Monday, June 15, 2015

Season 3 is more Black than Orange

Netflix released the third season of their arguably most popular series Orange is the New Black last Thursday. It was an early release so I had an extra day to hurry up, relax and enjoy the ongoing adventures of Piper and her mischief inmates. While the show has been known to carry an equal amount of drama and comedy, this season seems to have been more dramatic than the rest. Armed with new backstories and characters making their debut appearance, this season started off where the last one left us some time after the death of last season’s antagonist Vee. By the end of this season, a lot of questions will be answered and we will be losing people that have been there since the beginning.  

For those of you who don’t have Netflix or have never heard of the show, the main character is Piper Chapman played by Taylor Schilling who is imprisoned because of drug offenses. Since the show blew up in 2013, audiences have fell in love with the ongoing drama that goes on inside a woman’s prison now ran by Joe Caputo.  It holds a resemblance of the old HBO hit series OZ with the difference obviously being gender. Just like in a prison, there are different groups that hang out in their own sections and each have a different offense. With every episode, you learn the backstory of someone inside that prison and it somehow always interlocks with the episode playing.

Unlike most shows where there is usually one or two breakout stars, this show a spawned a whole cast where virtually everyone is a main character. While most of these thespians are virtually unknown there are familiar faces that come to light like Piper’s love interest Alex Vause, played by Laura Prepon known for her role as Donna on That 70s Show. The other is the mother like character of the prison known as “Red” played by Kate Mulgrew, former captain of the starship Voyager in Star Trek Voyager. American Pie cast members Natasha Lyonne and Jason Biggs have their own storyline but Jason Biggs storyline ended last season and didn’t return for the third. Doesn’t really matter considering there were new faces to look at this season.

The season starts off with Alex returning to prison after braking her parole and Red returning after being viciously attacked by Vee. Now fearing for her life after testifying against her drug supplier, Alex becomes paranoid as she believes a new inmate is sent to kill her played by notable actress Lori Petty (A League of Their Own, Free Willy, Point Break). Caputo is struggling to maintain control of the prison after it’s bought by a corporation and things take a dark turn for the inmates. This turn of events will cause veteran cast members to be removed from the show in various ways which I won’t spoil, you’ll have to watch. If I could spoil one thing, the hardest thing for me to watch was a rape scene on an inmate, committed by a new guard.

The only one who seems to profit from the misery is Piper who takes on a new enterprise in the midst of the changes while handing a love triangle between her, Alex and a new inmate played by Ruby Rose. She eventually comes into her own as a ‘boss’ in the prison and develops a reputation that makes her a name among the inmates. The ending no doubt foreshadows a dark fate for Alex, a new beginning for the veteran inmates and a new batch of backstories that will keep the series fresh. It’s been a dark season this year for the show, I know things are dark in a prison but there are times when the light shines and it did this season. Those moments however felt like they were few and far in between.

Orange is the New Black is arguably Netflix’s most popular show right next to House of Cards and the newly released Daredevil. Every series has its season where it seems weak and while I wouldn’t say this season was weak, it definitely felt like it could’ve been better. Piper is hot one minute and then turns cold, Red has control of the kitchen but not the way she wanted, and Dayanara has the baby only for something to happen. This season was good but it took a turn that caught people off guard and many weren’t prepared for considering the tone of the last two seasons. We’ll see what happens next year but if the ending of this season showed anything, it’s that there’s light past the fence. 

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