(Before you start to worry, this post contains no spoilers!)
Like most people who loved Season One of Orange Is The New Black, I devoured Season Two in about three days last week. I’m not one for spoiling the plot of movies or books, so I won’t go into detail about the story-line in case you haven’t seen it, however I can’t help but rave about some of the performances this season. The main characters from Season One are still in play (Piper and Alex, Red and her crew, Pensatucky, Gloria and Daya, plus the prison guards) but we get further insights into their backstories which are some of my favourite parts of the show. I loved the episodes focussing on Lorna Morello (played by Yael Stone), the lipstick addicted, uber-feminine inmate with a bizarre Boston-Brooklyn hybrid accent that’s strangely endearing.
This season a new main antagonist, Vee Parker played by Lorraine Toussaint, joins the cast. Vee is a ruthless career criminal, menacing, psychopathic and cold. She was a drug dealer and returns to Litchfield prison after an unspecified crime. I had never seen Toussaint before and was fairly blown away by her talent. She radiates charisma, helped by her considerable beauty, and plays Vee as a truly terrifying woman, capable of unthinkable acts of violence and betrayal.
One of the few characters not taken in by Vee is Poussey, played by Samira Wiley. Poussey’s amazing rendition of “Amazing Grace” was one of my favourite parts of Season One. Poussey’s history is revealed a little more this season, which gives Wiley further screen time, and I fell in love with her character. Wiley is a wonderful actress and her portrayal of the innocent, funny and very lovable Poussey lights up the screen.
Lastly I have to mention Natasha Lyonne. Ten years ago it looked like her career was in the toilet following a series of drug related arrests. I have huge admiration for the fact that she’s turned things around and I think she’s doing her best work this season. Nicky Nichols is a great character to play – bawdy, complex, brutally honest yet warm-hearted – and Lyonne does a sterling job.
For those of you who haven’t yet watched Season Two, you’re in for a big treat. I’m going to leave it for a couple of months and then rewatch Seasons One and Two – that’s how much I enjoyed it!