The Netflix original series has garnered a lot of attention since its premiere in 2013. The second season has gained just as much, and already Orange is the New Black fans are going through withdrawal. That’s because you can watch the whole season the day it comes up. We may still be one episode away from the finale of Game of Thrones, but Orange is the New Black fans have likely already finished the second season since its premiere of the 6th.
This makes it difficult to avoid spoilers for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet (and this review is also going to be a little spoilery), but it also means that when you have the time, you have a great marathon ahead of you! Because season two is pretty amazing.
In particular, three things are really working for it:
1. We go deeper. In the second season, all the stakes are raised, and we go deeper than we have before into the interior lives of these characters. Not only do we get flashbacks to Piper’s childhood (they explain a lot), and to the beginning of her relationship with Alex, but we also get flashbacks into the pasts of other characters that we have loved, but perhaps not known very well. Most of theses are revelatory, telling us unexpected things about these women. In particular, Poussey and Morello provide deep and illuminating intricacies in their flashbacks, and those vulnerabilities come into play seamlessly in their present lives at Litchfeild.
2. The acting is phenomenal. Speaking or Morello and Poussey, the acting in this season is amazing. Those two ladies embody season two’s acting greatness (particularly Samira Wiley as Poussey). They represent what the whole cast does–people who were great in season one are suddenly phenomenal in season two. With a lot of the actors we already knew that and its great to watch it keep going (in the fabulous case of Natasha Lyonne and Kate Mulgrew). But this season we get to see how amazing nearly everyone is, and it makes for some gripped, gasp-worthy and heartbreaking scenes.
3. Soso. If you’ve watched the series, you may be going “whaat? Brook Soso?? Are you kidding me?” Which is a fair and fine response because inmate Soso is annoying. But she provides a narrative service that is really appreciated. Piper is annoying to more than a few fans of the show, and so we might not as easily see or sympathize with the ways in which prison has changed her for life. Privileged little Soso might as well be Piper in season one, and she serves to show us just how far (forward or back, it’s difficult to say), that Piper has come/gone since her first moments in prison. She has changed a lot as a character, and were it not for Soso, we might not see that transformation. Also, it could be argued that change and whether or not people can change is a big theme throughout the season.