I instinctually want to wrap this season up in a bow, but I don’t think that’s what it was about.
Pivotal characters have changed. Piper is harder; there were so many scenes with her lurking in the background with dead eyes, and her chipper exterior was drastically subdued. When, in this episode, Soso said, “I won’t be the same when I get out,” Piper told her that maybe that was okay, even though Soso didn’t buy it for a second. Is Piper okay with changing a little because in her life before Litchfield, she was always pushing for more adventure and danger, or because while she’s inside, people are moving on and changing anyway?
There’s no sense of cohesion when the SIS descends on Litchfield to figure out who is responsible for Red’s attack. Red won’t talk, which Vee is counting on. Vee scared Black Cindy and Janae into lying, telling the SIS officers that Suzanne was responsible for the “lock schlock,” then she goes a step further and convinces Suzanne that she did it. Lorraine Toussaint was amazing as Vee this season, but she was spectacular in this scene with Suzanne, wringing the life out of every heartless word. It takes a special sort of asshole to demand loyalty while turning against her own, and Toussaint played that role to a T. She took advantage of the most vulnerable person in her midst and turned her into an attack dog, which is horrible on its own, but the way she infiltrated and manipulated Suzanne’s mind was the meanest thing she could have done. When Healy tried to help place her in electrical during the beating and insisted that she knows herself, Suzanne laughed and said, “I am unreliable,” and when Taystee tried to tell her that Vee is a liar, she said, “I am not crazy. I am unique,” which is parroting back what Vee said to her when they first met. Suzanne latched on, and connection for her is directly tied to loyalty. Vee is a bastard, but in this scene I realized she’s also a sociopathic monster.
Red and Sister Jane are keeping each other company in medical. Red looks awful — Vee cracked Red’s eye socket, and she looks like her face got in a fight with the business end of a bat. Sister Jane wants to know why she’s protecting Vee; but I think she’s just afraid of Vee, plain and simple.
Staying true to form, Caputo does his best to make me feel proud but sickened by him. After he visits Piper in the SHU and she agrees to tell him everything if he stops her transfer, he coerces Figueroa into giving him a blow job to keep from telling the warden about Fitzcorp, even though he already has. It’s stuff like this that makes Caputo such a subtly well-written character; he’s just disgusting enough to be believable, and always for his own benefit. Even though Figueroa isn’t leaving disgracefully, having talked the warden into letting her say she’s going to spend more time with her husband and his campaign, she is thoroughly disgraced.
Caputo slides into Fig’s role as assistant warden, but only on a trial basis, so the next few days are crucial. He does a few good things, like canceling the transfer for everyone so even Ruiz can stay close to her baby, but he’s also floating around Litchfield like everyone owes him a favor. When he tells Bennett that he’s in, he’s sure to add that he’s taking good guys like Bennett with him so that he can keep the culture of manipulation he’s fostered going. In the end, Bennett feels compelled to tell the truth about his relationship with Daya, but Caputo squashes it and tells him to shut up, mostly so that he can keep his new position.
Everyone wants to know why Black Cindy and Janae are still following Vee, but their willingness to put up with Vee comes to a crashing halt when someone steals Vee’s heroin and she threatens Black Cindy with the newly broken end of a broom. When they go to Taystee and Janae for help, it makes Taystee realize that Vee is all alone now, which, as Soso knows, is the worst thing that can happen to you in prison. When Vee tries to get back in Taystee’s good graces, she’s not only ready for her, but armed with the truth and a gang of friends to back her up. It was a pretty sweet moment after a season full of watching Taystee veer so far off-course.
Perpetually disgruntled Healy cancels his Safe Place after no one shows up. Well, Healy, how on earth do you expect a room full of inmates to talk and confess their feelings in front of the people who might want to kill them for talking and expressing their feelings? He’s particularly pissed off at Pennsatucky, who skipped the meeting in order to get a haircut. Later, when Tucky runs into him in the lunchroom, she thanks him, telling him that he’s the only person in her life who ever talked to her and that the reason she was able to make a new friend and break away was because of him, and how good he was at his job. This was actually amazing insight for Tucky, but it didn’t make Healy feel any better about the fact that someone else was shutting him out. Maybe if you weren’t such a prune-faced bigot, more people would want to stick around, man.
When a gaggle of nuns show up to support Sister Jane (she might be excommunicated, but to them she’s “still married to God”), Caputo puts O’Neill on Nun Watch, which ends up being 1,000 times funny than it should have been. Apparently, O’Neill hates nuns, having endured a Catholic school full of “professional humiliators.” He stands there with them, but he also ropes them into ukulele-based songs about how terrible they are and tells them their hearts are cold. If I were giving out an MVP award, O’Neill would get it purely for filling in his weird backstory with nonstop hilarity.
