‘Orange Is the New Black’: Inside the Wild S2 Finale and What’s Next for Season 3
Our critics delve into the second season finale of Netflix’s finest, and what it means for the future of the series.
Marlow: Now that ample time has passed, let’s talk about that excellent Orange Is the New Black Season 2 finale, and what we can expect in Season 3. As we’ve previously mentioned, up until the final handful of episodes, OITNB was a bit of a letdown, but the final few really redeemed the season and tied things up nicely. It also brought us arguably the best pop-culture reference/line, courtesy of Black Cindy: “Hey, you ever think about Jay Z and Beyoncé fuckin’? ‘Cause I do. Like, more than I do myself, even. You think that’s weird?” But about that finale. It was really all about Vee manipulating her surrogate mother role to Suzanne, and convincing the poor, lost little girl in her to take the fall for Vee’s vicious lock-sock attack on Red. This episode will, without question, be Uzo Aduba’s Emmy submission for S2. The scene where she’s going back-and-forth, speaking in rhyme and directly to the aforementioned lock, which she’s named “Lady Locksley,” while being interrogated by the two detectives is masterful acting.
Kevin: You thought the season was a bit of a letdown? From beginning to end, I think I enjoyed this season of OITNB more than any other series on TV, with the exception of my beloved The Good Wife. (Can we make this convo quick? I have to get back to my post picketing in front of the Television Academy’s offices to protest The Good Wife’s egregious Emmy snub.) In fact, I found this season of OITNB so good that the finale was actually one of my least favorite episodes of the run.
Marlow: Only a bit of a letdown up until the final handful of episodes!
Kevin: Hear me out! I thought, overall, it was excellent, because this series is excellent. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was way too much plot the writers needed to tie up by the time it ended, to the point that I could also see them ticking boxes off a check list as they got to each story line. Between wrapping up Vee’s arc, stopping Crazy Eyes from being framed, the hunger strike, Rosa’s cancer, getting Alex back in jail, taking down Fig for the embezzling, and having Bennett confess he’s the father of Daya’s baby, there just seemed like there was way too much going on. The way the majority of those many (many) plot points were handled was phenomenal, specifically the entire Crazy Eyes arc in that episode and Rosa’s scenes in the hospital when she learns she’s dying. But others ranged from unsatisfying (Bennett’s confession was so underwhelming) to groan-inducing (the Fig blow job) to manufactured (the way Piper sets up Alex seems orchestrated simply because the writers needed some way to get Alex back in jail).
Am I alone in thinking that?
Marlow: I think that season finale episodes are tough, and a few of those threads definitely should have been axed. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: I am so, so tired of the Daya/Bennett/rape baby storyline. Nobody cares, and it’s just odd, because they show is forcing this cliché “love story” on us—their scenes are literally accompanied by twinkling ivories—when it’s a prison guard who raped an inmate (I know it was consensual, but she cannot grant consent given his title and her circumstances). The whole thing just seems off to me… and also a snooze—especially when you put it up against the more fascinating threads. And the Figueroa blow job to Caputo made me really queasy as well. Again, the show is asking us to cheer on Caputo for tricking the (admittedly awful) Figueroa into giving him a blow job, which is borderline rape.
Kevin: Oof, that blow job scene. I just found it depressingly tone deaf for a show that typically handles these sensitive issues so delicately. Basically, the entire season was spent humanizing Figueroa (which I thought wasn’t the best idea in the first place) and then in the finale has Caputo deliver this appalling “eff you” by tricking her into that blow job, and we were supposed to cheer for it? After all these episodes asking us to feel sorry for her? It was confusing. And icky.
Marlow: It really was. But these pretty bad threads aside, and the fact that the finale was a bit crammed with subplots, I just loved Crazy Eyes—excuse me, Suzanne. The scene where she’s hysterically crying while clenching the deck of Uno cards destroyed me. Uzo Aduba is a force of nature, and deserves any and all accolades. And I also, as by-the-numbers as it was, enjoyed how the Miss Rosa storyline wrapped up, with Morello giving her the keys to the van, and her swerving it into Vee, killing her. I thought it bookended nicely with the earlier, Fatal Attraction scenes of Morello in the van.
