How do you end a television series? Do you, with risk of cancellation and bad figures, perch storylines and characters at the edge of a cliff? Let the audience wait a year, salivating over the threads unwoven? Or do you give them resolution? Allow the next season to be open with no set storyline? Well, Orange is the New Black has found an answer - both.
Pretences and personalities were abandoned or transformed in this season and it added a new depth to the series. Piper is no longer her innocent self, as she sends her new lover Stella to max after she stole Piper’s money, the icy personality created by money and business gives a jagged edge to our once lowly prisoner. Healy has to face his attitude with women when confronted by both his admiration for Red and SoSo’s honesty with his counselling which somehow made him seem softer. And many more faced up to their horridness or self-doubt. See, Orange is the New Black has the strength of writing and comedy, they’ve given voices to the women of Litchfield that rings with sensitivity and understanding. With funny moments, epic one-liners and more, the show is teeming with superiority.
But this episode was truly terrific thanks to those final scenes. Due to the protest and the fence maintenance men leaving the other side wide open, the inmates ran to a nearby lake and soaked in its glory. Highlighting the distress of prison as the freedom lapped up against them, it was sublime to see the ladies in a natural setting. While I’m not going to turn around and say that allowing criminals to be free is a good thing, the final ten minutes showcased what Orange is the New Black excels at - humanising humans locked in a cage. For splashing around in a dirty lake is a commodity; a cleansing element that soothes their issues heightened in those beige walls.
Of course, in about two minutes the dynamics all changed with the introduction of bunk beds and a new hoard of prisoners, doubling the population in jail. Without the backing of the guards, who walked out in protest of the new regime, and a famous face entering the prison, next year’s season four has a tentative tone already set. While we’ll let the ladies enjoy their freedom for now, there are lots of questions still hanging in the air. Where’s Bennett and will he return? Can Sophia find her place again? Is Alex ok? What will happen to Daya’s baby after her “stepfather” was arrested? The lingering story threads mean we’ll move into Season Four with heated anticipation.
While we say goodbye to women of Litchfield, or rewatch every season repeatedly until summer 2016, Season Three has been incredible.