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Orange Is the New Black Season 2, Episode 7 Recap: Compassionate Release

It’s becoming clear to me that this season is all about the older inmates, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Oh, Jimmy, you did it now! Caputo is on the warpath after her escape, and mostly blaming Bennett for it. They tried to find out how she got out, but it’s really hard to pull information out of someone who still thinks Lyndon Johnson is president.

Caputo is retaliating by putting Bell on permanent Jimmy duty and raising the shot quote to a minimum of five a week per officer, which basically means inmates can get demerits for sneezing or looking at you sideways now. That’s not going to go over too well with this crowd, most of whom already have a hard time adapting to arbitrary rules. Black Cindy gets a shot right away for almost being late, and she raises the exquisite point that White Cindy is not getting a shot for coming in after her. I love that Black Cindy always speaks out, but it’s frustrating that she never really takes up a cause. Maybe she doesn’t have to — she’s the go-to for comic relief — but it’s possible that Vee is right and she’s given up on herself.

A quick look into her past reveals that Black Cindy was a highly inappropriate TSA agent who terrorized people with her golf cart, swiped candy from newsstands, and straight-up stole iPads and high-priced items from people’s luggage. It was hilarious and uncomfortable to watch her work — hilarious because Black Cindy is just inherently funny; uncomfortable if you’ve ever flown anywhere and wondered whether the TSA is even close to legit. Later in the episode, when she’s visiting her mom and much-younger sister Monica, she gives the iPad to Monica as a birthday gift. This isn’t the episode where we find out what she did to get sent to prison; at first, I thought it could be continuing the line of fraud and theft that a lot of the women have in their past, but once it’s revealed that Monica is her daughter, I wonder if it has something to do with the kid. Her mother was adamant about Black Cindy trying to do a better job, which was a negative-space way to outline all of the ways she had or could potentially fail in her role as a parent. The fact that she took the kid with her to get high with friends and let her sing 50 Cent’s “Death to My Enemies” in the car is already indicative of her misguided relationship with Monica; she’s more of a friend than a role model, and I can see how that dynamic would end disastrously.

Vee’s cigarette business is up and running like wildfire. Everyone at the Litch is hungry for tobacco and willing to pay the price of one pack of stamps for one cigarette. Even though she started out protective of her, Vee is now ostracizing Suzanne in the same way everyone else does — pointing to her mental illness as a way to keep her at arm’s length, but still exploiting her labor. I’m always bothered by the way the other inmates treat Suzanne, but if Vee takes advantage of her, I’m likely to spit fire. Uzo Aduba, the actress who plays Suzanne, does this thing where her voice gets incredibly high-pitched and she retreats into her entire self so quickly you barely see it coming, but it always makes me cringe and immediately feel awful on her behalf. No one likes a bully, Vee.

Piper gets a visit from the City Post reporter, who is interested in writing about “the single greatest stain on the American collective conscience since slavery,” but he realizes that no one cares about the inmates. Much like this show uses Piper as a Trojan Horse to tell the stories of the disenfranchised, this reporter is looking to point out the almost $2 million missing from the books at Litchfield as a way to talk about terrible prison conditions. Piper is in a tender place and doesn’t want to ruin her chance at getting furlough, so she tells the reporter she won’t help him by playing a “high-stakes Harriet the Spy.” Does this mean she’s also not helping Larry anymore, or just that it would seem too obvious to constantly have a reporter visiting? Someone needs to do this article — I’m suddenly very interested in who is going to bring Figueroa down. I know she has problems of her own and her husband is almost certainly boning his campaign aide, but Figueroa has a disdain for the inmates that is unparalleled. When will she be exposed? Don’t tell me. But tell me. But don’t tell me.

Larry, trash heap from Fraggle Rock, and Polly actually have sex. And I was so happy when she went to his house to slap him! It’s possible I cheered! Then she disappointed legions of women everywhere by letting him come within even four inches of her. Ugh, I can’t even with these two.

Isn’t it weird that Piper brought Lorna on staff for the Big House Bugle and immediately created a racialized dynamic by naming her as an assistant editor? She’s usually much more self-aware. Caputo shouldn’t be using an inmate-run paper to flex his muscle, but there he is, asking Piper to include a good word about the guards in the first issue. He always does his sneaky business with a smile, but that just makes him more sinister.  

Poussey is already in a weird place when Nicky is pointing out how much she loves Taystee, but I still can’t believe she agreed to take over Black Cindy’s cigarette post for Vee. I think I’m nervous because Vee won’t hesitate to sacrifice Poussey if shit got real, and Poussey is so in love with Taystee she’d let it happen.

Daya (R.I.P.) gets mad at Bennett (R.I.P.) when she realizes he gave Maritza a shot for blackmailing him after he insisted they call it quits; while it was touching to see some life return to her eyes for a minute, it also made me wonder why that isn’t always on her mind. Is Bennett going to start flaunting his power, or was that just a move to cut the blackmail?

In the end, Black Cindy ends up having to do penance for Vee when she comes back for her job, and Vee delights in the task she gives her: Black Cindy has to clean the used tampon applicators they fished out of the garbage. Vee is a nasty bitch, man.

Poor Jimmy. In the middle of a moment of dementia, she threw herself off of the stage in the chapel, thinking it was a pool, breaking her arm. But the worst is yet to come; realizing she needs around-the-clock care that they are not able to give, the prison releases her with a bus ticket and a wish. They call it “compassionate release,” but there’s nothing compassionate about Jimmy banging against the window, toothless mouth full of screams, banging on the window for help. Women remain disposable, even in jail, and especially in old age.

OUT IN THE YARD

  • Oh, shit — Fischer knows that Daya is pregnant after listening in on one of Aleida’s phone calls!
  • When Sophia thinks a faux-hawk will give Gloria a “don’t fuck wit me,” vibe, she says she “mostly uses my face for that.” It’s possible that Gloria is my favorite cast member this season. 
  • The Golden Girls discussing the movie Ratatouille in the shed was hilarious (“That doesn’t mean a rat can open a restaurant!”) but not as funny as them talking about the internet (“All the information in the world is in wires? But people are still stupid, right?”)
  • The best plot payoff so far is the rekindled romance between Wanda Bell and O’Neill, who are back together! She’s been hinting all season that she’s looking for a new job and new place to live, and he’s been eavesdropping on conversations all over the place to figure out how to please her. Move that Vitamix in, y’all, and congratulations.
  • How many people have tried the battery-and-gum-wrapper-as-lighter thing and almost burned their house down?
  • Oh, Soso, taking a vegetarian stand against the kitchen. When she started going on about the agricultural-business complex, Poussey shut her down quickly by saying, “Bitch, look around you — we’re in the prison-business complex.” Soso is holding on to her idealism with both fists, and I don’t know how much longer she’s going to be able to do it.
  • Can we talk about Red’s eye makeup? 
  • Flores and Flaca want Bennett to smuggle in porn, but only magazines full of dudes because Flaca “doesn’t want to be exploiting women and shit.” Solid. 
  • “Do you eat eggs?” “It depends on how they were raised.” “So, no.”
Photo: Ali Goldstein