If you were like me, then a new season of Orange is the New Black meant that your Saturday was booked up. Binge watching is now acceptable thanks to Netflix and their all in one series releases like Daredevil, Arrested Development and the aforementioned Orange is the New Black. When it first appeared on Netflix, Orange is the New Black was met with rave reviews. It was a look at the prison system from the female perspective, like Oz but with the ability to be reached by a bigger audience. Unfortunately, season two of Orange is the New Black didn’t meet that same standards that season one had set. The good thing that the show had taught us, was that redemption is a very real thing and season 3 completely redeemed itself.
I’m going to really try not to spoil anything, because there are a lot of people who believe in spreading their viewing out instead of at one time. Netflix is great for that, but they also know their audience so it was actually released 3 hours early on the West coast. Those of use who have the Netflix app on our phones received a notification that “Orange is the New Black has been released early for good behavior”. As soon as I saw that I realized that my Twitter and Facebook viewing had to be cut down, because I didn’t want to have any spoilers. So, after a day of avoiding all the spoilers I could I sat with my fiance and watched season 3 of Orange is the New Black.
Like most good shows, the first episode of a returning season slowly introduces you to the regular cast slowly. In the case of Orange is the New Black, the cast size did mean that the introductions were in small groups, but the way the stories were written it all made sense. The new season also started off with all the characters being on neutral ground, meaning that there were no fights or animosities so the season was could be molded from clean slates. Characters you didn’t like in previous seasons, due to their actions, seemed to be likable and you really felt for each one. The opening episode was a great hook, because it was centered all around Mothers Day and how each of the inmates who had kids on the outside acted. The show reminded us that these are all people who have just as many feelings as the viewers, and they can be hurt just as easy. The only bad thing about having their feelings hurt was that they have fewer ways to express those feelings, any outburst gets silenced by the guards so they confide in each other. After the first episode the four real stories of season 3 are revealed.
2. Making Money
Like I said above, I’m going to try not to spoil anything so I’ll be vague when explaining the four stories.
Religion – People in prison often turn to religion as a way to try to escape the evil’s they have encountered and to turn over a new leaf. In this season there’s a lot of focus on belief and looking within yourself to be a kind person. There’s one person who becomes a pseudo deity, and even thought they don’t deny the attention at first they see what they can do with a smile. This story line gets stretched a little long, and I feel it could have been introduced and completed in about five episodes.
Making Money – In jail there are ways to make money, but the pay isn’t great. It’s said that they are only making about 11 cents an hour for what they do and a new job opportunity is becoming available that bumps their pay up to $1.00 and hour. This privilege is only given to a certain amount of inmates, but there’s one who realized the she can capitalize and make more on the outside. This story line is introduced but mostly pushed to the back burner, because it’s not that important until the end. The greed of making a decent amount of prison money for working, and they turning around and stealing to make more money on the outside turns one inmate into a pretty ruthless person. There’s mention of the movie The Godfather and it pretty much holds true. During the operation of this business there isn’t any killing, but people being back stabbed and getting cut loose for insubordination. A great boss shows fear through actions, not so much killing, but psychological actions and the last episode shows that a tattoo hold true.
Corporations – There’s a lot of misdirection this season, because people who you think are just telling others information to get them off their back isn’t true. The prison workers themselves are almost prisoners themselves, because they’re jobs and lives are being affected by what others deem is the best course of action. You start rooting for the some of the prison guards and staff,but in the end there’s one person who knows that greed is the only thing that’s true. The message of showing your superiors respect and gratefulness is subtle, but there.
Mothers/Families – Starting from the beginning the importance of families, and mothers especially, is in your face. There’s one point in every episode that someone mentions not being as close to a mother as they wanted to be, or they flashback or confide in another person how they weren’t the best mother they could be. Regrets are seen in the eyes of almost every inmate and during the season you see new life, new families being made and even groups where one person is given the title of mother.
I will tell you that the one person who you think is the main character, isn’t really the main character this season. The direction of the writing has been more like The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones, where there is no real main character. No one dies, but at the end there is a cliffhanger about a possibility of someone being killed. It also ends on a really happy note, as there is a long scene of a metaphorical cleansing of each of their soul.
The season was great and at the end of episode 13, I felt like I could have watched another five. The characters weren’t boring and there was no real main villain like in last season. Each episode provided essential story telling with plot points being hit and a little more information being given. If you had a favorite character last season, prepare to have your mind changed because this season villains have been turned to heroes.