Jackson Ball reviews the second episode of Orange Is the New Black Season 2 …
After a tense but rewarding season opener, it’s back to prison-life reality as we return to the familiar stomping-ground of Litchfield Penitentiary. Piper’s back from Chicago, but how will her fellow inmates react to her following her brutal attack on Pennsatucky?
Warning! Spoilers Ahead – You have been warned!
Back in more familiar surroundings, we are finally treated to the shows arsenal of fantastic characters once more. With the first episode revolving entirely around Piper (Taylor Schilling), it’s time for some of her fellow criminals to enjoy the limelight.
One of the standout supporting characters of the first season was arguably Taystee (Danielle Brookes), so it’s great to see her gaining some of the spotlight here. Exploring some of the feisty inmate’s backstory via flashbacks, we learn of her difficult childhood as an orphan searching for her ‘forever family’, as well as her aptitude for fast-paced arithmetic.
The most unsettling revelation of Taystee’s past is the character of Vee (Lorraine Toussaint); a shady drug-runner and Fagin-esque foster-parent. Toussaint equips Vee with the interesting and ambiguous mix of menace and motherly instinct, creating a character that is just sinister enough to not be trusted. Those of you that are intrigued by this sort of character receive a treat at the end of the episode, when it is revealed that Vee is in fact a new inmate at Litchfield; clearly she’s one to watch for later on in the season.
The theme of ambiguous mother-figures transcends to other sub-plots within this episode, as the relationship between Daya (Dascha Polanco) and her estranged mum Aleida (Elizabeth Rodriguez). Aleida finds herself caught in a power-struggle for Daya’s affections with latina matriarch, Mendoza (Selenis Leyva). In a show that specialises in female interaction and relationships, it’s not surprising that they absolutely nail the intricacies of strained mother/daughter connections.
Season 2’s premiere episode was a refreshing change of pace, but it feels great to be returning to the classic components that made the show such a success in the first place. Formulaic perhaps, but the episode structure and character interaction is as delightful as ever. It’s good to be back inside…
Jackson Ball – follow me on Twitter