Vulture

Skip to content, or skip to search.

Orange Is the New Black Season 2 Premiere Recap: Piper Being Piper

Welcome back!

I thought for sure Piper would be the new leader of the laundry crew by now, having supplanted Pennsatucky with a thorough ass-beating, but she’s been locked down for a month drawing yellow warblers on the wall of her cell with the egg yolks she won’t eat. Piper is always Pipin’, finding ways to be bougie even in solitary, daring to tell the guards she “hates cooked yolks.” Piper, you are an asshole, but you’re our asshole, and we missed you.

Right away everything is thrown off balance — Piper is rousted out of solitary, put in a van where the guards argue the merits of using the esteemed term poochies instead of the degrading term bitches, and process Piper out in tight handcuffs. She’s totally freaked out and has no idea what's going on, and the process isn’t made easier by the woman on the bus talking about her pee pads (double maxi pads for the long journey) and the woman on the Tarmac who hid a razor in her mouth before hocking a loogie on a U.S. Marshal. All Piper wants to do is pee and figure out where she’s going, but no one is willing to let her do either, and the loogie-hocker is trussed up like Hannibal Lecter before the plane takes off. We’re definitely not in Litchfield anymore.

The plane trip is uneventful, but she gets seated next to Lolly (played by Lori Petty, whom I haven’t seen in ages), who has a plug of Vaseline in her ear to keep from getting too dry on the flight and helps Piper eat an apple slice when her little T. rex arms can’t figure out how to chow down while shackled. Despite that, Piper betrays her by watching as she gets her ass kicked in the yard after they touch down. Goddammit, Piper, has prison taught you nothing about loyalty?! She spills her guts to Lolly on the plane about the dark place she went to when she was wailing on Pennsatucky, and then watches someone else go to a dark place when she wails on Lolly. It’s possible that Piper is surviving in prison by being slightly self-protective, but I think it’s more of an oblivious selfishness that precludes her from risking her own ass in the wake of Alex screwing her over and landing her in prison in the first place. Piper only learns the prison rules that will help her out directly; it’s not really a relationship-building opportunity for her, so it’s not surprising that she’d sacrifice this new friendship.  

The flight makes a pit stop to pick up some male inmates, one of which leers and says lascivious things to a stunned Piper, and then it travels to Chicago, where Piper is going to live for a few days. She doesn’t know it’s a short-term stay until she sees Alex in the courtyard after Lolly gets her ass kicked; she thinks she’s killed Pennsatucky and has been transferred to a higher-security prison forever. The leering man on the plane gets a note to Alex in exchange for Piper’s four-day-old underwear, and during their quick meeting, Alex is full of good news; she lets Piper know that she didn’t kill Pennsatucky and they’re both there to testify against Kubra, Alex’s old drug boss. A visibly relieved Piper had forgotten that Alex was mad at her, and they put a temporary plug in their hate for each other in order to take down Kubra.

Piper is definitely thrilled to see a friendly face in the wake of her hilarious new cellmates. It’s like Litchfield turned up to 11 in there! She gets off on the wrong foot with them — literally — when she crushes Yoda, their champion cigarette-running cockroach, and now she’s on the hook to replace him or pay the price. No one tolerates Piper they way they did at Litchfield, and no amount of jalapeño-chewing is going to endear her to them. The Cockroach Trainer waxes philosophical about Piper’s task while singing Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and taking her fourth dump of the day, and Tattoo Face lets Piper know that she’s killed 13 inmates. The astrologer from Michigan who insists on knowing what time Piper was born and thinks she’s Lindsay Lohan eventually ends up on top of her, licking her face to get the information out of Piper, then casually reveals that she bit her girlfriend’s tongue off and swallowed it in a fit of “pretty straightforward manic-rage stuff.” Do we really think Piper is going to make it here for more than a week? Starting the show this way is a smart move; it's a reminder how much Piper relies on her charm and wit to get by within a system that is completely foreign to her at Litchfield. But Chicago ain’t havin’ it, and if she is going to stay there for any extended amount of time, we’ll have to watch her learn a whole new system, like a newborn deer trying to stand up on its spindly legs for the first time.

A series of flashbacks bolster the reasons Piper thinks she and Alex should tell the truth at their hearing — her reluctance to follow the crowd when they all jump out of the back of the school bus, catching her father in the midst of an affair and her Waspy mother’s reaction steeped in denial — and Alex reluctantly agrees. Piper decides to lie at the last minute when she sees the toll this is taking on Alex and remembers the sacrifices Alex has made for her, but in a fucked up Gift of the Magi–type scenario, Alex uncharacteristically decides to tell the truth. Whatever deal Alex made gets her out of prison, leaving a furious Piper behind, screaming, as a roach with a cigarette stuck on its back moseys past her.

OUT IN THE YARD

  • Piper is an ugly crier.
  • I sort of loved that her friend still wanted to go to the movies after Piper saw her dad having an affair. Your world may be crashing down around you, but Sarah paid that kid an extra $10 to get tickets to Dazed and Confused, so let’s get our priorities in order, Pipes.
  • Piper: "Are there instructions for making the bed?" Michigan: "Have you never made a bed before?"
  • “You know Snazz? Says she used to dance with a Piper who could blow out candles with her coochie.”
  • Having just been back east last week, I felt Piper’s joy at getting a chance to sip some Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.
  • Larry’s dad quit as Piper’s lawyer when she broke the law and lied, saying, “You can’t stop doing rain dances on the slippery slope.” That’s probably a good idea, since they aren’t really together anymore, regardless of whether or not she broke the law. 
  • “I was a demanding poochie.”
Photo: JOJO WHILDEN