Devoted fans were left shocked at their computer screens during the Orange is the New Black season one finale last year. We had grown attached to protagonist Piper (Taylor Schilling) and her eclectic inmates in this comedy-drama series about women in prison. I mean, binge-watching a hit show is no easy feat, especially when each episode is released at the same time - it's a lot to take in all at once.
Season Two was even better. All thirteen episodes made their Netflix premiere on Friday, June 6th to a number of anxious viewers, myself included. And the jaw-dropping drama made its debut immediately, featuring the excellent scenes with Piper's new prison identity, even declaring herself "a lone wolf, and a vicious one." Her storyline takes a bit of a backseat to some heartfelt and heart wrenching flashbacks of her fellow inmates, but with Piper as the backbone of the series, she still paves the way.
Episode 1: "Thirsty Bird"
*** out of **** stars
Piper is in solitary thanks to her explosive attack on Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning) in the season one finale. She is taken by bus and then plane to an undisclosed location, putting her under distress when her body and mind are shocked into a new prison environment while she awaits trial and is reunited with former lover Alex (Laura Prepon).
Episode 2: "Looks Blue, Tastes Red"
*** out of **** stars
No Piper in this episode, as the central focus is on the (past and present) state of her inmates back at Litchfield. Viewers are treated to Taystee's (Danielle Brooks) backstory, beginning with her time at a "Black Adoption Fair" where she meets future foster mother, the manipulative season 2 villain, Vee (Lorraine Toussaint). Despite her past struggles, Taystee stays strong during the prison's job fair, but then turns right around to see Vee in her domain, decked out in orange.
In other news, Pennsatucky's graveyard of a mouth has been restored with brand new teeth in exchange for keeping quiet about Healy's (Michael Harney) involvement (or lack thereof) with last season's epic fight with Piper.
Episode 3: "Hugs Can Be Deceiving"
*** out of ****
While Piper has returned to Litchfield, the main focus is on "Crazy Eyes" Suzanne, (Uzo Aduba). Suzanne's flashbacks are of an upper-class upbringing by a pleasant-looking white family, complete with a blonde mother whose specialty is placing pressure on Suzanne. This gives the viewers some insight into Suzanne's (surprising) role of the season one finale fight, where she is left distraught after the Christmas pageant and, upon seeing Piper beating Pennsatucky, gets a few of her own punches in, ultimately mistaking Piper for her mother.
Meanwhile, Daya (Dascha Polanco) is very pregnant, arguing with baby daddy Bennett (Matt McGorry) as we are introduced to a new character this season, Piper's new cellmate Soso (Kimiko Glenn), an overly chatty Asian-American activist who immediately annoys Piper and anyone else in close vicinity - viewers included. And as Piper adjusts back to her home sweet home in Litchfield, ex-fiancee Larry (Jason Biggs) is attempting to jump back into the dating pool. Speaking of fiancees, fellow inmate Trixie Morello (Yael Stone) - the one who is marrying the beloved Christopher (Stephen O'Reilly) - discovers that he has moved on and is unfortunately engaged to someone new.
This all goes down as Vee becomes more comfortable, establishing her place in the prison unit: head inmate. Apparently this is her second time around in Litchfield, as a scene with Red (Kate Mulgrew) portrays them as old buddies. Vee takes Suzanne under her wing and attempts to gain forgiveness from Taystee. In her eyes, the more on her side, the better.