Sunday, June 8, 2014

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK

SEASON 2 IS FINALLY HERE!



I was late in watching the first season of Orange is the New Black by Jenji Kohan (the writer, creator of Weeds, 2005. Another great Showtime show that I loved). It was only a few months ago, during a night of mindless wondering through repetitive choices on Netflix that I came across a Netflix original series entitled "Orange is the New Black". I hadn't given it thought until I kept reading other people commenting about the show. Curiosity got the better of me, and I began the first season early one night and couldn't stop. Yes, I watched the entire first season straight through. I had high expectations from Kohan (and her creative team) and they definitely deliver.


The basis of the story is about a free-spirited individual named Piper (Taylor Schilling) who, has to report to Litchfield Prison. Years ago, she was in love with Alex (Laura Prepon) who led her on an exciting adventure, traveling the world, and living the life. Unfortunately, they were drug smugglers. Fast forward years later and Piper isn't with Alex anymore, she is actually engaged to Larry (Jason Biggs) and they are enjoying the excitement of creating their lives together. Just one obstacle, Piper has to report to Litchfield prison to serve her time for her past illegal involvement. Larry is supportive and at first they seem to be adjusting to this bump in the road. However, prison life gets complicated... especially with the arrival of Alex at Litchfield! Furthermore, the black and white lines become murkier and grayer as Piper and Alex reemerge and rekindle their love affair. The first season ended on the climax of Piper and Larry breaking up and Piper beating the crap out of the crazed Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning) who had been threatening her life.

What I Love About OITNB

Something I love about Jenji's writing is how she pushes the boundaries making the viewer squirm a little and wonder what the heck is coming next!  Sex scenes I guess are enviable and be warned - if you are against girl-on-girl action this is not something you are going to sit through easily. If you can get past that, then you'll be rewarded with clever characters and twisting plots that you won't want to stop watching - it's addictive! I love how Pieper is expected to be this well-brought-up New England woman, but she is constantly defeating the odds. One of my favorite scenes out of season two so far, is when she is telling a new inmate that she is a lone wolf. I think every woman (especially life experienced women) can contest to this feeling of wanting to totally bitch out people and verbally berate an irritating person explaining how you want to totally go Rick Grimes on their ass and rip their throat out with your own bare teeth. She's a fighter, a survivor, she is the epitome of ever woman's naked soul - we persevere, we evolve, we fight, we survive...

  • Thirsty Bird
  • Looks Blue, Tastes Red
  • Hugs Can Be Deceiving
  • A Whole Other Hole
  • Low Self Esteem City
  • You Also Have A Pizza
  • Comic Sans
  • Appropriately Sized Pots
  • 40 OZ of Furlough
  • Little Mustachioed Shit
  • Take A Break From Your Values
  • It Was The Change
  • We Have Manners, We're Polite.


Links

OITNB - IMDb.com

Season 2 Review:

**Spoiler Alert**
Do not read the review is you don't want to know major plot points from the series.
If you do and then complain, Crazy Eyes will be unleashed upon you.

Season 2 picked up shortly after where we were left with the finale of season 1. Piper is still in the 'shoe' where a guard escorts her to a bus. She keeps asking where she's going and what is going on, but she is never informed. Even when they load her on a plane, she still doesn't know what is going on. Through the plane window she can identify that she is in Chicago. When she discovers Alex in the prison, she works her magic and is able to meet with her where she finds out that they are there for court. The king pin that they use to work for is on trial. Piper's lawyer tells her to tell the truth, that he will be going to jail anyway. Alex tells Piper that he is very dangerous and that she must lie. Piper leads with her heart and lies (because she still loves Alex). However, Alex told the truth and was able to be released for her cooperation. This infuriates Piper, but does she love Alex any less? Not for long. Alex keeps sending her letters in jail, and Piper threw the first away. Later in the series we discover that she kept them and during a time when the inmates were on lock down, she curls up and starts to read them all.

