Season Review: ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK Season 3

orange-key-art-1As the second season of Orange Of The New Black, I decided to finally sit down and watch the show that so many people had garnered with praise. I binged watched the first two seasons soon after season twos release and I fell in love. Aside from the show, the characters are interesting and I came to care about them and their stories. These people are real people. Well, not totally, but you know what I mean.    

The first season introduced us to the characters and set the groundwork for what would come. This season would show us Piper’s crumbling marriage and her reinvigorated relationship with Alex, her former girlfriend and reason Piper is in prison. Season two spends a chunk of time with Piper in Chicago, preparing to stand trial against Alex’s former employer.

Season three opens up shortly after season two ends. The inmates reference the fate of Mrs. Rosa, whom escaped prison with the help of Lorna Morello when she was told she had only weeks to live and refused to die in prison. During her escape, Mrs. Rosa ran down and killed Vee, season twos antagonist. This season spends less time on the backstory of Piper and her life before prison and more time on the supporting characters. We learn a lot about characters I wanted to know more about including expanding on Lorna’s previous life and future, which includes a happy ending.

A major focus of season three involves the struggle between Red and Norma as one becomes a religious figurehead and the other fights her way back into the kitchen. Norma begins the season by mocking Santeria, as expressed by Gloria and the kitchen staff. As Norma begins “practicing,” she garners a following of hopefuls including Gina, Leanne, Angie and, for a short time, Poussey “P” Washington and Brook Soso, the latter of who is chased out by Leanne.

Another plot in seaons three involves the Kosher meals in the lunch hall. When Lolly (whom we met in season two while Piper was in Chicago) is transferred to Litchfield, she begins ordering the Kosher meals. Upon learning that they not only exist by are obviously better, other inmates begin getting them. This leads to the prison hiring a “rent-a-Rabbi” to establish if those getting the Kosher meals are actually Jewish. When it comes down to it, Sister Jane gets a meal but Black Cindy decides to fully convert yo Judaism. She learns all she can by inlisting the help of two Jewish inmates and hiring the Rabbi, who tells her that she will only be fully converted after she has her Mikveh.

This season shows Alex Vause becoming more and more paranoid that her former boss had sent someone into the prison to kill her. This is a fear because, as you know, Alex and Piper both rolled over on him when they were in Chicago. This also becomes one of the contributing factors leading to Alex and Piper splitting up. Another factor being the extremely sexualized Ausie Stella whom Piper finds herself falling for.

Season three also introduced the idea of enterprise for Piper and a select group of inmates. When a new job opportunity presents itself to the ladies of Litchfield, making panties for the company Whispers, Piper concocts a way for an extra pair to be crated from each slab of fabric, resulting in an extra pair that cannot be traced by the C.O.’s or the company. She brings on a group of women to wear the panties so that they can be sold under the company title “Felonious Spunk” and shipped out by Piper’s misfit brother and his girlfriend. This goes well for a while until money disappears, backstabbing occurs, more backstabbing occurs and finally, a member of the inner circle is sent down the river, so to speak.

One shocking strand of the season is a revalation about Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett and her past. It is revealed that she sold herself for sex before going to Litchfield. She could be purchased via “Visa, Mastercard or Mountain Dew.” A young man takes her up on the latter and, in the middle of intercourse, she is bitten/stung by something and she promptly ends it. She ends up striking up a relationship with a young man, but when he is wisked away from her, she is raped by the boy she had intercourse with earlier in the flashback. This is pertinant to her story because she again begins to fall for a young man only to feel betrayed when it comes down to it. This strikes up an astonishing friendship with Big Boo.

Another shocking section of season three involves the fued between Sophia and Gloria and also including their sons. Sophia’s son Michael has become increasingly obnoxious and disrespectful and Sophia blames this on the burgeoning friendship between himself and Gloria’s son Benny. This ends with Sophia being sent to SHU for her own protection after she is jumped after rumors of her still having a penis emerge from members of the Latino group.

The season ends on a wonderful note, but it also has its mysteries. Alex comes face to face with the focal point of her paranoia. Piper shows just how ruthless she can be. A season-long struggle between the C.O.’s and the higher ups ends in a full-scale walk-out while construction is being done around the prison. This cosntruction includes new beds for the inmates and a new fence section after a section is revealed to be missing. This section is removed and, before it can be replaced, the inmates all escape to the Lake on the other side, where they play and have a wonderful day.

The beautiful thing about this is the fact that Black Cindy is able to complete her Mikveh, making her fully converted. The season also culminates with Taystee being recognized as the “Mama” to the black community and said group taking in Brook Soso as one of their own. It’s a wonderful ending to a lovely season. I plan to go back and rewatch it already because I was that blown away by it. The struggles that every single character goes through this season are remarkable. I mean, there is some much happening that if you lost one tiny aspect of this show, everything would crumble. Seeing how Suzanne’s creativity emerges and captivates the entire prison is one final aspect of this season that I love.

Jenji Kohan, you’re amazing and I adore you. I cannot wait to see what comes next for the Ladies of Litchfield. And remember, “trust no bitch.”


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