Orange Is the New Black
There is a lot of vagina on display this week, even for a women’s prison.
Fig isn’t happy that she’s getting messages from her colleagues about an inmate at the Litch being featured on prisonpoon.com; she figures someone has access to a cell phone, and puts it to Caputo to find out who it is, suspecting a CO might have had a hand in it. Caputo, a mid-level manager to the bitter end, could not give even one shit about finding out who it is, but has such a contentious relationship with Fig that he’ll do anything to keep her out of his face.
When he interviews the COs, he gets oddly flirty with Susan; she’s incredibly sweet and he’s been putting off major creeper vibes since the jerk-off scene in episode one, so I’m not sure I want to see this attempt at a relationship all the way through. Caputo starts checking the CO’s bags when they come into work in the hopes of finding a cell phone or other contraband, forcing Pornstache to keep his drug stash in his car. Pornstache thinks Red is the one smuggling in cell phones since she gets so much contraband through already, and they start eyeing each other up, wary of how much dirt they can use against each other.
I gave up on Catholicism in 1985 when, at 7-years old, I started lying to the priest in confession each week about the made-up terrible things I did — I was a good kid, but there was a lot of pressure to trot out your sins for Jesus on the reg even if you felt like you didn’t have any — only to go back the following week and ask for forgiveness for lying. This unhealthy, cyclical behavior made me give up on the Lord entirely, and it’s the first thing that sprang to mind when watching Aleida and Daya’s habit of banging (or attempting to bang) each other’s boyfriend and give up on each other week after week.
Last episode left off with a naked Aleida tricking Bennett into the utility closet with her. As it turns out, they don’t actually have sex, so I’m assuming the naked encounter was meant as a tool of intimidation. I realize her relationship with Daya is completely messed up, but did Aleida lure Bennett into the closet to potentially blackmail him? To show Daya that she could get back at her for sleeping with Cesar if she wants to? When Daya eventually slaps Aleida in the face and calls her a slut, it may have been sparked by Aleida’s full-frontal time with Bennett, but she does so with the full force of a kid who is hurt and whose mother has never had her best interests at heart. One thing this show does extremely well is reveal the complicated emotional relationships behind familiar character structures — we’re used to seeing the overly sexual teenage girl, but rarely get treated to a backstory that justifies her reliance on her body as a source of knowledge imparted by her fucked-up family structure. Bennett and Daya eventually end up in the utility closet after all; he is stoic when she pulls down his pants to reveal his left leg is prosthetic below the knee, and she rewards his military sacrifice with the sex they were going to have anyway.
Between Photoshopped pictures of bandit vaginas floating into his life and wave after wave of inmate demanding attention, Counselor Healy is fed up with life. What is his life even like outside of the Litch? He seems grandfatherly and kind, but his homophobia and ideas about how “ladies” sends up red flags. He mitigates some of the aggravation by giving Taystee control of the TV remote when she hits her breaking point of watching Toddlers and Tiaras (“I can’t support the sexualization of baby girls!”) and by reinstituting the Women’s Advisory Council, a group of inmates chosen to represent the interests of other prisoners.
The ladies are excited, and look to nominate candidates from their group (white, black, Hispanic, golden girls, and others), leading to a funny and honest look at racial and cultural stereotypes (“black people can’t float because their bone density ain’t right for it”), as well as abject racism (“the Hispanics that live in my neighborhood are greasy, their food smells nasty, and they’re taking our jobs” and “Black people are smelly stupid and lazy, but they don’t have different bones!”). When Sophia announces her intentions of running for WAC, Tastey and Poussey do an impromptu impersonation of middle-class white women and call Sophia’s ideas addressing health care and basic human rights “white people politics.” When Nicky sees Piper struggling to understand the dynamic that would cause these racial rifts, she says, “Pretend it’s the 1950s — it makes it easier to understand.”
