Who: The show is available to Netflix subscribers exclusively, as it is Netflix produced original content.
What: “Orange is the New Black,” a comedy drama about a Manhattan woman whose past catches up to her and for which she must serve time in federal prison.
Taylor Schilling plays Piper Chapman, a seemingly run-of-the-mill woman and maker of homemade soaps who just became engaged to be married to Larry Bloom, her unemployed but wholly supportive writer boyfriend. Unfortunately, Piper learns that she must serve a short sentence in federal prison after she is implicated in the bust of an international drug cartel, of which her former girlfriend, Alex Vause (Prepon), was a member and who Piper aided and abetted. Piper’s wild and adventurous past, including her ambiguous sexual orientation, becomes a secret revealed not only to Larry and his family but to her family as well.
What’s more, Piper finds, at first, that she is wholly unequipped for prison. Though some, like unabashed, self-proclaimed “lesbian junkie” Nicky Nichols (Natasha Lyonne), are kind and helpful to her, others, like kitchen head Red (Mulgrew) in the first season, show her no mercy, particularly after Piper accidentally criticizes the cooking. In addition, the guards, all men, are mostly drunk on their own power, the prison counselors play favorites and are easily offended, and the prison population is divided by race, unofficially but automatically, which offends Piper’s liberal sensibilities. If all that weren’t complicated enough, Piper’s ex Alex is sent to the same prison, and Piper’s emotions are deeply conflicted, as she reasons that only Alex could have pointed the finger to get her in trouble in the first place, while at the same, the old attractions between the two women remain undeniably present. In the meantime, Larry attempts to make the best of his temporary separation from Piper, though he is less than comfortable with the news that Piper and Alex are doing time together.
When: All 13 third season episodes became available for viewing on June 12, 2015.
Where: The show is set in New York, though flashbacks for each of the prisoners who comprise the cast of characters sometimes venture away from New York.
Why: I saw the teaser trailers for the series while watching other programming on Netflix and also on network TV. I was originally drawn in by the fact that Kate Mulgrew, best known as Captain Kathryn Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager, plays a Russian prisoner and the “mama” of the motley cast of inmates. I later discovered that Laura Prepon, aka Donna from That ’70s Show, is also a featured regular.
How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)
After branching out from blogging reviews about Orange is the New Black’s first season, to expanding to one of our first ever podcast episodes to discuss the second (listen here), this particular panel of fellow Couch Potatoes and Orange enthusiasts grew as we sat down to talk all things season three of the wildly popular Netflix drama for this latest podcast episode. In fact, this episode is the second of two CPU! entries focused entirely upon OITNB’s third season (the first entry can be heard here), as moderator and Chief Couch Potato Kylie, Kristen, Krista, and Nick, newly joined by Eddie and Amanda, engaged in heady discussion about some of the plot lines we saw emerge in this slightly differently structured third season. What do you think? Do you agree? Do you disagree? What are your hopes, fears, expectations, speculations, or predictions for the resolution of some of third season’s cliffhangers going into season four?
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Questions, Predictions, Speculations
1) What will happen when Alex returns to prison, now that Piper has schemed with Polly to ensure that Alex would violate her parole and return to prison, most likely Litchfield, with Piper?
Answer: Alex returned, quite paranoid that the leader of the drug cartel for which she and Piper worked would find her (outside of the confines of witness protection) and kill her. Her paranoia drove a wedge between her and Piper, although that wedge was arguably already festering since and owing to the events of the second season, when Alex flipped the switch and testified against the cartel leader, while Piper lied on the stand, at Alex’s insistence, and was sent back to prison. Piper, as a result, canoodled with new inmate Stella (Ruby Rose) and began avoiding Alex. Piper, also, decided to become a product of the system this season and go all “bad-ass” by starting a panty-sniffing online sales business. Listen to part one of the podcast for more details.
2) What is Pennsatuckey’s end of season transformation and exploration of the “gay agenda” really about?
Answer: This moderator thinks that Tuckey is really just trying to fit in and belong somewhere because her back story revealed, as the panel noted, that she was always used and abused by men (except for one kind one), and that she was taught by her mother that it would always be this way. Also, with Tuckey’s lack of friends, owing to the laundry girls’ rejection of her, and with Big Boo finding humor in Tuckey’s attempts to understand someone as out there–and as “out”–as Boo, it may be that Tuckey recognizes that Boo is one of her only friends if not the only one.
3) What’s going to happen to Caputo, given that two prisoners escaped (one of them dying) on the first day of his watch?
Answer: He seemed to suffer no real consequences as a result of the two escapees. He had bigger fish to fry with the financial insolvency of Litchfield and with his decision to bring in a private corporation to run the prison.
4) Will we see more of Sophia in season three?
Answer: We saw more of Sophia. She was involved in a nasty feud with Gloria. Listen to part two of the podcast for more details.
5) What will the aftermath be for Crazy Eyes now that Vee has thrown her to the wolves and abandoned her?