Kevin: All of the awards for Uzo Aduba, please. Well, save some for Lorraine Toussaint, who perfected the role of the one-season-and-done shit-stirrer. She was a nightmare-inducing monster of a woman as Vee and I loved every second of her performance. Seeing a character hit by a large vehicle hasn’t been this satisfying since Regina George face met the front end of a bus in Mean Girls, and that’s a testament to Toussaint’s brilliance.
Marlow: “I’m voting for Miss Rosa because she hit Vee with a van.” I also agree that Vause getting caught with a gun was a somewhat lame attempt to just throw her back into prison with Piper since, as we know, Laura Prepon will be in all 13 episodes of Orange’s third season. What do you think having her back will mean for Season 3?
Kevin: Well, the cast just tweeted a photo from the Litchfield Prison set toasting their Emmy nominations and Laura Prepon was with the rest of the inmates for the day of filming, so I’m going to assume that Alex gets sent back to Litchfield next season and that Prepon’s involvement won’t solely be outside the prison walls, like it was this year. I’m also hoping for something juicier with Alex’s return than a fight-hard-and-love-harder storyline with Piper. With all of her own experience as a smuggler, how great would it be if she ends up as Red’s big adversary next year?
As much as I loathed where the Daya-Bennett pregnancy storyline this year, casting news that’s actually made it the plot I’m most looking forward to in Season 3 happened a few weeks ago. Mary Steenburgen—that’s Mary Mother Freaking Steenburgen—is joining the cast to play Pornstache’s mother. You’ll remember that Daya’s claim that Pornstache raped her turned him into a media pariah. The casting of Steenburgen as his mom hints at all kinds of tantalizing story possibilities: a paternity lawsuit, a custody case, and a public media fight. The world’s most boring pregnancy suddenly became very interesting.
Marlow: Very excited to see Steenburgen square off against Caputo and Healy. And we already know that Dascha Polanco, who plays Daya, was promoted to series regular, so I could definitely see a big Losing Isaiah-esque paternity suit/custody case in the works. It was also revealed that Pablo Schreiber, the actor who so convincingly plays the creepy Pornstache, won’t be appearing much in Season 3, since he’s a series regular on a show called The Brink on HBO, so it stands to reason that they’ll find some way to write him off the show, presumably by keeping him locked up for the Daya rape.
There are also some unanswered questions as far as the future of Suzanne, who we last left in a pretty bad state (sobbing, clenching the Uno deck) after she was saved by Healy for the Vee hit by having the resident electrician forge papers—will that come back to bite Healy, or the electrician, in the ass? And will we learn what Suzanne did to land in prison? I’m dying to know. And Samira Wiley, who plays Poussey, was also promoted to series regular, so it’ll be interesting to see how the show explores her repaired relationship with Taystee post-Vee, and also if we’ll find out what she did to land in Litchfield. Plus, now that Vause will be back in every episode of Season 3, how will Jenji Kohan and Co. keep that storyline between her and Piper fresh?
Other things I’m keen on seeing: What will happen to Nicky? When we last leave her in the finale, she’s guarding a gigantic stash of heroin—smuggled in by Vee—in a vent. Will she have a terrible relapse and turn to her pal/sometime fling Vause for help? And will Pennsatucky and Big Boo get involved? Things seemed to be going that way in the final couple of episodes, and it’ll certainly give Doggett more to do than in Season 2.
Also… is Vee really dead? Yes, we saw her lying motionless on the side of the road after being struck by Miss Rosa’s van, but Toussaint recently teased that she might not be kaput, saying, “This woman is a survivor.”
Guess we’ll all just have to wait ‘til June 2015 to find out.