Thoughts On Season 3 Of ‘Orange Is The New Black’: What We Loved And What We Didn’t

By now, most fans of Orange Is the New Black have probably wrapped up Season 3, which was released last Friday; if you didn’t binge the whole thing in one weekend. So, we felt now was an appropriate time to have some very important discussions about what took place. This season seemed like the strongest so far (and by strongest, we possibly mean that there was nothing we vehemently hated… *cough* Vee *cough* Larry) even if all of the intertwining story lines didn’t exactly pan out in the most meaningful of ways. One thing’s for sure, Season 3 saw the most shakeup of any season of OITNB so far, with series casualties (?), including Nicky, Bennett, possibly Alex, newcomer Stella, and most of the guards.

We’ve put together some talking points to get our hands dirty and figure out exactly what we loved, what we liked, and what we didn’t so much in Season 3. Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.

Piper And Alex: Reunited And It Feels… Oh, The Hell With It

Stacey: I don’t know what annoyed me more about this. That all it took for Alex to get over Piper having her sent back to prison — partly out of reasons of concern and mostly out of reasons of selfishness — was one or two hate-f*ck sessions? Or that Piper, after gone to those extreme lengths to keep Alex close, was able to conveniently ignore her very valid concerns for her safety and then move onto the next shiny new, Ninja Turtle and Archer-tattoo-having thing when things got kind of boring?

Chet: To be fair, Alex left Pipes up sh*ts creek twice now. Not thinking about Alex being in danger aside, this was as much revenge based as some control thing. Still, Piper not owning it then blurting it out and assuming everything was gonna be okay was classic Piper.

Daya’s Baby Daddy Drama

Stacey: Even in the context of seeing Daya’s home life, it seemed like a stretch for Bennett to have such a drastic change of heart that he would be proposing one minute then quitting his job and moving away in the next; but, for everybody’s sake, I think it’s safe to say we’re all glad it happened the way it did. But man, that ending. It was affirming to see Daya eventually fall in love with her child, but she really should have adopted out that kid. Will Mary Steenburgen be back next season?

Chet: I’m just waiting for Daya to get angry at Aleida for doing something she would have wanted instead of the thing Aledia hooked up in the first place. That’s gonna be a whole episode at least.

Bennett had to ride off to Shondaland, so his disappearance was inevitable, but that seemed random. One theory I’ve read says he’s the one who snitched on Cesar and assumed the kids would be better off in foster care than their current condition. This is what happens when stuff is too open ended.

Red and Healy’s Pseudo (Or Not Pseudo?) Romance

Stacey: Healy is awful almost all of the time. He’s misogynistic, prone to anger, and sucks at his job. So, was it wrong that I was legitimately shipping him and Red this season? Yeah, they have no future together, but the only thing that prevents Healy from being a straight-up villain is his occasional bouts of compassion, and it’s nice to see him as a human being now and then. Of course, all the man really wants in life is some leftover Olive Garden lasagna, so it appears that ship may have sailed.

Chet: Eh, the second I felt sorry for him, he would have an exchange with the one good Litchfield hire or help push Soso further into her depression. Sure, his home life sucks, but he’s the one who purchased a mail-order bride; people forget that. I’m sure we’re supposed to feel sorry about Jesus throwing up on him, but that scene just resulted in pointing and laughing.

Let ‘Em Eat Cake: Litchfield’s Semitic Faction

Stacey: This was one of the storylines that I felt really paid off in the end. Cindy has been a character who has always been out for herself, so to see her put all of her energy into something for selfish reasons, but then find enlightenment and purpose? I’m not a religious type, but damn if that was not life affirming. I legit got misty-eyed when they told her she could be a Jew.

Chet: Yeah, Cindy’s conversion got all the feels, or at least as many as my robot heart could give. Meanwhile, Sister Jane has no problem giving up Christ for kosher meals.

Nicky’s Move To Maximum Security — Is She Gone For Good?

