Welcome back to Litchfield! Where everything seems… relatively quiet?
Yes, there’s still drama—romantic, familial, political, and just about everything else—but all things considered, Litchfield appears downright happy in the Orange Is the New Black season 3 premiere. Is this is a sign of a new Litchfield to come, or will the lives of our favorite inmates become as messy as they have been? Let’s find out.
Season 3 doesn’t quite start with as disruptive a premiere as season 2 did, but season 3 opens on what feels like a relatively light note. It’s Mother’s Day, which, for obvious reasons, may be the biggest holiday of the year to this women’s correctional facility. Inmates wanting to see their mothers, mother (and grandmother) inmates wanting to see their children, and the inmates who have lost mothers reminded of what they once had may all look forward to the day with a mix of trepidation and excitement.
And because an event like Mother’s Day affects everyone in Litchfield, Orange breaks from its single-perspective flashback norm to deliver lookbacks for a number of characters, including Pennsatucky’s, which opens the episode. And if there was ever any doubt where she adopted her constant seemingly caffeinated lifestyle, look no further than her upbringing. Her mother, hoping to scam social security, forces little Penn to chug an entire bottle of Mountain Dew. Thankfully, she’s a bit calmer in the present day as she helps the guards buy decorations for the Mother’s Day festivities.
Pennsatucky isn’t the only one in high spirits. Red returns, taking Rosa’s bunk and desecrating (with good reason), a memorial to the late, brave inmate. Red is looking toward a brighter, Vee-free day. And in her sunnier disposition, she gives away her extra pain medication at no cost to… Alex Vause.
Yes, Vause, sporting a black eye, has found her way back to Litchfield, and news of her return makes its way to Piper through Luschek. The two on-again-off-again lovers/smugglers/enemies reunite in the cafeteria. The two later have a heart-to-heart in the chapel (that house of worship has seen some things), commiserating over the lack of mothers they’ll see tomorrow. And thanks to the reunion the two, for now seem, if not happy, then at least relieved to have someone they care about so close to them.
The other inmates are all facing Mother’s Day with their own senses of anticipation and dread. Among the flashback-worthy at Litchfield, Poussey is reminded of a sweet memory reading Calvin and Hobbes with her mother, who passed away, while Sophia’s flash relives a tender moment before her transition with her then-pregnant wife. Nicky looks less fondly on the day, remembering how her (wealthy) mother ignored a younger Nicky’s attempts to celebrate Mother’s Day with her. Though she’s too focused on her stashed heroin to care for the day. Even Healy gets a flashback, but the less said about his disturbing past, perhaps the better. (ASIDE: Of all its characters, Orange has always had the most trouble landing on whether it wants us to sympathize with or detest Healy. Maybe it wants neither, but the pendulum on him can swing violently back and forth episode by episode.)
The day is a particularly difficult one for Daya, who is of course incarcerated with her mother, who continues to lament her daughter’s existence at every turn. Though Aleida’s flashback reveals that she had quite the different, much more elated reaction to Daya’s birth. Regardless, things remain tough for the pregnant inmate, with her mother pestering her and Pornstache’s mother (yes, such a creature has parents) sending letters about wanting to be involved.
And if Daya’s child is saddled with the issue of too many would-be caretakers, Suzanne deals with the opposite, refusing to believe she’s lost the mother figure Vee was to her. She lashes out if anyone dares besmirches Vee’s name, causing Taystee undue stress as she seeks to calm her down.
Also stressed out is Caputo, who is introducing a new counselor to the prison while dealing with both his and Figueroa’s responsibilities.
NEXT: Mother’s Day arrives, but it’s not a happy day for everyone.