Orange Is the New Black Recap: Mischief Night

Orange Is the New Black

Mischief Mischief
Season 6 Episode 5
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: JoJo Whilden / Netflix

It’s the week of Halloween, and no one seems to agree on when exactly the festivities should start. The kids in Luschek’s neighborhood, at least, aren’t waiting until the night before for Mischief Night, and have already been egging the entrance to his basement apartment and leaving flaming shit bags when his fellow COs show up for the inmate draft party. He turns out to have been right that it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission, because everyone seems to be okay with the party. However, Alvarez’s authority as commissioner is almost immediately challenged as his bloodless recitation of inmate infractions/activities and their point value — “Bulimics are 1 point per vomit; suicide has been pushed to 20, failed attempt 10” and so on — gives way to Luschek’s big reveal: he hacked a sports draft platform and loaded in the inmates and their stats.

Photo: Netflix

Thus does Luschek depose Alvarez as commissioner, with immediate effect. And once the COs have picked their teams, it’s time for them to start trying to rack up points.

Ruiz has already heard from old-timer inmates that some of her fellow “cookies” (Max slang for the imports from Litchfield Minimum) are coming after her. Not just cookies, as it turns out: McCullough, who drafted Ruiz, harasses her by tossing her cell, even though Ruiz hasn’t lived there long enough for anything in it to be hers. “This is some bullshit,” says Ruiz, at which McCullough slaps her in the face before leaving Ruiz, going to the bathroom, lighting a hidden cigarette, taking a couple of drags, and using the heater to burn her own thigh.

McCullough’s slap is hard enough for there still to be a mark on Ruiz’s face when she comes to the yard for general recreation among residents of all the blocks.

Photo: Netflix

Ruiz sees Daya, Mendoza, and Blanca talking and shooting her hard looks, and indeed, they are plotting: Blanca wants to spread the word among the population that Ruiz was the one who freed the guards. Then Copeland bribes Piper with the return of her broken tooth to go start an altercation with Ruiz for the sake of Copeland’s draft team, of which Piper is an unknowing member. After quietly telling Ruiz she’s being coerced, Piper comes at her in an extremely Piperish way, yelling, “You stupid dum-dum!” Figuring that if even Piper is trying to attack her she must be in a very bad way, Ruiz goes to Daddy and tries to volunteer to join that crew. Daddy knows Ruiz’s story, and isn’t interested, adding that Ruiz is lucky she was only among cookies then: “That shit would’ve happened here? We would’ve cut your tits off. And worn them. As tits.”

Ruiz’s very bad day ends with her having to clean a toilet we’re given to understand has been left in an extremely scandalous condition. She only allows herself to cry for a few seconds before kneeling to scrub it, whereupon an unseen person grabs her from behind and sticks her face in the bowl. Ruiz’s arm goes slack and she stops struggling, but we don’t know yet whether she’s alive or dead.

Back to the hilarious pranks!!! Badison wakes Piper up by shoving cheese in her nose, and then demanding that Piper put money on her commissary account, in gratitude for Badison’s having arranged for Alex to move in next door. That neither Piper nor Alex asked her to do this makes no difference to Badison, and when Piper goes to bitch to Alex about this extortion, Alex tries to intercede by (accurately) describing to Badison, one-on-one, what a hassle it is for Alex to deal with Piper when she’s in a pissy mood — “You should see her ask for a manager.” Alex says that Piper will give her the money this time but that Badison should lay off her hereafter. When Piper and Alex meet up again later, Alex says she and Badison spent the day playing pranks on other inmates. Piper is convinced that this just means, in Badison’s formulation, now Alex owes Badison a favor instead of Piper and that their problems aren’t actually solved. Is Alex right, or will Badison just keep pushing her luck until Piper is forced to go full Hoefler and fight back for real?

Lorna is now rooming with Adeola, who tries to comfort her by sharing her own tales of pregnancy: “When my Andrea was pregnant the first time, ooh, she had terrible insomnia too. She had five babies inside her. Kept her up all night. Probably why she ate two of them.” Lorna is horrified… but Andrea is a rat, who still lives in the cell, and is pregnant again. On Nicky’s advice regarding rats as disease vectors, Lorna removes them from the cell, but Andrea and the rest of the gang turn up again for one last prank, spilling out of mop buckets and contaminating the room where inmates are wrapping and weighing cheese for sale, though Copeland is confident that the cheese can still be washed off and shipped. (That this is a retail cheese operation and not just a kitchen is, by the way, something I know only from watching the next episode; it’s really not clear here.)