Stacey: Yes, Luschek was a dick for outing Nicky like that. But, honestly, it was her own screw up that put him in that position in the first place, by hiding the drugs so the meth heads became involved, so can you really blame the guy? Okay, yes… yes, you can. But I still feel like he was the lesser of two evils here. I don’t know how prison works, but I’m guessing once you go max, you never go back. I’ll miss the character, but Nicky’s selfishness and self preservation was always going to win out, so it was a fitting send off.

Chet: Agreed. But Boo’s gonna have all the breaking in of new inmates to herself, so that’s something.

I’m Gonna Stop You ‘Cause Big Boo Had The Best Back Story So Far

Stacey: Big Boo’s storyline about trying to get money from the “Eastboro Baptist Church” (nice) didn’t serve any purpose to the overall season plot arc other than to delve into her sad backstory about having to fight her whole life to gain acceptance, but I’ll take it. If she had gone through with the ruse, obviously refusing to see her mother on her deathbed would have been for nothing, but let’s face it. We knew our girl wasn’t having it.

Chet: While there’s a thin line between good and bad fourth wall humor, Boo’s frankness about her lack of a story was one of the biggest laughs of the whole season for me. And it worked for her character, which was nice.

Don’t Drink The Kool-Aid: The Cult Of Norma

Chet: Find me the cult storyline anywhere that ends up entertaining. I’m drawing a blank here.

Stacey: Ugh, this storyline. What I liked about it: Leanne used to be Amish, and her life of crime started with her Rumspringa; (!!!!) Norma’s creepy polygamy cult backstory. What I didn’t like… everything else. The point was obviously ham-fistedly demonstrating how putting faith in false gods can quickly spiral into something toxic and cult-like. I get it. I didn’t need “toast Norma” to prove this.

Crazy Eyes Is The New E.L. James

Chet: I’d easily read it over Fifty Shades. Hell, I’d take it over the sense8 script. Hey, Netflix: If you got money to burn on strange and sexy sci-fi, why not make The Time Hump Saga? You already have the rights and an actor or two in place.

Stacey: I have to admit, I am really intrigued by The Time Hump Saga. I also like the irony that it was written by someone who has never actually had sexual intercourse herself, which probably explains most of the erotica and fan fiction on the internet. But wait, how was Crazy Eyes all up in Piper’s grill in Season 1, but now, all of a sudden, she’s terrified of women?

Litchfield Goes Corporate

Stacey: The closest thing Season 3 had to a “big bad” was MCC, the private corporation that took over Litchfield when the prison was about to be shuttered, the staff laid off, and the inmates distributed to different prisons. Of course, while MCC at first seemed to be a last-minute reprieve, it soon became apparent that all they were a nefarious force to be reckoned with, making Fig look like a kitten. MCC’s strategy of running a prison was to only give a damn about their investors, while relying on unreliable studies and corporate cost saving measures to manage an institution with actual human beings in it, rather than, say, the people who actually knew what worked and why.

Mike Birbiglia was perfect as the sniveling Danny Pearson, the incompetent CEO’s son who proves that stupidity can be just as dangerous as evil. Season 4 is set up for a PR nightmare with half the inmates “escaped,” all of the competent guards quit, and Sophie wrongly being held in solitary.

Chet: There was a good chunk where I honestly couldn’t tell if Danny was being a dick on purpose or not, pretty much until he actually dropped off good ideas at the meeting. Also, I call BS on not getting Marshals involved. Caputo’s a nice guy or whatever, but that’s just protocol.

Piper’s Screwball Stanky Panty Caper

Chet: I dunno if Thug Pipe was good for the story, but her ineptitude made for some unintentional comedy. Also, infinity tats and tats that match your skin are not gangster. Credit where credit is due, though: Felonious Spunk is good punning.

Stacey: Oh, she’s hard now. I really don’t care for Piper. Piper was okay for the first half of the season — amazingly! — but the whole Thug Piper thing really was not working for me. Thug Piper is possibly even dumber and more prone to bad and impulsive decision-making than regular Piper, and is furthermore not very good at crime. Who hides that many contraband items in the cell of someone you’re trying to frame? Okay, maybe, like, just the screwdriver. But not the screwdriver, drugs, cigarettes, a lighter, and a Jolly Rancher shank. That’s Framing 101.

