Welcome back to Litchfield, inmates! The hit Netflix series is back for a third year and offers some of the same elements from the previous seasons, but it doesn’t add enough new things to elevate it. In a way it’s kind of appropriate that nothing really goes anywhere given the fact that a lot of these characters aren’t being released any time soon, but it just felt like the show got too comfortable. Yes, I love seeing the backgrounds of these ladies and how they acted outside of prison, but even some of those arcs really didn’t show much. Don’t get me started on the chaotic relationship between Alex Vause and Piper Chapman. I couldn’t care less about these two characters. Piper has demonstrated time and time again that she doesn’t make smart decisions. How long are we supposed to see the main character do nothing to help out her situation? Unfortunately, the relationship between these two is a huge focal point this season as it was the last two, but the difference is that they’re together now…like actually together. Did the events that transpired between them in season two mean nothing?
Moving on to less annoying characters, it was great seeing Taystee become the “mother” of her group. It’s a welcomed change seeing as though the last leader, Vee, made enemies out of everyone. It really shows how much she’s grown from being one of those followers to someone who can calm Crazy Eyes down or help Poussey veer off alcoholism. The fact that she’s back in prison after being released always bothered me, but these are inmates we’re talking about. Speaking of Crazy Eyes, she’s found something to do while incarcerated that everyone can indulge in. I guess you can call her the E L James of Litchfield, but I’m not sure if that’s really a compliment.
The dynamic between Soso and Healy is s highlight because it delves into a problem that a lot of men have in general, which is listening. Healy is not the best counselor, so when Soso seeks him out for help dealing with prison life; she’s disappointed to find out that he’s pretty useless. Not to mention he’s sort of a bigot. The prison introduces a second counselor to shoulder the work load and bring conflict to Healy’s routine. In this aspect, the show does well to counter the Healy character with someone more level headed and open minded.
Another character brought to the forefront is Caputo. He’s definitely been an entertaining person to watch as he brings some level of order to the prison. Last season put him in a power struggle that ultimately left him solely in charge. This season, it’s up to him to keep that power and keep the prison from being closed down. Moreover, the flashbacks paint him as a very tragic figure throughout his whole life. Before ever working in the prison, he showed real promise in accomplishing his dreams, but it just didn’t work out for him as it doesn’t for a lot of people. It shows you can have all the talent, but if you’re dealt the wrong cards, there’s nothing you can do.
Now, despite all the highlights this season had to offer, I can’t help but feel like the show shortchanged the audience. Nothing really happened. Sometimes a slow burn works for buildup in other shows like “Breaking Bad” and “Game of Thrones”, but it only works if the payoff is worth it. The finale put everything on the table, but it was already too late, and still nothing really happened! It wasn’t a terrible season, but it’s definitely the weakest of the three so far. Here’s hoping that next year there will be a story arc that lasts for more than two episodes.