovely moment when Piper then wanted to be Suzanne’s friend. But Vee, the ever looming presence among the black inmates is already working her own plans and Suzanne rejects Piper’s offer.

Already the stage is being set for some serious wars between the many groups of Litchfield.

Episode 02×04 “A Whole Other Hole’

Morello has never really interested me too much as a character, being pretty one note with her constant talk about marrying her fiancée but little did we know just how relevant all that talk was going to be.

Sometimes I can guess correctly at why the various characters are serving time, sometimes we still don’t have that information yet. I had no idea about Morello’s backstory.

As the episode progressed the whole story with Morello and Christopher started becoming a bit weird, like if they really were in love would he that cruel and marry some other girl so quickly? I really didn’t expect the creepy stalking Morello twist, but it makes perfect sense when you look back on her behavior. Yet like with all this women even the ones who have done bad things its hard not to feel a little bad for her. She is so deluded, so unable to admit what has happened that instead she is in for a lifetime of pain and heartbreak.

My favourite part of this episode though was the Poussey/Taystee story-line, oh boy I am actually dreading watching the rest of the season because I am so worried about what might happened between the two best friends Vee is pulling them apart and its so hard to watch.

The moment when Poussey kisses her friend and then Taystee rejects her was heart-wrenching and yet they still had a lovely moment of hugging instead. Then Vee told her would be daughter to stay the hell away from that kind of thing and god she listened. Please Taystee stop listening to Vee!

I loved this episode for giving us some background and time with Miss Rosa who makes a connection with a young man during her chemo treatment, I hope the reveal that she robbed banks is true!

Oh there is a lot of fun in this episode as well, the sex competition between Big Boo and Nicky begins with Piper trying to pimp out the annoying Brook Soso. I’m seriously thinking any future trouble brewing might be solved by the prisoners being united in their irritation at Brook’s constant talking! Also Sophia teaching the ladies about their vagina’s was kind of classic.

The show mixes comedy with drama well, though really its still more drama than comedy despite their attempts as branding it as one to have a better chance at the Emmys and other awards.

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