No one knows how to talk to people who are terminally ill. We all default to platitudes in place of empathy*, like Healy when he told Rosa “no one knows the future” as a way of placating her after learning that the D.O.C. won’t pay for her surgery. Rosa is strong in the face of her illness, or at least not willing to tolerate any more bullshit. When she tells Healy he’s useless, she’s not just talking about his role as a counselor, but as a person.
Remember how in the '70s and '80s you could rob a bank with just a pair of sunglasses and a gun? Rosa used to be a total badass, but her husbands kept dying after each job. Her first husband, Marco, died in her lap after getting shot, and her second husband died of a heart attack in the getaway car. Rosa thinks they died of the Kissing Curse, but it’s possible the high-stress, high-stakes bank-robbing jobs played more of a role. It’s always interesting to me how women who take on crime tend to be considered to be more masculine, so I like that Rosa gets pissed when Marco doesn’t put any bullets in her gun; I like that she wants to be dangerous.
Caputo keeps overstepping his boundaries, but he does it in such an innocuous way that the inmates almost think he’s doing them a favor. In this episode, he decides to drop into Red’s greenhouse with some of his own plants to “take a little area for my own guys to bust out.” He should bust out — get the hell out of there, Caputo! Power — namely who has it and who doesn’t — is always a major theme in prison, but this is absurd. He could rent a plot of land, do community gardening, or grow his “bitchy” squash and broccoli in containers at his house. He eventually realizes Red is playing him and overturns the nursery, but Red has already moved everything to the kitchen. Stepping into the tiny amount of space the Golden Girls have is manipulative; he thinks he treats them better than Figueroa, but he infiltrates their lives in much more insidious ways.
Red has reason to worry about him skulking around since he could find her contraband, so she makes a deal with Gloria to keep her stash hidden away until this all blows over. It drives Vee up a wall to see Gloria and Red talking but have no discernible idea what they’re doing, and I’m fine with anything that puts Vee on edge or makes her feel isolated. She’s taking over too much, too fast!
Poor Soso; she’s so depressed and so depressing, her upbeat attitude doing little to contrast that of the inmates around her. The big drama this time is that she refuses to shower, and stinks so bad they have to ask C.O. Wells to force her. When she finally does get dragged to the bathroom, it’s one of the most traumatic shower scenes ever, with her crying the entire time. Is Soso going to kill herself? Her cheery optimism and lack of friendship might break her.
The Golden Girls haven’t forgotten Jimmy; they just feel powerless about compassionate release and how the elderly are treated in general. Piper likes talking to them about her grandmother, and all hell breaks loose when she finds out her furlough actually came through. Healy, reeling since Rosa called him useless, pushed it, and people are pissed. It turns out everyone has applied for furlough and no one has received it, so the whole situation is making Piper look like she gets nonstop privileges, which, when you think about it, she sort of does. Her speech about it in the lunchroom was embarrassing, and I was glad that Suzanne threw some food at the back of her head when she turned around. There’s been a lot of discussion about race, power, and privilege this season, but Piper remains ever on the outside of it, unwilling to really engage with people affected by her abject stubbornness. Why does she think for even a second that giving her furlough back will make things better? The chips are already down. It’s sad when her mom tells her that her grandmother has already died; Piper keeps saying, “I missed it,” but even in that moment, I get the feeling she means her entire life, not just her grandmother’s death.
Speaking of stubbornness, Rosa sort of pulls a job with the kid getting chemo next to her, and they conspire to steal a drunk nurse's wallet, just because he asks her how. It’s a tenser scene, made all the more so by his finding out he’s in remission at the end of it. Rosa is always very chill, and I think losing two of her husbands so violently made her scared about love, but she still has so much love in her heart. What’s weird about Litchfield is how infrequently she gets to express that.
Caputo fires Fischer after she raises a tiny slice of hell about the conditions at Litchfield, which was really shocking. When she runs into Nicky in the chapel, she tells her in her own way to live her best life, reminding Fischer that if “we don’t dream, we die.” I think Fischer will be fine, but the fact that it was Caputo to fire her made it harsh. Down one C.O., Figueroa decides to bring a new guard onboard, and the guard is … MENDEZ. Pornstache is back! That is an exclamation point of shock, not enthusiasm! How on earth is this even going to work?
OUT IN THE YARD
- “A little sweet for my … you.” Stay classy, Luschek.
- “I’m like a necrophiliac.” Daya, it’s narcoleptic, and there’s a library, like, right there.
- Do you have to live in Oswego to get the joke Caputo made about smoking?
- Figueroa mentioned The Sixth Sense! I told you Bennett and Daya were ghosts!
- Soso: “I am demonstrating passive resistance!” Bell: “We’re demonstrating aggressive aggression.”
- “You’re both fuckin’ scorpions.” The best thing about Gloria is … everything, right?
- “I pictured myself going out in a blaze of glory, but this kind of death, this slow, invisible disappearing into nothing, it’s terrifying.” Rosa, driving home the fact that the worst thing about prison is time.
*Have you read The Empathy Exams? You should read The Empathy Exams.