Season 3 Review Summary
“The key ingredient that’s really missing from this premiere is conflict. Litchfield might be a nice place as far as prisons go, but everyone getting along so well makes the narrative feel slightly loose and bland. A little vacation time is nice, but if this season wants to top the previous two then the ladies need to get back to work.”
Meet The New Cast
The stories at Litchfield are expanding, and in season 3 we find a few new characters joining in on the fun. However, with so many characters roaming the halls, don’t focus too much on what the newcomers will bring to the table; it’ll be your old favorites (some you become more familiar with) that carry the most enjoyable stories this time around.
That said, he’s a quick look at who you’ll be seeing pop up:
Stella Carlin (Ruby Rose) – An Australia inmate transfer
Danny Pearson (Mike Birbiglia) – A new corporate “Yes Man”
Delia Powell (Mary Steenburgen) – Mother of “Pornstache”
Blair Brown (Judy King) – A Martha Stewart-esque business woman
Lolly (Lori Petty) – A new transfer we last saw in the season 2 premiere
George “Pornstache” Mendez (Pablo Schreiber) – The man, the myth, the stache
Episode Guide & Memorable Moments
Orange season 3 transforms the series into a story about the women of Litchfield Penitentiary more than ever before – much more than Piper, ostensibly – so you’ll definitely want to watch each episode. The stories may not always directly connect – or even cross over much with the episodes that come before or after it – but this is a show where each episode adds a piece to the overall journey, from the beginning of the series to the end. Even so, there are individual stories which stand out more than the others, and you should take the time to enjoy them.
Last year, season 2’s top stories went to Lorna (“A Whole Other Hole”, written by Sian Heder); Poussey (“You Also Have a Pizza”, written by Stephen Falk); and Rosa (“Appropriately Sized Pots”, written by Daisy von Scherler Mayer).
This year Doggett takes tops honors with a tearful look back at her life in episode 10 (“A Tittin’ and a Hairin’”). Black and her familial experience in episode 4 (“Finger in the Dyke”) comes in at a close second. Finally, Chang with her first flashback in episode 6 (“Ching Chong Chang”, written by Sara Hess) reveals the largely silent characters’ vengeful backstory. Norma also has her day (then season) in episode 7 (“Tongue-Tied”, written by Sian Heder), while Bennett reveals he’s no “Hollaback Girl” in episode 2 (“Bed Bugs and Beyond”). Overall, expect the best stories come from the inmates we, as viewers, have yet to become familiar with.
1. “Mother’s Day” (written by Jenji Kohan) – FLASHBACK: Doggett, Burset, Nicky, Poussey, Healy
2. [MEMORABLE] “Bed Bugs and Beyond” (written by Jim Danger Gray) – FLASHBACK: Bennett
3. “Empathy Is a Boner Killer” (written by Nick Jones) – FLASHBACK: Nicky
4. [MEMORABLE] “Finger in the Dyke” (written by Lauren Morelli) – FLASHBACK: “Big Boo” Black
5. “Fake It Till You Fake It Some More” (written Tara Herrmann) – FLASHBACK: Flaca
6. [MEMORABLE] “Ching Chong Chang” (written by Sara Hess) – FLASHBACK: Chang
7. [MEMORABLE] “Tongue-Tied” (written by Sian Heder) – FLASHBACK: Norma
8. “Fear, and Other Smells” (written by Nick Jones) – FLASHBACK: – Alex
9. “Where My Dreidel At” (written by Jordan Harrison) – FLASHBACK: Leanne
10. [MEMORABLE] “A Titten’ and a Hairin” (written by Lauren Morelli) – FLASHBACK: Doggett
11. “We Can Be Heroes” (written by Sian Heder) – FLASHBACK: Caputo
12. “Don’t Make Me Come Back There” (written by Sara Hess) – FLASHBACK: Aleida & Daya
13. [MEMORABLE] “Trust No Bitch” (written by Jim Danger Gray and Jenji Kohan) – FLASHBACK: Soso, Lorna, Watson, Aleida, Hayes, Healy
The Turning Point
As you watch episodes 5 and 6, it’s likely that you’ll begin to feel the length of the season, overall, and notice that no story-arc is standing out from the rest. If you’re comfortable with a season-long journey, and pace your viewing as such, you honestly won’t mind the slow-burn all that much. However, if you try to burn through more than a couple of episodes in a single sitting, you’ll essentially find yourself “doing work”, as a viewer, trying to find the “big” moments to help renew your energy to continue on. Those moments are few and far between this year.
If simple story completion will suffice, then you’ll have to stick it out until the final few episodes of season 3 before the main story-arcs are wrapped up – and even then you’ll likely want to see more beyond what is revealed. Episodes 10, 11 and 12 is when this begins to happen, which makes the finale feel like it’s carrying a lot of weight from storylines that you except to see an end to earlier. No matter what: you will never be able to guess how this season ends.
Some (spoiler-free) moments:
“Holla Back Bennett”
“Piper and Her Panty Brigade”
“A Base Note of Umami”
“Can I Be Jew-ish”
“Chicken: The Urban Legend”
“Never Cross Piper”
“Bennett & Baby”
“E.L. Crazy-Eyez, Auteur”
“Judy (not Martha) King (not Stewart)”
”Big Red Freshness”
“What About Alex?”
“Crazy Turtle Love”
Turning Point: Episodes 5 & 6
Do not binge-watch this season of Orange is the New Black, but watch every episode. This isn’t Dardevil; there’s no Kingpin that’s waiting to fight our hero, or in this case heroine(s). What’s more is that this season’s flashbacks – which are numerous (and can come at any moment) – aren’t as well-structured as in the past. In fact, there will be many times when the flashbacks feel like they’re simply filling the extra time that Netflix allows its original programming.
That’s not to say the flashbacks aren’t thoroughly enjoyable, or welcome. No matter what, make sure that you’re not using season 1 and 2 to set your expectations, as far as pacing goes – especially since you’re able to comfortably binge both seasons – because any show that makes it to year 3 needs to find a new way to inspire its writing and engage viewers.
Burnout Potential: HIGH
Like Jenji Kohan’s previous series Weeds, Orange is the New Black season 3 finds the series taking a slower path to what’s actually a very light season story-arc after the fast-pace, villain-centric season 2 with Vee. There is no real antagonist to speak of – only hints at one – and Litchfield Penitentiary is largely left to its own devices – save a few imported catalysts. Thankfully, there’s still more than enough conflicts going on with the familiar favorites and the lightly expanded cast to make for a thoroughly enjoyable viewing experience.
Be that as it may, binge-watching may be your downfall with this one – especially if you’re not familiar with Kohan’s way of storytelling. Orange is now in a spot where the story within each season isn’t as important as nuance moments and character development that its creator is able to explore now that the show is a proven success. When the story finally reaches its end, however, in whatever season that may be, there’s no doubt that Orange will continue to follow the path of Weeds and finish with a rewarding and completely fun journey for viewers, if not a bit drawn-out.
Just make sure not to let temptation get the best of you.
Final Verdict: **Watch Leisurely (Don’t Binge)**
Orange is the New Black season 4 premieres summer 2014 on Netflix.