Red and Sister Jane make a pact — if Red confesses that Vee was the one who beat her, Sister Jane will eat — and try to put it into play when Healy comes by to talk to Red. She tells him the truth, but it’s too late — the SIS officers are pinning it on Suzanne. Here he is, being useless again, but when he talks to Suzanne later and learns that she thinks she was mopping up in electrical at the time, he gets Luschek to sign an interdepartmental work order saying that she absolutely was in electrical, which saves her from being accused of Red’s beating. It’s not the most redemptive thing he could have done, but it’s as close to approving a stay of execution as Healy gets. Will he feel bolstered by this little bit of good he was able to do?
Alex comes to visit Piper only to tell her that she plans on breaking her parole and skipping town. Piper, who has looked and acted fairly worn-down all season, pathetically tells her that she can’t leave, because she doesn’t have anyone left. It’s true — Alex was a bomb that kept exploding in Piper’s life, and now they’re the only two standing. Polly and Larry thought it would be a good idea to come and confess their love to Piper, which really pushes her into “fuck you” territory as far as they’re concerned. Good for her — the way Larry persisted in telling her, staying there to make her bear witness, was intentionally cruel. He loved having such a sharp tool to use against Piper because he’s a flatulence. Larry is a living fart, and I hope he and Polly live terrible lives together.
Even though she hates them, Piper asks Polly and Larry for a favor; she wants them to reach out to Alex’s parole officer and tell him she’s planning on leaving town. They agree, or at least, Polly does; Alex is so spooked by the sound of her door being opened that she grabs her gun, and when her parole officer comes in, she’s caught red-handed. Did Piper just ensure that Alex was on her way back to Litchfield? And is Alex even going to want to be with her after she finds out who was responsible for calling her parole officer? It’s fucked up how jail is more protective for Alex (and even Taystee, retrospectively), but engineering a way for her to come back was the lowest of the low. Are they even now?
The hero of the season for me was Rosa, and I was so glad that she was such an integral part of the season finale. She asks her doctor to talk to her “as if I was a person you loved” when he gives her fatal diagnosis, telling her that the chemo isn’t working and she only has a few weeks to live. What happens on the way home coincides beautifully with what is happening at Litchfield:
Vee, after learning that she’s on her own now, escapes through the garden tunnel.
Nicky, who has all of Vee’s heroin, is trying to find a way to bring it back with Boo, but the alarm is sounded and they hit the floor.
The guard hops out of the van to see what’s going on, only to have Lorna decide that Rosa should not die at Litchfield. “Go do it your own way. Go fast.” She hops out of the van, too, and Rosa peels away, busting through the barricade of nuns to freedom.
At this precise moment, Vee is emerging from the woods, and Rosa, seeing her teeter on the side of the road, knocks her down with the van and kills her, mostly for “always being so rude, that one.” The Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” plays in the background as she transforms into her younger self, smiling and carefree, running away from the world and about to go out in a blaze of glory. Bravo, Rosa!
OUT IN THE YARD
- I wish Rosa had stayed old at the end; it didn’t diminish her story to think of her as a carefree, cancer-stricken elderly woman, and I think it would have been more emotional to see THAT Rosa escaping, the one we’ve come to love over the seasons.
- For all of her fuckery, Vee was pretty omniscient about the hubbub surrounding Amazon.
- Nicky, completely torn up about Red, did a great job of confronting Piper about her narcissism, which survives like a cockroach within those walls.
- “A lot of men shave their balls, it doesn’t mean they’re gay!”
- I loved the tag team of Norma and Gloria trying to get rid of Vee with some “Christianity plus.”
- Healy: “Where was your conscience when SIS was in here the first time?” Sister: “Buried under her mistrust for the system.”
- Did you cry a little when Ruiz’s boyfriend showed up with the baby, talking up a storm? He heard her. He was thrilled that she wasn’t leaving, but look at how prepared he was to step up.
- The guard singing “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” after dropping that bomb about Rosa dying like, hey, no big deal.
- “I’ve masturbated to an especially ripped Jesus statue.”
At the end of the season, I’m left with a lot of questions. What’s going to happen to all of that heroin Nicky is hiding? Caputo can’t be warden after letting Rosa escape, right? What big favor is Luschek going to ask Healy for? There were sirens at the end, meaning someone was chasing Rosa; is she going out in a blaze of glory like she wanted?
It was so much fun to spend this time with you! Thank you for entertaining me, and no matter what, remember our motto: Larry Fucking Sucks. Until next time!