Maybe the guards are all inept now, but I can tell you that it would not hold up in court because, one time, I actually sat on a jury for a similar trial involving an inmate (it was just a small amount of drugs), and we found him not guilty. So, one way or another, Stella probably won’t be back.

We Need To Have A Serious Talk About Pennsatucky

Chet: Compared to the one in the flashback, Donut got rapey real quick. Despite giving the inmates a window to deal with rape, I still couldn’t get past how quickly it all happened. That may have been the point thought. In any case, I can’t wait for all the “Well, if Game of Thrones can’t do it…” hot takes.

Stacey: Here was my internal reaction to this sub-plot: “Oh, how nice! Pennsatucky made a friend!” “Aw, he buys her donuts and takes her to feed the ducks. How sweet.” “What… Oh, this is… unsettling.” “OH NO GOD WHAT IS HAPPENING MAKE IT STOP.”

Okay, I understand the backstory was established to form Pennsatucky’s world views on sex and rape, and how they very much so are mutually exclusive. But things escalated quickly! And by not actually doing anything about it other than getting out of van duty, now Ramos is next? I wish a Ramsay Bolton fate on Donuts Guard.

Did Morello’s New Dude Kill Christopher?

Stacey: WHAT HAPPENED TO CHRISTOPHER? Maybe I’m just fascinated by stalkers, but Morello’s backstory has always been one of the most compelling to me. And I’m glad she finally found love with that equally-as-crazy Guido dude, but surely there have got to be repercussions from sending your prison admirer and a bunch of his friends to beat the unholy hell of of the guy who is the single reason why you’re sitting behind bars! Oh, Morello. I just want you to be happy.

Chet: I assumed it ended with Christopher beaten almost to death, and Morello’s man pulling him by the collar and saying something threatening with that being the end of it; like a Guido version of the end of “Down Low,” but set to Foreigner.

Joe Caputo: No More Mr. Nice Guy

Stacey: I guess ol’ Beer Can isn’t going to be “holding the door” for anyone anymore? At the suggestion of Fig, who he is now boning on a regular basis — which, by the way, was one of the best and grossest things about this season — Caputo decides to stop taking everyone’s nonsense, assuming the position of Litchfield’s director of human activity.

How is this going to work out for him, long game? So far, all of his guards have quit, and the incompetent ones have basically let all the inmates out, so things are looking great so far.

Chet: Figures, the one time he stands up for himself, and it’s probably gonna go to crap.

So… Is Alex Dead Or What?

Chet: She’s dead. I don’t care that there wasn’t technically a dead body or that Prepon is already filming for Season 4. She has to be dead. Because what you’re suggesting is that either Lolly saves the day, or some guard tells the shooter to fall back and that we’ve been left with another cliffhanger death. I swear, if that happens, I’ll… well, I’ll probably just disapprove of the storyline. But it’ll be such stern disapproval.

Stacey: Counterpoint: She’s not dead? (Chet and I fall squarely on different sides of the “Is Alex Dead?” coin.) I feel like if she was dead, or even seriously injured/maybe dead, the final scene would have ended with a still shot of Alex on the floor of the greenhouse. If she’s dead, why spare viewers that emotional gut punch? Personally, I would have preferred it ended that way, and I do agree that opening Season 4 with Lolly jumping to the rescue will be a lame cop out. But, it is what it is.

Random Thoughts (Chet):

  • Forced gallbladder removal sounds painful. No thank you.
  • You can go to jail for selling fake drugs? My marker huffing business is doomed.
  • How crazy was Alex, really? She was worried about Lolly stalking her, and that was happening. She was worried about her safety, and that assasin came to kill her. She thought Piper was getting close with Aussie, and boom, 3/3. “Crazy like a fox” has never been so apt.

Random Thoughts (Stacey):

  • Red’s triumphant return to the kitchen set to Bikini Kill was maybe my single favorite moment of the season.
  • Are Poussey and Soso going to be a couple next season as suggested in the end montage? Because that would be cute as all get-out.
  • Shut up, Gloria.
  • Hucking turtles is no way to bond with your lesbian crush.