Answer: Sweetly, Taystee sort of stepped up and became the mother surrogate that Crazy Eyes/Suzanne craved in Vee. And whenever Suzanne’s particularly erratic impulses came to fruition, in season three, she devoted her energies to writing alien porn, which became the number one Litchfield best seller. Listen to part two of the podcast for more details.
6) Will Red ever get the kitchen back?
Answer: Red got the kitchen back, but it was very conditional, since she wasn’t allowed to prepare her own food. Gloria was only too happy to give it up.
7) Will Nicky escape the lure of the heroin she found?
Answer: If by “escape,” we mean “shipped to max” because Luschek framed her for a small swatch of heroin he was hiding for himself after Nicky attempted to cut him in on selling Vee’s former stash (although he was probably going to use it himself). We discuss her departure heavily in part one of the podcast, as she was sorely missed, but she may never be fully separated from the lure of the drug and her addiction.
8) Will we get to see back stories of other prisoners, including some of the older prisoners (Red’s friends)?
Answer: Not of Red’s friends, but we did get to see back stories of people like Flaca and Leanne.
9) When will Daya have her baby?
Answer: She had her baby at the end of the third season. It’s a girl!
10) Will we see Pornstache again?
Answer: Yes, we saw Pornstache again. His mom (Mary Steenbergen) visited him in prison, as she originally planned to adopt Daya’s baby, thinking Daya was having her grandchild. When Daya exposed the truth, after Aleida attempted to scam Pornstache’s mom for money, Pornstache was informed that he was not the father, I believe. We discuss this arc in part one of the podcast.
11) Will the prison improve now that Fig has got her comeuppance?
Answer: Improvement is relative, isn’t it? Arguably, the prison did not improve and actually worsened under the rule of Caputo and corporate privatization.
1) Is Alex dead? Or, did she survive and how? Did Lori Petty’s character, Lolly, swoop in and save her, as Kristen predicts in the podcast (part one)?
2) Will the guard who raped Pennsatuckey do the same thing to Maritza now that Boo and Tuckey let him go? Where will Boo and Tuckey’s new odd couple partnership take them next?
3) How can Caputo save the prison now with the influx of max prisoners seen at the end of the season? What kind of fallout will there be if the “old guards” walk out?
4) How will the landscape change with the influx of max prisoners? Will we be introduced to tons of additional new characters, or will they be background/backdrop for our already established characters? Will it be “old characters” versus “new characters?”
5) Does the influx from max mean we will see Nicky again? How about Stella?
6) What will happen between Suzanne’s new love interest and her? Will the new love interest calm her down?
7) How will the prison/corporation deal with the aftermath of the lake and the breakout of so many inmates?
8) Will Red and Healy become romantically involved? Do we want that?
9) Will Pornstache’s mom return? Will she suspect that Aleida lied about the baby being dead and being a boy?
10) What happened to the baby?! Where is Bennett? Will he return? And not be on How to Get Away with Murder so much? How will Daya react once she finds out about their fates? What will Aleida do?
11) How will the already overrun prison deal with the addition of Blair Brown’s fake Martha Stewart character? Will she be accepted? Will Poussey invite her into the family that also now includes Soso, since P is her biggest fan?
12) Are Soso and Poussey a couple? Kristen and Nick think they are.
13) How will Morello’s new husband and his beating of the erstwhile Christopher affect Morello’s continued prison stay?
14) Will the “Norma” religion endure? Will Red and Norma start season four on more equal footing?
15) If Stella stole Piper’s commissary, where will that leave Flaca and some of the more demanding entrepreneurs involved in the panty-sniffing business?
16) How will Black Cindy’s new religion affect her relationship with the rest of her “family” unit?
17) Will Piper be found out regarding her business? Will it affect her prison stay?
18) Are the OITNB producers planning to end the show at the end of Piper’s sentence? (That will be a question for awhile). How much are the producers now relying on Piper Kerman’s original book?
The podcast panel offered some mixed reactions about season three. In short, some liked the lack of a galvanizing villain and the plot threads less (Krista, Nick, Edgar), one liked it more (Kristen), while some (Amanda and I) had no strong opinion either way. The podcast panel’s opinion of main character Piper universally continued to decline, finding her, as depicted, a privileged woman whose own “decline” still feels less than genuine in some respects, not to mention her changeable and somewhat “spoiled brat” behavior toward Alex and Stella, though the panel appreciated the fact that the show spent more time on other characters and less on her overall. The panel mostly expressed trepidation about what season four might look like with the influx from max – will it mean having to become acclimated to scores of new characters? What will it mean for our core group? The panel did feel that the show’s writers and producers have placed the story on a very specific trajectory, though, and all of the panel will continue to watch the show and season four to find out what happens, even as some of the panel find themselves growing a bit more impatient than other panel members. At this time, though, the panel acknowledges that the writing remains dynamic and top-notch, though, as a rule among most panel members, somewhat less “binge” watchable. The panel had high hopes and expectations that season four will continue the overarching quality of storytelling, though some members are mildly nervous – or more nervous than the others – about the current trajectory.
Orange is the New Black was renewed for a fourth season, which is tentatively slated to premiere in June 2016. Until then!