As Orange is the New Black has evolved over the last 3 seasons, Netflix’s female-driven prison dramedy has gone from a following a single (whiny, WASPy) protagonist and her journey on the inside, to a sprawling exploration of the wide-ranging and diverse group of women that compose the prison population at Litchfield Penitentiary. By also removing the “big bad” archetype (Pornstache in Season 1 and Vee in Season 2), Jenji Kohan & co. allow us even more time in the orbit of each tertiary prisoner, giving each their own voice and story. With their MCC overlords injecting the prison with several busloads of new inmate, here’s a look at the Litchfield Power Rankings as we head into Season 4.
The beginning of Season 3 saw Alex Vause back at Litchfield and back with sometime lover Piper after violating her parole. Her season-long paranoia of her former boss Kubra enacting revenge for her betrayal (turning state’s witness against him) comes to a head when she finds herself alone with his lackey, disguised as a guard, in the garden shed. I feel fairly confident she’s not going anywhere, but this predicament will likely inform her storyline in the coming season.
Season 3 saw Sophia facing increasingly ugly and heartbreaking scenes of discrimination, getting jumped in her own salon and ridiculed as a “he-she.” In attempting to defend herself, she threatens Caputo with a scandal in the press, and MCC rewards her for her trouble by shipping her off to seg “for her own protection.” Will she be back with an axe to grind against Gloria, Caputo, MCC, and Litchfield at-large?
Abandoned by Bennett for greener pastures in Shondaland, Daya considers giving their child to Pornstache’s desperate, sweet mother. After Aleida arranges for the kid to come home with Cesar, it looks like she and Daya might be taking steps to repair their own broken mother-daughter relationship. However, they sit at the lake blissfully unaware that Cesar’s “Heroin Romper Room” has gone bust and Child Protective Services has been called. (Shout out to Big C for landing that right hook while holding the baby in his left).
Unlike our dear, departed friend Hodor (#RIP), Caputo is finally coming to the realization that nobody asked him to hold the fucking door, and he’s taking his turn. “His turn” is manifesting in a promotion to the Director of Human Activity for MCC, and pissing on the guards’ newly-formed union. Not sure if becoming Javier is going to lead to the Year of Caputo. We’ll see.
7. Doggett & Boo
I enjoyed nothing more than watching their friendship blossom like the butch-redneck buddy comedy we never knew we needed. It was heart-wrenching to watch Doggett’s innocent flirtation with new guard Charlie turn into a nightmare as he brutally rapes her, and we learn she’s been experiencing this kind of sexual violence all of her life. When their Girl with the Dragon Tattoo caper fails, Doggett fakes a seizure in the van to be reassigned. But the victory slowly turns to ashes in our mouth as the buddies see pretty Maritza reporting for duty as her replacement. Will we see more victimization at the hands of Coates, or will the gals be able to pull off a new plan?
After Season 2 delved into Tastee’s relationship with foster mother Vee, and the ensuing tragedy and disaster, Season 3 leads her to the realization that she’s the “Mom” of the black prison clique. The way she takes charge of the Soso overdose proves she’s comfortable in this new role, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of it.
5. Black Cindy
After a mass attempt to “convert” to Judaism after realizing the superior quality of kosher meals, most of the inmates abandon their quest to become Children of Israel. However, as Cindy persists, it becomes increasingly clear that the new religion really is meaningful to her. She has found her people. Mazel, Tovah!
4. Suzanne (“Crazy Eyes”) & Poussey
After coming out bruised and battered (literally, in Poussey’s case) from their year under Vee’s thumb, Season 4 brings these two back from darkness. Suzanne finds an unexpected popularity through her homegrown ode to 50 Shades, “The Time Hump Chronicles,” and Poussey dabbles in religion as a part of the cult of Holy Norma. We end the season with romance on the horizon for both ladies, Suzanne with the wonderfully weird Maureen and Poussey with Soso. As Suzanne achingly concluded during her apology to Poussey for her actions under Vee’s reign of terror, “People need love.” I’m excited to see these ladies find it this season.
Speaking of romance, Lorna seems to have finally found the real deal. After reeling in and scamming various prison pen pals, Lorna meets her match in Vincent Muccio. Though she doesn’t get the wedding of her deluded Season 1 dreams, Lorna weds Vincent in a paper veil, Journey-inspired vows, and a consummation up against a vending machine, and it couldn’t be more perfect.
Finally relegated to the background in the ever-expanding cast of characters, Piper still found time to whine, annoy, and prove that she’s not as good of a person as she thinks she is. However, with the “stone-cold shit” she pulled on Ruby Rose and a dirty panty start-up ready to flourish, Piper seems to have finally found her confidence. Will we see just how far she’s willing to take her new prison gang leader persona?
By the end of Season 3, everything’s coming up Russian. Red is finally on her own, divorced from her limp dick husband, holding 8% equity in the panty scheme, and most importantly, back in the kitchen. She’s even softening Healy! Red’s definitely my pick for top dog, but with the influx of new inmates, how long will it stay that way?
Season 4 of Orange is the New Black is now streaming on Netflix.