Orange is the New Black Review: Episodes 7-9

Orange is the New Black Review: Episodes 7-9

Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you haven’t seen Orange is the New Black Season 2, Eps. 7-9.

I think a nice faux-hawk will give that ‘don’t fuck with me’ vibe.

I mostly use my face for that.

Recently I’ve heard the compliant leveled that OITNB is too slow paced. At its core OITNB is a series of character studies; little one-hour glimpses into lives we seldom get to see. Yes, it is also darkly hysterical and, at times, hauntingly poignant, but its dedication to telling female stories is where its real value comes from. And I would take that over fast-paced, unoriginal programming any day.

That being said, these middle episodes saw the show taking a minor sophomore stumble. And unfortunately it came in the character study department.

The flashbacks to inmates’ pasts are usually the highlight of every episode, but Cindy’s flashback, in “Comic Sans,” seemed pedestrian and cliché for a show that usually avoids such pitfalls. Similarly, the final revelation of the past beef between Vee and Red turned out to be disappointingly predictable. As soon as Red set up her business Vee came along and snatched it away from her. The beat down was further than I’d expected, but people have been warning us all season that Vee wasn’t a woman to be messed with. It was only a matter of time until we saw it for ourselves.

But the most disappointing backstory belonged to Rosa. After she told her chemo friend she used to rob banks I was looking forward to getting a closer look at her pre-prison days. Unfortunately between the sloppy representation of the 70s and the over-the-top trope of her boyfriends dying after every heist it came off as a joke when the every other flashback as served as a moment of gravity.

But Rosa’s story isn’t the only one to tip over into the eye roll zone. From Larry sleeping with Polly to Figueroa’s obviously gay senatorial candidate husband, there is a lot of unnecessary, soap-ish drama finding its way into this black comedy.

The only non-prison centric moments that seemed worthwhile were Piper’s furlough. She requested the two-day reprieve from her sentence in order to say goodbye to the woman who told her “life is made in mistakes.” But she was too late. So instead she got to attend a funeral/wedding, end her relationship with Larry for good and have a bunch of people stare at her and make awkward conversation about prison.

But the furlough also gave Piper an idea of what her life will be like once she’s out of prison for good. Over the last season and a half we’ve seen Piper change, but it wasn’t until she was back in her original context that she realized she had changed. To the other inmates she’ll always be the entitled little rich girl, but the fact is she has grown tougher and has developed a broader view on life. She realized that she will never go back to who she was before prison and, more importantly, she’s happy in that truth.

Fortunately the majority of the action was focused on the people inside Litchfield and its there that the story continues to thrive.

The turf war between Vee and Red is moments away from reaching its boiling point. Red finally won back her girls with an overdue apology and Vee got comfortable enough with her cigarette ring to start bringing in drugs.

And for once the Litchfield administration is on top of things. Well, as on top of things as they’re likely to ever be. With more contraband being traded than ever before it was only a matter of time before the warden noticed. It was obviously time for a crackdown. Though who could have predicted a crackdown would entail shot quotas and the return of Pornstache.

It also meant the dismissal of Fisher and Bennett losing his damn mind. It must be stressful to have a pregnant girlfriend in prison and even harder when you’re a CO in said prison, but taking it out on the other prisoners in a very scary impersonation of Porstache himself was not the way to go. Nor was outing Daya and pointing the blame at Mendez.

True, Mendez very much deserves to be in prison (and have a guard exactly like himself), but it opens a very dangerous can of worms. Like the fact Mendez will have legal rights to the baby when it’s born and its mother is still in prison. Not smart, Bennett. Not. Smart.

And that is but one of many balls in the air as we head into the season’s back half. Taystee made the despicable move of putting drugs back into Nicky’s hands, Boo betrayed Red to Vee for a 10 percent cut and Red sure as hell isn’t going down without a fight. Not too bad for a “slow-paced” show.

Don't miss the reviews for episodes 1-3, 4-610-12 and 13.

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