|Piper, played by Taylor Schilling, calls Larry from the Chicago penitentiary. PHOTO PROVIDED BY JOJO WHILDEN FOR NETFLIX|
This is part of a weekly series of "Orange Is the New Black" recaps and reviews for the second season. Check back each week for two more episodes. To read about the next episode, click here.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Season two of “Orange is the New Black” picks up a month after the finale’s end, where Piper beats down Pennsatucky with such barbaric force that it’s hard to breathe — much like the start of this season.
Piper’s in solitary, serving time for the fight. There, she’s typical Piper, telling the guards she hates cooked yolks and chose not to eat them. Instead, she creates art on the wall in the form of yellow birds. I suppose yolk art is one way to survive solitary.
The guards ignore her demands to know her destination and force her into a van, then a bus, then a plane, then another bus and finally, she sees her stop is at a Chicago penitentiary.
All the while, Piper’s wide eyes ask for answers she won’t receive. Just like Piper, I wanted to know and felt anxiety rise as she was pushed around.
Her journey also shows how the system will treat inmates as inhuman. Ignoring her quotes, she listens to the guards talk over her about how “poochie” is now the way to say “bitches” because the latter is too degrading. On the bus, she just wants to pee but is again ignored, though there’s an uncomfortable scene where another inmate describes stacking maxi pads for a makeshift diaper — one she uses as she talks to Piper.
During the flight, Piper listens to a male inmate verbally harass her. The U.S. marshals don’t care.
|Piper, played by Taylor Schilling, sits next to another inmate, played by Lori Petty, while on a flight to Chicago. PHOTO PROVIDED BY JOJO WHILDEN FOR NETFLIX|
Taylor Schilling portrays Piper strongly; perhaps her best moment in the episode comes when she describes to her plane seatmate how she believes she killed Pennsatucky back at Litchfield.
Concerns over whether Piper was a killer weren’t so much about the irreversible costs of that action. All I could think about was Litchfield. While learning and listening from Piper is valuable in the show, and she can be seen as the main character as her story often drives the plot forward, my heart was set on hearing from the other women of Litchfield.
Where were they?
I knew it was foolish to fear they wouldn’t show up, after all, I knew they would. They just weren’t in the season premiere.
Piper adjusts to Chicago as smoothly as you would imagine, that is, not so much. She’s in trouble as soon as she steps in her new bunk room, literally, as she crushes a cockroach. Her new mission, other than finding out why she was there, would be to find a new cockroach to avoid dying at the hands of her bunkmates. Two of them train cockroaches to deliver cigarettes, and Piper managed to kill the best one yet: Yoda.
It’s not easy for Piper. And I get the seriousness of the situation, but the comedy isn’t missed. The cockroach trainers have the best names for their tiny athletes, including Fred Savage III.
Finally, with a breath of fresh air, Piper sees a familiar face in the courtyard. Part of me was nervous Alex was just a mirage, but no. The reason Piper is in Chicago is for a trial — they’re both set to testify against Alex’s old drug boss, Kubra.
And there comes in the reason for the Piper flashbacks: to lie under oath or to tell the truth. You know, to not break another federal law.
As flashbacks go, they’re muddled. We see how Piper’s morals are formed when she’s younger. Is it better to tell the truth always? A young Piper soon learns that her family operates on pushing down the truth and forcing a smile. Still, the repetitive flashbacks on the morals of Piper don’t bring too much new information — after all, we know her weird navigation of them. The episode’s flashbacks fell flat.
|Piper, played by Taylor Schilling, testifies in court. PHOTO PROVIDED BY JESSICA MIGLIO FOR NETFLIX|
Before the trial, Larry’s father insists Piper tells the truth. At the last minute, she decides not to, heartbreakingly smiling as she talks about how much she loved Alex and how she had focused on her during that time, so she doesn’t remember meeting Kubra. The show’s decision to get rid of Larry’s father as her lawyer after this was a good move — it’s clear he doesn’t care about her.
While Piper lies for her, Alex doesn’t return the favor. Piper’s screams at the betrayal cut deep, Schilling’s pipes really shine, just in time for a cockroach with a cigarette on its back to crawl by.
Overall, I’ve felt like the show has seen better episodes, but it was a strong opener to parallel with season one’s pilot. While it got stagnant telling just Piper’s story, Schilling’s performance was her best.
The show continued to beautifully toe the line between a dark comedy and just drama, providing some of my favorite Piper lines so far.
Piper: “I was a demanding poochie.”
Piper: “He’s a hitman? Oh, I thought he was a rapist. I’m so relieved.”
Piper: “I really f--ked everything up, and not in a ‘fun loving, oh that’s so Piper’ way.”
Inmate at the phone: “Snazzy told me a story once about a girl she used to dance with named Piper. Said she could blow out candles with her coochie.”
Guard: “Can’t say bitches no more; it’s degrading.”
Inmate with face mask: “Shut your ugly face. No one ever tell you crack kills?”
Bunkmate: “Poor little Jedi never saw it comin’.”
|Ashley Dye is a senior journalism and telecommunications major and writes ‘The Dyessertation’ for the Daily News. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper or The Daily. Write to Ashley at firstname.lastname@example.org|