We’ve grown very fond of the ladies at Litchfield prison in a short matter of time. Despite their harrowing stories and current circumstance, their attitudes remain brave and ambitious. Most of us die-hard Orange is the New Black fans have already finished the second season and can now say that we are getting closer to understanding these women. Season One was just a teaser really. It had its fair share of crazy, but nothing quite prepared us for the real sense of danger, fear and loneliness in Season Two.
Each and every character on this series is portrayed brilliantly and authentically by great actors (many who are now Emmy-nominated) i, which made it easy for us to really click with them. Not only did we get to see how much our favourite ladies evolved, but characters who had been in the background finally got their chance to shine too. Here are eight Orange is the New Black characters who really stuck out this season!
1. Suzanne Warren—Crazy Eyes, Gentle Soul
When we’re first introduced to Suzanne Warren aka “Crazy Eyes” (Uzo Aduba) in Season One, it is immediately clear that she is soft to the core. She takes a strong liking to Piper and at first approaches her in a sweet, gentle and endearingly shy manner. They may call her Crazy Eyes, but we don’t think she’s entirely crazy because we can see her for what she is—a gentle (slightly lost) soul seeking recognition and love. In Season Two we get to learn a little bit more about Suzanne and her past. Growing up in a Caucasian family, she was always made to feel different. This was something her mother was desperately hoping to avoid but, in her quest for normality, she crossed the threshold from concerned to overbearing. This becomes clear when we see Suzanne on the day of her high school graduation, about to perform a song. Her family stands cheering her on in the sidelines, but Suzanne can no longer stand the pressure of pleasing her mother. Frustrated and overwhelmed, she starts slapping herself, saying that she “can’t”, while her class-mates watch with cruel, rolling eyes.
It seems things haven’t changed much for Suzanne since that day, but with the arrival of Vee (Lorraine Toussaint) things finally seem to be turning around for her. At first we are somewhat touched by Vee’s influence on Suzanne, as it appears she is helping her crack out of her shell, turning her from a reluctant weed into a proud “rose”. But it soon becomes clear that Vee is not interested in building Suzanne’s confidence, but rather hopes to turn her into one of her most valuable soldiers on her sales crew. Vee turns into a mother-figure for Suzanne, quietly prompting her to resist self-harming, but also asks her to embrace her rage when convenient. Next to Taystee, Suzanne is Vee’s top dog—unconditionally loyal and ready to take on anyone who may come in Vee’s way. In spite of the rest of the sales crew (Taystee, Vee, “Black Cindy”) still making nasty comments about her being crazy, Suzanne feels like she has really found her place in a group this time.
2. Leanne Taylor—In Search Of Democracy
Until Season Two, Leanne Taylor (Emma Myles) was just another “hillbilly” living in the shadows of Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Dogget (Taryn Manning). In the second episode of Season Two, Pennsatucky is released from solitary after a whole month and we can genuinely feel the disappointment in her voice when Leanne admits to having enjoyed the peace and quiet without Pennsatucky and her overpowering personality around. Leanne and Angie (Julie Lake) had finally found voices of their own and strengthened their bond.
Leanne is reluctant to fall back in with Pennsatucky and makes that very clear hen Pennsatucky finally confronts her: “You’ve been lording over this group like some Hilary Clinton dictator and we wanna be a democracy…We’re done with you.” At first we think, “Good for her,” but within seconds it becomes clear that Leanne is the new “Hilary Clinton” in trailer-trash town: as Pennsatucky walks away offended, Leanne takes on a new body-language. Vainly brushing her fingers through her greasy hair and raising her chin ever so slightly, she starts giving orders: “Angie, go get me some punch.” And we know the new queen of hillbilly-ville has been crowned!
3. Sister Jane Ingalls—Jesus’ Homie
Sister Ingalls is not your typical nun—she’s explained that she feels more like Jesus’ “homie” rather than his “bitch,” conveying a unique take on her religion. In Season Two we learn that she’d fallen in with the “bad nuns” in her convent who snuck out to join rallies in protest of the Vietnam War. She becomes a hard-core activist, and what may have started as genuine enthusiasm about changing the world for the better soon turns into a vile ego-trip that eventually leads to her arrest.
When Soso (Kimiko Glenn) and Yoga (Constance Shulman) ask Sister Ingalls to join their hunger-strike, her old, arrogant self re-surfaces. Her hunger for recognition and fame is stronger than her need for nourishment, so she continues her strike even after fainting and ending up in a hospital bed next to Red (Kate Mulgrew). As they wheel her into the infirmary, she is already past delusional, fancying herself a rock-star and blowing kisses and peace signs at all her inmate fans. Having picked up on Sister Ingalls’ hunger-strike on the news, dozens of fellow nuns show up at the prison to join her in support. Sister Ingalls is back on track!
4. Miss Rosa—A Blaze Of Glory
Season Two gave us a real sense of Miss Rosa, and if you felt anything like us, you were sitting at home screaming “Yeah, bitch!” (or something like that) during the grand finale. On one of her trips to the hospital, the terminally-ill inmate (who once proudly declared that “No one fucks with cancer”) makes a new friend—a chemo-buddy whom she refers to as “Shitpot.” When he asks what landed her in prison, we find out Miss Rosa was a bona fide bank robber in her twenties—and when she and the boy rob the nurses we finally see a little spark in her eyes. In one especially memorable scene she pulls the money out from inside her bra and sniffs at it from her prison bed—it’s her greatest addiction of all.
There may not have been a hail of gunfire around her epic escape, but she finally got to deal with the “rude woman” (Vee) in what we would say was a glorious moment— screeching tires and all.
5-8. The Golden Girls—Not To Be Underestimated
Without a kitchen to run or her chosen family to boss around, Red joins the “Golden Girls” in Season Two. In order to fight boredom—and Vee—Red decides to fix up the prison’s green house. Frieda (Dale Soules), Taslitz (Judith Roberts), Irma (Yvette Freeman) and Jimmy (Patricia Squire) join her in her mission. Jimmy’s dementia causes her to wander off regularly in search of her long lost beloved, Jack. When she gets to be too much trouble, the prison grants her a “compassionate release”—in other words, they dump her out on the streets.
When problems over the greenhouse/smuggling tunnel arise between Red, Vee and the Mexicans, the Golden Girls make it clear that they are not to be messed with. Frieda, Taslitz and Irma threaten the kitchen crew with homemade weapons and Taslitz delivers one of the best lines of the season (regarding Vee): “How about I kill the bitch? “
While Season One taught us plenty about the daily struggles young women face in prison, older women had been left on the side line. Perhaps they are widely ignored in Litchfield, partly because they are a reminder of everyone’s imminent death. We’d been confronted with the various failures of the prison system it’s not until we meet these women in Season Two that we begin to appreciate just how cold and careless it really is in terms of medical facilities, work programs and codes of conduct in general. It was definitely time for the Golden Girls to speak up and make themselves heard….The result? Litchfield’s OG’s kicking some serious ass this season!