Red seems to be slipping on a downward slope, she doesn't have her family, so she connects with the senior clique. When a new inmates shows up, one that she knows oh-to-well from the past, she knows she has to snap out of it or else she'll be swallowed by the new shark in the tank. Red had lost her kitchen, where she was getting her contraband in from, so now she has to find something else to occupy her time. When she is in the greenhouse she makes a life-changing discovery. Through her powers of persuasion, she convinces management to let her start a gardening club for the seniors. Here, she gets the help of her sons and is not able to start her business up again. But when the sharks get too big for the tank, they both clash. Red remembers her past where she had been beaten before, so she strikes twice trying to take the sharks life. However, under the delusion of truce, the shark attacks Red (lock and sock) and Red is now in hospital recovering.

Morello faces her fears, she finds out that her Christopher is marrying another. She calls her sister to get the scoop, but she's fearful to tell anyone else at the prison what is going on. She's breaking inside and needs a fix. During her route of taking Miss Rossa to the hospital, she sees the change for the fix while she has to wait for three hours in the parking garage. Against her better judgement, she races off to Christopher's house where she breaks in and begins to unravel. During her flashback scenes we finally get to see the puzzle pieces come together. We learn that Morello ended up in jail because of fraud, also during court that they put Christopher on the stand and he stated that she was stalking him and how they only went on one coffee date and how he never wants anything to do with her again. Morello breaks down after Christopher visits her in jail and tells Nicky and fears that she really is crazy. Morello finds peace though after Piper confesses to her how she was the first nice person she met there and gave her hope. She is this little beacon of comfort and hope and she seems to find some peace in that.

We also get a huge glimpse into Tastee's past, where she was taken in by the above mentioned shark - V. As a child Tastee was in the care of the state and desperate. V was like the man who made criminals of children in the Oliver story. V is a drug dealer and a vicious one. She seems all nice and comforting, but if you cross her you'll end up hurt or dead. V must be for viper! We see how V has manipulated Tastee in the past and now is doing so in the prison, so much so that a huge wedge is put between her and her good friend P. P can see right through V though. Tastee is finally cast out and she's able to see her destructive behavior and the negative affects. Tastee reunites with P and the girls stand together against V.

V actually got on my nerves a lot, she kept going on about how things use to be in the prison and how the 'blacks' ran things. She begins a crusade to gain the respect that her group once had in the prison. V starts her business by claiming the warehouse where she is smuggling in tobacco. Tastee and her girls begin to help her, but P knows this isn't right and doesn't like how she has treated Tastee in the past and present. V gets Suzanne (Crazy Eyes) to beat up P when she confronts V in the showers. V also sets up Suzanne for Reds incident, even though it was V who did it. Healy is able to work a miracle and produces a document in-time to save Suzanne from being carted off to maximum security facility. When they go to find V she isn't in her bunk where she is suppose to be. She's escaped through Red's greenhouse and is making her way through the woods to her freedom. In one of the best sequences of the season, Karma catches up with her and she's left on the side of the road - dead. 

We also see Poussey's past, how she moved around a lot because he dad was in the military and how this has affected her. It's not easy finding love and then having it ripped from you time after time. P is one of my favorite characters, I really was invested in her this season. I love that she stood up to V and that she held true to her convictions - no matter the beat down that she received. I felt horrible for her when Crazy Eyes beat her up in the bathroom under V's orders. But, I was thrilled when her and Tastee reunited! Tastee might not be gay, but their friendship is a true form of love and it's a pleasure to watch.

