17th Jun2015

‘Orange is the New Black: Season Three’ Review (Netflix)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Laura Prepon, Taylor Schilling, Lea DeLaria, Ruby Rose, Emma Myles, Lori Tan Chinn, Uzo Aduba, Laverne Cox | Created by Jenji Kohan

OITNB-cast

Finally Orange is the New Black: Season Three has made its way onto Netflix, and I’ve binge watched it. I did this for two reasons, one so I can write this review and most importantly because I love it, I want to see the return of my favourite characters and see what they get up to this season. Now into its third year there is a high expectation for it to deliver, but with such demand, can it live up to what we want?

In the third season we see Alex (Laura Prepon) returning and Piper (Taylor Schilling) up to her old tricks of being in her own little delusional bubble where the world revolves around her. It’s the thing that got her in prison in the first place, and why should she change? Now with Piper moving into her own little business venture and Alex trying to trying to protect her own back from past mistakes, the shows focus also moves onto other inmates and their stories. Miracles, erotic fiction and prison takeovers all make for a year where the focus is much more on personal experiences and not big grandiose storylines.

In a way we are lucky that there is less of a focus on the Piper character because not surprisingly she is becoming even more annoying, and I’m assuming that this is the aim. Maybe in the future she is set for a big downfall, but we are yet to see that happen. It’s a shame that with the focus moving off her that we also lose focus on Alex, even after her big return (all Piper’s fault of course), she does tend to be the moral compass of the season, turning up to tell Piper to get over herself and wake up to what she is becoming, though not surprisingly that falls on deaf ears.

In between these two characters we now have the new face of Stella (Ruby Rose) who is a nice addition to the cast, though I’m not sure if we’ll be seeing her in future seasons, I do hope she returns. I won’t say much about her character as that would be a spoiler, but Ruby Rose plays a good part here and if anything saves us from the slightly boring love battle between Alex and Piper. I’m sure that if the writers find that Stella is popular she may make a comeback, but we’ll have to wait and see.

What I did like about Orange is the New Black: Season Three is the focus on other characters and not just Alex and Piper. This time we get to see more about characters like Big Boo (Lea DeLaria), Taylor (Emma Myles) and more importantly Chang (Lori Tan Chinn) whose episode really opens the audience’s eyes to the character who to this point has been comic relief but becomes much deeper now. Another nice touch is Crazy Eyes (Uzo Aduba) returning back to her old form, becoming a writer of erotic fiction and even having a love interest. We also can’t forget the return of Lori Petty’s character who made an unforgettable impact in season two.

The problem with shows that are received so well by both the critics and fans is that they have to continue to stay on top form. I will say that I enjoyed Orange is the New Black: Season Three, but there is something lacking that was there from previous seasons. The main problem for me was that the finale felt more like a mid-season finish rather than to this year’s episodes, it feels more like it was just coasting along without really hitting full speed, then a few new storylines are revealed in the last episodes and then it is over.

Important issues are focused on in the season such as Sophia’s (Laverne Cox) storyline, and there has been some character progression for a lot of the characters. The problem is there was no big story arc that really had an impact. This is just a season about character development with a few teasers for what is to come in the future. I will say that in the final episode though there is some redemption, I won’t spoil it because it really is a beautiful moment for all the characters, and something that really is needed. This doesn’t change the fact though that the season just feels unfinished.

Even with the lack of impact in Orange is the New Black: Season Three the fact is I still sat through the episodes and never felt bored. Watching the characters and enjoying their stories was a welcome return to a show that is well written and has strong characters that we can relate to. I’m still looking forward to season four, I won’t be giving up on the show anytime soon but I think it is fair to say that season four definitely has to deliver in terms of big storylines, because season three feels like the set up for it, rather than a season in its own right.

**** 4/5

Orange is the New Black: Season Three is available on Netflix now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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