As a little bit of a gift from Netflix, they’ve dropped the episodes of Orange is the New Black’s third season one day early. I don’t know why they’ve done this, but hey. I like getting things early!
This third season premiere focuses on the powerful option we have as choice. We have a choice to do this. We have a choice to do that. In some scenarios, some people don’t have a choice at all. From an act of vengeance, to and act of desperation, and further to an act of intelligent thought about your own future, we all have a certain amount of options that will change our lives forever. And it’s those choices, in large part, that are responsible for why these women of Orange is the New Black are committed to terms at Litchfield.
Season 3’s premiere is about a day in the life or a prisoner on Mother’s Day. A celebration of sorts is allowed for the imprisoned mothers and their families join them in the field for games and fun. But because this is Orange is the New Black, nothing goes as planned. There are missing children, there are drugs concealed in babies’ diapers and there are plenty of hurt feelings. The final moments of the episode have a weary father taking away his visitation rights for the mother of their child for the child’s psychological well-being… and it’s heartbreaking to see.
It seems like showrunner Jenji Kohan has actually listened to fans of the show in response to the second season, because it was sort of like a fan service paradise. There was no shortage of fan favorite Sophia and she not only has plenty of memorable lines in the action of the show, she gets her own flashback. She even gets to dispense her own wisdom to her own sun about shaving. She asks that he confides in someone who’s not only had to shave their face as a man, but their entire body as a woman.
Piper and Alex have some valuable screen-time together and their conversation dances around the real reason Alex is there… again: Because Piper, out of spite, had her reported and arrested. She comes close to confessing, but realizes nothing good will come of it. We know that as the season progresses, the truth will come out, but for now it’s good just to see them reunited.
“Mother’s Day” is the perfect reunion with the show and with the characters. It’s funny and heartbreaking in equal measure. It doesn’t exist solely to continue a series for the sake of fandom, it’s a show that still has plenty to say. Even Pennsatucky is given time to develop and go from the hated supporting villain that she played in the first season, to becoming a sympathetic victim of the system in season 3.
Jenji Kohan has some back luck with the way Weeds turned out on Showtime, but I’m prepared to blame that entirely on the network. Showtime has a great reputation for having a great first season of a show, followed by close to a decades’ worth of just purely shit seasons. See also: Dexter and the L-Word. This platform that Netflix offers is like a dream come true for a showrunner who wants to tell an ongoing story that doesn’t yet have an end in sight. Orange is the New Black seems to have pretty much dumped the source material and have gone a mostly fictional route. And it’s all the better for it.