#OITNB Gets Early Release Hours Before Primetime! (Season-Review Updated)

Posted on June 11, 2015


By John Dalton Adam, Editing by Adam MS

Pay your Netflix bills real soon, folks! The inmates at Litchfield are getting an early release — well, at least season 3 of “Orange is the New Black” is.

The third season of the #dramedy, originally meant to hit Netflix at midnight on Friday (6/12), has been released a few hours earlier, debuting a little after 6 p.m. PST on Thursday. The streaming service confirmed the release on Twitter.

Uzo Aduba, who won an Emmy for her role as Crazy Eyes/Suzanne on the show, was the first to break the news to fans on Twitter.

The surprise was announced in the midst of #OrangeCon, the invitation-only fan event held in New York that includes cast members Aduba, Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, Laverne Cox, Natasha Lyonne, Lea Delaria and more.

During a cast panel at the event, Aduba asked Netflix topper Reed Hastings, who was tuning in via video call, to let fans see get an early peek at season 3. Hastings smiled and then took her request to the next level, announcing the six-hour early debut.

Jenji Kohan is series creator and showrunner of “Orange Is the New Black,” based on the memoir of the same name by Piper Kerman. The show has already been renewed for season four, and starts shooting on Monday (6/15).


All-Season Review (Updated)

by John DA, Editing by Adam MS

It’s now even more obvious that the debate over whether “Orange Is the New Black” qualifies as a comedy or drama for awards purposes (The Emmys say it’s the latter) seems highly appropriate in light of its third season that, through half of the season, definitely mixes elements of both. After slightly disjointed patches in season two, this chapter possesses a breezier quality, and features strong and diverse flashback sequences, peeling away more layers regarding its sprawling cast. Frankly, “Orange” doesn’t look well equipped to make much headway in a brutally competitive drama field, but the passion the series engenders nevertheless makes it a strong dark horse.

Per usual, “Orange” – chronicling the various travails involving the occupants of a women’s prison and those charged with overseeing them – is all over the place, operating on so many fronts that there’s inevitably a bit of unevenness to the quality of the stories. That said, there’s a clever, overarching wrinkle regarding the uncertain future of the prison itself, which provides a fairly solid foundation upon which the rest can unfold, with Nick Sandow, as the world-weary prison administrator, proving especially good as this plot develops.

The premiere episode clearly works to underline that fact. Instead of a series of flashbacks for one character, we get peeks into the pasts of multiple Litchfield denizens—guards and inmates alike, some portrayed in childhood and some in adulthood, all in scenes related to motherhood. That’s because the episode revolves around Mother’s Day, and meditates both on how characters were shaped by their parents and how some of them are now shaping kids even from behind bars. It’s the kind of issue-oriented episode that you might fear would be didactic, especially given the show’s tendency towards sentimentality and cliché during backstory segments. But as is also typical for Orange, the episode leavens the sweet with the dark.

ORANGE1But the entry point into all of this new chapter, actually, of course, was Piper (Taylor Schilling), who was ripped from her yuppie existence and exposed to the brutality and sheer craziness of what happens behind those walls. Now a relatively old hand in these unforgiving surroundings, she is once again involved with former girlfriend Alex (Laura Prepon), although their tortured history unleashes a series of complications, which include periodic bouts of rough, hair-pulling sex in search as much of emotional release as physical gratification.

“I lie, I get in trouble; I truth, I get in trouble,” Piper grumbles at one point.

I gotta say that there’s a lot of clever dialogue along those lines, courtesy of series creator Jenji Kohan and her writing team, as well as darkly comedic interludes, like an outbreak of bed bugs infesting the prison in episode 2. At its best, though, “Orange” challenges perceptions regarding the inmates, such as a flashback in episode 4 “Finger in the Dyke”, about Big Boo (Lea DeLaria), who is shown grappling with being a lesbian – from casual bigotry to her judgmental mother – before landing in prison. “I refuse to be invisible,” she tells her dad, who at least sees the futility of forcing their little girl to wear frilly dresses.

ORANGE3What seems clear now, and wasn’t necessarily at the outset, is that “Orange Is the New Black” has moved well beyond Piper’s particular story to become a much broader template that stars, in essence, Litchfield Penitentiary – a place where, as with the most durable of TV series, the setting allows for an element of turnover. Just as in shows set in an ER, police precinct or office, inmates can come and go, but the issues facing the incarcerated, and the questions surrounding how they’re treated, linger. The point is, since Piper is now becoming more of a supporting character in terms of storylines, now the show really can go anywhere.

