Orange Is the New Black
There has been no man since Pauly Shore who has made the word buddy seem more annoying than Pearson, the MCC liaison who is now the warden who refuses to say he’s the warden. If he doesn’t stop using that word, I swear to God I’m going to reach into my TV screen (okay, laptop) and I am going to strangle him with a pair of hot-pink, stinky prison panties.
Then I realized that my problem isn’t really with Paulson; it’s sort of with this season of the show in general. While I still find it enjoyable and I love spending time with so many of these characters, so much of this season is just repeating the same things over and over again. Each episode has a slightly different theme and a backstory, but everything is really about the lengths these women will go to stay sane in prison. That is a worthwhile and very applicable theme, but it seems to be handled without any subtlety whatsoever, and now that I’m looking for it, it seems more heavy-handed than it should.
This episode was about how Leanne is using religion to make herself feel better. While her new guru Norma is advocating for kindness above all else, Leanne craves the structure that spirituality can give her, especially because she was raised Amish (a brilliant decision that didn’t pay off as well as I’d hoped). At the top of the episode, Leanne has a great moment where she elucidates their faith, saying that it is about creating silence so that they can achieve a state of clarity. Once there, they want to use their positive energy to create a change for the better in reality. Isn’t that all any religion wants? Isn’t that what prayer and meditation and dancing with snakes and pagan rituals are all about? I’ve never quite heard it put so eloquently.
Still, people don’t take Norma’s faith seriously because it doesn’t have a name or an organized set of tenets. The guru herself doesn’t want to do that other than write kindness down on her Lisa Frank unicorn notepad, so Leanne takes it upon herself. Soso, in the depths of a deep depression, takes the faith differently; she sees visiting Norma as a moment where she can take off the heavy armor that they all must wear to survive daily life (see, there’s that theme again!). I actually liked her speech better than Leanne’s because it was more personal and more about explaining herself than trying to win over the public. The thing about Norma is that she is literally a cypher, a silent person onto whom everyone else projects their hopes, dreams, and aspirations. It’s going to take all kinds to get this movement going, and Leanne needs to accept that.
Things don’t go well when Leanne goes to apologize and Soso and Chang make fun of her for being Amish. I mean, if Chang thinks that you are a weirdo, your shit is seriously busted. Leanne tells Norma that sometimes the kindest thing you can do is let people go, just like her parents had to let her go after she ruined their standing in the community because she ratted out the other Amish kids for being meth dealers.
Everyone who was chowing down on kosher meals had to face a rabbinical review board to make sure that they really were part of the tribe. Their explanations were genius, especially Black Cindy’s, which was mostly based on Annie Hall and Yentl. If only they had books in the library, I wouldn’t put it past B.C. to go and study up so she could keep having her delicious food. Props to Sister Jane for paying enough attention in comparative religion class (or the nunnery, whatever) to pass the test.
Kindness was certainly lacking all over the prison this episode. Sophia thinks that Gloria’s son is a bad influence on her son, but after learning that he was the one who ran away when Sophia’s son beat up some other kid for “fagging out” on him, she has a different idea. Still, it’s easier to blame the bad influence of Gloria’s son than for Sophia to accept that she is a bad parent. In the end, when she goes to apologize to Gloria, she decides not to tell her what she learned, which seems like a petty cruelty.
Piper cheats on Alex, who is increasingly preoccupied with her deserved paranoia about Lori Petty. Piper, flush with money and confidence now that her stinky panty scheme is raking in serious cash, makes out with Aussie because, and I quote, Alex was getting “annoying.” All right, I wouldn’t want to date someone who was consistently annoying either, especially if I was literally trapped in the same building as that person. However, shouldn’t Piper, as a good girlfriend, try to help Alex through her problem to make her less annoying? Wouldn’t that be the caring and apt thing to do? Don’t you think Dr. Drew would advise her to do that on Love Line? Dan Savage would certainly tell her to stick with it and probably try a new sex position. No one would say, “Break up with this person because you are momentarily annoyed.” God, I hate Piper.
But I love Aussie. She’s so sexy and badass and has a haircut that is both stylish and butch enough that even I want to get it. I even like her tramp stamp. What kind of evil alchemy must she do that she could even make a tramp stamp look sexy?
What was not sexy was Pennsatucky’s run-in with Coates, who has taken quite a shine to her. Initially, she is the one in control in this relationship, letting him know how he should be acting in the prison so they don’t get busted for their inappropriate relationship. He definitely wants her and takes her to the pond to play with the ducks and eat some doughnuts. Things take a turn for the creepy when he starts ordering her around and calling her inmate. He’s getting off on the power, and she seems a little bit reticent to do what she’s told, not wanting to pick up a piece of doughnut from the mud with her mouth.
At the end when they make out, she allows it to happen, even though the power dynamic between them is such that she doesn’t really have much choice in the matter. The whole thing was starting to feel like rape, and I thought it was going to take a turn for the worse. Actually, because of his position of power, it is rape no matter what, even if she doesn’t say no or protest it. How is she supposed to? I’m still not sure how we’re supposed to interpret her face at the end of the encounter. It seemed to be a mix of emotions, but none of this spells good news for Pennsatucky.