Clear your cals, binge-watchers.
The third season of Netflix-original “Orange Is the New Black” debuts on Friday, June 12. But in case you’ve forgotten those pesky little things called “plot details” in the year since your last binge haze, The Huffington Post put together a little refresher. After you’ve reviewed all the “OITNB” characters’ backstories, peruse the most important events that went down during the actual Litchfield timeline.
Major Arcs, Season 1:
1. The love saga among Piper, Alex, and Larry
Piper (Taylor Schilling) begins her Litchfield term happily engaged to Larry (Jason Biggs) — with no idea that Alex (Laura Prepon), the ex-girlfriend who named her in the drug operation bust that landed her in prison — will be a fellow inmate. After the discovery, she remains angry at Alex for giving up her name and, in Piper’s eyes, ruining the life she built since ending their relationship. There is clearly a chemistry between the two, but they don’t reconcile until after Piper takes responsibility for her own actions that led to her time in prison.
As Piper and Alex’s relationship warms up, Piper and Larry’s worsens. They don’t adjust well to their time physically apart, and Larry opportunistically uses Piper’s prison sentence to further his own writing career, using his feelings about her experience at Litchfield as fodder for pieces for The New York Times and a faux-version of “This American Life.” Torn between the Larry and Alex, Piper admits her love for Alex and the two discuss a future together, but she very soon after tells her she plans to marry Larry because she wants the safe, artisanal soap-making life over the unknown adventure Alex promises. In response to her decision, Alex informs Piper they can’t have any kind of emotional or physical relationship in prison. Soon after, Larry meets and talks about Piper with Alex. He ends up calling things off with her, leaving Piper without either one of her love interests.
2. The illicit relationship between Dayanara Diaz and C.O. John Bennett
Daya (Dascha Polanco), an inmate, and Bennett (Matt McGorry), a C.O., begin an inappropriate flirtation, which turns into a full-blown illicit (and illegal) relationship. Daya gets pregnant — which, if discovered, could lead to Bennett’s arrest. Some inmates hatch a plan for Daya to seduce George “Pornstache” Mendez (Pablo Schreiber) and frame him as the father of the child — getting the creep C.O removed from Litchfield and solving Daya and Bennett’s issue. Unfortunately, the corrupt Executive Assistant to the Warden Natalie Figueroa (Alysia Reiner) wants to sweep the wrongdoing under the rug for the good of the prison’s reputation, and only places Mendez on suspension.
3. The power struggle between Galina “Red” Reznikov and Mendez
Viewers get a sense of the kind of power Red (Kate Mulgrew) yields at Litchfield in the first two episodes of Season 1 when, as head of the kitchen, she starves out new inmate Piper after she makes an offhand negative comment about the food. It’s soon revealed that Red runs a major contraband operation which secures her good standing among the prisoners. Mendez tries to convince a vehemently opposed Red to allow his drug-smuggling business to operate through her channels. Eventually, he frames her as the source of drugs entering the prison facilities, causing her to lose control of the kitchen and her business. After Gloria (Selenis Leyva) takes over the kitchen, Red tries to stage a power play to get back her position. However, it backfires after she accidentally ends up burning her own friend Gina (Abigail Savage). She ends the season frozen out by her friends and starved out by the new kitchen crew.
4. The beef between Piper and Pennsatucky
Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett (Taryn Manning) feuds with Piper (and, to an extent, Alex) for different reasons that build over the course of the season. Let’s recap: She’s angry that Piper gets a spot she wanted on an inmate committee, and escalates tension by locking Alex in a dryer. Alex and Piper trick her into believing she has spiritual healing powers which lands Pennsatucky in the psych ward. Pennsatucky tells homophobic prison counselor Sam Healy (Michael Harney) when Alex and Piper are dancing, causing Piper to get unjustly sent to solitary confinement (SHU).
Ultimately, Pennsatucky vows to murder Piper, and in the final episode of the season, attacks her with a sharpened cross. Healy comes out while it’s happening, sees and does nothing. When Pennsatucky calls into question Piper’s worthiness of love — after she has just been cut off by both Larry and Alex — something inside Piper snaps. She begins to viciously hit Pennsatucky — the season ending before viewers know either of their fates.
Other notable developments: It appears Fig may be smuggling prison funds. Larry’s radio segment sparks the interest of a reporter, who starts poking around.
