SPOILER ALERT: This post includes spoilers from the second season of Orange is the New Black (Netflix).
I imagine just like myself, while craving for more OITNB, what we all wanted to see was the aftermath of Piper’s fight with Pennsatucky (it was hardly a fight though, Piper was beating the crap out of Pennsatucky). However, we weren’t given that pleasure right away. The season starts with Piper being woken up in solitary, only to learn that they’re getting her on a bus and they refuse to tell her where they’re headed. Apparently Piper doesn’t remember the outcome of the fight either, and fears she’s killed Pennsatucky so this ride is leading her to the punishment for that. Soon enough she’s forced to board a plane as well, filled with other inmates, both male and female, and yet again it seems no one knows or wants to tell them where they’re headed or why. Once they land, half the mystery is revealed — they’re in Chicago, relocated to another prison, but still no why, though Piper believes it’s for murdering Pennsatucky.
Thankfully for her, in a way, Alex is there too. From her she learns that they were relocated here because they’re to testify in the trial of Alex’s drug boss, Kubra Balik. Alex thinks its best for them to lie, fearing the police won’t be able to hold Kubra forever and that once they’re out they’ll be in constant danger from him. Piper on the other hand wants to tell the truth. Larry’s dad as her lawyer also advises her to tell the truth. A last-minute change of heart takes place, and Piper lies while Alex says the truth — surprise, surprise! Alex earns her freedom and gets released, while Piper faces perjury charges and gets additional time. Luckily for us, that means more Piper time in the old prison (the stay in Chicago was temporary for the trial).
Through flashbacks we see the long-awaited fighting scene end and it appears while Piper was beating Pennsatucky, Crazy Eyes came from behind and punched Piper in the snow, so what the guards found was Piper and Pennsatucky both lying on the ground unconscious and beaten up. Since no one saw Crazy Eyes, to everyone it seemed like both sides were equally responsible, hence Pennsatucky spending time n solitary as well. But all is not so black for Pennsatucky, since she knows Hailey was there when the fight started and he left, she manages to get herself new teeth for her silence — no one seemed to be impressed, regardless of how much she showed them off.
I think what made this season so strong, just like with the first season, were the back-stories of the other inmates.
- We got to see Taystee as a child, then known as Tasha, trying to find a home at a Black Adoption Festival. She’s noticed by a drug dealer, who later becomes her mother figure, while she does drug trade for her along with other kids, out of which one boy is really close to Taystee, and we learn that Vee, Taystee’s mother figure, killed that boy when she found out he’s created a drug operation of his own. That same episode ends with Vee joining as an inmate. But more on that later.
- We saw Crazy Eyes’s, Suzanne’s, rough time growing up. She was always marked as special and had trouble fitting in, despite her mother always pushing her to prove she’s just the same as everyone else.
- Morello who was a scam artist, ordering fancy clothes for herself but claiming they were never delivered so she despite their financial status she looked like a rich actress. In fact she met Christopher while she was collecting several deliveries at the post office, who after helping with the boxes offers to buy her a cup of coffee. What’s more shocking is a trial scene where Christopher explains how he only went on one date with Morello, but despite showing no interest in her whatsoever, she kept stalking him even after he got a restraining order, leaving threatening messages and trying to place a bomb in his girlfriends’ car. She makes a quick visit to his house after she leaves Miss Rosa at the hospital and before picking her up.
- Poussey had to travel around a lot due to her father’s work, during the period from her flashbacks she’s in Germany. She met and fell in love with a girl there, but their love is not to great to overcome their surroundings — her girlfriend’s father sees them and manages to transfer Poussey and her father back to America. In return Poussey attempts to kill her girlfriend’s father, but her own father stops her. This closely resembles her relationship with Taystee, now that Vee interrupts their time together.
- Sister Ingalls apparently was an activist and not because of her fate, but because she loved being a leader and having lots of followers behind her. The actions she took, clearly shown in her book — NunShall Pass: The Sister Ingalls Story, were an embarrassment to the church so she’s basically a former nun since she was kicked out. She attempts to go on a hunger strike in the prison, asking for improvements and for old inmates not to be given “compassion release”, but all those following her gave up quickly when the guards offered them pizza.
- Black Cindy was a highly inappropriate TSA agent who stole lots of things from passengers, and we see her bringing a stolen iPad for a girl’s birthday at her mother’s place, but if you thought it’s her sister you’re wrong, it’s her daughter. Yep, she has a daughter that her mother is raising as her own, and one could say it’s because BC is horrid with kids as we see her listening “Death to My Enemies” with her daughter and leaving her out in the car for hours while she gets high with her friends.