Finally, while “Orange Is the New Black” might not have the perfect stuff to garner much major awards attention beyond what it has already notched, and in all fairness this season might not be as strong as the previous two, but in TV terms it still really does possess an elusive attribute that’s incredibly valuable that fits it as an award-worthy dark horse. Sure, the dilapidated facilities at Litchfield are falling apart, but the series is blessed with such unique social concept of human resilience, and with the right stewardship, that’s built most likely, to last.

See you in 2016, Litchfield.

8 Questions ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Left Unanswered at the End of Season 3:

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Orange Is the New Black’s third season.]

The most memorable sequence at the end of Orange Is the New Black‘s third season was a joyous one: The inmates of Litchfield frolicking in the lake beyond the prison fence in a moment of complete freedom. The women know they won’t have long, and they eventually will be headed back to their bunks, but that sequence is one of the most uplifting on any series in recent memory.

And, based on the closing shot of the season that immediately follows it, it won’t last long. At all. As MCC moves in new beds and new inmates, it dawns on viewers that there are a whole lot of loose plot threads hanging at the end of season three. Here are some of the biggest.

A whole lot of loose plot threads are left hanging at the end of season three of the Netflix hit.

What’s the fallout from the breakout?

It will be interesting to see how the Litchfield powers that be deal with the mass breakout. The inmates are already due for some cold reality when they return to find their bunks doubled up, but is it realistic to punish dozens of prisoners who weren’t actively trying to escape? It seems unlikely that the show will morph into SHU Is the New Black.

Will Alex survive?

The last viewers see of Alex (Laura Prepon), she’s getting ready to fight for her very life in the greenhouse while the others are all running toward the lake. Kubra’s hitman has landed a job as a guard, proving Alex both paranoid and right, and Prepon sells the heck of out Alex’s disbelief and fear in the scene. For what it’s worth, Prepon told The Hollywood Reporter before season three launched that she’s seen the first two scripts of season four, which she called “amazing.” Whether she’s in them? That remains to be seen.

Can Caputo survive?

Caputo’s (Nick Sandow) tenure as Litchfield’s administrator began with two escapes. He somehow kept his job after that, but with a mass breakout and a guard walkout at his feet now, will the corporate overlords at MCC give him any more rope? The guy clearly cares about his job, but his failure to catch even the smallest break could prove his undoing.

Has Piper gone full Heisenberg?

Piper’s (Taylor Schilling) scheme to get Stella (Ruby Rose) sent to max for stealing her panty-business money would make Walter White tip his porkpie hat in respect. For all her talk about being a benevolent dictator, that was one ruthless move. It’s been fascinating to see how prison culture has hardened Piper, but she’s still showing some human feelings toward her fellow inmates.

Will Sophia get out of the SHU?

Presumably the answer is yes — from a practical standpoint, isolating Laverne Cox‘s character for too long wouldn’t necessarily jibe with the show’s larger narrative. Here’s hoping, as Cox has said, it at least shines a light on how transgender inmates are often treated in the name of protection.

Have we seen the last of O’Neill, Bell and the other veteran guards?

This one could break either way, though again, practical concerns may dictate not introducing still more new faces among the guards while the show is shuffling in new inmates (see below). Also, let’s hope not: Their mordant commentary on life under MCC, particularly that of O’Neill (Joel Marsh Garland), was among the comedic highlights of this season.

Just how big can this cast grow?

Blair Brown‘s Judy King seems destined for a prominent role in season four, but what about all those orange-clad women in the final scene? At least some of them will end up bunking with established characters, which would expand an already breathtakingly large ensemble. OITNB has done an incredible job thus far of servicing its many, many characters, but asking viewers want to invest in another crop of new faces could be a tough sell.

Do we have to start thinking about an endgame?

It’s now summer in the show’s timeline, meaning Piper is near or past the halfway point of her original 15-month sentence (she makes a remark in the finale about having “six to 12 months” more time). Not a lot of time passes episode to episode or between seasons, but the clock seems to have started ticking.

(image: Netflix)