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Orange Is the New Black Season 2, Episode 5 Recap: Turf Wars

(L-R) Danielle Brooks, Vicky Jeudy, Uzo Aduba, Adrienne C. Moore, and Samira Wiley in a scene from Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black” Season 2. Photo credit: Jessica Miglio for Netflix.

Nicky, the “sexual Steve Jobs,” and Boo are officially having a Bang-Off, and the funniest part might be that they got Chang — who does not care about prison politics at all — to officiate.

This season already feels a little bit lighter and more fun than last; I’m not into this show for its ability to make me feel good, but I like that the show doesn’t take itself too seriously. I like that this show pays attention to its fans without pandering to them (I’m looking at you, last season of Doctor Who). Vee seems to be setting up a long con, but there are no threats or real dangers popping up yet, so everyone is just settling into their roles. Piper is upset that she’s only worth 3 points out of 10 in the Bang-Off, but, as Boo pointed out, she did fuck her worst enemy, so she’s not exactly a prize. There’s something funny about the way the women in Litchfield treat Piper; in her real life, she’d probably be a knockout, and if you remember back to her interactions with people in season one it’s clear that she created a cocoon of kindness for herself where she could live her soap-making, Pinterest-y life with very little friction. I like that Boo tells her she’s a horrible person; I like that she rates as a 3 not for the way she looks, but the way she acts.

When shit starts bubbling up through the drains in the Spanish Harlem showers, Gloria makes the executive decision to take over the bathrooms in the Ghetto. I know it’s meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but I cringe every time they say the names of these racialized zones, and I blame the overt political correctness of the '90s. There is always an undertone of segregation at Litchfield, but now it seems like troops are mobilizing and it’s about to pop off in a much bigger way. Vee keeps playing both sides, inciting the other African-American women to be more protective of their turf while doing shady double deals with anyone who can give her an edge. When Gloria strong-arms her into giving up the Ghetto bathrooms, Vee throws in an employment trade as well, throwing Taystee and Watson into custodial and encouraging Gloria to hire two more Spanish girls for the kitchen. Red sees through Vee’s game (even though I still have no clue what Vee is setting up) and tries to warn Gloria that she’s being played, but right now everyone is getting what they want (except Taystee and Watson, who never actually said they wanted to be transferred and are straight-up being used as pawns).

Caputo feels like his hands are tied with Figueroa, but he gets to blow off steam by playing bass in a band called Sideboob.

I’ll give you a minute to let that sentence sink in.

Sideboob. Caputo looks like a low-budget the Edge while his friends sing about reverse vasectomies and sorcerers. Healy, dejected and hurt by a wife who blows him off constantly, happens upon Caputo’s band one night and forms a brotherly, booze-soaked bond. After they laugh about Figueroa being a “cunt-faced witch monster,” Healy keeps the hate train going by harkening back to the good-old days when he would talk directly to the warden since he “hates talking to women about women’s issues.” It’s not just Figueroa; Healy hates women. He thinks he’s found a partner in crime in Caputo, but Caputo genuinely wants to help the inmates, saying the “least we should do is keep these women safe and clean.” Let’s remember that he routinely jerks off to inmates in his office before we give him the Susan B. Anthony Award for Not Being a Total Cock, but at least his intentions are pure when it comes to his job.

Piper tries to get a furlough when she finds out from Cal that her grandmother is dying, but Healy isn’t feeling particularly generous. She tries to shame him by letting him know she saw him the night she beat the shit out of Pennsatucky, but he denies it like the coward he actually is. After he hangs out with Caputo he does submit her for a three-day furlough, but it feels like Caputo rubbing off on him and not kindness coming from within.

While she’s angling to be the HBIC at Litchfield, Gloria’s flashback reveals that she struggled for that sort of control in her own life. She was battered and abused by her boyfriend Arturo and, like a lot of women in her situation, kept going back to him even though he never changed. That’s a very real narrative for a lot of women, and as usual, I commend this show for bringing real-life statistics into the story. Gloria is also busy running a scam, taking food stamps and charging the government for stuff she never sold instead of relying on candles and herbs for her livelihood. In the midst of Gloria freaking out that Arturo hit one of her kids, a disgruntled customer calls the cops on her and she’s arrested for fraud. She kept all of the money she stole in a cigar box, and when Arturo tries to steal it later that night, he gets burnt to a crisp in the storage room when the door he just fixed locks behind him and a candle falls on the ground. No justice, no peace, y’all.

 OUT IN THE YARD

  • Cal made Piper complete a guessing game to figure out her grandmother was dying, but the real sick part is that her mother was worried she wouldn’t be pretty anymore after her fight with Pennsatucky.
  • Nicky made a play for big points by going for Fischer, who turned her down sternly; now that she’s far behind Boo, Lorna suggests she make up an STI for Boo to have so she can catch up.
  • “Classic story of hubris; I’m like Icarus, whose wings melted before he could fuck the sun.”
  • Red is full of good advice in this episode, my favorite of which is, “Fuck Clive Owen — don’t ever let go, not until they make you.”
  • Fischer suggests a phone-monitoring program to Caputo in earnest, having heard one too many weird half-conversations about the Black Scarecrow on her patrol. This will not end well.
  • Hardly anyone knows Daya is pregnant, so when Janae trips her in retaliation for the overly salty food, Bennett flips out, puts her in a hold, and punishes her pretty severely. Bennett is probably going to be the one to fuck up and reveal too much; he’s so emotionally invested.
  •  Chang is not confirming the bangs in the Bang-Off, people: “I don’t smell fingers, I just write numbers.”
  • Piper finally calls Larry. He tells her about the bagnut (a bagel crossed with a doughnut) and she tells him she thought she would need people less. Ugh, these two. Just call it off already!
Photo: Jessica Miglio/Netflix