ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK Season 3 Premiere Recap: “Mother’s Day”

     June 15, 2015

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New episodic recaps of Orange Is the New Black Season 3 post on Mondays and Thursdays.

I spent a good deal of Orange Is the New Black Season 1 eager to get more time with the supporting characters and Season 2 delivered, but the first episode of Season 3 gets a little too carried away with spreading the love and giving all of our favorite Litchfield inmates screen time. However, similar to some previous episodes, poor scene transitions and story structuring are no match for strong, highly likable characters. 

“Mother’s Day” focuses on the Mother’s Day Fair at Litchfield. As Caputo (Nick Sandow) explains to the new officer, Berdie Rogers (Stephanie Blake), they host the event and extend visiting hours on the holiday to foster the inmates’ connection to the outside world. He notes, “[If] these women forget they have lives on the outside, it effects how they behave in here,” to which Rogers replies, “Maybe they forget for good reason.” And that’s basically what the entire episode is about – revealing why or why not some of our favorite characters might be better off moving on.

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Image via JoJo Whilden for Netflix


It’s challenging to give a play-by-play for an episode that jumps from one character to the next so quickly and so often, but here are the key reveals and story details. Red (Kate Mulgrew) is back after taking a brutal beating from Vee and she’s eager to turn over a new leaf. It’s time to stop smuggling hot commodities into Litchfield and time to start focusing on the future and getting out, so she plugs up the tunnel in the greenhouse with cement.

Alex (Laura Prepon) is back as well and she’s absolutely devastated about it. Piper (Taylor Schilling) does her best to boost Alex’s spirits, but little does Alex know, Piper’s the reason she’s back in Litchfield. At the end of Season 2, a free Alex swings by the prison to tell Piper that she’s skipping town to hide from Kubra. Rather than keep the secret and let Alex take off, Piper gets Polly (Maria Dizzia) to tell Alex’s probation officer about her plan, the officer catches Alex with a gun and now she’s locked up again. As one might expect, Piper plays innocent when she reunites with Alex, but there’s something off and unappealing about her behavior because Schilling has a tough time conveying whether Piper is pleased with herself or if she genuinely feels bad about what she did.

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Image via JoJo Whilden for Netflix


Nicky (Natasha Lyonne) is up to no good as well. Leanne (Emma Myles) and Angie (Julie Lake) insist that Nicky is crushing on them, but she’s really spending a ton of time in the laundry room to keep an eye on the drugs she stole from Vee in Season 2. Big Boo (Lea DeLaria) wants to smuggle the heroine out and sell it, but they can’t figure out how to sneak it out of the laundry room without the meth heads catching them. However, now that Red destroyed the greenhouse tunnel, they’ve got no way of getting it to Boo’s contact anyway. Someone finding the stash and linking it to Nicky and/or Boo could be a serious issue, but it’s also very likely that the episode might be paving the way for the season to dive into Nicky’s addiction issues.

Daya (Dascha Polanco) could find herself in a good deal of trouble soon, too. Not only is her baby on the way, but she’s still wrapped up in the lie that Pornstache is the father of her child. When Aleida (Elizabeth Rodriguez) finds out that Mendez’s mother wants to get involved and is likely a very wealthy woman, she insists that Daya meet her. When Daya refuses to get anyone else involved, Aleida takes Mendez’s mother’s letter without Daya knowing and, odds are, she’ll be contacting Mama Mendez soon enough. As for Bennett (Matt McGorry), his involvement in the episode mainly consists of more repeated beats. He loves Daya, should he continue to keep the relationship a secret, things are awkward, etc. If Mendez’s mother really does want to be part of Daya’s baby’s life, hopefully that’ll light a fire under Bennett and finally get him to make some important, game changing decisions.

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Image via JoJo Whilden/Netflix


“Mother’s Day” also updates us on what’s going on with Suzanne (Uzo Aduba), Poussey (Samira Wiley), Morello (Yael Stone), and many more, but it’s tough for everyone to make an impression when there’s only so much screen time to go around. Yes, that does mean some characters get a thinner, weaker start than others, but the Mother’s Day Fair setting is strong enough to pull the episode together and make it a memorable experience overall, especially with the way it wraps up. Whether someone played Duck, Duck, Goose or fought with a loved one, everyone suffers from the reality of the situation – at the end of the day, the pretty signs come down, the families go home and the inmates are still stuck in prison. Everyone can relate to the sadness that consumes you when something good comes to an end and that makes “Mother’s Day” especially poignant.

Episode Rating: ★★★★ Very Good

  • “It doesn’t matter what you say as long as it’s, I blank your blank. It all sounds dirty, always.” – Pennsatucky
  • “Fiesta like there’s no manana!” – Pennsatucky (Mañana is pronounced phonetically, of course.)
  • But Suzanne made a kite, Mr. Healy!
  • Someone better keep an eye on Poussey. She looks like she’s going to lose it.
  • Thumbs up to Big Boo for giving a powerful (and somewhat warped) pep talk.
  • Ruiz (Jessica Pimentel) hasn’t had much screen time throughout the series, but boy was her last scene in this episode heartbreaking.
  • End Credits Song – Miss E’s “Hummingbird.”

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