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Orange Is the New Black Episode 11 Recap: We’re Untangling

Everyone is still reeling from Tricia’s death. Mendez is caught carelessly swiping her stuff into a box, and when he tries to reach for her hoodie, the crew descends upon him like a pit of vipers. Norma, Boo, Nicky, Lorna, Yoga Jones, and Red clean out the rest of her area, laughing and reminiscing while other inmates bring food and booze, offering their condolences. It’s a family affair, a very personal wake. Piper tried to organize a memorial for Tricia in the chapel, but no one showed up. Alex had to remind her that she can’t force people to be emotional, particularly for a girl she barely knew.

You get the feeling that Piper is genuine, but also more concerned with how she is perceived with regards to what she does than actually caring about what she does. When she stumbles upon the bunk party for Tricia, she says, “So this is what you decided to do?” prompting Nun Fabulous to say, “Which one looks like more fun?” After Piper described how her Waspy family got drunk (“they just yelled at each other and then pretended it never happened”), Boo broke her all the way down: “Ah, so that explains the wide-eyed ice princess uptight thing.” Piper is a good sport and knows she is mostly out of place at Litchfield, but her most glaring personality flaw, the one obvious to everyone but her, is that she doesn’t think she has anything to learn from these women beyond basic prison survival tips.

Daya and Bennett are deep in the throes of pregnancy. Aleida is helping her puke in the utility closet when Bennett comes in with a plan to get Daya a furlough to attend a fake funeral, so when she starts to show, they’ll think she got pregnant during her time away from the Litch. I don’t know how great a plan this is, since someone is bound to figure out eventually that she’s five months along but her furlough was three months ago. It’s not a great plan, but their only plan.

Red tells Aleida she knows Daya is pregnant when Aleida goes into the kitchen looking for ginger products (Gina also freaks out marvelously about the fact that Aleida doesn’t know her name but asks her for stuff all the time). When Daya shows up to play dominoes, Red is there with a plan, and that plan is that she “has to fuck Pornstache.” The way Red sees it, she can get rid of two birds with one stone; Daya will be able to have her baby without anyone losing their jobs or being sent to maximum for it, and Mendez will be out of the picture. Daya hates the idea; she won’t cheat on John because she loves him. Red reminds her that every decision she makes affects her family — “welcome to motherhood.” Bennett spends a night babysitting Mendez at a bar; while drunk, Mendez confesses that he just wants a woman to care about him for once, ask about his day. When Daya meets with Bennett again, he’s freaking out because the furlough will take too long, but she calmly tells him it will be okay. He tells Daya about Mendez’s drunk revelation, and she uses it to flirt with him. When she goes to see Red to tell her it’s all set up, Red reminds her that she needs evidence for this to work, so Daya has to go straight to the medic when she’s done. I’m not sure I’m down with this crowdsourced plan to frame a man for rape, but this show does a great job of putting you on the moral seesaw. It’s so wrong to do that to a guy! But if anyone deserves it, it’s Pornstache! Ugh, poor Daya having to make a bodily sacrifice to save her family! Meh, she and Bennett shouldn’t have been so careless.

Miss Claudette has a hopeful little story arc in here, probably to distract us from the murder and sex abuse. Black Cindy reads her horoscope in the library, and it says “the news you’re waiting for will be positive.” At first she brushes it off, but when Miss Claudette sees Jean Baptiste during visitor’s hours, she tells him that she thinks she’ll hear about her appeal soon. I love how gruff she is with everyone, but secretly she takes in every word. After so much time in prison with no thought of getting out, she hasn’t allowed herself to feel any sense of promise; now she GLOWS with it, positively lights up when she and Jean Baptiste plan what they will do on the first night she gets out. I hope they let us have this — the audience needs this hopefulness, too! If they do something to mess with Miss Claudette I will flip out.

Piper is still trying to get in contact with Larry; she calls him just as he shows up to the "Urban Tales" office for his interview, and he ignores it. While waiting to go on the show, he meets a guy in the lobby whose partner works in Antarctica; he gets to see him every couple of years. My favorite part about this scene is that it sets Larry up as the entitled buffoon he really is deep down when the other guest comments on how lucky he is to see Piper so often. He tries to casually play it off, and for a second I think he’ll come to his senses and walk out the front door, but he doesn’t. I’m bothered by how he always frames Piper’s pain as his own.

