Confirmed: life is going on outside the carceral state! Before returning to Litchfield Max, let’s discuss what’s happening for people who … well, it doesn’t seem quite accurate to call them “free,” so let’s just say they’re not currently imprisoned.
Caputo is having a hard time, filling his days with Columbo on his TV and porn on his phone, and yelling at a neighbor for making too much noise dribbling a basketball outside, at noon. When he meets up with Healy for smoothies and a bitch sesh, Healy tries to help Caputo get on his level by accepting that his old life is over. He should try to find solace in simple pleasures, like the smoothie joint’s secret menu! Caputo takes this advice to heart and practices some self-care: going to the gym, getting a massage, and tidying up his hair and beard. Why he believes he’ll find solace by reconnecting with Fig, I’m not sure, but he does that too. First she hurts him by showing up for the dinner he’s cooking her by already having eaten (“I thought ‘dinner’ was code for ‘fucking,’” she explains); then, when they actually are having sex and he urges her to “say something evil, you evil bitch,” she obliges: “I’m the fucking interim warden! I took your job!” Caputo’s been listening to podcasts and learning a lot about the institutional failures of the U.S. prison system, but he’d rather be spiteful than woke, and calls Jack Pearson to say he wants his job back.
Donuts starts his story line this week thinking he’s dropping his fellow CO, Dixon, off at his sister’s house. But then Dixon finds what he thinks is Donuts’s bucket list in the car, interprets it as proof of Donuts’s plan to commit suicide, and announces that he’s not leaving Donuts alone: they’re going to cross off all the items on that list together. What we have here, though, is a classic clash between one guy who has no ability to pick up on nonverbal social cues that his company is not welcome, and another guy who has an escaped prison inmate in the trunk. Donuts does what he can to make Pennsatucky comfortable (I can’t imagine how he expects her to pee in a Big Gulp cup while she’s trapped in the fetal position), but can’t even spring her when they stop at a motel on the way to Hershey Park, because Dixon insists that he and Donuts share a room. Pennsatucky finally runs out of patience when the phone Donuts has given her dies and she can’t play her game anymore, so she escapes into the back seat, knocks on the motel room door, and gets into bed with Donuts. After the initial shock, Dixon’s primary concern seems to be that he not be a singleton on all the rides at Hershey Park: “We rotate.”
And now, back to the people who aren’t breathing fresh air. The FBI agents have a game plan: no one who was involved in the riot is going back to minimum-security prison. (The ones who weren’t have been sent to a facility in Ohio, so maybe that’s where Alex is?) Two inmates will get life sentences for killing guards, Daya having already been designated as one of them, and whose plea deal they’re about to finalize. Three more will get ten years added to their sentences for leading the riot, one of which will be Taystee, regardless of CO statements exonerating her, because she was caught on video embarrassing the authorities.
Mendoza’s strategy is solid: she takes credit for everything Ruiz did, and blames Ruiz for everything Mendoza did. Ruiz, of course, tells the opposite story. Knowing she’ll need corroboration for her version, Mendoza comes up with a fake religious holiday. CO Alvarez’s dad is, like Mendoza, a Puerto Rican Catholic, but he’s never heard of El Día de Anunción de la Soledad; however, he agrees to let her, Blanca, and an opportunistic Adeola go to the chapel to worship. The chapel turns out to be half of a multipurpose room decorated with a felt crucifix that even Alvarez finds subpar; he’s also going to be standing there while they pray. Since Mendoza can’t be sure Alvarez isn’t fluent in Spanish, she prays, in code, to “Maria” (which, conveniently, is Ruiz’s real name): “Hated art thou among women. You have led us into great trouble, and someone must pay for those sins … We thank you for taking the blame, because that is the only way we will save ourselves.” Blanca understands, and when she’s questioned, she backs up Mendoza. But when it comes time for inmates to be released into gen pop, only Daya and Mendoza make it out. Thanks to her murder plea, Daya is sent to D block. Mendoza goes to C. “C for cheerful,” she grunts. “Positive thinker!” says self-help enthusiast CO Copeland. Blanca remains in administrative segregation and is not thinking positively about it.
