Photo: JoJo Whilden / Netflix
We’ve spent five episodes on the Litchfield inmates’ legal issues; we’re obviously due an update on their vaginas! A gynecologist is on site — but, of course, Piper’s not going to see him. Dr. Chin is a specialist in New York who doesn’t take insurance but does have an herbal-tea bar in her waiting area, because of course that’s the kind of doctor Piper would see, and will see when she gets out in nine months. In the meantime, Alex would like Piper to stay out of petty prison shit and focus on their relationship. Piper agrees that they need to start planning their wedding, and announces that she’d like to have one in prison before doing it again on the outside. Alex isn’t convinced, but apparently she keeps an open mind.
When Mendoza goes in for her pelvic exam, it seems as though she might be menopausal — though, as she frustratedly notes, it’s hard to know for sure: “It seems like all the symptoms of The Change could also be symptoms of being incarcerated.” The doctor tells her to be aware of possible signs that she’s going through changes, and to exercise. Having reconnected with earlier with Sophia (yay!), who’s safe but bored in Florida, Mendoza tries joining her in an extremely low-impact “Footrobics” class. No sooner has Mendoza discovered how pleasant it actually is to sit on a mat and rotate her ankles, the VCR breaks and ejects the tape. One sign that Mendoza might be experiencing hormonal fluctuations is that she can’t cope with this setback AT ALL.
Blanca, who had spent a recent visit with her boyfriend discussing how much she wanted to get out and have his babies, is surprised to learn that her prime childbearing years might be behind her, not to mention she still has another year left on her sentence. The doctor concedes that she might be genetically blessed with fertility — like Geena Davis, who had twins at 48. (Presumably this episode was written and filmed well before the announcement of Brigitte Nielsen’s pregnancy at 54.) Blanca’s not familiar with the Davis oeuvre; her culturally literate doctor mentions Marjorie Prime (hee hee) before hitting her with Thelma & Louise. “You’re trying to inspire me by talking about a rape and murder movie that has a tragic ending?” asks Blanca in disbelief. “That movie,” the (male) doctor intones, “was also about a particularly feminist futility, and the impossibility of justice for women within the patriarchal court system.” Look at the big brain on Dr. Critic over here!
We don’t see Lorna’s exam, though she does tearfully tell Nicky about having had one and how much she wishes Vinnie had been present. Now she’s trying to use her “serving for two” status to cut lines and stuff.
Red meets with her lawyer, who downplays the effect of her taking any plea that adds ten years to her sentence; he’s sure she can reduce it with good behavior. More to the point, if she goes to trial, she won’t win: “You’ll die in here.” Reluctantly, Red signs. This gets her transferred into C block, where she has no interest in Piper’s justifications for selling Red out in her interview. “I’m sorry that you feel betrayed,” says Piper white-womanishly before correcting herself: “I’m sorry for what I did.” Unfortunately for Red, the only one of her girls who isn’t on her shit list is Nicky, in D block. By the end of the episode, she’s on the phone with her son Vasily, regretful about energy she didn’t devote to her (biological) family.
Taystee does get to go to court. As her public defender has advised, she pleads guilty to incitement to riot. On the charge of second-degree murder, however, she rejects her public defender’s counsel and pleads not guilty, to cheers from a knot of observers in the gallery. They turn out to be representatives from the ACLU, who have taken up her cause — but in the meantime, it’s back to Litchfield Max for her, and a hero’s welcome from all her new neighbors in D block.
This includes Black Cindy, though maybe she can avoid the kind of confrontation with her that Piper had with Red if Black Cindy is better at lying, which it seems likely she is. Oh! And! Speaking of liars, we also rejoin Aleida on the outside, getting read for filth by all her children for her failure to get them out of foster care, and hijacking a court-ordered parenting class to try to sell her fellow students Nutri-Health.
After the last episode was set entirely in the present day, this one gives us another flashback spotlight, which seems a little extraneous since what we’re dealing with here is complicated enough. Finally, we’re introduced to present-day Barb, the D-block boss.
Mackenzie Phillips! (Excellent older/younger casting, I have to say.) Daddy checks in to share the rationale for the rat prank: since cheese shipments went out covered in rat feces, C block looks dirty and, thus, the cheese operation will be relocated to D block, bringing high-status jobs to inmates there instead. (Sidebar: The cue for the rat release was Litchfield Max DJ Chatty Cathy screaming on mic; she’s since been moved to the SHU and, after an exhaustive talent search, Luschek has reassigned radio duty to the team of Flaca and Black Cindy.) If Barb has anything else to say about this plot, she tables it when Daddy gives her some pills.
News of the cheese fiasco has made it to the front page of the OITNB-iverse’s barely disguised Daily News.
In addition to the PR nightmare, which has sent MCC stock into free fall, cheese revenues were offsetting the cost of housing a significant number of inmates. Linda parks it in Fig’s office and interrupts her online shopping to collaborate on a solution. For some reason, Fig lets Linda order lunch and hang around for hours before telling her to trick some college marketing students into interning for free and fighting MCC’s bad press on social media.
CO Hellman tells Daddy they also have an issue that Daddy hasn’t foreseen: he was smuggling pills in cheese shipments, and because of her, their supply line has been cut. It’s bad, but as we see, she’s been through worse: In the past, Daddy’s job is recruiting hot college girls to be sex workers for drug dealers and sugar barons, one of whom — Felipe — accidentally kills one of Daddy’s contractors. Daddy only allows herself a few seconds to be upset about it before she starts managing the situation, giving orders to the client’s bodyguard about how to remove the body without any of her other girls finding out what happened or the client risking arrest.
At Max, Daddy’s chaotic evil C-block counterpart Badison comes up with a retaliatory solution: The former cheesemongers are going to defecate on D block’s uniforms while they tumble in the dryers. Alvarez and Copeland are standing just outside and decline to intervene, for draft purposes: They’ll get points if any of their inmates contract pink eye from the contamination. (Another sidebar: When Luschek mentions the draft to fellow CO Young, who is African-American, we learn that he doesn’t participate in the inmate draft because he regards it as a slave auction. He does, of course, still make his living from the carceral state, so let’s not make Young the grand marshal of the woke parade just yet.) When the D-block laundry crew discovers the soiled dryers full of baked-on shit, Daddy capitalizes on their fury, smoothly lying that the C-block inmates also turned Hellman and cut off the pill supply. “DEATH TO C BLOCK!!!” Lorna shrieks. “Nobody fucks with Daddy,” says … well, Daddy, who else. “And nobody fucks with Daddy’s girls.”
Carol, meanwhile, is also furious with her lieutenant. She tells Badison that shitting in the dryers was not a proportional response to the cheese sabotage: “I don’t want to start anything. I want to end them. Do you understand me?” “Shanks, not pranks,” cracks Badison. Carol, refusing to laugh, dismisses her.
Daya finds Daddy crouched, fully dressed, in the shower, water pouring over her. Daya tries to comfort her: Having denied it earlier, she says she did take some of the pills Daddy gave her, and that they helped; she holds Daddy’s hand and thanks her.
Perhaps Daya wouldn’t be so friendly if she could see how Daddy’s flashback story ends: She spends part of an afternoon dodging Felipe’s texts until he shows up at her place with a fat envelope and orders up the girl Daddy herself was canoodling with just hours before. Anyone can fuck with Daddy’s girls, it seems, if Daddy doesn’t have a backup plan.