Photo: JoJo Whilden/Netflix
I feel bad for poor Daya. She has not done one single thing this entire season. Okay, that’s not true. She did decide to give up her baby to Mrs. Pornstache, but even that decision was yanked away from her. Let’s revisit the list of awful things that have been visited upon her by the people in her life. Bennett left her to go figure out how to get away with murder. Her mother stole her mail, contacted Mrs. Pornstache, shook her down for money, and then convinced her to give up her baby so that it could have a better life. Then Daya started to give birth to the baby and had to be dragged away in an ambulance because she was bleeding. Finally, her mother took her one decision away from her and told Mrs. Pornstache that the baby died while being born so that Daya can keep it.
The final insult was that in the episode where she finally gives birth to the baby she has been carrying around for what seems like 20 episodes, she doesn’t even get the backstory, Aleida does. When they’re dragging Daya out to the ambulance to be taken away, we see less of the patient than we do Aleida’s reaction to her being dragged away.
Yes, we learn all about Daya’s mom. Sure, Daya is in the flashbacks, but just like in the present, she’s a parcel carted around by her dear old mom. The most profound thing Aleida said is that her children never needed her as much as she needed them. She told Gloria that it’s like having fans, if fans puked on you. Daya was always doing what her mother wanted her to do, whether that was going to camp or then talking trash about the camp counselors to make her mother feel better when she got jealous.
Now that she’s all grown up, Aleida is facing the hard fact that her daughter turned out just like her, and she wants to repay her daughter and granddaughter. Aleida thinks that something can be someone to love Daya unconditionally, but maybe she should give her the strength to do something on her own for a change. After all, Aleida had a daughter to adore her, and she still messed it up — what makes her think Daya will do better? Maybe giving Daya a chance to mess up her own daughter in her own special way is the best gift she can give.
Daya isn’t the only character this episode without any agency at all. Pennsatucky is still reeling from her rape two episodes ago by Officer Donuts, but, as Boo points out, no one is going to believe her if she tells Caputo that Coates raped her. They’re a bunch of liars and degenerates, and without proof, Caputo is going to take the guard’s side. Boo’s solution is to Girl With the Dragon Tattoo him and rape him back. While I appreciate the show pointing out that rape victims very often have little recourse for justice, especially when their crimes go unreported, turning Pennsatucky’s revenge into a silly prison caper certainly doesn’t seem like the issue is being treated with the gravity it deserves.
Anyway, they drug Coates, and Boo tells Penns that she should rape him with a broom handle (the household implement with the agreed-upon girth), but they don’t go through with the plan. Pennsatucky’s realization that she isn’t angry (certainly not as angry as Boo is about this) but that she’s just sad is heartbreaking, more so because there is nothing she can really do about her sadness. Their revenge plot at an end (thank God), she can’t get justice, but at least she has the support of a friend. I must say, the unlikely alliance between these two was one of the highlights of this season, watching their affection deepen even when things are at their bleakest.
Sophia is breaking my heart, too, after some inmates who insist on seeing what she has under her khakis beat her up. This all started because of her complications with Gloria and Aleida, the real villain of this season. As Sophia explains, once a single person turns on her, it’s like a cascade. Once the tide has turned, there is nothing she can do to stop it.
Caputo doesn’t offer much help either, giving her the same line he was giving the guards: Just play along and hope everything turns out fine. But Sophia is not going down like that. She shows that she knows her rights, knows how to use publicity against the prison, and knows how to write catchy New York Post headlines this side of “Headless Body in Topless Bar.”
It doesn’t really work out for Sophia, who is led to SHU to “keep her safe,” but it is really a volley from MCC to try to keep her from causing any problems for their profit margin in the next two quarters. Laverne Cox gave an especially excellent performance this episode (can she please win the Emmy next year?), as her face registered not just the bruises but the horror of knowing that no matter what she does, the transphobia will never stop. She can make it better and try to fit in, but she’ll always be different, and be punished for it. I’m scared of that “I’ll get you later” face she gave Gloria as she was marched into SHU. Sister Jane intended it as a form of peaceful protest, but I’m worried it’s going to be something a lot worse.
Just as Sophia’s stock is in the toilet, it seems that Taystee is on the rise, after she brokers a deal with Red when Black Cindy steals her corn. Taystee realizes that she’s now the mother, taking up the mantle that Vee held and abused before she died. I can’t think of a more deserving person. If you can keep Black Cindy in line and convince Crazy Eyes that fanfiction ripping off her Admiral Rodcocker saga is a good thing, then she deserves all the power she gets.
Things are not going as well for Piper. (Maybe she’s the villain of this season, and perhaps the entire series?) Officer Gerber didn’t want to keep taking the panties out of the prison until Stella convinced him that it was the best thing to happen to him. Cal and his wife are running the business out of their basement, but supply can’t keep up with demand. They even attempt to make fake stinky prison panties using blue-cheese scrapings and tuna water. This silly diversion was only worthwhile for Cal hilariously finding out that his wife has been lying all these years about all the girl-on-girl action she’s been having.
With Red taking her chunk, the ladies asking to get paid more, and Cal making faux Felonius Funk panties on his own, it seems like Piper has a whole lot less control over her criminal enterprise than she believes. Stella tells her that she is getting out of prison in a week. Say what? Don’t you think that if you were getting out of prison in a week, that is all you would talk about to everyone who would listen? And she has yet to bring it up to Piper because she was afraid that they wouldn’t get to make out in the bunkhouse? This just all seems too arbitrary and convenient. That is, unless she gets thrown back in the slammer after trying to shiv Alex in the shower. That certainly would be something else, wouldn’t it?