We’re nearing the end of the road for our S2 coverage of Orange is the New Black. So where do the inmates of Litchfield prison end up heading into the finale?
Let’s bitch it out…
Alright, so last week I said that this week we’d wrap up S2, but then life happened and I could only get through two episodes so that’s all you get. We’ll finish up with episode 13 next week.
2×11: ‘Take a Break from Your Values’
This is an interesting episode because even though the hunger strike isn’t the only significant storyline, it feels like Sister Ingalls’ (Beth Fowler) backstory ends up dominating a lot of the events. As is typical with the series, it’s a startling revelation to discover that the character is very different than we might have originally imagined. The quiet nun is actually a bit of a rockstar activist – who also happens to be a complete narcissist. In no time at all she’s dismissed Leanne (Emma Myles) and Angie’s (admittedly trivial) concerns and taken control of the movement. The resolution is quietly devastating as everyone else gives up, but she refuses to let go of her values, speaking to God in the infirmary while recovering from a state of exhaustion.
The fall-out of the strike is also the end of the Bugler, Piper’s (Taylor Schilling) pet-project. Figueroa (Alysia Reiner) once again butts heads with Caputo (Nick Sandow) over differences in their respective management styles, resulting in some wins (a new bathroom and riot gear) and losses (the Bugle). I’m intrigued by Caputo’s development in this second season; he’s emerged as one of the show’s more complicated characters despite our limited knowledge. In a way he’s a very reactive person: he ends up responding to the demands of the guards and the inmates, but he lacks the authority to make a difference (something he actually admits to Ingalls when she insists that the hunger strike has merit despite the lack of media attention). I’ll be very interested to see how things progress between him and Fig in the remaining episodes because I feel like something has to break.
- Healey’s (Michael Harney) Safe Place group begins to take off, despite being misconstrued by Cindy (Adrienne C. Moore) as a snitch club. It’s not too surprising that Poussey (Samira Wiley) joins – and struggles with the process – considering everything she’s going through. Unfortunately with Suzanne (Uzo Aduba) sitting in, she can’t be truthful.
- Big Boo (Lee DeLaria) finds herself in a precarious positions after her duplicitous actions are found out by Red (Kate Mulgrew) and Vee dismisses her. Hope she likes being socially ostracized!
- It’s startling to see how Watson (Vicky Jeudy) reacts after her time in SHU. Unlike Piper’s laissez-faire reaction at the start of the season, Watson is deeply traumatized and damaged. Of course, that may no longer matter now that she’s been accidentally shivved and left for dead (by one of the old ladies, no less!)
- Piper learns that Alex (Laura Prepon) is in danger despite her plea deal, but – as Healey candidly informs her – that’s the least of her worries because she is about to get shipped down south to Virginia. Um, what?!
- Finally, Polly (Maria Dizzia) and Larry (Jason Biggs) tell her husband Pete about the affair and Larry gets punched. I still don’t care.
- Poussey (standing up to Vee): “You like a pedophile without the sex.”
- Leanne (when Sister Jane joins the strike): “It’s ‘cause I called you a pussy, isn’t it?”
- Mama Diaz (when Diaz says she feels so stupid): “A lot of people who are stupid get to lead full productive lives.”
- Angie (caving into her desires to eat pizza): “I’m just licking it. A lick is alright.”
- Big Boo (lashing out at Red): “Your gang looks like a bunch of half-priced Garbage Pail Kids.”
2×12: ‘It Was the Change’
Two long-simmering conflicts come to a boil as the season nears its end: Caputo vs Fig and Red vs Vee. The former gets less mileage because it’s hitting the same plot points we’ve seen nearly all year, but this time the advent of the storm flooding the prison might as well come with a neon flashing sign that spells out Fig’s doom. Caputo’s increasing ire – and Piper’s desire for payback against her (likely correct) perception that she’s been targeted – suggests that the pair will gang up to take Fig down in the finale, thereby paying off the long gestating prison funds storyline that’s been lingering around in the background.
The other storyline is more front and center as we finally learn about Vee’s backstory. It’s no surprise to learn that Vee is untrustworthy or that she was responsible for the shooting death of her foster “son” RJ. Back during Taystee’s (Danielle Brooks) episode, there was a suggestion that Vee was involved because she was so unaffected by his untimely passing. Her rejection of Taystee here confirms once and for all that Vee is a woman who doesn’t value others – she’s only looking out for herself (something we have known all season, but other characters have difficulty accepting). And so the ending cliffhanger in which Vee sneaks up and attacks Red – despite their truce following Red’s unsuccessful assassination – feels like a foregone conclusion. This fight was always going to end with one of them dead and Red has proved (both now and in the past) that she is unwilling to fight dirty. Vee, on the other hand, has no qualms about fucking over everyone who gets in her way.
- Piper spends the episode lamenting how she’s being mistreated, despite the everything reiterating just how much of a shit hole Litchfield is. I imagine that Caputo will save her from being transferred in exchange for the evidence to incriminate Fig since it’s unlikely that Taylor Schilling is leaving the cast.
- Side Note: Does this mean that Fig will be part of the prison population next season? That would be highly entertaining.
- Despite how frustrated I am about the way that the Diaz / Bennett storyline has played out this season, their conversation – her ultimatum about turning himself in or walking away – is surprisingly well done. At this point she can’t forgive him and they’re not moving forward so something has to give. Even though her suggestion is outlandish (she honestly would rather send him to prison???), at least they’re finally talking.
- Taystee and Poussey have it out in the library during the blackout. I like that the resolution isn’t violent (despite the hints it will be). These two are good for each other and need to stick together (particularly since we know how bad Vee is for everyone).
- Contrary to what I wrote above, it was not Watson who was stabbed. As much as I like the actress and I didn’t want to see her die, I’m a little disappointed that it was “generic black inmate” who fell under the knife. Having some random character injured or killed feels dramatically less significant.
- Finally, file this under “pairings we didn’t know we wanted until we got them”: Big Boo and Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning) are pretty hysterical together. Anything that involves making fun of Penns, especially around something as outlandish as the “lesbian agenda” (involving slave men and eating pussy, naturally) is gold.
- Red (after the attempt on Vee goes pear shaped): “Vision is a basic requirement for an assassination. It’s like Step 1: pick a person to assassinate. Step 2: Make sure you kill that person.”
- Vee (to Red): “We were never friends.” She’s not lying.
- Suzanne (when Cindy suggests Red has a Taser in her vagina): “Taser would fit right up there.”
- Barbara Rosenblat’s Miss Rosa (to Morello): “It’s not the dying that’s the bad part. It’s doing it here. The last thing I’m gonna see is you assholes.”
- Vee (after Red nearly kills her and laughs that the place is getting to her): “You just tried to strangle me with plastic wrap so that you can sell mascara in jail.”
Your turn: are you surprised that Vee has proven to be untrustworthy or are you just surprised it’s taken so long for others to figure it out? Will Poussey and Taystee rekindle their friendship? Will Fig end up as an inmate? Did you think that Watson was the one who got shiv’d? And what do you think will happen in the finale? Sound off below, but please keep your comments spoiler free until next week.
Orange is the New Black is now available in its entirety on Netflix. Come back next Wednesday when we finish off S2 with a review of episode 13.