OITNB Season Finale: Vee Sees a Little Silhouetto of a Van

Orange is the New Black (Photo: Netflix)
Orange is the New Black (Photo: Netflix)

Screw Blue Öyster Cult. “We Have Manners, We’re Polite” should have been scored exclusively with Queen songs played on the banjolele. (You know I’m right.)

[Content note: drugs, abuse, violence.]

And another one gone, and another one gone, another one bites the asphalt. Hey, I’m gonna get you too. Another one bites the asphalt.

This was, without a doubt, Vee’s season. Her character drove most of the action, both The Plot and the plot, and served as a foil to bring the best/worst out of practically every other character in Litchfield.1 Lorraine Toussaint brought an edge, a toughness, a conniving nature that no one else could contribute. Vee was a master at chess, and while it was satisfying to see her empire falling apart around her,2 I’ll miss her character. I especially appreciate Orange is the New Black’s willingness to let go of such a strong character, rather than let her overstay her usefulness. (Ahem.)

She’s a killer queen: gunpowder, gelatine, chemo with a laser beam.

Score one for Miss Rosa, with assists for Boo, Nicky, and Morello. Nicky’s liberation of Vee’s heroin stash (thanks to information from Boo) is the final straw in what became Vee’s ultimate downfall. Independent from those circumstances, Morello decides that Miss Rosa doesn’t deserve to die in prison, and leaves her the van, urging her to “drive fast.” Besides giving her the opportunity to feel the thrill of a chase one more time, Morello unknowingly provides Miss Rosa with the opportunity and means with which to kill Vee. Like the striker on a soccer team, the skillful improvisation of Miss Rosa’s teammates set her up with a beautiful opportunity to tap the ball into the back of the net … or, in this case, the RUDE one into the asphalt.

Bad mistakes ‒ I’ve made a few. I’ve had my share of steel hurled at my face but I’ve come through.

I’d argue that the real winner of this season — the character with the most to gain going into Season 3 — is Red. Her main rival is out of the picture, for good this time, and there is zero chance that Red will be implicated. She’s back on good terms with basically everybody, thanks to the greenhouse pipeline. She and Gloria appear to have come to a mutual understanding about who runs the kitchen, and she appears to have built a relationship of mutual respect with Sister Ingalls while they were both in the hospital.

Red has some potential speedbumps to avoid, to be sure. It remains to be seen whether Nicky will turn over the heroin stash, which (to the best of our knowledge) is still hidden in the wall of the laundry. It’s also possible that the guards could find the outside end of the sewer pipe that Vee used to escape, although Red has people on the outside who should be able to take care of that. The biggest question for Red, I think, is: what does she want?

I’ve been wandering round, but I still come back to you. In rain or shine, you’ve stood by me girl. I’m happy, happy at home. You’re my best friend.

It makes me so incredibly happy to see the four core black women back together as a crew. Mike speculated after episode 12 that the reconciliation of Taystee and Poussey might have some negative consequences. Fortunately for us, Vee loses her shit when she loses her shit. Having watched her sick Suzanne on Poussey in the shower, Cindy knows that Vee’s threats of violence aren’t idle. That’s enough to bring her, and Janae, back from the dark side. That said …

Well she’s gone gone this morning. See what a fool I’ve been for so long, see what a fool I’ve been.

Oh, Suzanne. I mentioned in a previous review that I appreciated seeing her confidence grow, but hated that it was the result of Vee’s gaslighting and plotting to use her in the future. My hope is that she will find a way to reconnect with the Taystee et al, but it remains to be seen whether either side would welcome that. Maybe Suzanne, Brook, and Yoga Jones could start a meditation group or tai chi class next season? Or maybe they’ll put that Uno deck to good use.

Can anybody find me somebody to love?

Piper, Alex, Larry, and Polly need to Just. Go. Away. I do appreciate that Polly is helping Piper turn Alex in for violating her probation; that’s exactly what a best friend is supposed to do, and Polly is trying to redeem herself. But I don’t find any of them to be sympathetic, or interesting, or to have redeeming qualities the way pretty much everyone else does. They’re just irritating. Season 3 has already started shooting, and Jason Biggs apparently hasn’t done any filming yet,3 but according to HuffPo, Laura Prepon will be in every episode. Hnnnnnngh. Then again, according to that same article, Alex Vause is a “fan favorite,”4 and how she’ll be incorporated “is still a mystery as her character is no longer at Litchfield.”5 Grain of salt recommended.

Pressure pushing down on me, pushing down on you, no man ask for …

Most Underrated Character goes to O’Neill, currently my favorite of the prison guard/administration types. I really appreciate the cheese factor his breakup/makeup with Bell brought to this season, and his banjolele tunes (more for his own entertainment than to benefit the gaggle of nuns in any way) produced one of my few truly laugh-out-loud moments in the second half of this season. Joel Garland’s dry delivery reminds me a lot of Drew Carey (and his songs specifically of the traditional “hoedown” segments from Whose Line), and I hope to see him play an expanded role moving forward.

Healy’s progression over this season was also well-written, and frankly a little bit understated. Take his work with Pennsatucky, for example. Healy is terrible as a patient, but as a therapist provides her with a safe place in which she can learn to deal with her emotions non-violently. Who, at the beginning of this season, would have guessed that Sophia would be cutting Pennsatucky’s hair under Boo’s watchful eye, as part of Pennsatucky’s “lesbian initiation”?6 Add to that the work he does with Suzanne, encouraging her to trust herself, and the work he does FOR Suzanne, getting Luscek to falsify a work order7 to provide her an alibi for the attack on Red. Maybe Healy isn’t such a bad guy, after all.

As for the others: Fig’s out with a commendation, despite her complete incompetence as a prison administrator.8 Caputo’s treatment of Fig, pretending to console her and then rubbing her face in … well, lots of unpleasantness … is further proof that he’s just a terrible, terrible person. He can’t believe the dysfunction dropped into his lap in his first two days, and when Bennett finally admit he’s the father of Daya’s baby, Caputo short-circuits. Looks like his reign won’t be too much different than Fig’s.

Other notes:

  • It wasn’t until the very end of this episode until I realized that bank-robbing flashbacks depicted Miss Rosa’s background. Was anyone else as confused as I was by that? I know at least one other person didn’t make the connection; she thought Miss Rosa’s accent was supposed to be Russian (in retrospect, that’s a pretty legit mistake to make).
  • If you haven’t already seen it, you need to go check out Season 2 of Orange is the New Black, Visualized.

Check back tomorrow and Friday for wrap-ups from both Mike and Mooch. Shoutout to both of them, and the whole WEIO crew, for being such great hosts to this newbie the last couple of weeks!

  1. Can you name a single important character that remained untouched by her influence?  
  2. That scene where she tries, one last time, to sweettalk Taystee into helping her was pitch perfect.  
  3. Interestingly enough, IMDB lists him as being in 39 episodes from 2013-15, which would imply he is taking part in Season 3.  
  4. I don’t think that word means what you think it means.  
  5. Actually, it’s pretty clear that Alex is going to be back in the slammer soon; her Season 2 ends with her accidentally brandishing a weapon within sight of her probation officer. Did you actually, you know, watch the show you’re reporting on?  
  6. Never mind that she ends up with a Victoria Beckham-esque cut.  
  7. Any bets on how Luscek will collect that favor TBD?  
  8. But isn’t that always how it happens.  

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