Since he hasn’t talked to her in a week, Larry doesn’t know the latest story, which is that Piper and Alex are getting closer. In a sequence of flashbacks, we learn how and why they broke up. Alex was stressed out in Paris and Piper was starting to feel like a “pathetic housewife,” waiting around for Alex to pay attention to her. During a fight, Alex calls Piper a naïve asshole after she refuses to bring drugs to Istanbul to help Alex out of a jam, and she sort of is a naïve asshole. Piper is staying with Alex in a luxurious hotel, and at several different points in prison she talked about the places they’ve traveled— Tahiti, the Bahamas, all over Europe. Piper is reaping all of the rewards for living with a drug trafficker while simultaneously putting up walls or moral indignation about how far she can be pushed into the lifestyle. Piper thinks being a drug dealer is “ruining everything good” in Alex’s life, but doesn’t consider what sort of life they would they have together without it. Piper wants to call it quits. As she’s getting ready to leave and furiously looking for her passport, Alex tells her that her mom just died, and Piper leaves anyway, despite Alex begging her to stay. Oh, Piper. Is this what caused Alex to spiral into heroin use, being abandoned by your girlfriend the day your mother dies? Piper may have more atoning on the horizon that she realizes.

When she slips on one of Suzy’s newly buffed floors, they have a nice conversation as Suzy helps her back to her bunk. Suzy says that psych is terrible, way worse than the SHU, and that “nobody comes back from psych” except her, that people get “lost in there.” Before leaving, Suzy asks, “How come everyone calls me Crazy Eyes?” It’s fucking heartbreaking.

Piper is hung-over from the hooch at Tricia’s party, but sober enough to realize that the trick they played on Pennsatucky is too mean, especially now that she knows psych is awful. Pennsatucky is having a tough time in there; she’s sedated from the get-go, and, when she tries to tell a nurse that she’s not crazy, the nurse says, “If you’re not crazy, you wouldn’t have to work so hard to convince everyone you’re sane.” Here again the nuances make it hard to come down on any one side when it comes to Pennsatucky. Is she crazy? Does believing that you are a vessel of God make you certifiably nuts? It doesn’t sit well with Piper, and she is “sick of blaming her shit on other people,” so she goes to Caputo to fess up. He gives her janitorial duty, and Pennsatucky is released. Alex protests against this greatly, but this is the moment Piper has chosen to be the bigger person and there’s nothing that can stop her. Will Pennsatucky actually forgive her? Everything in my bones says no.

Nicky finds out that Larry will be on the show since Lorna listens to NPR in her van, and Piper makes sure everyone is listening when it comes on. We pick up with Larry as he’s about to recount some of his favorite stories that Piper has told him from prison, and listen as he gives a laundry list of negative, horrible descriptions of everyone Piper has become close with. He describes Suzy as a mentally unstable person who belongs in a psych hospital, just as the camera pans over to her crying uncontrollably on her cot, finally realizing on her own why everyone calls her Crazy Eyes. He says that Piper sleeps with one eye open because her roommate is an alleged murderer, causing Miss Claudette to stiffen. Some people get a fair treatment as he describes Janae (“a girl who should have been a track star”), Lorna (“the girl who keeps planning her wedding while carrying on an affair with the hot lesbian junkie”), and Red (“terrifying but takes pride in feeding everyone”). Larry rambles on as if he knows these women, and knows their relationship to Piper in a real way, ending on the platitude that you “have to admire the way these women find meaning in their days and take care of each other.”

While everyone is listening to "Urban Tales," Daya and Mendez slip away to have sex (seriously, that utility closet should have an airplane bathroom occupied/vacant sign on it), and she is disappointed but resigned when he pulls out a condom. She runs to Red crying, and Red tells her she has no choice but to do it again.

At the end of his interview, Larry tells Maury that he didn’t make any rules about sex with Piper when she went to jail, and that “may have been naïve.” He says that were she to start a relationship with someone she had a history with, who could understand her life more than he ever could, that would feel like betrayal. And in that moment, Piper knows that Larry knows about her affair with Alex. She sits through lunch as all of the people she hurt glare at her, and then calls him. Larry forces her to say that she loves Alex after revealing that Healy told him why she went to the SHU, and cries while he comes clean about Alex being the one who named her. He asks for time away from her; Piper begs for time to fix it, but Larry doesn’t know if she can.

Do they deserve each other after all? Can they survive this? Am I a bad person for not caring, because her relationship with Alex is far more compelling? With only two episodes left this season, this could really be the end for them.

Favorite lines:

  • A very earnest Piper saying, “Sure, attribute my feelings of legitimate sadness to menses.” I howled when Nicky and Luschek both immediately made fun of her for saying this. 
  • “If you were still my wife I would tell you all the time how much I like. Your. Titties! 'Cause girls like that. And that is a tip from me to you.” Suzy, never change.
  • Pennsatucky screaming, “I don’t need any sedatives! Jesus has my back!” Crazy or not crazy, she’s certainly entertaining.
Photo: Jessica Miglio for Netflix