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ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK Season 3 Finale Recap: Born Free

Oh what a season of extremes this third installment was, huh, Orange is the New Black fans? Love, confinement, protection, religion — all of these things proved themselves to be equal parts helpful and harmful to the ladies of Litchfield. It was a chaotic and overwhelming season overall, what with the lack of through-line villainy and a lack of Piper as the main point of view (which, trust: we are very thankful for that bit). With so many characters to care about and so much exposition and flashback to be had, we struggled with appreciating this season as a whole and instead preferred certain storylines over the others.

But in the season three finale, “Trust No Bitch,” we were greeted with the startling realization that this is a tale that’s only going to get bigger. As the bunk beds were erected and a whole new slew of inmates shuttled in on buses, we were a bit overwhelmed and a bit saddened. Our Litchfield ladies are about to get a wake up call: there are a hell of a lot more stories out there, and a literal fuckton of complications to come. Looks like they’re all going to have to stick together in the end, huh?

For us, the best parts of the episode were when the unexpected made perfect sense: Soso finding her prison posse, Boo and Penn’s rise above, and the whole prison’s momentary lapse of freedom at the lake. Sure, we will admit a bit of sick joy at seeing Piper get taken by yet another lover, but we don’t want to end this season talking about our well-documented dislike of Piper. (Don’t worry, we still believe she’s the actual worst.)

So back to what we loved. The twelfth episode cliffhanger that Soso was dead in the library turned out to be a bit of a bait-and-switch: she wasn’t dead, just nearly overdosed. Thankfully, Taystee, P, Cindy, and the other girls stepped up to the plate, saving her life and taking her under their wing. Soso’s come a long way in her two seasons on the series: from overly chirpy, naïve, privileged girl to someone far more disillusioned than that. In a lot of ways, the audience of this show are probably more like her than anyone else: well-to-do girls with little understanding of how the prison system really works.

Her flashbacks also helped paint a picture as to why she might’ve become so flighty and free-spirited: wouldn’t you rebel in such a way if you had as aggressively perfect and stringent a mom?

With nothing left to lose and a new crew to help lift her up while Rogers is still suspended, Soso’s finally asserted herself and stood up for herself — like when she called out Healy for what he truly was to her: a terrible, damaging influence. “You’re really bad at your job Mr. Healy. Like, really bad. You make me feel worse about myself every time you talk.”

Which is 100% true — regardless of how much he helped Red. Maybe he can relate to her because she’s older, maybe they’re more similar than the last, but because ultimately his “helping” of Red came from a selfish place, I’m erring on Soso’s side rather than his. Yes, his mother was clearly a damaged, loose cannon, but it’s no excuse, only willful ignorance. I mean, shit, Healy proved he doesn’t want the real thing — just the idea of the thing: it was all spelled out in his choosing of the Olive Garden leftovers over what Red made him. As for Soso in all of this, all we can say is thank goodness for Taystee and P.

Oh and shoutout to Cindy, who’s actually quite serious about her conversion to Judiasm, picking the name Tova for her mikvah-based rebirth in the lake. Her breakdown with the rabbi was beautifully heartfelt, and we want nothing more than good things for her (which is really saying something considering how ruthlessly selfish she was last season. Oh and this season with the corn).

On the other side of the religious things there was Norma and her followers, englazoned by the universe in a piece of toast. The cult of Norma seems to have finally found its end after the disillusionment of so many of its followers and its leader shunning her main devotee (oh how time is a flat circle). Time to focus on another miracle, ladies. Or maybe make your own miracle for once?

Which is what was so sort of interesting about Piper’s story, too: she spent all season searching for a bit of power: her sour panty mafia being the ticket for the time. Of course with Stella having stolen all her profit — after having tattooed the benevolent dictator in white ink with the words “Trust No Bitch,” which, LOL — Piper’s gone stone cold in her machinations. Bitch better have her money or she’s going to max …just like Stella did. Hoo boy.

Perhaps the funniest part of the evening was Morello’s wedding to her boy Vince. The Pauly D to her JWoww (circa 2010). After proposing to her new penpal beau during one of their visits, the two had an ol’ fashioned white wedding in the prison, complete with a little post-marital fuckfest courtesy of CO Bell, the softy that she is — and wasn’t it sort of the most adorable? I mean, yes, Morello is clearly unhinged. But there was something so ridiculously endearing about her quoting “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner in her wedding vows. Those two tiny, angry Italians were made for each other.

Besides, love is the lie we tell ourselves so we don’t go extinct.

Will Sophia get out of the SHU? Will Piper stop being the worst? Will Judy King be everything the inmates want her to be and more? Is Morello’s marriage built to last? WILL THE CHICKEN COME BACK YET AGAIN? And what does this influx of prisoners mean for the whole of the crew? Guess we’ll have to wait for next season to find out, y’all.

Overheard in Lock-Up

  • “If only we had an invisibility cloak …or a deep and wide belly button.”
  • “Knowing what to do does not make me bottom of the ladder!”
  • “Man, you know nothing about WASPs.”
  • “Enjoy nose-fucking your whiskey!”
  • “We’re like the Tiger Woods of prison clubs!”

What did you think of the finale of Orange is the New Black? Let us hear it in the comments.

Alicia Lutes is the Associate Editor of The Nerdist. Find her on Twitter @alicialutes.

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