Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you haven’t seen Orange is the New Black Season 2, Episodes 10-12.
Well, if it were me, I would kick him to death. But we all have our own way of parenting.” — Red
As with all so-called “slow-paced shows” the final three episodes leading up to the finale are the time when all the pieces finally start falling into place. And since this is Orange is the New Black, those pieces were shit and the place they fill into was the fan.
But all this storyline momentum meant that once again the flashbacks started to feel like interruptions rather than appreciated context. “Little Mustachioed Shit” gave us yet another glimpse into Piper and Alex: The Early Years and guess what, it was dysfunctional from the very start.
The flashbacks served no purpose except to set up the “revenge” Piper enacted on Polly after learning Larry’s nameless hook-up was her best friend. But again, I don’t care about Polly or Larry. I care about the people at Litchfield and any time spent away from that seems like a waste. That said, the unspoken confession between Polly and Piper was a standout moment for both actresses.
Similarly, Sister Ingalls’ backstory felt as out of place as Rosa’s. It felt like the writers backed themselves into a corner by already mentioning she was an activist, but they didn’t take the time to actually make that story interesting.
Many times the flashbacks have served to surprise us about the characters we think we already know. After seeing Watson, Taystee and Pouseey as victims of circumstance, Cindy’s backstory reminded us that some of these women very much deserve to be in prison, no matter how funny or likeable they may seem on the inside. And nothing will ever top the surprise of Lorna’s truth.
But learning that Sister Ingalls wasn’t such a great nun didn’t pay off in the same way those other flashbacks did. In part because we never spent much time on her before and in part because it came across as too obviously trying to be shocking. She’s in prison; it stands to reason she probably wasn’t the best nun.
It wasn’t until “It Was the Change” that we finally got a flashback that contributed to the story. We once again visited Vee and Taystee’s past, but this time we got another angle on what happened to Taystee’s friend R.J. He was gunned down by a police officer… on Vee’s payroll.
Vee got word that her surrogate son and number one employee was attempting to start his own business, so she took him out like any other competitor. But not before she partook in a little pseudo-incest with him. There have been a lot of cringe-inducing moments on OITNB, but I doubt this one will ever be topped. At least I hope it won’t.
But even before we learned the truth about Vee’s loyalties and lack of a soul, we had a pretty good idea of how ruthless she could be.
When Poussey refused to sell anything stronger than cigarettes Vee sic’d Crazy Eyes on her (Side Note: Vee’s corruption of Crazy Eyes is possibly the hardest thing to watch) and when Poussey continued to be a problem, Vee essentially gave her what she wanted and cut Taystee out. Taystee may be upset over losing her surrogate mother, but in the long run I think she’ll see that it was Poussey who actually had her best interests in mind.
Although it might not be so long into the run after all. While Vee was dealing with some interpersonal issues, she was also dealing with her ever-growing feud with Red.
After months of simmering tensions, the war finally came to a boil as most disagreements do, during a blackout. After a botched assassination attempt on Vee, Red knew she was coming for her and decided to go after her first. As much as I didn’t want to watch Red become a killer, it was instantly obvious that she should have followed through. Vee is not a woman who offers a truce a minute after you’ve tried to kill her. And Red of all people should have known that.
Hadn’t Vee already made it clear they were never friends? Hasn’t she proved she is a vengeful, unforgiving woman? She has. But unfortunately Red still couldn’t see that truth until it hit upside the head with a sock full of quarters.
And while the Latinas are largely staying out of this race war, Daya continued to have her own set of issues. It’s refreshing that after last season, which painted Daya and Bennett’s relationship as romantic, the show is taking this season to explore the many ways in which their relationship will never work.
As a guard and an inmate their relationship has never been equal, a fact that was underlined when Bennett finally snapped an enforced some actual rules for Daya’s sister. But more importantly, because Bennett refuses to publicly accept responsibility for the baby, he is ensuring that they will never have equal footing.
Its ironic that Mendez did the very thing Daya asked of Bennett, publicly proclaimed his love for her and accepted his punishment for what he did. I’m not sure what that moment was supposed to say about Mendez or how we’re supposed to feel about his arrest. Daya obviously feels guilty, but truthfully Mendez did break the law, not only by sleeping with Daya, but also by smuggling in drugs and aggressively abusing his power. If anyone deserves a prison sentence on this show, its Mendez. And no amount of love declarations will change that.
And of course, now that Mendez has officially been named as the father there are a whole host of problems waiting for Daya once she gets out. Because of the circumstances it seems unlikely Mendez would be granted any rights to the child, but its clear he will try. And Daya was right to point out that the lies would be too confusing for a child to understand.
I was a Daya/Bennett supporter from day one, but even I see that Bennett walking away would be best for everyone.
Also during the blackout, Piper did her first interesting thing since Alex left (Side Note: reconnecting with Alex was clearly a very stupid thing to do. All that remains to be seen is how stupid) and snuck into Fig’s office to steal the invoices for the reporter.
Piper is correct in assuming that Fig is shipping her out as punishment, and to save her own skin, but I wonder how many times Piper will have to be reminded that in this institution there is no such thing as fairness. Although Caputo caught her with the file and there is probably no one more willing to help bring Fig down than Caputo in that moment.
The penultimate three episodes also gave us some really lovely moments between Lorna and Nicky and Taystee and Poussey; some welcome comic relief from Soso and some terrifying foreshadowing of Litchfield getting new riot gear.
I’m thinking a 90-minute finale still won’t be enough.
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