Netflix has by now shown their muscle and reign over Television here in the United States (especially with the addition of “Daredevil” recently but more on that another time). One of their widely popular original shows has once again returned for yet another season, “Orange is the New Black”. Originally when the first season premiered I didn’t think I would be interested in the series. But, after giving the first few episodes a try the show grew on and found myself watching 3 or 4 episodes at a clip (which I normally don’t do). It’s second season was another great summer watch as well. Now (the show that I originally didn’t think I would like) became one of my favorite shows to watch on TV. Now back for what is sure to be another highly watched and discussed season, “Orange is the New Black” continues to entertain with its sharp wit, dramatic storytelling, and plenty of light hearted levity. This season does have a tendency to meander a bit towards the beginning of the season searching for a captivating story to tell. Still the show never gets boring and picks up with an amazing second half and finale.
(Spoilers for Season 2)
The show picks up not long after the finale of season 2. Alex Vause is now back at Litchfield Prison after Piper’s betrayal. Vee is now dead which leaves the prison in a state of peace between all the different groups of inmates. There is a large theme of motherhood in this season as the season opens with the episode entitled “Mothers Day” ;as a lot of the inmates continue to deal with their pasts (many involving their own mothers) and Daya and Bennett come closer and closer to the reality of their baby being born.
Of course there are far more storylines than just that. The show is very much known for their dozens upon dozens of storylines for all their major and minor characters. The show continues to do a good job of balancing everything out and perhaps the writers are only getting better at it. While some of the flashbacks (which is a series hallmark) are getting predictable many becoming more and more integral to what the present day storylines are reflective of.
Interesting enough it seems the writers are giving less and less screen time to what was originally our main character Piper Chapman (played by Taylor Schilling). In season one she was out gateway into the world of Litchfield. In season two it became more about reality struggles; who was she going to become? Both seasons dealt with her extensively even though season 2 did start to shift focus more onto other imamates. Here in season 3 there is far less of her. Although she still has a major story arc as she starts her own illegal business, but she almost has the same amount of screen time as some of the other major characters (at least from my own personal estimation). The show no longer feels that it revolves around her (which may please some fans).
The first few episodes however don’t feel as though there is much direction for this season. While a few of them have to deal with the fallout of the previous season there isn’t much development or urgency. The story just sort of just wanders around looking for something to do. It ends Alex and Piper’s broken feelings pretty quickly and doesn’t make with many other newer elements that fast either. It’s still entertaining but not exactly the caliber of writing this show is use too.
The season progresses though as each episode passes. The second half of the episodes greatly improve the entire running season. The story arcs become more dramatic with plenty of drama between all of the inmates. Gloria and Sophia have mounting tension which create for some memorable and even sad moments. The finale is one the show’s strongest, with it ending on joy and hopefulness while having a few memorable twists and turns. While the fate of one of the biggest major characters is hanging in the balance.
The comedy maintains its comedic timing and laughter. This is perhaps the funniest of all of the seasons. With some memorable lines throughout the episodes and some hilarious set pieces (perhaps among the funniest is the “Dragon Tattoo” scene). With season two taking a darker more dramatic edge with the character of Vee, this season looks like it’s more taking the comedic edge over drama. Which creates a healthy diverse range of seasons to watch through.
With its weaker intro episodes this is probably the weakest of the three seasons but it’s far from being weak overall. A damn good season that continues to show the writers and showrunners have a good grip on its characters and humor. Perfect summer watching material, I continue to look forward my return to Litchfield.