Orange Is the New Black season finale recap: Don't Fear the Reaper

Season 2 gets a neat, wholly satisfying ending—while leaving just a few intriguing questions unresolved
Ep. 13 | Aired Jun 6, 2014

Or...not. Red's change of heart comes too late; the SIS agents have already gotten a half-confession from the addled Suzanne, which—along with the lies told by Janae and Cindy, frightened into doing Vee's bidding once more—will be enough to get poor Crazy Eyes blamed for the slocking. And even after Taystee and Poussey's onetime pals come to their senses and decide to form a united front against Vee, the process has gone too far to save Suzanne. Vee can finally be brought to justice only when Healy himself breaks a code of conduct even more sacred than that of the streets: He convinces Luschek to give Suzanne an alibi by forging a work order, which states that she'd been in electrical when Red was attacked. It's a lie, but one with honest intentions. And at least the ends will justify the means, right?

Or...not, again, because Vee's managed to weasel her way out of yet another sticky situation. Using Red's contraband portal, she escapes from Litchfield and sets off through the Blair Witch-ian upstate forest in search of her freedom. For a few moments, it seems that season 3 could be haunted by the specter of an on-the-lam Vee, hellbent first on escaping and second on exacting her revenge...until the escaped Rosa appears in the Van of Justice. The THWACK! made when Rosa's bumper plows into Vee, as well as Rosa's one-liner ("Always so rude, that one") ranks among the best things I've seen on TV (or, you know, "TV") all year. It's a beautiful callback to the whole "manners" thing. Also: Is there a way for Orange to invent some sort of magical cancer cure? Because Rosa has stealthily become one of the show's best characters, and it'll be a shame to lose her in or before season 3.

And here we are, over 1,000 words in, and I've barely mentioned everything else that happened in "We Have Manners." Looking back over the 11 pages of (single-spaced) notes I took while watching the episode, though, I'm realizing that much of it hardly matters, at least in a narrative sense. Did this episode need to be 90 minutes? Probably not; the setup leading to Vee's escape could have been condensed a bit, and some of the subplots (O'Neill's one-man war against the nuns, for instance) felt a little superfluous. Then again: Apparently superfluous stuff—Taystee and Poussey bringing back their delightful "White Lady" characters, Red and Ingalls sandwich toasting to orgasms, Gloria and Norma cooking up some sort of Santeria spell to get rid of Vee, Morello describing the plot of Toy Story to Rosa in twisted detail—is what makes OITNB OITNB, and I'd be happy to watch a full season of 90-minute episodes if it could maintain this level of quality. Suddenly, the time between this season 2 binge and the season to come stretches out before us like a prison sentence. In other words: We've... got... tiiiiiiime!

The Commissary

- Vee, wheedling Cindy and Janae to blame the attack on Suzanne: "Is it cold for Amazon to underprice books just to capture market share?" Cindy, perhaps only now realizing how deep she's in: "Not sure cheap books is the same as pinning sh-- on Crazy."

- Like Taslitz, Maritza doesn't know Vee's name. Seeing how Litchfield's various tribes fail to intersect is almost as fascinating as watching what happens when they do clash. It's also a reminder that there are all kinds of stories happening within these walls that our main characters are totally ignorant of—which bodes well for the future of Orange, since it'll always be able to find new inmates to focus on.

- Oh, remember the whole transfer thing? Piper got out of it by providing Caputo with proof of Fig's embezzlement. (Proof that ended up being beside the point because the warden let Fig resign in order to avoid a scandal. Politics!)

- Speaking of: Did Fig's despondency over her obviously gay husband's obvious homosexuality (and her implied bulimia) succeed in making you feel sympathy for her? Also: Is there some rule on TV that state senate candidates have to be closeted?

- "This is a song about my mom and dad/And the divorce that they should have had..."

- The least convincing thing Piper has ever said: "I didn't mean to make this about me."

- Brook needs a friend. Any volunteers? *crickets*

- Points for Tucky inadvertently spurring Healy into action: 'It just seems like you're really good at what you do, and you really care."

- Suzanne's lock is actually an anthropomorphized bolt named Mrs. Loxley, which is all kinds of delightful. Do you think she and Moppy are friends?

- "You know who made up that 'never snitch' bullsh--? People that deserve to be snitched on."

- I still can't believe it's over! But in the meantime, let's get to talking about our season 3 wishlists: Whose backstories are you still yearning to see? (Or does this episode, which nixes flashbacks entirely, indicate that Orange is moving away from that device?) Which characters would you like the show's focus to shift to, à la this year's increased spotlight on Taystee and Poussey? Are you hoping for return visits from any departed characters like Fig, Pornstache, and Miss Claudette (always Miss Claudette!) again? And finally, what would you like to see the show do about Larry now that he and Piper are totally, 100 percent over? Discuss below—and thanks for reading.

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