Nicky is upset when Red chooses Lorna to run for the white-lady contingent since she thought of herself as Red’s “right hand,” but Red thinks Nicky “runs her mouth too much already” to take on such a role. I still get the feeling that Nicky is laughing her way through the time she has left in the Litch, so it’s tender to see these emotional moments with her, and a bit more revealing than it would be with other inmates. We’re treated to a slice of Nicky’s history that could explain her emotional clamp-down when her mother sits in a hospital with Nicky, who has just woken up from surgery and blood transfusions for a bacterial infection caused by using dirty needles. From the moment her eyes pop open, Nicky is treated to an onslaught of judgment and accusations, even when she asks her mom to do “mom things” like offering her a hug or a sip of water. Sure, she’s definitely been using heroin and cocaine, but in this ongoing saga examining the relationships between mothers and daughters, the moms keep coming up a little too self-involved, a little less capable of being present for their daughters in a real way. Nicky eventually finds motherly love in Red, who helps her detox and keeps her on point, but is still unable to hide her disappointment when Red chooses Lorna over her for the council job. She and Alex strike up a friendship, joking in the bathroom and commiserating over the way drugs done ’em wrong. I am ALL FOR this friendship and possible love match; they’re both smart and seem to need the same sort of healing.
Piper’s mom comes to visit and ultimately inspires some feelings of uptight, WASPy resentment; she makes a negative comment about Piper’s hair and blames Alex for “stealing” Piper’s life. To her credit, Piper fully owns that she’s in jail of her own volition: “I am in here because I am no different from anybody else in here. I made bad choices, I committed a crime, and being in here is no one’s fault but my own.” She feels bad for being a dick to Alex, and owning up to her crimes out loud seems to be a way to forgive herself for thinking Alex was involved. Piper comes across as a little bereft this episode; neither Alex nor Polly will speak to her, Larry reveals he is going to write an article about “their” experience in prison, and Healy is trying to convince her to join the WAC against her wishes. When Miss Claudette makes the observation that everyone is busy stumping for the WAC, Piper runs to the bathroom to piss in solitude, happy for the brief respite from the noise, and discovers the contraband cell phone behind a broken tile. She eventually puts two and two together that the supposed “crazy woman” who talks to “diablo” in the bathroom stall all day is talking to her boyfriend Diablo on the phone, and not speaking in tongues. She’s also the one who’s been sending her beaver shots to prisonpoon.com, so mystery solved.
Though she eventually makes up with Polly, who finally accepts one of her calls while in the gynecologist’s office (“I have an asshole alien growing inside me, and I’m waiting for a strange man to put his hand inside my vagina.”), things are still really fraught with Larry. I don’t blame her; it’s strange that he’s trying to make a name for himself based on her experience, and he still doesn’t trust her around Alex. But Piper doesn’t seem to know who to trust, either — her roommate is distant, she’s been under attack by different inmates since she arrived, and her friendships both in and outside of the joint are dwindling. The emotional ping-pong works well in this show, particularly for a character like Piper who so desperately wants to be adept at being in tune with her emotions but so obviously never learned how to do so.
At the end of the episode, Healy accidentally makes her life a living hell by nominating her to the WAC without telling her, and without her having to run for the position. Red, Lorna and Pennsatucky cannot conceal their contempt, and it looks like things are going to get worse for Piper before they get better, if she survives at all.
Best lines and scenes:
- “Mendez looks guilty — must be the mustache,” said to Caputo, who also has a mustache.
- “How come none of these stations play the Smiths? How Soon is Now is, like, an eighties anthem.”
- “My name is Poussey — accent adroit, bitch!”
- “You flash that shit like it’s made out of diamonds!” Taystee telling Sophia about how many times she’s seen her naked
- When Pennsatucky says she’s going to ask for a white’s only bathroom, Taystee says, “This is not The Help, but you will eat my shit!”
- “We got nineteen votes for ‘fuck you’, and a surprising 28 for Jesus.”
- What is the maple syrup incident (now contraband) announced over the PA?
- “And your WAC reps are: Ruiz.” “Which Ruiz?”