If you haven’t heard from friends during the last week, they’re probably binging on “Orange is the New Black.”
Now in its second season, the Netflix surprise has more to savor – including a charming performance by former Sioux Cityan Lori Petty and a solid directing turn by Jodie Foster.
In a heap of trouble following a first season skirmish, the Martha Stewart-like prisoner Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) is sent to a different location where she has to learn a whole new code of conduct (think: roaches) and characters. She’s there for a reason – one that could prove advantageous – but she’s not willing to narc just to make life easier. Indeed, creator Jenji Kohan gives viewers a peek at Piper’s childhood and what prompted her “say nothing” attitude.
Petty is another prisoner seated next to Piper on a plane transporting them to Chicago. They chitchat, watch as men join the flight (really?) and deal with everything from bathroom woes to first-time fliers. Interestingly, the con-air seats look better than any on most commercial flights and – get this – they come with an in-flight meal.
Once in Chicago, Piper discovers why she’s there and who else happens to be in the big house – old pal Alex (Laura Prepon). The two exchange words, seem to be on the same wavelength and appear headed for some kind of resolution.
Naturally, that’s not meant to be and, sooner than you can say “Episode 2,” Piper is back at “The Litch” where she discovers who has been doing what to whom.
For newcomers to “OITNB,” the second season opener is a good primer. It gives Schilling a chance to reset and face the prison experience on different terms. She’s fairly fearless under Foster’s direction, and eager to make do-overs matter.
In Episode Two, more colorful colleagues bring us up to date on their experiences and, thanks to those flashbacks, their seminal moments.
Taystee (an effective Danielle Brooks) seizes the spotlight and shows what might have happened if the Litchfield Penitentiary hadn’t gotten in the way.
“OITNB” introduces some new characters, too, and isn’t afraid of language, nudity and sex.
The humor, though, is solidly intact; the one-liners are worth writing down.
“You live on a slippery slope,” Piper is told. “You can’t stop doing rain dances.”
While flying over the Midwest, another prisoner says the place is filled with a “ton of people who don’t vote in their own best interest.”
That kind of writing makes “OITNB” addictive – just the ticket for a rainy weekend.
Binge if you must. But know it’ll be another year before you get another handful of episodes.
Consider how well-crafted they are, you might want to pace yourself and savor every precious moment.
The complete second season of “Orange is the New Black” is now available on Netflix.