The season began with a quick visit to everyone, all the characters that have already been long established. New characters included Counselor Berdie Rogers (played by actress Marsha Stephanie Blake), plus the surprise return of Alex when she rolls over in the new inmates’ bunk. It opens on Mother’s Day, reminding viewers of the misery of prison as they try to make a cheerful carnival, but all must hit the ground before it’s over. Flashbacks spend moments with several characters, offering wonderful insights.
All the repercussions from season two come flooding in by the next couple episodes: Suzanne’s emotional damage from Vee, Maria’s kid, Sophia’s kid. Gloria’s kid is introduced with a similar set of problems – there’s little the prison mothers can do from behind bars. Red closes off her tunnel, though Nicky’s heroin becomes a bigger problem than ever as she can’t manage to say goodbye. There’s also Piper’s lie to Red that her business was thriving and Piper’s betrayal of Alex. This last nicely parallels season one, as Alex shepherded the emotional Piper through prison, then finally revealed she had turned in the other woman. This time, Alex is the wreck and Piper stable and a prison veteran…before Alex finds out she’s back because of her girlfriend. Certainly, this all seems contrived to build up tension, but it’s effective nonetheless. Healey may be trying to seem mature, but with Red and his wife, he’s back to the same hang ups (though now we’ve seen his literally crazy mother…whether this was before or after electroshock isn’t clear). With Red’s announcement to his bride that Healy is a good man, Healy is quite struck – perhaps with his only positive female relationship ever.
Bennett and Daya hit a snag, as in his own flashback he’s revealed as weak – he’s not the guy to jump on the grenade but cower in his bunk (remember his battle wound was really an infection from a hot tub). He proposes to Daya and plans to raise her baby on his own, but when he sees the squalor and violence of her childhood, he panics (as her mother’s cheating boyfriend threatens her brother with a gun and reveals that Daya’s best story involves her drunken mother smashing her Quinceanera cake). Instead of doing as Daya’s mother advises and giving the baby to “Lady Pornstache” for a stable life, he runs from the entire situation. As the only sweet genuine love story shatters, the theme of prison crushing lives and families becomes clearer. Daya in turn appears to give up on life and hands over her baby, no longer wanting the burden with no Bennett.
Flashbacks are always a big draw, and I know many people were waiting for Chang’s (though I found the lack of subtitles oppressive. Yes I got the jist, but only that). Boo’s was fun, though there weren’t major surprises, or a revelation of her crime. Nicky’s was rather predictable, but Flaca’s was unexpected and insightful. By the time we’re halfway through, we’re gotten new inmates, kosher meals, and sweatshops, with many ethical debates as well, Litchfield is under new corrupt management (slightly different from the old corrupt management) and Piper appears to be flirting with a newcomer. Watch out, Alex!
Remember All Their Faces: A Deeper Look at Character, Gender and the Prison World of Orange is the New Black is on sale now on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Remember-All-Their-Faces-Character-ebook/dp/B00VLMBDR0 … There’s also a free giveaway going: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/135701-remember-all-their-faces-a-deeper-look-at-character-gender-and-the-pri …