Orange Is the New Black Recap: The Mother of All Premieres

OITNB Season 3 Premiere

Who said ABC is the only network that could pull off #TGIT?

Instead of making Orange Is the New Black fans wait until Friday to begin their Season 3 binge, Netflix released all 13 episodes of the prison dramedy’s third go-round on Thursday evening.

In turn, we present a recap of what went down inside the barbed-wire gates of Litchfield Penitentiary during Episode 1.

MOTHER KNOWS BEST…? | Now that Caputo is running things at the prison — in the absence of disgraced Figueroa — the new boss allows for a Mother’s Day celebration, in which the Litchfield moms can spend a day outdoors with their loved ones. As far as Litchfield parties go, this one might be the most creative yet. Using Tootsie Rolls from commissary as game prizes for the little ones? Check. Fashioning a maxi pad blindfold for a few rounds of piñata? Check. Making up Big Boo as the prison’s resident clown? A little creepy, but check.

Looking more closely at the actual family visits, though, the day isn’t as festive as the ladies may have hoped. There are silver linings to be found, don’t get me wrong: Sophia has a small victory with her son Michael, in which she tells the boy he must shave with the grain, not against it, no matter what his mom’s new boyfriend has to say on the matter. And then there’s Pennsatucky who — after holding a small memorial service for her many unborn children — learns from Big Boo that her abortions, tragic though they may have been, actually contributed to a lower crime rate in America. (And if I’m being honest, I wouldn’t mind an entire episode that consists only of Big Boo teaching the inmates Freakonomics lessons.)

OITNB Season 3 PremiereBut for every good visit the ladies have with their kids, there’s a more unfortunate Mother’s Day awaiting other inmates. The afternoon is perhaps most upsetting for Suzanne, who — after taking the celebration a bit too far at last year’s shindig — is banned from even going outside this time around. (This is particularly gut-wrenching after Vee’s [presumed] death, which Suzanne firmly denies throughout the episode. I hate to break it to you, girl, but Vee is anything but fine.)

The afternoon is even rough for Officer Bennett, who is under the all-too-careful watch of Caputo after revealing he’s the one who really got Daya pregnant. Daya, Aleida and the whole gaggle of Diaz kids can’t even muster any laughter at Bennett’s (admittedly awful) Mother’s Day joke, and the officer spends most of the hour wandering around the prison grounds, trying to fit in. (Not unlike Matt McGorry’s How to Get Away With Murder character, amirite?)

And if you’ve been itching for one of Orange‘s beautifully done origin-story episodes, the premiere hour is a treat: Throughout the installment, we receive short visits from The Ghost of Mother’s Day Past, including flashbacks to the inmates’ childhoods. The vignettes, much like Orange itself, range from heartwarming (Poussey reading Calvin and Hobbes with her late mama) to utterly WTF? (Officer Healy getting an ashtray thrown at him as a child).

‘THE BETTIE PAGE OF LITCHFIELD’ | Meanwhile, Piper — whose mom would rather celebrate Mother’s Day with her kids who aren’t incarcerated — has an emotional reunion of her own: Alex Vause is back, sporting a gnarly black eye and only about 25 percent of her usual spunk. Now that Alex is in good ol’ Litchfield again for violating her parole with gun possession — an incident that she calls “so unbelievably embarrassing” — Piper is more than willing to snuggle with her on-again-off-again lover… and stops just short of telling Alex that she was the one who really landed Ms. Vause behind bars again. (Something tells me those makeout sessions in the chapel are going to come to a halt real quick if and when Alex finds out the truth.)

Elsewhere in the hour…

* Daya receives a letter from Pornstache’s mom — who will be played by Mary Steenburgen — requesting a visit with the mother of what Mrs. Pornstache thinks is her soon-to-be-grandchild. Daya tries to keep the note from her mother, but Aleida — smelling the woman’s Greenwich, Conn., fortune from a mile away — snatches the letter when Daya’s not around.

* Although her sons come thisclose to telling her, Red is still kept in the dark — by her well-meaning husband — that their shop in Queens has gone out of business.

* Despite the fact that Litchfield hasn’t even filled Caputo’s vacant position yet, the prison has hired a new corrections officer who has a habit of flirting with everyone she encounters.

OK, your turn. What did you think of Orange‘s Season 3 premiere? Grade the episode in our poll below, then hit the comments with your thoughts on the premiere and beyond!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. B says:

    Netflix sure knows how to generate buzz! I’m enjoying the season so far for sure.

  2. AnnieM says:

    I loved what Sofia’s son said – “You really wanna be a lady in a world with men like that?”

  3. Sarah says:

    ********************* Beware, MINOR SPOILERS BELOW****************

    Well, I finished the third season, and I thought it was a train wreck of epic proportions. Although there were a few bright spots like Pennsatucky and Boo’s newfound friendship and a handful of funny one-liners, overall, I am horribly disappointed by the character assassination done to Piper. Are there new writers or did they just get lazy and decide to go for the cheap (not to mention, out of character) shock regarding Piper’s characterization in the last half of the season? Focusing way too much time on boring story lines like the prison administration and it’s staff members, not to mention the disappearance of two main characters, made it hard to watch. But, more than anything, I hate what they did to Alex/Piper. I can’t believe I waited a year for this.

    • Nick says:

      Agree, the season sucked hard. Piper just gets on my nerves now. And that completely retarded ending… I don’t think I’ll be back for season 4.

    • Jen says:

      I am right there with you! Can’t believe the totally out of character writing for Piper that existed in the second half of the season. Cheating on Alex…are you kidding me? That came out of nowhere and made no sense whatsoever. They were finally in a happy place and after everything Piper did to get her back there to turn around and go from “will you be my girlfriend?” to cheating on her with some random girl in the blink of an eye was total character destruction. Not to mention that Piper and Alex were relegated to less than supporting characters. They are the stars of the show and the main reason that so any fans watch and I thought now that Laura Prepon was back fulltime we’d get tons of Alex but instead it was the opposite. I like the supporting character but they’re supporting for a reason and Laura and Taylor are the leads for a reason so the season just ended up being pretty boring to me. All of my excitement about seeing Piper and Alex reunited and Laura front and center again instead turned into extreme disappointment. Piper needs to be redeemed in season 4 and Piper and Alex need to be heavily featured again or season 4 might be my last.

    • ale says:

      I am so glad Piper got so little time, her story is oh so, so boring.
      any other story is more interesting than her’s

  4. N says:

    I loved season 3!

  5. Tia says:

    im almost on season 3 but from reading the comments its doesn’t sound so good. season 1 and 2 was great! should I keep watching?