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Monday, June 23, 2014

Orange Is The New Black Review: Take A Break From Your Values

Orange Is The New Black (Netflix), Episode 11 of Season 2
"Take A Break From Your Values"
Written By: Nick Jones
Directed By: Constantine Makris
Flashback Of: Sister Ingalls


Brief Description: I have no idea how a show as great as Orange Is The New Black has been can come so far off of the rails as it has become. But truthfully, I don't think we should be surprised. While Jenji Kohan created Orange after coming off of a long running, slightly successful, slightly critically revered show, it's not like Weeds was ever considered the Mad Men of Breaking Bad, or even Dexter, of its time. To it's credit, it does have a handful of major Primetime Emmy awards, but nowhere in its eight year run was it ever considered as great of a show has Orange Is The New Black has been. And now that we're almost done with Season 2, you can see the seems start to tear and the thread start to unravel, just like Weeds did. To be fair, "Take A Break From Your Values" as a stand alone episode is not a C+. It's better than a lot of shows out there. However, the gap for where Season 2 should be this late in its run versus where it is now is just staggering.

The main title of this episode comes from the Soso hunger strike, how it sucks Sister Ingalls into it, and how we're focused so heavily on her back story in the flashbacks. Truthfully, this is how the show should be doing back stories, where we find out the Nun has actually been excommunicated, and that she's never been served a slice of Humble Pie in her entire life. But in reality, I was so blinded with rage at what I was seeing, rather what I wasn't seeing, that neither the Sister Ingalls reveal nor her time at the very end of the episode in the medical ward had any sort of emotional impact whatsoever on me.

At this point in the season, the war between Vee and Red should be in full effect. At the end of this episode, a full on war does technically exist, but it's pretty much one sided and not even close to being meticulously planned out like so many other parts of this show are. One of the AARP ladies mistakenly shanking Vee and then having Vee see this means there's going to be HUGE repercussions coming from Red, but this battle feels like just another plot point. But the thing is that it shouldn't be just another thing. It should be *THE* thing.

In Season 1, we were building towards a war with Pennsatucky and Piper. However, those were just two minor characters. The battle between Vee and Red involves much more people and should feel bigger than it actually is. Also, back in Season 1, we weren't dealing with nearly the amount of characters and story lines Season 2 is dealing with.

This entire second season has been trying to have its cake and eat it too. It's so plot heavy while also trying to have the little character beats that the first season had. However, this cast is just so damn huge that it's failing miserably. There is a huge power struggle between the Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics should be having while also fighting the administration and that should be the focus of this show. But instead, we get a newsletter story line and a hunger strike story line with very little focus on the huge power players.

If the whole reason to introduce Soso as well as Piper's newsletter was so the administration, mainly Figueroa, could find an excuse to ship Piper away to another prison, then this show has failed miserably. For starters, while the moment Healy told Piper she was being transferred immediately sunk in my heart, I know Piper's not getting transferred. Taylor Schilling is still the lead of this show, and while she took a huge back seat this season, you're just not going to have an Orange Is The New Black show without Piper. She may leave and be gone for half of Season 3, but she still is the lead. We will still spend lots of time with her. Secondly, there was just way too much time spent on these minor character and these plot points to make this arc resolution meaningful. Breaking Bad was so successful because it let every moment draw itself out, but it never overstayed its welcome. OITNB has had a plethora of scenes and story lines overstay its welcome. Jenji Kohan should have ripped a page out of the Paul Thomas Anderson playbook. Boogie Nights and Magnolia both have huge casts and lots of scenes, but each scene is short, sweet, and exactly to the point. We haven't gotten that this season. Season Two has been servicing so many characters and juggling so many plot points, that the dramatic water is now extremely diluted.


* Those who took a break from their values this episode: Caputo (claiming he wants to help the prisoners and then pulls a stunt like that on Sister Ingalls), Figueroa (actually fixing the showers), Leanne (quickly caving in from her Hunger Strike), Piper (agreeing to see Alex after complaining not to do so in "Little Mustachioed Shit"), and of course Sister Ingalls herself. Plus, Alex.

* Alex sucks so much as a character and I think Laura Prepon is doing a terrible job with her. Actually having her on screen is adding insult to injury.

* Big Boo gets what she deserves. She was always supposed to be a purposefully unlikable character, and now she gets her comeuppance.

* Red: "Don't you remember what happened to Tricia?" Black Cindy: "I remember the Alamo too but that doesn't stop me from eating Mexican food!"

* Pennsabama

* One of the surprising and enjoyable parts of Season 1 was the relationship that Watson and Yoga Jones forged. I enjoyed that scene they shared together this episode.

* If Piper truly is being transferred, then we need to get rid of Larry and Polly completely as characters.

* PORNSTACHE UPDATE: Still no sign of him, but luckily we get a Daya moping scene! *sarcasm*

Click here for my thoughts on Episode 1 - "Thirsty Bird"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 2 - "Looks Blue, Tastes Red"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 3 - "Hugs Can Be Deceiving"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 4 - "A Whole Other Hole"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 5 - "Low Self Esteem City"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 6 - "You Also Have A Pizza"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 7 - "Comic Sans"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 8 - "Appropriately Sized Pots"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 9 - "40oz of Furlough"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 10- "Little Mustachioed Shit"


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