Miss Rossa is still suffering through her cancer and going for treatments. She meets a kid who she connects with. She's not only suffering, but the salt in her wound is that she has to die in prison. In her past we learn that she is there because she was a bank robber. Her story had a twist too, she had a tradition before and after ever heist she would kiss one of the men that she was associated with. The very first heist was her husband, he was shot and died. The tradition turned into a curse after the second heist yielded the same outcome. When her male companion refused to follow tradition, she was overzealous and on a whim tried to hold up a bank and ended up in prison because of it. When Morello learns that the doctor just gave her only weeks to live, they arrive back at the prison which is on lock-down because of V's escape. In the chaos Morello tells Miss Rossa to go out her own way and leaves the van. Miss Rossa takes off and is able to escape the prison and breaks free of the despair that has been killing her spirit. When she sees V on the side of the road she steers the van and hits her, killing her. As she well deserved: when Miss Rossa had been eating in the cafeteria one day, V and her girls (in their height as a group) claimed the table Rossa was at, when Rosa wouldn't get up they poured her drink over her food and Rosa got up and left. I loved that Miss Rossa was the one to kill V.

Alex has locked herself down in an apartment in Queens, fearing that the king pin she use to work for is after her. Piper is able to get Alex on her calling list so they are able to talk briefly on the phone. Alex instructs Piper to get her on her visiting list and visits her in the prison explaining what's been going on. She is so fearful for her life that she has a gun, which is against her probation agreement. Alex also tells Piper that she has to leave, which is another violation of her probation. Through out the season, Piper comes to the realization that she really has no one. Her dad never visits in prison, her brother is preoccupied with life, and Larry has made other choices as well. So,in her desperation she calls Larry and her best friend for help. When Mr. Davy Crockett (her probation officer) arrives at Alex's door, she tries to hide her gun behind her back, but it's inevitable... it looks like Alex will be heading back to Litchfield prison for breaking her probation.

Larry has been holding onto Piper even after their breakup last season. Her things are still int heir house and he hasn't been seeing anyone else. Under the advisement of his father he goes on a disastrous date which doesn't seem to help him toward getting over Piper. But, he does connect with Piper's best friend and his mutual friend Polly Harper. She's just had a baby and is in the 'baby fog' because she's doing it all on her own, as her Aussie husband decided to leave for a month or two. Larry steps in and it isn't long before they sleep together. Larry tells Piper and it's heart breaking when Piper finally finds out it's Harper. Both Larry and Harper visit Piper in prison hoping to get her blessing - she does a control flip-out because she's being watched by the guards. Harper and Larry also tell Harper's husband who punches Larry in the eye and she also tells her husband that she's leaving him for Larry. Piper calls the duo and tells them that if they want her blessing, that there is something that they need to do for her. She asks them to call Mr. Crockett and report that Alex Vouse is attempting to leave the state...

There are so many other sub-plots, but it's so bitter sweet. I love that Netflix makes the entire season available right away, but now we have to wait until season 3. I'm invested in these characters (I was invested after season 1) and I can't wait to see how things continue to progress. As we're left at the end of the season, Piper only has eight more months to serve her sentence. They took down the queen bitch who had been in charge at the prison (who was embezzling money from the prison to fund her gay husband's campaign fund) and now Caputo has been given the chance for the position... but by his second day he has one of his officers tell him that he actually impregnated an inmate (not the mustached officer that they framed), there are prisoners on a hunger strike he has to end, an inmate is in the infirmary because she was nearly killed, an inmate steals a van and escapes, and another inmate escapes and is killed... It'll be interesting to see how he gets through this and if someone else will be put in the position.

Meanwhile, Nicky had stolen all of V's stash, to get back at her for nearly killing Red. She recruits Big Boo to try to move the drugs from where she had stashed them, but the prison goes on lock-down because of prisoner escapes. Nicky is two years sober from her drug habits. The first time V sent her drugs, she made the right choice and didn't use. However, as the season ended we're left with Nicky just staring at the stash - how much longer can she hold out?

We can only anticipate what will come with the next season. Something else that I love about this show is that, while there are elements of obscurity to me, there are a lot of things that I can still relate to. The writing is brilliant and the acting is just awesome. Like I said, I love these characters and now we're just left to wait and wonder until the next season is streaming on Netflix.