Major Arcs, Season 2:
The love saga among Piper, Alex, Larry … and Polly
In the Season 2 opener, Alex and Piper are temporarily being housed in a Chicago prison to testify at the trial against their former drug cartel boss. Piper wants to tell the truth about knowing him, but Alex warns that will only put their own lives in danger. Piper perjures herself out of love for Alex, who insists they toe the same line. Afterwards, Alex strikes a last-minute plea deal with the help of her lawyer: she tells the truth with the promise that she’ll walk free the same day. Piper heads back to Litchfield while Alex is released.
When the two finally get in touch later in the season, Alex reveals that she testified the way she did with the promise that it would put her former boss behind bars for good. Unfortunately, it didn’t, and she’s now being watched. She’s sleeping with a gun in violation of her probation terms, which also don’t allow her to leave the state. Alex visits Piper in jail and tells her she’s planning to skip town anyway and disappear herself for her own safety.
Meanwhile, Larry and Piper’s former best friend Polly (Maria Dizzia) strike up a romantic relationship. In the final episode, Piper asks them to tell Alex’s probation officer she’s planning to skip town. Polly does, and when the probation officer comes to Alex’s apartment, he finds her holding a gun. It appears likely that Alex will be returning to Litchfield for Season 3.
The Daya and Bennett situation continues
Daya continues to be secretly pregnant with Bennett’s baby. Bennett has a power crisis after inmates begin to take advantage of the situation, trying to blackmail him for secret favors. After facing frustration from Assistant to the Warden Joe Caputo (Nick Sandow), Bennett has a full-on meltdown, and tells Caputo Daya is pregnant — with Mendez’s child. Caputo gleefully tells Fig, eager for the chance to finally fire Mendez.
The Prison is falling apart
Fig’s money smuggling is leaving the prison extremely worse for wear. (For example, the plumbing in the bathroom begins sending excrement back up through the drains, causing inmates to only be allowed 30-second showers.) Piper starts to poke around, at the behest of Larry and later a different reporter, under the guise of innocent stories for a new prison newsletter. She angers prison authorities when she publishes the demands of inmates partaking in a hunger strike. Shortly after, they share their plan to transfer her to Virginia, but claim it’s unrelated. The facility is vastly underprepared for a storm that hits — with no functional backup generator, the plumbing shot, and inmates all crowding together to avoid the water creeping into the building. Fig, at a fundraiser for her husband’s political campaign, which has been heavily funded by the smuggled money, cannot be bothered to check out the dire situation. The conditions drive Piper to steal an invoice from her office, at the request of the reporter that visited her. She’s caught by Caputo, but strikes a deal with him: she gives him information in exchange for not getting transferred.
Fig resigns without publicly admitting what happened, nominally to support her husband’s campaign. Caputo temporarily steps into her role. He keeps Bennett on, who guiltily admits that he is actually the one who had the relationship with Daya. Caputo quashes the truth to maintain his new position.
Vee vs. Red for glory
Former top dog Red opens the season at the bottom of the prison food chain. Her former frenemy Yvonne “Vee” Parker (Lorraine Toussaint) returns to Litchfield and immediately begins a long con to seize power. Vee, who on the outside world had recruited a young Taystee (Danielle Brooks) to work in her drug empire, systematically manipulates the prisoners. She takes Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren (Uzo Aduba) under her wing, turning her into a lackey who later attacks Poussey on her orders. She meddles in Taystee and Poussey’s friendship, and brings fellow inmates Cindy and Janae under her thumb. Vee sets up a tobacco and drug business in the prison.
When Red reopens a contraband business through a storm-drain tunnel in the prison greenhouse and gets back in with her prison family, her and Vee’s rivalry gets more complicated. Red is about to suffocate Vee on the night of the flood, when the two instead decide to run their businesses separately and not kill each other. But post-flood, Vee beats Red with a lock inside a sock and attempts to have Suzanne go down for the attack. Healy does one thing good in his life and actually protects Suzanne. By this point, Vee’s lackeys have turned against her. She attempts to escape through Red’s tunnel. When she emerges on the other side, she is hit by a prison van by Rosa, who, after receiving news that her cancer would shortly kill her, escapes with the help of Lorna (Yael Stone), who drives the prison van, to die on her own terms.
Other notable developments: Turns out Lorna’s oft-discussed fiancé, Christopher, was never actually her fiancé. The two went on one date, after which she full-on stalked him. New prisoner Brook Soso (Kimiko Glenn) enters the prison and drives everyone even more insane than Piper does.