Orange is the New Black Review: 3.13 Review

Take a deep breath and accept that, alas, season three of Orange is the New Black has come to an end. The aptly titled “Trust No Bitch” serves to...

Take a deep breath and accept that, alas, season three of Orange is the New Black has come to an end. The aptly titled “Trust No Bitch” serves to tie up some loose ends from throughout the series, such as closure on the seemingly endless Norma Christ storyline, as well as dropping some huge cliff hangers for the next season, which was commissioned before the current series was even released.

Picking up from last episode’s cliff hangers, Taystee, Poussey and Suzanne deal with the fallout of Soso’s suicide attempt in the library. Soso delivers a stellar performance and has done so throughout the season, demonstrating a total shift in personality from the irritating girl we met in season two. She looks and sounds defeated, seen especially when she visits Healy and tells him “You’re really bad at your job, Mr Healy. You make me feel worse about myself every time we talk.” But her transformation in the lake scene and acceptance into the Taystee’s group- who pride themselves on being the “Tiger Woods” of black cliques and remind everyone “Blasian is beautiful”- will hopefully be positive changes for Soso.

Speaking of that group, Cindy’s conversion to Judaism proves to be one of the most moving and heartfelt moments of the episode. She reveals to the rabbi that she has developed a profound and meaningful love for Judaism (“It’s like a verb, you do God”) and she officially converts. As always, it’s always awesome seeing typically funny or irreverent characters reveal a more sensitive, emotional side to themselves, and Cindy is no different. Ain’t a dry eye in the house.

Furthermore, one of the more enjoyable stories is Morello’s marriage to Vinnie, her prison boyfriend. The pair decides to act on their “Pauly D and JWoww 2010 feelings” and get hitched in prison, which is just as adorable and true to Morello form as the viewer would expect. After a tumultuous few seasons, it’s really great seeing Morello get what she deserves: happiness with a man who adores her. And her vows- lyrics to “I wanna know what love is” by Foreigner- are perfect.

Meanwhile, there is an obvious Sophia-shaped absence in the series’ last episode, and her absence is certainly felt. Gloria, for one, is tormented with guilt in remaining silent about the fact Sophia is so far from a danger to the other inmates, seeking consoling from Sister Ingalls. One jarring and disappointing aspect of the story, however, is Aleida’s instance on using transphobic slurs; Sophia has been segregated from others and no longer poses whatever threat people felt she was before, yet Aleida continues to use phrases like “It got what was coming for her.” While it would be useless to move and never refer to the incident again, the maintenance of transphobic epithets, when no longer relevant to a current plot, is disappointing.

In what feels like a particularly long episode of Orange is the New Black, several underwhelming plots from season three finally come to an end, sort of. For example, the ongoing drama behind the prison walls- unions, power struggles, misogyny and nepotism- receives another blow when Caputo accepts a promotion and pay rise, inspiring the COs to quit, leaving the prison vulnerable. Plus the reluctance of Danny’s dad- who is unbearable- to assist Sophia motivates him to quit, which, as a viewer, is a bonus but severs any ties the prison has to communicating real change with the board of governors. Less prison admin drama next season, please and thanks.

Moreover, the Holy Norma storyline- which started off as funny and irreverent but proved to be tedious as the season continued- seems to have been put to bed following Soso’s suicide attempt and the last draw being Leanne finding Norma’s face on toast. It’s heartening to see Poussey stand up for Soso and criticise the cult as well as Norma herself for allowing their group to become so negative. As heartfelt as Leanne’s plea for the group to stay together is (“We’re all looking for a clue that there’s a reason for things, that everything’s not all random and lonely, you know?”) it’s a relief that this storyline seems to have run its course. But finding a Norma on toast was pretty damn funny.

Daya’s family situation, meanwhile, becomes increasingly volatile when her step-father and guardian of her baby is arrested on drug offences, leaving the safety and status of her baby uncertain. She has no idea the arrest has taken place; Aleida should have left the baby with Pornstache’s mum, but this will undoubtedly bring good drama in season four. Just when Aleida demonstrated some maternal warmth, their relationship got a whole lot more tense and complex.

But of course Piper’s storyline continues to become more intense and demonstrate how much Piper has adapted to prison life throughout her time there. She becomes paranoid that Marisol has transferred money from her account but learns it was actually Stella- proving to Piper she cannot, in fact, trust any bitch- leading her set her up and unleash truly spiteful and calculating revenge days before she is due for release. Not gonna lie, it was pretty great seeing Stella get her comeuppance, but this season has revealed a dark and merciless side to Piper. True, she admits she’s “quite gangsta” and gives herself an infinity symbol tattoo, but Piper is a lot more powerful and dangerous than people had previously anticipated. Hopefully more Felonious Spunk antics are to follow in season three.

There are a few exciting cliff hangers for the next season of Orange is the New Black, such as the unknown status of Alex. Kubra places a henchman disguised as a guard- easily done given the slack CO system- and she begs for her life, with no indication of what has happened to her. Her betrayal of Kubra finally catches up with her and if anything justifies her previous paranoia. Furthermore, celebrity chef Judy King unsurprisingly shows up to Litchfield- after some not-so-subtle indications throughout the season- which will undoubtedly be a main story next year, while new inmates from a nearby prison are seen to be joining our beloved prisoners. This is sure to change the dynamics of Litchfield as we know it completely.

On the whole, season three has been mixed; there have been great storylines that have allowed the actors to deliver sublime performances, such as Laverne Cox in Sophia’s downfall or Taryn Manning in Doggett’s abusive relationship with Coates. And of course the writing and performances have been razor sharp as always courtesy of a hoard of supporting characters like Boo, Morello and Taystee. But there have been story arcs that didn’t quite hit the mark, like Norma’s cult and the seemingly endless prison worker ‘drama.’ However, some exciting storylines have been set up for the next season, and now all we have to do is wait a full year to see them.

Let the tedious wait begin. Damn you, Netflix.

Image courtesy of Netflix

Jonny Stone is a Glaswegian writer who loves comic books, live music and was THIS close to doing a dissertation on Storm’s hair.