- Gloria was a victim of domestic violence, and she’s in prison because of fraud with food stamps in her store. What she’s not in prison for is the death of her husband, who gets stuck between rooms when he steals the money Gloria was saving — he forgets the key for the store’s backdoor in the other room and the other door locks itself behind him. The room shortly sparks in flames. We’re left to ponder if this is a coincidence or if it is because of some “magic” candle ceremony her mother performs.
- Ms. Rosa was a queen of bank-robbery. Only problem is, those closest around her kept dying. She got involved because of her boyfriend, they make a “kiss before, kiss after” deal, but he was apparently shot. Some robberies afterward, the same happens again now that she’s with one of the other guys. Eventually she thinks every man she loves ends up dead, and in a rush of adrenaline tries to rob a bank at random, alone, which puts her in jail.
Let’s get back on track now. When Piper returns to prison, she has two new notable inmates — Vee, Taystee’s mother figure, and SoSo, an Asian inmate who seems to be well-read but highly annoying. This is the second time Vee ends up here, the first time around she was running her own gang and basically ruled the prison, showing Red how she can use the kitchen business to start smuggling in items, but having the gang beat her up when she refused to share on the profits with her. Vee manages to get a business going for her once again, first by befriending Crazy Eyes who helps her obtain cigarettes she had hidden in the prison, which she uses to buy a cake from the kitchen, which gets Taystee and the rest of her friends on her side.
With Vee on the rise, Red tries to get herself back in a proper position as well, but the only ones showing interest in her are a group of old women (who can be quite scary, apparently). She manages to get the prison greenhouse back in work, and conveniently for her it has a tunnel she can use for smuggling in items, which helps her get back her family. Only problem is, Boo rats out on her to Vee, and in the process ends up alone since none likes a rat. But this leaves Red in a vulnerable position now that Vee knows how her business operates. One of the old women “kills” Vee, accidentally confusing another inmate for her, and it’s up to Red to try to finish the job herself. She could have, but last-minute her morals kick in and she decides she and Vee can be friends. But Vee is a treacherous and vicious woman so she repays that kindness by almost killing Red when she beats her up.
And investigation ensues where Crazy Eyes gets blamed since Vee used the lock from her locker for beating up Red. Hailey, who throughout the whole season is trying to rekindle the trust with all the inmates, manages to save the day by having Joel state Crazy Eyes was with him when the accident happened. This puts Vee as prime suspect, but unfortunately she’s used the tunnel in the greenhouse to run away.
Piper finds herself in a horrible position now that Alex has betrayed her again, and on top of that Larry ends up cheating on her with Polly, since they got really close while he was helping her with the baby. She learns he slept with another woman during her 48-hour period outside, since Hailey helped her to get a furlow when her grandmother passed away, but she doesn’t learn who it was till Larry and Polly visit her to “ask for her blessing.” She decides she’ll be okay with their relationship if they help her reach out to the officer in charge of Alex to warn him that Alex is trying to leave the country, which would put her back in prison (she’ll be joining the main cast next season and appearing in every episode).
Miss Rosa learns she only has about three weeks left to live as her cancer has become too aggressive. Just before her and Morello are to enter with the van in the prison, Morello uses the lockdown which takes place because of Vee’s absence as a distraction to let Rosa run away with the van. This will put Joe Caputo in a bad light next season now that he’s on probation to become the next assistant warden, since Natalie Figueroa was fired because of embezzlement (but not before giving some special services to Joe, thinking he won’t reveal the truth). Doesn’t help that he fired Fischer in a rage moment, nor that he put away Pornstache in prison as the father of Daya’s child, now that Bennett confessed the truth to him.
To wrap it all up, we have Rosa feeling just like in her young years when she’s fleeing with the prison van. Driving down the road she sees no one but Vee, who reached the road there through the woods after escaping from the other end of the tunnel. Unfortunately for Vee, she was rude to Rosa several times throughout their prison time together. So she speeds up and hits Vee with the van as fast as she can, presumably killing her, while driving off and mumbling “Always so rude, that one.” We’re left to wonder if it was a coincidence or because of the “candle magic” Gloria did with Norma in the kitchen. But it was definitely a happy ending!
A wild season, I would even say better than the first season and the only downside is that with binge-watching I went through the episodes in a whim, so now I’m left waiting for a new season. Might as well put me in solitary till the new season’s here! More back-stories please, the ones from this season were fantastic, and they all fit so well with what was actually taking place in the prison. I also love Piper and Alex, but I hope they don’t keep screwing up each other, I feel like that will get repetitive soon enough, if it isn’t already. Larry/Polly was a fun and shocking twist; Vee having history with both Taystee and Red, as well as being the “leader” back in her day was awesome; Morello’s Christopher story was absolutely mind-blowing, and Rosa’s victory ride was the cherry on top. Keep it up, OITNB.