Thursday, January 31, 2019

What I’m Watching: Orange is the New Black (Season Finale)

Orange is the New Black: Season 6, Episode 13 “Be Free” (B+)

This show has an incredible power to catch its viewers off-guard with a truly serious, disturbing development thrown in there with all of the comic and enlightening elements. We’ve become more sympathetic to Flores over the course of the past two seasons, and she was so genuinely excited to be released so that she and Diablo could have a baby. The sight of him standing outside with flowers waiting for her while she boarded an ICE bus is all I can think about after having watched this finale, signaling a dark, political turn on this show as Linda’s brilliant PR save turns out to be Litchfield’s new involvement with ICE detention centers. That’s going to make this season’s guard tormenting of inmates look pleasant, and it already managed to highlight the difference in treatment of a white woman like Piper and a woman of color like Flores. Taystee being found guilty was also upsetting, and things are not looking good for her now, especially with Caputo as her sole defender. On a lighter note, the impromptu wedding was very sweet, and let’s hope Alex keeps her head down so that she and Piper can still be happy. It’s a brave move to have the character that was once the star of this show be released, and hopefully it will pay off for the final season. Hopper showed that he’s not a terrible person as Aleida had to face her daughter’s addiction head-on, and McCullough managed to make a level-headed call when advised to do so by her former tormentor Maria. The fact that everyone except for Badison just wanted to play kickball instead of having a war that the organizers were really only using to allow them to go after Frieda was great, and it was nice to see them having fun, embodying Piper’s initial dream. The final flashback to Barb and Carol as teenagers was a fitting way to lead into their last moments, which of course were crudely observed by Alvarez as putting Ginger over the top to win the fantasy game. Without them, it should be an interesting seventh and final season, and I’m looking forward to it after this year managed to find its footing.

Season grade: B
Season MVPs: Mackenzie Phillips as Barb and Henny Russell as Carol

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