Things might have been wrapped up a little too nicely in the second season finale of Orange is the New Black, but what a wonderfully satisfying conclusion. Vee finally got her comeuppance. So did Fig. Rosa got to go out in a blaze of glory. Red prevailed. And, the best part? We saw the return of Taystee and Poussey’s hilarious white alter egos, Mackenzie and Amanda. For a show set in a prison, it was pretty much good times all around.
At the beginning of the episode, Red is in the infirmary, refusing to say who attacked her. Vee’s master plan is to pin the whole thing on Suzanne. She convinces Cindy and Janae to say it was Suzanne, and somehow convinces the impressionable Suzanne that she may have attacked Red. “What you did was rough, but it had to be done,” Vee tells her. After the last episode, we know that there’s nothing Vee won’t do to protect herself, but as Cindy says, “man that’s cold.”
Nicky’s master plan is to hit Vee where it will hurt the most. She steals and hides Vee’s heroin stash. Vee accuses Cindy of taking it, and attacks her. “In case math ain’t your jam, you know I got like 50 pounds on you easy,” Cindy tells her. But when Vee breaks a broom and threatens to cut Cindy’s throat, Cindy’s bravado quickly wilts. I’ve been waiting all season for Vee’s followers to turn on her—to realize that without them, Vee is nothing. It finally happened. Cindy and Janae join forces with Taystee and Poussey, and without her lackeys, Vee has nowhere to turn.
Caputo triumphantly goes to Fig’s office to tell her she’s done—he has proof that she’s been embezzling funds. But he finds Fig sobbing and confessing to Caputo that she’s just realized her husband is having an affair with a man.
“How did I not know?” she wonders. I didn’t quite buy that Fig would so easily crumble at work. She kind of struck me as someone who would pull it together. When Caputo finally tells her that he’s on to her embezzlement scheme, she offers him a blow job, which Caputo accepts. And then tells her that it’s too late, he’s already handed all the evidence over to the warden. “You’re a horrible person, but you’re sexy as hell,” he tells her. It’s not like I ever thought Caputo was a good guy (like he thinks he is), but this disturbing scene definitely proves that he’s just as awful, if not worse, than Fig.
So Caputo finally gets what he wanted—the ousting of Fig and, subsequently, her job. He’s feeling all powerful and benevolent. He cancels all the transfers that Fig had ordered. But then Vee, realizing she has no other options, escapes via Red’s tunnel. Rosa, who has learned she only has weeks to live, also escapes when Morello gives her the keys to the van. And Caputo’s got a gaggle of nuns protesting right outside his prison. When Bennett finally confesses to him that he’s the father of Diaz’s baby, Caputo doesn’t want to hear it. “It’s my second day, I can’t have this,” he tells him.
While Vee is busy framing Suzanne, Red and Sister Jane are both recuperating in the infirmary—Sister Jane, refusing to eat, Red refusing to tell the truth. “You eat and I sing like a canary,” Red tells Sister Jane. Sister Jane takes a bite of a corn muffin, and Red tells Healy it was Vee who attacked her, but Healy knows it’s too late for that. The investigators already have decided Suzanne committed the crime and are ready to write up their report and go home. Healy falsifies a work order saying Suzanne was working at the time of the attack. That convinces the investigators that they need to reopen the case. With his sad eyes and a dejected resignation, Healy did the right thing.
Larry and Polly come to see Piper wanting her blessing on their relationship. “Do you hate us? Please tell us you don’t hate us,” Polly begs. I don’t hate them but I’ll be fine with them having no part in Season Three. Good riddance. Later Piper calls them asking for a favor. Can they call Alex’s parole officer and tell them she’s planning to run? The parole officer catches Alex with a gun—a clear parole violation—and now I guess we all know how Laura Prepon is a series regular next season. But I find Piper’s obsession with Alex so tedious. And how self-absorbed do you have to be to orchestrate it so that your girlfriend gets sent back to prison, so your dysfunctional relationship can live on? “Jesus Chapman, you need to figure out what the f—you want,” Nicky tells her.
With Vee out of Litchfield, everyone is happy, except Suzanne who sits quietly sobbing with her Uno cards. Vee manipulated her, but Suzanne doesn’t fully understand that. In her mind, she’s lost the only person who ever truly understood her.
In the episodes final moments, Nicky eyes the stashed heroin with a disturbing longing, and Rosa hits Vee with the van (“Always so rude that one.”), while sirens surround her. The ending truly proves that the series is an ensemble piece and not merely about Piper any more.
Hopes/questions for next season:
•I really hope Rosa got her wish and died in the blaze of glory. As much as I adore her character, I don’t want her back next season. She got her perfect ending.
•More Sophia! Seriously the Emmy-nominated Laverne Cox needs to have a major arc next season.
•Will we ever get to see the warden?
•Can Soso be released between seasons? I’m all set with her character.
Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and a regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.