Thoughts about Orange is the New Black Season 2, with spoilers

… aaannd, scene!

Mrs. Oblogatory and I just finished season 2 of Orange is the New Black last night. No binge watchers we. Some random impressions:

I went into the last couple of episodes believing they might be the last for the show, having been heard from a friend that it was not renewed by Netflix (this turned out to be an Internet hoax).

I’m actually a bit disappointed to learn that it’s not canceled, because I think that with the season 2 finale it would have gone out on a relatively high note. And throughout season 2, it seemed to me that the stories were becoming more forced. That’s only natural, but I wish more shows would just end after one or two seasons and leave us wanting more, rather than playing out their string for as long as possible. It’s a money thing, I get it. But, still.

Additional random thoughts:

Whoa, Pennsatucky cleans up nice. And I actually liked the final scene between her and Healy in the last episode.

But I found overall that the show often leans on certain characters, like Pennsatucky, mostly for plot purposes and/or comic relief, and then tries to throw in occasional scenes that redeem and/or add depth to the characters. Figueroa is the most obvious example. The furtive attempts to elicit empathy for her character felt really ham-handed. SoSo, the insipid Asian inmate, is another mostly one-dimensional character.

I was also disappointed that Vee turned out to be little more than the season story arc bad guy. At first I thought her character might develop into more than a cardboard villain. Didn’t happen.

On the other hand, some of the character back-story episodes were really terrific. Taystee’s back story with Vee was actually pretty good, and I love Danielle Brooks, the actress who plays her. But the best of these character back story episodes—and maybe the best episode of the entire series so far—was the one in which it was revealed that Morello’s beloved fiancee was really her stalking victim. It was chilling and terrifying.

The worst episode of the season was the second one, the Christmas talent show. After episode 1, which featured lead character Piper in a different prison, episode 2 re-introduced all the secondary characters in a story mostly played for laughs. It fell flat for me.

The other breakout character for me this season was Big Cindy, the tough African American inmate played by Adrienne C. Moore, who has screen charisma to burn. And I liked that the character’s back story did not try to give her any redeeming qualities, which made her character more real. 

Jason Biggs/Larry is just a black hole of interest to me. Every time he came on screen, the show just lost me. And the more they paired him with Piper’s best friend, the less interesting that character became, too.

Same goes for Laura Prepon/Alex Vause. It seems pretty obvious she’ll play a biggeer part in season 3. Too bad. I was hoping her character got killed off while trying to avoid capture in the final episode. 

I thought the plot contrivance where the aging inmate attempting to kill Vee stabbed the wrong inmate instead in a case of mistaken identity was just awful. That was just way too big a leap for this show’s audience to believe.

As I said, overall, I enjoyed the show. I did feel like the plotting was a bit rote. I mean, who didn’t know Vee was going down by season’s end? I know, I know, it’s just a story. But the show tries to have it both ways; it wants to explore the issues of marginalized, incarcerated women, while offering light entertainment. It’s reminding me more and more of Hogan’s Heroes, but with better acting and fewer explosions.