When Indiewire reviewed the first six episodes of "Orange is the New Black" Season 2 last month, the show's themes of family and power shone through, and under the guidance of showrunner Jenji Kohan, the second half of the season takes those themes to darker and stranger places.
But what can you expect from the Netflix prison dramedy this season? What are the ladies reading this year? And who's got a real shot at an Emmy nomination? Below, we answer some of those questions, and others, with a minimum of spoilers.
How much sleep has the writer of this article gotten since Season 2 premiered at midnight?
Well, there were only seven new episodes to binge watch, but NO FAIR, Netflix, for making the season finale an hour and a half long. That's a movie!
What scene rivals the chicken from Season 1?
To be honest? While future rewatches might change this, at this stage "OITNB"'s gold standard for great dialogue is still this Red (Kate Mulgrew) quote from Season 1's "The Chickening": "All I wanted was to eat the chicken that was smarter than all the other chickens and absorb its power. And to make a nice Kiev."
However, an extended discussion about sex between Red and Sister Ingalls (Beth Fowler) in the season finale goes to some places you might not expect from a scene between a Russian gangster and a nun.
Perhaps it's because you don't often see two women over the age of 50 have a frank discussion about sex. Or maybe it's Sister Ingalls' choice of, ahem, inspiration that makes it stand out.
How many nuns in total show up?
"OITNB" is so rich with books that there's an entire blog devoted to documenting them. Any major references in Season 2?
At least two books get discussed briefly, both of which are of interest to film and TV fans: Vee (Lorraine Toussaint) suggests John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars" as recommended reading for the cancer-stricken Miss Rosa (Barbara Rosenblat) -- though she doesn't know why "some sick fuck" would want to write about kids with cancer. Green shouldn't be too worried about what Vee thinks, though -- the movie adaptation of "Fault" premieres today, and is poised to dominate the weekend's box office.
Also, Taystee (Danielle Brooks) and Poussey (Samira Wiley) use Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" as a tee-off for a discussion about how great time travel is. "Battlestar Galactica" showrunner Ronald D. Moore is currently adapting the Scotland-set novel as a new series for Starz; the show premieres August 9th.
How often do Disney movies get referenced?
A lot. My rough count includes "Ratatouille," "Lilo and Stitch," "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2." And from the non-Disney world, there's also a subtle shout-out to "Friday Night Lights," a clip from the Tom Cruise movie "The Sweet Smell of Success" and a recap of the "'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' Was All In Cameron's Head" theory.
Prison make-up tip of the season?
Instant coffee works pretty well as an eyeshadow.
Most unexpected team-up of the season?
Counselor Healy (Michael Harney) and Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett (Taryn Manning). The combination of an uptight bigoted counselor and a mega-Christian former meth addict isn't exactly a pairing you'd expect to work, but it turns out that judging lesbians has a way of bringing people together.
Who, by the end of Season 2, still hasn't gotten a flashback episode?
New girl on the block Brooke, Big Boo, Yoga Jones, Chang, Nicky, Norma, Maritza (the girl who doesn't like The Smiths), Flaca (the girl who likes The Smiths).
Who, of the above, most definitely needs one in Season 3?
Intellectually, the easy answer is Big Boo (Lea DeLaria). But my honest answer? Norma (Annie Golden) or Chang (Lori Tan Chinn).
What friendship, over the course of Season 2, is the most emotional?
Poussey and Taystee, by a landslide. Wiley and Brooks have an intense rapport (based on their real-life friendship), and to see their relationship tested by factors internal and external leads to some of the season's most intense character scenes.
Who bolstered their Emmy chances with a stand out scene?
Season 2 isn't technically eligible for this year's Emmys (the show will be judged on Season 1's merits) but Taylor Schilling continues to own the material she's given as Piper -- no Michael Jackson impressions this year, but dramatically she remains a powerhouse. Which is good news for Schilling, as "Orange" is submitting as a comedy; just ask Edie Falco if submitting a drama-heavy performance to the Best Actress in a Comedy category pays off.)
Also, Uzo Aduba, who broke out in Season 1 with her equally heartbreaking and hilarious turn as Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren, is a series regular this year and she continues to captivate with every moment she gets on screen. Towards the end of the season, her performance loses a bit of its subtlety, but the bigger dramatic turn might play better when it comes to awards.
Who is, ultimately, the breakout all-star number one greatest character of the season?
This one was a major surprise: The answer is Miss Rosa. The character not only gets her own flashback episode, but the cancer-stricken felon first introduced in the pilot episode plays a key role in the season. With a limited number of scenes, Miss Rosa's adventures in chemotherapy and beyond, anchored by Rosenblat's solid performance, turns what could be a very depressing storyline (dying of cancer while serving out a jail sentence) into one of the more oddly joyful of the season.
Is there a line of dialogue that pretty much sums up the show?
This line, from Episode 7 ("Comic Sans"), isn't bad: "You have a choice. You have the power. I'm an inmate. I have nothing," Daya says to Bennet.
But there's also this bit from Piper in Episode 10 ("Little Mustachioed Shit"): "That's the whole problem, isn't it? Rules aren't any fun." It's a casual aside that, in the long run of the series, isn't that casual after all.