Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you haven’t seen Orange is the New Black’s Season 2 finale, “We Have Manners. We’re Polite.”
“Always so rude, that one.” — Rosa
Many shows develop of formula for its season finales and stick to it. Orange is the New Black is clearly not one of shows. While last season’s finale ended in a bloody, shocking cliff-hanger, “We Have Manners. We’re Polite” took its extended run time and gave us wholly satisfying endings to all the major storylines of the season.
Sure, there are a few lingering questions; will Daya believe that Bennett attempted to take responsibility for their child? Will Caputo actually be able to change Litchfield? Will he even keep the job after two escapes on his second day in charge? Will Nicky fall down the rabbit hole of addiction once again? Did Piper get Alex re-arrested in attempt to protect her, for revenge, to make her own life more bearable or because screwing each other over is just how those two express their feelings?
All those questions warrant their answers, but for now the second season story has been told to completion. So few shows choose that path anymore, I’ve frogtten how refreshing it is.
Overall, OITNB did falter a bit in its sophomore year, but it was consistent in its faltering. Basically, anytime the show moved away from depicting the stories of the female prisoners, besides Piper, it lost its footing. I don’t share the same level of ire for Piper that many do, but it’s had to argue that when the show focuses on her plights it loses its momentum.
But Piper Kerman is the one who wrote a book, so I suppose we’re all just gonna have to suck it up.
Unfortunately, this season also spent inordinate amount of time focusing on the men who work at Litchfield. This was problematic for two reasons. One, Healy is the only character that has ever been well defined. Caputo is merely a shadow of the already defined “man who has issues with women” character. And while Healy’s reactive nature is interesting (if someone says he’s a monster he’ll act like a monster, is someone says he’s kind then he’s kind), it doesn’t belong in this story. And that brings us to reason number two, there are plenty of shows exploring the various difficulties associated with being a white man. This is not that show.
But when OITNB was focused on the politics of prison it was as electric as it’s always been. Vee was a great villain for the season and her demise was as fitting as it was shocking. It was also great to see the women come together to get her out. The racial tensions of the season (mostly instigated by Vee) were set aside as Latinas worked alongside Caucasians, former enemies remembered they were friends and loyalties were reestablished with the common goal of restoring peace to Litchfield.
It was a beautiful thing. Now lets just hope it lasts.
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