Netflix review: Orange Is The New Black Season 2, Episode 2 (Looks Blue, Tastes Red)
Chris Bryant | On 07, Jun 2014Reading time: 2 mins
Photo: Jessica Miglio for Netflix
After the darkness and suspense of Episode 1, Episode 2 (Looks Blue, Tastes Red) transports the audience back to The Litch, where the beloved inmates are tackling the subject of employment. The natural bickering and excitable back-and-forth between the characters both cements their status as a family of misfits, as well as recaptures the light-hearted air of the show.
Taystee (Danielle Brooks) is the focal point of the episode; flashbacks to her childhood reveal a lot about her character and her own concept of what makes a family. Fostered by a drug dealer reminiscent of The Matrix’s Oracle, Taystee discovers that her aptitude with numbers could be beneficial in that line of work. In the present, she is one of two finalists at a careers day held by the prison. Through her ever-bubbling sass, Jenji Kohan’s characterisation of Taystee guarantees that she’s as determined as anyone to succeed outside of the prison wall; it says something that Danielle Brooks’ character is in more episodes than anyone except Piper.
Brash, loud and with a solid portion of the shows’ humour on her shoulders, Taystee represents the opposite of Piper’s middle-class fallen angel. Brooks herself, armed with Kohan’s signature dialogue, is more than a match for Taylor Schilling’s protagonist. She ensures that her character’s huge personality is more than a comedy centrepiece; any pain and regret Taystee feels is heard as loud and clear as her chuckle.
With Schilling herself absent from the episode (still in Chicago), Healy and Pennsatucky have time to negotiate a cover story, as well as a few other veneers. Pennsatucky’s religiously loyal posse, however, have noticed how little drama they experienced whilst their leader was in solitary. Taryn Manning is as sly and shrill as ever; the events of the season one finale are a long way off being forgotten.
One person who does seem to be, though, is Red. Kate Mulgrew’s Russian lioness has lost her alpha status, her kitchen and her friends – she’s even losing her namesake dye-job. Although Red’s now cosying up to the older inmates of Litchfield, the new kitchen staff balance their pity with a fair amount of caution, suspecting she is hibernating and regaining her strength. In spite of Red’s troubles – inside and out – past experience hints that she always has something cooking behind the scenes.
If a return to form was ever in question, Looks Blue, Tastes Red confirms it. The first episode of Orange Is the New Black Season 2 was suspenseful and exciting in both content and format, but Episode 2 is a resounding success. Packed with pop-culture, irony and humour, the show is still smirking at its own 18 rating, still foul-mouthed, still explicit and still as sharp as a shiv.