Intimacy is a difficult thing to film. Rather, it’s difficult to film well. You can capture two people clutched closely together, in a vulnerable moment, so that it feels as if the camera is encroaching on their privacy, an intruder. You can film in close-up, for a more practical intimacy, catching every hair and freckle. But to really feel like you’re getting a close understanding of the characters onscreen, there’s no list of actions one should take. Jill Soloway has figured it out.
Orange Is the New Black, Season 2, Episode 8: “Appropriately …
In my last review I called Taystee a “girl,” and although much of the episode focused on her in the present as an adult, I didn’t even think to pause on that small, yet important age distinction. Calling her “woman,” truly, never even entered my mind. So, the question is… why not? I mean, isn’t she well over 18? Isn’t she doing hard time, baring her soul at AA meetings, and winning mock job fairs? What else does a lady need to do to get some respect? But apparently, I was not totally wrong with my oversight after all—that is, at least, if we listen to new, yet experienced inmate, Vee.
A little whiplash never hurt anyone when it comes to entertainment, but it’s hard not to knock this episode down a few pegs after the delicious intensity that was “Thirsty Bird.” Though, if we needed some downtime, Taystee is a perfect character to spend it with, especially as a first-time flashbacker, and the exciting prospect of getting to spend even more time with her down the road. In contrast to Piper, who courts controversy, Taystee is just simply likeable to everyone, even before we heard her story about waking up at a construction site with barbecue sauce on her breasts. Both her prison story and flashback story, by being totally sincere, play to that likeability strength, and give us a buoy for an episode that spends its entire time setting up little plotlines for the season, and basically reminding us who the characters are and where we left them.
Orange is the New Black’s title is probably the least compelling thing about the accomplished series. It springs to mind a kind of petulant rebelliousness, a hip “girl power” type of show that, however easily it could fall into being with its premise, consistently rises above being with its powerful, careful storytelling, laugh-out-loud humor, and three-dimensional characters. Still, the title is by no means empty, and actually rings out as strangely meaningful in this, its second season premiere. After all, what does happen when orange is the new black? Or, in other words, what happens when what we think is basic is absolutely no longer the case?