Since its premiere on June 12th in all its full season, thirteen-episode glory, Orange is the New Black has undoubtedly been binge-watched by countless people- yours truly included. Reviewing such a hugely popular show so soon after it’s opening is always a risk, but rest assured, this will be relatively free of major spoilers. This new season offers more in-depth looks at the inmates of Litchfield- particularly interesting are those of Lorna, Chang, and Pennsatucky.
Among the many threads and storylines that are being balanced, the ensemble cast has truly had the chance to shine and deliver stellar performances, as Piper fully slides into the rhythm of prison life, now immune to many of the measures that used to shock her back in season one. She doesn’t even get a flashback– although she does try and moderately succeed for a while at becoming a panty-vending gang leader – she embraces her faults and unfortunate strengths unapologetically, even involving her brother and unsuspecting new guard. The addition of Ruby Rose to the cast as Stella was a marvelous decision and Piper’s actions regarding her towards the end of the season show just how far Piper has come in her prison days. Litchfield itself has also changed, as it switched from federal to private hands, providing a well-sketched look at the corporate take on prison life and priorities.
All of this is not to say that the season is not without it’s troubles. While getting to know silent Norma more thoroughly through her flashbacks, the cult of religion that sprang up around her this season seemed a little meandering at times (at least the promotional candle poster finally made sense). And like an unfortunate eye muscle twitch, this season was rather prone to speeches. Nevertheless, the season four plotlines have been set-up, with many questions left unanswered, especially regarding Alex and the TV personality Judy King.