Orange is the New Black S02: A character-based recap
Hey, Binge-Watchers! If you’re like me, you’ve been sacrificing your late nights at the altar of Netflix, catching up with the ladies of Litchfield. “Orange is the New Black” is back, and I couldn’t be happier (or more sleep-deprived).
This will be a bit different from my “Game of Thrones” recaps, since the entirety of OITNB S02 is available at once: you will all be at different stages of, well, binging. Let’s talk about “Orange is the New Black” S02 by looking at some of the individual characters, since that’s pretty much how we take the show in as we watch.
There are season-wide spoilers here, so read at your own risk.
First and foremost, OITNB S02 is quite a bit less Chapman-centric than S01 was, and that’s okay by me. But let’s start with Piper.
Piper Chapman remains the whitest whitey who ever whited. She’s still profoundly ignorant of her own privilege, and her attempts to demonstrate same-ness or solidarity with the women of color at Litchfield are delightfully cringeworthy.
In the end, though, Chapman Vausses Vauss. She convinces Larry and Polly to call Alex Vauss’ parole officer to get her sent to Litchfield. Ostensibly this is for Vauss’ safety, since her old cartel is out to get her, but really this (like everything) is all about Piper. Karmically speaking, Vauss kinda has it coming. Or, perhaps, with two entangled train wrecks like these, it was inevitable.
S02E01 sees Chapman even further out of her depth, whisked from the SHU to a prison in Chicago. There she is thrown into a far more hardcore environment, and came face-to-face once more with Alex Vauss. The ex-lovers were brought together to testify against their former boss. Chapman once again does as Vauss said and perjures herself, while Vauss does an about-face to secure an early parole.
Chapman returns to Litchfield with a tighter keep-your-head-down instinct, at least at first. Juxtapose that with the adorably out-of-her-depth Brook Soso... whom Chapman tries to pimp out to Big Boo in exchange for her own blanket back. Yeah.
Suzanne Parker just wants to be understood. The most erudite psycho in Litchfield gets a bit more of a backstory: she’s the adopted daughter of a couple who later had their own child. Whatever’s wrong with Crazy Eyes, her parents willfully ignored it, at least through her teen years. Her entire life, she’s been ignored. That’s why she wanted Chapman’s love, and that’s why she fell so easily for Vee’s manufactured affection. Parker’s capacity for violence made her a menacing presence; she even scared the crap out of herself. Oh, and this time she threw her pie at Chapman, and not for her. Here's the phenomenal Uzo Aduba discussing her work in bringing Crazy Eyes to life.
Figueroa is probably the most cartoonish of OITNB’s characters, even more so than Pornstache. I’m (vaguely) interested in her back story, though: clearly Fig has no empathy with the inmates she manages, nor does she have any apparent idea what a prisoner needs on a basic level. She’d have jumped through middle-management into larger, more politically-connected gigs, until she ended up at Litchfield, and here she has set up her little fiefdom; free to skim money as her shoe- and car budgets require, safe in the knowledge that nobody on the outside gives a shit what happens inside the prison’s fences. In Fig's case, it means skimming money from existing repair projects, and straight-up stealing money by creating fake ones.
You’ll notice that “Orange is the New Black” is the only prison series ever that doesn’t feature a gym. That’s no accident.
One of the two biggest story lines in OITNB S02 –– at least for me –– is Fig’s; as told through Caputo and Healy, two of last season’s biggest assholes who are now seen growing actual souls. How bad things must be if those two douchekayaks become even a little bit sympathetic, right?
Never mind that reporter who keeps randomly popping up (any storyline involving Piper’s ex-fiancee Larry just doesn’t interest me): Healy and Caputo are the biggest ticking time bombs in Fig's life, especially as her plastic-looking husband runs for higher office.