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Orange Is the New Black Season 2 Review: The Drama Keeps Going

Mike Hoffman | 11 Jun 2014 12:00
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oitnb s2 red and pornstache

Caputo is promoted into a mess of a situation. A number of prisoners, motivated by newcomer Brook Soso, decide to go on hunger strike. The movement is unfocused, though. A political activist, Soso simply wants to protest the general conditions of the prison, Yoga Jones is protesting the use of solitary confinement, and one of the meth heads demands more desert options. Sister Jane, who we learn was excommunicated for her need to be in the spotlight of her activist work, joins the hunger strike late and sticks with it the longest. One of the inmates, Jimmy, is a Golden Girl with Alzheimer's that escaped once and hurt herself another time. The prison administration decides to grant her compassionate release, meaning they leave her at a bus station with nothing since they cannot afford to care for her and she is not a threat to society. Sister explains to Piper that this means she will be left to die, since she has no resources or anyone to care for her. Sister continues her hunger strike in demand of better care for senior inmates, but once she is removed to the medical section, she is force fed against her will.

Still, her efforts gain the attention of a number of nuns who begin to protest in solidarity on Caputo's second day as assistant warden. After Caputo fires a female guard, Fischer, for complaining about how the guards are being forced to treat the inmates (and also a little because he has feelings for her and she doesn't even notice him), Pornstache is brought back to the Litchfield. Seriously, his return is over-the-top ridiculous and we hate him but that role is played so well. He believes he is the father of Daya, an inmate he was caught having sex with last season, which led to his suspension. Bennett, another guard and the actual father, tells Caputo that Pornstache got Daya pregnant, leading to Pornstache's arrest. Pornstache being taken out of the prison in handcuffs is the scene we all wanted last season. As he is taken out, he declares his love for Daya, which she has wanted Bennett to do the entire season - but twhen Bennett finally tells Caputo the truth, he tells Bennett to keep the truth to himself.

oitnb s2 old rosa

Rosa, the inmate currently undergoing chemo, gets a completely unrealistic but fantastic backstory as an intense, romantic bank robber. After losing her lovers on two separate jobs, she gets herself arrested. After a season of being told the Department of Corrections can't pay for Rosa's surgery and Rosa dealing with a "rude" Vee, she is told by her doctor that she will be dead within a number of weeks. Rosa loved the smell of money and the thrill of speeding away after a heist, and being faced with the sight of her sick and dying in prison is actually painful for the audience. While the administration looks for an escaped Vee, still on Caputo's second day as assistant warden, Morello - who drives Rosa to chemo - leaves the keys in the van and lets Rosa escape in the confusion. Caputo looks on in horror as he realizes he's lost two prisoners in one day as the new assistant warden. While driving away, Rosa sees Vee on the side of the road, fleeing the prison, and runs her down, killing her and says, "Always so rude, that one."

There are over three dozen recurring characters in this thirteen episode season and a number of side plots I couldn't touch on in this recap. Nicky and Big Boo have a sex contest, Healy tries his hand at group counseling, Pennsatucky gets new teeth. The show is dense with humor, insight, and social commentary. Sophia mentions rumors that after Piper's fight she looked "like Omar from The Wire" and Tiki Barber - a former New York Giants player - explains Michel Foucault, author of Discipline and Punish, at a party. The second season maintains what made the first season work. Most drama series are motivated by our fear of losing characters we love, but Orange Is the New Black doesn't work that way. When we thought Piper might have killed Pennsatucky, we didn't care about losing Pennsatucky as much as we hated watching Piper lose herself. And Piper has lost at least part of herself when she tries to pimp Soso for a blanket. Watching Suzanne turn her back on Piper, beat Poussey, and lose her mind thinking she attacked Red hurts because we don't want Suzanne to lose what little she has of herself. Vee takes from people and turns them into what she needs them to be - which makes her the perfect villain for this show. Not because she might kill someone (she totally will), but because in a place where all you have is yourself, Vee will take that away from you.

Most importantly, this season showed that this show does not need Piper to work. The enormous cast has more than enough chemistry and history to carry this series long after Piper's sentence runs its course. In fact, the show might be better off once it does.

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