‘Orange is the New Black’ season 3 recap

(Photo courtesy of NETFLIX)
(Photo courtesy of NETFLIX)

The solitary confinement to our bedrooms has come to end. “Orange Is the New Black” fans, for those of us who have finished, we no longer have to sit for hours, staring at a single laptop screen now that we have experienced all 13 episodes of our third prison sentence at Litchfield.

Season 3 of Netflix’s original series “Orange Is The New Black” saw inmate alliances shift, new correctional officers, and a whole lot of the Litchfield drama audiences have been waiting for.

The first episode of the season was so accurately titled, “Mother’s Day,” to lead viewers into a season presented with motifs of family and something to believe in. Not only was every flashback into an inmate’s past related to their family history, this season emphasized the families established within the prison walls. In “Mother’s Day,” Maria’s boyfriend decides to end visiting Maria with the baby while Gloria and Sofia have to learn how to deal with reckless teenage boys. Once Nikki is busted for the heroin early on in the season Red’s whole prison family is devastated.

With all that typical family drama that comes with prison families just like blood, inmates continually searched for something to believe in. For some, traditional religion was embraced while others found salvation in a spiritual discovery of their own.

When the inmates catch onto the secret earthly powers Norma seems to have, a group of them collect form a unified religion. While Norma became their figurehead and god, Leanne took most control on enforcing rules and attempting to be taken seriously by the correctional officers. For Black Cindy, what started off as a way to get better tasting food turned into an appreciation for Judaism, ending the season by immersing herself in a mikveh. As the girls splashed in the water in the last minutes of the finale, breathing in the clear sky and releasing themselves from their conventional uniforms, the message of belief was comforting. All the girls need to believe in something: religion, the powers of the earth, hopes, or love to make it at Litchfield.

Piper again showed that she is not a one-dimensional character.  Every new season of “Orange Is the New Black” has shown audiences a new Piper.  Starting as the well-groomed, pretty blonde princess a little too outspoken for her new surroundings, to a scared and shunned inmate learning how to deal with relationships outside Litchfield’s gates, to finally transforming into what audiences see as a focused Whisper panties business woman. Season 3 Piper finally showed control of not only her relationship with Alex but with finding her spot in the prison.

Upon discovering some men’s attraction to smelling women’s dirty underwear, Piper enlists help from a young and naive, Michael Cera-esque security guard, her brother, and inmates eager to exchange dirty panties for Ramen flavor packets to liven the new corporate-produced slob considered their meals.

After a comedic and passionate proclamation to the girls by Piper, things quickly turned “Godfather,” as  Piper transforms into a cold stern leader, obsessed with not only making a profit but also with her power — eventually destroying her relationship with Alex.

The hottest topic to discuss of season 3 happened to have nothing to do with the plot at all.  Instead, the world, almost exclusively meaning BuzzFeed, Twitter, and any inspirational college blog site transfixed all “Orange Is The New Black” buzz about the short-haired tattooed androgynous Australian model, Ruby Rose.  Cast as new inmate Stella, Rose became almost anything anyone could talk about.

Unlike most of the inmates, Stella’s backstory was not given.  This could be one reason why I felt the extensive online coverage of Rose was unnecessary. As a character Stella is flat, mainly monotone which her Australian accent thankfully covered, intriguing enough viewers to give her ample chances to redeem herself as an important cast member.  However, the only time in the entire season I felt Rose essential to a scene was in the finale and all credit of mine went to Piper (Taylor Schilling) as she executed perfect revenge while giving a sly and powerful glance at her ‘Trust No Bitch’ tattoo courtesy of Stella herself. The entire season I felt like she was created to be a counter to hinge Alex and Piper’s relationship. But there was no escalade of emotions between Stella and Piper to convince me she was a threat. The supposed love triangle subtly grew and then fizzled before I had a chance to make an opinion of Stella.

Breakout Star: Black Cindy

It was incredibly satisfying to see Black Cindy go from snagging kosher meals with her usual sassy banter to having a spiritual breakthrough and showing a softer and more serious side to the character.

Best Episode: “A Tittin’ and a Hairin”

Pennsatucky started as one of those characters I dreaded seeing on screen. The accent, the choppy fake extensions and condemnation preaching was all too much.  But since season 2 I have grown to like Pennsatucky.  This episode sharing her childhood and teen years was heartbreaking, definitely making the most emotional of episodes this season.

Most Surprising Inmate Past: Leanne

The Litchfield girls come from a variety of backgrounds.  But I would have never guessed meth blondie was a secret Amish kid.

Most Unnecessary Plot Line:  Poussey, loneliness, and the vices she uses to escape

Season 2 showed Poussey’s strong side when fighting Vee, but also gave glimpses of her vulnerability when it came to love.  I think this was explained enough in season 2 and the lingering alcohol problem Poussey deals with in this season is unnecessary.  It is time for Poussey to just find love in another inmate (suspicions lead to me to SoSo) already and go back to her perky self.