Season Two of Orange Is The New Black is premiering at 3 a.m. EDT tonight on Netflix—exciting! But between the accumulated plot twists in the first season's final hours, the multiple timeframes of the flashback structure, and the complicated power games going down on both sides of the Litchfield bars, it's easy to forget where it ended last summer (or whenever you watched it).
We'll get into individual characters and plot threads in the comments, but if you want a quick and dirty review of everything that went on in the show's final minutes, here goes:
It's Christmas, and most of the inmates are taking part in a pageant that has somehow come together beautifully thanks to Nicky, Big Boo, and a couple other surprisingly into-it inmates.
The main person who is not into it is Piper Chapman, who has been dumped by her ex- and current girlfriend Alex on the inside, and—after a last-ditch, truly desperate Hail Mary—her boyfriend on the outside, Larry. The saddest part of that, before Larry started and lost a pissing contest with Alex, then burned everything down, was when Piper put all her white-girl cultural capital and her street-smarts together to manipulate some administrators (the very awful, lesbian-obsessed Healy, and the mostly awful, corrupt Figueroa) into giving her permission to marry Larry while incarcerated.
Pennsatucky, a very insane person, hovers at the edges of the story from the start, but only swings into being a lead character (and more than a collection of repulsive tics) in parallel with Piper's growing sense that perhaps she is better suited to life behind bars—either because she is a secret monster or because she was being middle-class by thinking there was a difference between them and us—and that growing urgency, that feeling of something about to pop that she represents, is in the end what shoves Piper into the marriage thing to begin with, then when that doesn't work out into retreating to the relatively comforting relationship with Alex, and then when that doesn't work out, into just being a crazy person:
Deserted by the guards and every stable connection in her life, left to fend for herself against the murderous Pennsatucky, Piper goes buckwild and beats the fuck out of her. Which is satisfying because Pennsatucky is the worst, but also kind of sad because without Piper's illusion that she's any better than the people around her, she is not going to have a lot of options left. Giving in means giving up, adding time to her sentence and losing whatever moral high ground she had in the games she's been playing with herself.
Meanwhile: Pregnant Daya's situation with the various guards is still a tangle, working with Nicky and Red to nail Pornstache for basically murdering the little Eminem girl while trying to repair slash have a relationship with lovely Mr. Bennett. Big Red has blown up the kitchen as part of a very involved power struggle, and she's still nowhere near getting back into power, even getting starved out. Taystee falls to recidivism as everyone predicted, and returns to become Piper's cellmate once Miss Claudette is shipped off to maximum security. Alex and Nicky are fucking now—although Nicky, while fantastic, is pretty hard to take seriously, so I don't even know if that matters—and Sophia's son on the outside might be ready for a reconciliation.
What do you hope to see in the tonight's premieres? Would you be okay with never seeing Pennsatucky again, or do you secretly wish Piper were not on the show at all and it was just about Taystee and/or Red? Who do you secretly think is boring, fantastic, irritating or useless? You can be honest, there is no need to fear reprisal here at Morning After. You know what, I will go first:
I think Poussey is about ten times cooler than Taystee, but she gets no credit. I think Morello has amazing acting skills, but using them to be very good at being super annoying is kind of a mean thing to do. I think Uzo "Crazy Eyes" Aduba is probably a wizard, hiding in plain sight among us. I secretly love Piper the most out of everyone on the show, and I've always had this suspicion that Laura Prepon is actually illiterate.