Thursday, June 29, 2017

One Person Carried the Entire Season

Best friend and girlfriend of Poussey finally find an appropriate tribute to their lost loved one and I cried all the way home. 
It's rare in a multi-protagonist show that one person stands out. Early on, before OITNB became a thing, most of the first season was about Chapman. The writers saw that this clearly didn't work so they gave everyone a storyline, an arch, and a flashback …standard multi-protagonist rules, just watch Lost.
I was talking to a friend earlier about Mad Men, getting a little sidetracked, but that did also start out about one person; Don Draper, and then evolved with a plethora of new characters and the OG's having some serious stories, laments, and flaws. That's what makes them relatable.
Spoilers coming but you should have watched it by now; that show basically invented the binge watch culture.

Daya at the climax of Season 4. Sensing a pattern here. 
A little bit on what is happening in the new season. Daya shoots the sadist CO Humps in the leg, and a riot breaks out in the prison. The riot actually lasts through out the entirety of the season and that MCC bitch Linda somehow gets mistaken for a prisoner so she's along for the ride. If you remember correctly, The girls at Litchfield are pretty eccentric to put it mildly so the riot has some wonderful and sometimes cathartic twists and turns. It's really a great season, and there's one woman that carries it through to the very end.
Taystee leads an action to throw away the 'bribes' that the governor provides in order to stop the riot because according to her, it wouldn't be justice.
If you haven't guessed, I'm talking about Tasha 'Taystee' Jefferson. Poussey's best friend. Danielle Brooks who plays her is barely old enough to rent a car, but her training at Julliard did her well, to say the least. Usually we focus on actors 'on the brink' if they bag a role like Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook at the ripe young age of like 23. When OITNB started, Brooks was actually the exact same age, and has maintained a consistency to the character and a commitment to the arch of Taystee. This season was definitely hers. I don't know of the season's past if I could assign them as belonging to someone. No, she doesn't get the most airtime, or the smartest quips, but my god, the depth of this girl was incredible.

And of course they set in on fire because they want 'to be motherfucking taken serious!' You go Taystee.
I kept having to remind myself of the youth of this actress and subsequent inexperience because you would never be able to tell, and though just like every season, a different character gets a flashback, and in the end, it's all about Piper (who is the worst), Brooks upstaged everyone in her passionate fight as Taystee struggles to deal with her grief and get justice for Poussey.
At the climax of the last episode, it was like watching a Shakespearean tragedy, just watching the performance that Brooks gave. I don't often say this, but it seemed to come from the bottom of the gut, and I cried rivers. It was a catharsis that no one was expecting, and Brooks definitely spread her acting wings.
What Brooks is able to accomplish as an actor in this scene is beyond me. She keeps you guessing the entire time, and the emotion is so palpable that it's impossible to separate yourself from it. 
But what's truly important is that she is instrumental and a catalyst in every episode. As an actress, she has so much stamina, and so much of herself to give to the role I have no idea how she didn't fall down from exhaustion by the end. I've really never seem anyone so committed and playing the same character for 5 years, but her nuanced performance gives her so much staying power. It boggles the mind as to why we don't acknowledge her more. For such a tender age, you would never expect her to carry a show of over 30 main characters in its most chaotic season, but she managed, and she should be commended for it. There are a lot of brilliant actors that make up the Litchfield prisoners, and usually it is Uzo Aduba (Suzanne 'Crazy Eyes' Warren) who walks away with the Emmy's, which she definitely deserves, but I was taken aback at how well Brooks managed some really tough and complex material. Put it this way, if there was a riot at a prison I'd want to shadow Taystee, and if we were doing acting exercises at Julliard, I'd want to do them with Brooks. She is somewhat of an unsung talent that deserves way more recognition than she gets.

Prolly seen the trailer, but here it is anyway, it premiered in early June on Netflix so your binge should just about be over by now. Happy watching!

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