17th Jun2014

‘Orange is the New Black: Season 2’ Review

by Paul Metcalf


There are moments in Orange is the New Black: Season Two where I thought to myself “oh I hate what you are doing here, don’t make her do that!” I almost hated the writers.  This sounds bad I know, but then you have to think, exactly what did they do to make me think so emotionally? They wrote another good season that pulled me so in and showed me sides of characters I didn’t want to see, and when these were my favourite people in the show I was not happy at all.

Orange is the New Black: Season Two starts with a jolt to the system as Piper (Taylor Schilling) is moved away from the prison she’s come to call home, to a much harder environment.  It’s hard to describe exactly why she assumes she is being moved without spoilers, so all I’ll say is that if you have seen the first season then you’ll know why things are going downhill.  This change in environment is only temporary though, but the impact on Piper’s little prison life is huge and shapes a lot of the season, for her at least.  When everything returns back to normal though we are introduced to a new character Vee (Lorraine Toussaint) who to some is an old friend, and enemy to others.  Her arrival though is an explosive catalyst that takes the cosy little world we know and changes this season into something we probably didn’t expect.  An uncomfortable one where people we knew suddenly change for the worst.

Now that Orange is the New Black is into its second season the writers have taken the step to assume that we know the characters and we are invested in their own personal stories.  This is why the changes that come feel so powerful, because we almost feel we know these people.  When I started watching this season I expected the almost comfortable environment where Piper is still so out of touch with reality, living in her little world where everything revolves around her and her own personal angst.  Season two does not give us this safety net at all, this time things are changing in the prison, and not for good.  This is why the character of Vee is so powerful, she is a force from the past who is deeply manipulative and knows how to work the system to aid her need to be the top dog.  Vee, Red (Kate Mulgrew) and Crazy Eyes (Uzo Aduba) in many ways are the focus of this season, and this is where events really had an effect on me.  Crazy Eyes to me is the best character of the show and to change things so dramatically for her is almost an uncomfortable thing to have to sit through.

The character that Uzo Aduba creates for us with Crazy Eyes is easy to love, especially in the first season.  She is off edge and obviously has many mental issues.  This leaves her open to manipulation because in truth all she wants is to be a part of things and be accepted instead of seen as just “Crazy Eyes”.  It’s nice that we get to see an episode focussing on her life before prison, it helps us to understand how her mind works, or at least how it became what it was.  This is why I became annoyed with what happens with her in this season, her weaknesses are used against her and what comes out isn’t always pretty.  It is important to know though that for the viewer to be annoyed, this is not down to bad writing but in fact the opposite.  The writers create a character that we feel protective over and when we don’t like the direction she is going, we become angry.

I could pick each character out and write hundreds of words as to why they are so good this season, but in truth why should I need to? If you enjoyed the first season I’m sure you can watch Orange is the New Black: Season Two and fall in love with them all yet again.  Many characters get their moment, their stories are extended and poked at for us all to understand them a little more, or maybe even dislike them more, but we know them all the same.  We even get a scene featuring a certain moustached gentlemen which really is a standout scene, his return is as over the top as we come to expect from him, even if we hate him.

Orange is the New Black: Season Two is available on Netflix to (binge) watch now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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