This episode also introduces a couple of new faces at Litchfield Max.
The great Josh Segarra, late of Arrow and Sirens, plays CO Stefanovic. He makes his entrance, into the break room FBI agents have commandeered for interviews, while beatboxing, and continues to make a nuisance of himself distracting them by demanding access to the microwave so he can make popcorn: “I need to eat every hour or I’ll blow my gains.” He reacts poorly later when the agents lock him out with no care for his regimen or gains; eventually we see a maintenance worker changing the doorknob, perhaps so it can’t be unlocked from the outside and keep Stefanovic from interrupting further interrogations.
Piper also suffers the same fate Red did in the season premiere, getting a roommate who’s just been released from Medical.
Hoefler (Finnerty Steeves) seems like another early Piper type, whose attempts at friendship current-day Piper quickly shuts down. But when Hoefler can’t change her own wound dressing, Piper quits being hard and offers to help. She learns that Hoefler got into a fight with a mouthy inmate, who stabbed her. She asks if Piper has kids; Piper says she doesn’t, and Hoefler comments, “It’s harder when you do.” Hoefler has decided the way she’s going to survive inside is to stand up for herself, even though it means more time keeps being added to her sentence (something that’s also on Piper’s mind after running into Lorna while they waited for their meds, when Lorna warned her that was a tool the agents were going to use against the riot leaders). Hoefler says she sees, in Piper, the person Hoefler herself used to be. The cellies seem to be getting along later, when CO Hellman comes by to order Hoefler to quit playing with Piper’s hair, and informs Piper about what got Hoefler incarcerated: “She killed her kids. Three of them. Your hairdresser here is a sicko fucking baby killer.”
In the flashback spotlight this week is Black Cindy, who starts the episode trying to get a message to Taystee about Piscatella’s murder and the danger Taystee is facing.
But as she calls to Taystee and tries to slide the message under her foot toward Taystee’s cell, it falls into a grate; Frieda sees, but since she’s being restrained after her suicide attempt, that’s not going to be very useful.
Thanks to intercession from her rabbi, Black Cindy has a new lawyer, and tells him the cover story she goes on to try to sell to the agent questioning her. She denies she was ever at the pool. Unfortunately, they found her prints there.
The illustrative story from Black Cindy’s past starts with her, as a teenager, having sex in the boys’ locker room at her high school with a boy she knows has a girlfriend, Jasmine. She’s hurt when he sticks up for Jasmine’s honor in front of Black Cindy, and when he’s left the room with his friends, we see she’s hiding a pregnancy. Later, she’s packing up to go to Michigan to give birth, having refused to tell her parents the identity of her baby’s father because she likes him and hopes they have a future. Her father has a warning: “Dishonesty eats away at you …. When you lie, you’re putting a Band-Aid on a leaky pipe. At first, it can seem like the problem’s fixed. But then drip, drip, dripdrip, dripdripdrip, then pop! It all comes flooding out in a torrent of destruction.”
Present-day Black Cindy has a second interview, her lawyer now apprised of the truth (more or less). She admits that she was in the pool before she was in the closet with Suzanne, and that she did touch the gun that was found — but only to pull it away when it was aimed at Piscatella’s head. The agent tries to get her to say she was the one who pointed it at Piscatella, and in her frustration, she says, “I took it from T and I put it down.” The agent knows “T” is Taystee, and though she tries to take it back, he says they’ll only grant immunity for testimony they can use, and reminds her that her fingerprints are on the murder weapon.
We rejoin young Black Cindy post-baby, dancing in front of the mirror without a care in the world. When she accidentally yanks her headphones out of her Discman, she (and we) hear that what she was silencing was the crying of her officially fatherless baby, and Black Cindy’s own mother’s attempts to get her to come care for her child; Black Cindy guiltily slips out of the house instead.
In the present, Black Cindy runs into Taystee in the bathroom. She claims not to remember what she was trying to tell Taystee the other day. Taystee’s just relieved she’s okay, and Black Cindy gets into the shower…
… where the water drips, drips, and then comes flooding out.