Orange Is the New Black
Let’s kick things off by checking in on how things are going for the inmates who ended up in Ohio … and also Linda, MCC’s head of purchasing, who got scooped up along with them. This is especially bad news for her since there’s a lice outbreak and everybody has to get their heads shaved. Fortunately, a CO recognizes Linda from her corporate head shot. Unfortunately, it’s not until she’s had an extreme makeover.
Jack tries to buy Linda off with a fruit basket – a weak move, since as head of purchasing, she knows he only sprang for the mid-tier arrangement, and also because of course she could sell her story to the press and bring an eight-figure lawsuit against MCC besides. She negotiates a promotion and a raise to triple her salary.
Back at Litchfield, Fig isn’t trying to make any big moves, telling a CO, “The best thing you can do is think of yourself as a hotel maid: no rearranging the furniture, and no asking questions no matter what kind of freaky shit you find on the nightstand.” But when Linda calls to introduce herself as the new Stan and propose that she and Fig go out for drinks to talk about Linda’s ideas, it’s clear Fig might not actually get to be a lazy figurehead.
At Litchfield Max, the inmates who’ve been released into gen pop are being forced to adapt to its power structure. The unpleasantness of doing so is compounded by the standard D-block hazing ritual: stealing new inmates’ toiletries, on orders from the D block boss, Barbara. (Lorna gets in a lusty session with Black Cindy’s toothbrush, but Daddy steals it before she can brush her tongue.) As bad as D block is under the rule of block boss Barbara, the inmates have already heard tell that C block is worse; the dream is to be moved to B block, a.k.a. “Florida,” though as Daya describes it, that will be hard: “Florida don’t let normal people like us in. Only grannies, trannies, and loonies.” Hmmmm, do we know anyone who matches any of those categories …
When the D-block squad is assigned janitor duty in C block, Daya thinks she may be able to appeal to Mendoza, currently enjoying a cushy library job there, but Mendoza’s cellie forbids her from sharing her shower kit. This forces the crew to stage a heist, coming through with a whole Walgreens aisle’s worth of toiletries. Only when they’re in the showers lathering up do they realize they’ve been set up to steal shampoo contaminated with urine. Daddy later stops by Diaz’s cell with an apology basket full of unadulterated toiletries, and a few pills to help her with the pain of her various guard-inflicted injuries so that she can sleep through the night.
Meanwhile, the investigation goes on. Having called her father Les, in the season premiere, to ask for a lawyer, Nicky gets to meet both him and the litigator he’s supplied; Nicky quickly figures out from the way Les pets Michelle’s arm that they are romantically involved – though when Nicky characterizes their relationship as a dalliance on par with other women Les had hired to work with Nicky, like her piano teacher and her French tutor, Michelle testily informs her that they are engaged and already have two children together (one of whom, to Nicky’s disgust, they have named Atticus). Nicky decides she doesn’t actually need their help after all.
Over to Red, who makes a strong impression on Agent Nguyen by showing her what Piscatella did to her scalp. After that, though, it’s hard for Red credibly to claim that she didn’t want him dead. Before Nicky and Piper are questioned, Red tries to charade them a message about Piscatella having been killed in the pool, which even the COs try to guess, but which no one figures out. Instead, Badison offers to relay the message verbally in the yard, and when it reaches Nicky, she realizes she may have been hasty dismissing her counsel. Red is forced to pass the message to Piper via strategically circled letters on page 69 (nice) of a novel. “‘Tall one killed in pool,’” Piper deciphers. “Does she mean Alex?” She looks across at Red, who gravely nods.
During her interview with counsel, Nicky is presented with statements from 30 inmates attesting to her having broken into the pharmacy and distributed drugs; for this alone, she could face 70 years.
Piper, in her interview, can’t disavow the video of herself filming the Cheeto bonfire, but believing Alex to be dead, she’s too despondent to defend herself very effectively or give a thought to Red. She states that Red made them bring Piscatella to the pool to torture him: “She couldn’t let it go. Her fucking obsession brought that crazy man into the prison, and now Alex is — you know, you should all go fuck yourselves. I don’t care anymore.” Seasons change, prisons change. Piper always sucks.
After Nicky’s interview, Les urges her to name Red. Nicky says she isn’t a snitch, to which Michelle notes that the AUSA probably already has a case against Red — which, thanks to stupid Piper, is true. If Nicky ever wants to get out, this could be her only chance. But we don’t find out what she decides to do.
This week’s flashback spotlight shines on Frieda, whom Red curses out, when they end up taking indoor exercise together, for attempting suicide. Frieda tries to explain that she has a history at this facility, with people who are going to come for her, before pretending to trip so she can steal a bottle of bleach.
And we see that, indeed, Frieda was incarcerated at Max in the ’70s, running a black market smack operation with a somewhat erratic woman named Carol. Their competition turns out to be Carol’s sister Barbie (sound familiar?), who gloats about her frequent visits from their mother, in which Carol is not included, before reminding Carol that they had a deal: “D block gets smack and weed; Cunt block gets rock and pills.” Rather than argue the point, Carol has Frieda chase Barbie out with a shiv. Later, they return to their storefront to find Carol’s Burt Reynolds poster has been stolen, along with their stash. After a brief discussion about whether it was Carol or Barbie who actually killed their sister Debbie (Carol claims it was Barbie, despite the fact that Carol has apparently been locked up for it), Frieda convinces Carol that a mere beatdown isn’t enough to teach Barbie a lesson, and that they have to be strategic: “Shoot a deer in the gut, you wind up chasing it down for days. Shoot it in the heart? You’re eating venison by dinner.”
Present-day Frieda is just as strategic. She fakes a fall to retrieve the message Black Cindy accidentally kicked into the grate and decodes it. She uses the bleach on her hair, and ink from the felt pen she mooched off Copeland to put dark circles under her eyes. She stands in her cell with her arms raised above her head. When it’s time for her to report for her interview – using a walker, courtesy of Copeland – she acts forgetful and feeble. How could she even have shot anyone what with these shaky hands of hers?
Maybe Frieda could remember more if her living situation were improved, she suggests. The list of items in the bunker that have her fingerprints on them is long, and the fact that Piscatella was found there in restraints is damning. Frieda insists that he was going to kill them all, and that they just immobilized him. But if the agent is going to come through on the deal they shook on, he’ll need a name: “Perhaps a Russian one.” We don’t see Frieda dime out Red …
… but when we see her next, she’s being moved out of administrative segregation. As CO Hellman leads her past C block, she locks eyes with Carol — easily recognizable because she hasn’t changed eyeglass frames in the last 40 years.
We jump back to the past, as C block faces D block at kickball. This is where Carol is planning to take out Barbie, but Frieda isn’t there, so Carol starts a brawl without her. When Carol pins her, Barbie tells her she didn’t steal her stash …
… and we see it’s true: Frieda has turned it over to the warden in exchange for a transfer to the minimum-security prison. “Stay out of trouble up the hill,” the warden advises. “You just made a lot of big enemies down here.” So: If it turns out Nicky did snitch on Red, it’s really going to be overkill …
… because how else but selling out Red could Frieda have secured her transfer to Florida?