Orange is the New Black, Season 2, Episode 8-10: “Appropriately Sized Pots”, “40 OZ of Furlough”, “Little Mustachioed Shit”
Written by Alex Regnery & Hartley Voss (Episode 8), Lauren Morelli (Episode 9), Sian Heder (Episode 10)
Directed by Daisy Von Scherler Mayer (Episode 8), SJ Clarkson (Episode 9), Jennifer Getzinger (Episode 10)
Orange is the New Black, Season 2, Episode 11-13: “Take a Break from Your Values”, “It Was the Change”, “We Have Manners. We’re Polite.”
Written by Nick Jones (Episode 11), Sara Hess (Episode 12), Jenji Kohan (Episode 13)
Directed by Constantine Makris (Episode 11, 13), Phil Abraham (Episode 12)
Premiered Friday, June 6th on Netflix Instant
Orange is the New Black’s new season has a very strong first half, depicting the cascade of different lives in Litchfield prison while still maintaining the light balance that makes the show easy to consume in a binge sitting. The second half, however, begins to falter around the ninth episode, due to the tired ‘snake in the grass’ plot line that has been too present in prison dramas in the past. Fortunately, the series ends with a flash of excitement that leaves the audience eager for the third season, which is now filming.
After Piper is informed that her grandmother is in the hospital, she pleads to Sam Healy for a small furlough in order to see her dying relative and bring closure and solace to herself. Her furlough is eventually granted, which creates further tension in the prison due to the fact that a multitude of people have applied in the past for equally pressing reasons, but no one has been granted it before. Piper takes her furlough and indulges in what she can, while facing the judgements of several relatives that ineffectually try to convince her that she is deep down a good, law-abiding person.
Back at the prison, the pressure to keep his relationship with Diaz is causing Bennett to act out in anger at other inmates. This is made more tense due to the return of “Pornstache,” who makes his homecoming present by being especially cruel and handing out multiple ‘shots’ upon arrival. Although this dynamic is to be expected due to the build up in the prior episodes, by far the most interesting plot line taking place at the prison is that of Rosa’s, a senior citizen and cancer patient who used to rob banks. Her character is laden with memorable brushstrokes, such as her ‘cursed’ kiss that has been the prelude to the death of two men in her life, and her affinity for smelling money that she has stolen. She is blunt but accepting of the sad cards that she has drawn; dying a painful death in prison.
In the first half of the season, the tension between the pseudo-moms Gloria, Red and Vee presented itself as an interesting plot line to run alongside everything else, but in the closing episodes, the weight placed on it becomes a little too much. It primarily becomes about the rift between Red and Vee, with Gloria taking her firm stance to keep out of what’s happening. Vee is a strong willed, angry and conniving “business” woman who wins over her group of followers, or her “family,” by showing them the benefits of doing her work. Eventually, as morally unjust characters such as her do, one by one her following begins to dissipate as she is exposed to be the evil person that she is, and she is powerless without the muscle behind her. Although the Vee plot line did create subsequent compelling happenings, such as the violent outcome between her and Red and her ability to manipulate “Crazy Eyes” to do her biddings, it is an easily predictable story that took too much of the limelight and could have been guessed within the first moment that she was on screen.
Just when one thinks they are going to be disappointed with the season, the finale wraps up all of the loose ends in the true nature of the show by being dark, but strangely uplifting and darkly funny. In the last ten seconds, another violent attack happens to one of the inmates, but due to circumstance, viewers can smile widely or sit with mouths agape, such as in the first season’s finale with Piper and Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett.