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ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK Finale Recap: The Uprooting

What do you have to do to affect change? Or at least flip the script moving forward? Is it hard work? Magic? A little bit of luck? Oftentimes to bring about change one needs to do a little bit of what we like to call spring cleaning. An uprooting if you will — shaking out all the weeds that have taken hold. But with so many of the season’s toxic and evil footings taken out of the equation — does that leave room for even more bad to come along the way? The second season finale of Orange is The New Black found our Litchfield ladies with lots left wide open.

Polly and Larry have made it official. Healy’s Safe Place is no more. Pennsatucky’s joining forces with The Gay Agenda (thanks to Big Boo), and superstorm Wanda has left everyone with quite a mess to clean up — literally and metaphorically speaking, natch.

And the biggest thing tossed out with the trash? That would be Vee. There are many ways to feel about the seeming loss of the season’s biggest villain. One could go the derivative “ding dong the witch is dead!” route, the “good that’s what you get!” route, or perhaps the “damn we just lost a hell of a character” route — the latter being our personal preference. Vee was a lot of no good, very bad, terrible things: but her presence on the series ignited it in a way we’d previously never seen in Litchfield. Vee was divisive, manipulative, terrified, and terrifying. Lorraine Touissant is more than deserving of some sort of Emmy nomination for her performance. But ultimately, through her way, she united the woman in doing the right thing.

And shooting on the straight and narrow, after all that has gone wrong this season and last, was a welcome sight to see. Now that several of the characters are on a path that feels slightly redemptive (even our boy Healy, in his way, had a moment), there’s a real opportunity for change here. And not just with the characters, with the system as a whole: Fig is out, Vee’s terror reigns no more, and a lot of the characters have found their resolve. If all the puzzle pieces are there, why shouldn’t they be put back together?

These are women with nothing left to lose but so much left to prove. Could real change be coming to Litchfield?

With the compassionate but clueless Caputo at the helm, there may be a real chance — if he obsesses about stuff other than keeping the women “safe and clean.” Throughout most of the series, compassion (or lack thereof) has played a huge part in the life of the inmates. Be it Jimmy’s “compassionate release,” how little Alex Vause’s probation officer cares about her life, or the let go and let fly, hands-off attitude that the prison system has — one that takes no responsibility for its prisoners after they leave, guaranteeing they’re all but set-up to fail — everything about it sucks.

The time for subversion — so clearly represented in Pennsatucky’s semi-eye-opened ways, proving that literally anyone is capable of change — is now. Compassion and understanding has consistently been lacking, but still the women’s attitudes remain intrepid in many ways. I mean, shoot, just look at how that CO responded to Morello’s hilarious retelling of Toy Story. Sure it was silly, but like Rosa said, her messed-up perspective is what makes her great. Hers are ideas outside the norm — and isn’t that exactly what’s needed to continually move things forward?

Like Rosa in those final moments, these women have nothing left to lose. They’ve broken free of the past and are heading headfirst into the future, feeling younger and freer than before (relatively speaking). Is it going to be easy? Oh hell to the no: we’ve got a dead, runaway inmate on our hands and possibly a second. There’s a shitton of heroin in a hole and Nicky’s itching. Piper still has yet to learn that things are not about her, and more than a few of these women have been burned. The mistrust of the system is real but there’s no need to follow the same old script anymore: it’s clearly been flipped.

Though some things are still clearly the same: Bennett not getting in trouble for confessing his Daya sins was not-at-all surprising: the world is still largely a boys’ club, after all. But these women are finally united thanks to the villainy of Vee — they all largely rallied to keep Suzanne safe — and that means, truly, anything is possible.

Odds and Ends:
- We don’t know what, in the end, Gloria and Norma ended up cooking, but we’d love to see more of it.
- They’re a hilarious, hijinksy duo. A+++
- One more time, let’s all give it up for Rosa.
- Watson, getting it right: “We all got weird shit with our mothers.”
- A+ critique of Amazon you’ve got there, OITNB. Cheeky.
- “They used to call me beer can in high school,” was an interesting bit of information about Caputo!
- Will Piper actually learn that she’s got to commit to what she wants? Does she realize that in order to do that, she has to make things actually personal and not so self-serving?
- What sort of prison broad do we think Soso will be when we return to Litchfield?

If you want to check out our other recaps for the season, click here!

Are you caught up on the whole of OITNB? Tell us what you thought about it in the comments (or on Twitter)!

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3 comments

  • Fantastic, laugh out loud ending to season two, loved it.

    Bennett dodging the bullet wasn’t really about the Old Boys Network, though, was it? It was more Caputo knowing he needed an even keel for him to take over smoothly after Fig, and he does seem to want to effect some actual change, or at least not be a giant embezzler…

    Vee was great, but I’m glad it played out like it did, and the journey that Taystee went on was really nicely handled, next time she gets out it feels like it’ll last more than a fortnight.

    The quality of this show (not caught up with any of the other Netflix Originals yet) gives me heart for the upcoming Marvel stuff, if they maintain this level, we are in for a real treat.