Immune from the world of pranks is Florida, though it’s not entirely happy for Suzanne, who’s having a hard time making new friends among her fellow inmates; the first one she approaches is hard of hearing and possibly senile. Suzanne ends up amusing herself with a one-woman game of The Floor Is Lava, during which Frieda sees something fall out of her pocket: a small bundle of sharpened Popsicle sticks. Suzanne, who has no idea that this is a potential weapon, defends ownership on the basis of Finders Keepers, but Frieda convinces her to trade it for the chance to bunk with her. One hopes Frieda’s plans for the shiv don’t include Suzanne herself, who is very sweet but also very annoying as she keeps Frieda up talking nonstop.

Outside Litchfield: Linda calls Fig to her office and tries to create a mood with her Napa Merlot, but Fig doesn’t want to be besties and would like to know what this after-hours meeting is actually about. Linda gives her a bunch of bullshit about the environment she wants to create in her new role before downshifting to shit-talking Caputo and how he had her sent to the facility in Ohio even though her presence must have thrown off the inmate count. Alarmed, Fig says that the count was even. Linda doesn’t get it, so Fig has to spell out that it means the inmate Linda replaced is at large, so now Fig definitely can’t hang out for a glass of wine because she has to arrange a manhunt. She does have time for one sick burn, though: “Sorry about the lice, by the way. Joe always did like a full bush.”

The inmate in question is hanging out with Donuts and Dixon in a bar, where the other patrons seem to think Pennsatucky is just an extremely youthful man. She’s so anonymous in her cap, in fact, that the guy next to her doesn’t make the connection when a news report pops up about her escape, including her mugshot, which he laconically judges: “Fuckable.”

Pennsatucky wants to go back to Litchfield, but they’re only 100 miles from the Canadian border, and Donuts is convinced that they can make it. When Pennsatucky argues, he gets grabby enough for her to have to tell him he’s hurting her; he apologizes, but the picture he paints of their lives as fugitives is not appealing: “I can support us! I can do everything! You won’t even have to leave the house!” “That sounds like prison again!” Pennsatucky protests. He says it’s not what he meant, but when he goes out to the car to see if he has a tent they can use during their hike over the border, Dixon tells Pennsatucky she can leave with him instead. Pennsatucky says she can’t leave Donuts “high and dry,” and Dixon empathizes: “I’ve seen Sleeping With the Enemy. Some ladies like a man that bosses them around. Hell, sometimes the only way I can get off is with a foot on my face.” Pennsatucky claims “it’s not even like that,” but it … is. Dixon exits their story, teddy bear in tow.

Caputo keeps his promise to Taystee by appealing to Linda’s sense of decency and what she knows to be true having been on site during the riot. But Linda’s sense of decency has been consumed by spite. Not only won’t she intervene on Taystee’s behalf: she’s also not going to give Caputo his job back, instead offering him a prison in Missouri that only has a vacant warden position because the last one committed suicide. And she has a threat to dangle if he tries to go over her head: Though she agreed not to sue MCC, she could still file suit against Caputo personally for being a knowing accessory to her false imprisonment. When Taystee calls him, he has to tell her regretfully that he doesn’t have the juice to help her, and I guess soon we’ll see if the Show-Me State wants Caputo to Show It some Sideboob.

Camping by night, Donuts is more of a controlling nightmare than ever, refusing Pennsatucky’s help starting a fire and furiously kicking the kindling they’ve scavenged when he can’t do it himself. In the way of emotionally abused women from time immemorial, Pennsatucky continues conciliating his mood, though she does make sure to tell him it’s “really scary.” He promises that he’s going to be a different person in Canada, and that he’s a different person because of her: “It takes work, but people can change … This is a chance at a whole new life.”

When Donuts has fallen asleep, Pennsatucky easily starts a fire, takes the flashlights, and walks to the nearest town to turn herself in. It might have been a whole new life in Canada for Donuts, but Pennsatucky’s been incarcerated long enough to recognize that, for her, it would have been more of the same.

Orange Is the New Black Recap: Mischief Night