Orange Is the New Black
Having chanced upon the scam by which Aleida and Daya were basically using him to mule drugs into Max, Hopper comes home to a raging Aleida only to rage right back at her for the way she’s been using him. While Hopper might have thought she’d be shamed by his confronting her, Aleida just offers a perfunctory denial (“I knew that company was corrupt”) before coming back at him even more savagely, sneering that he’s just “a loser CO who’s afraid to make real money,” toiling for a shabby retirement still decades away. Hopper defensively says that he has very generous benefits, actually …
… but then he walks into the COs’ break room for a special extra-celebratory Doughnut Day: it’s Alvarez’s tenth anniversary working at Max. He’s even prepared a speech, on index cards, and does not hear as he delivers it what a spectacular self-own it is: “These past ten years have been the best ten years of my life … I can’t imagine a better way to have spent the last ten years of my life than being in this prison every day with such incredible friends, and I hope that I have at least ten more years at Litchfield in my future.” Stefanovic calls this a “tough act to follow,” and advises Hopper to start working on his speech now: Hopper’s tenth anniversary is just six months away.
While some people leave prison scared straight, Hopper is scared crooked: When Aleida comes to pick up the last of her things and move out, he stops her and announces he’s prepared to run the scam for three months. Aleida spits that it won’t be long enough net them the money she needs to get a place her kids can live, he tells her it will, if they fill whole containers with drugs instead of just the bottoms. He’s realized she’s right — he was just going through the motions in his life: “Then I met you.” Whereas some people seal a verbal agreement with a handshake, Hopper and Aleida go with angry sex.
Now that she and Mendoza are both living in D block, Ruiz decides to put the lessons learned in Bible study to the test, and tells Mendoza she forgives her for her part in getting ten years added to Ruiz’s sentence. Mendoza is disgusted that Ruiz doesn’t think she should be seeking forgiveness from Mendoza for preventing her from seeing her son when he could have died, and reminds Ruiz that while she may be churchy now, it wasn’t so long ago that she was sodomizing COs with flashlights: “You think you’re a different person because you said a couple of fucking prayers? … You were fucked up when God put you in this world, and you’re still going to be fucked up when He takes you back out. Saying some prayers ain’t going to do shit. So don’t bother.”
When Blake finds Ruiz to take her to the latest Bible study meeting, she mopes that there’s no point. In response, Blake has a parable: When he was a kid, he hit a bird with a rock (“Mormon kids don’t have too many outlets for their anger”) and nearly killed it; however, his mother made him bring it inside to nurse it back to health. The experience taught Blake something: “God doesn’t make good people or bad people … He just makes people. Sometimes they do good things, sometimes not so good, but the beauty is you get to wake up and choose every day. As long as you’re choosing to do the good things, then you’re good.” Convinced, Ruiz goes back to Bible study and opens the meeting with a prayer for the strength to stay on the righteous path when it can be so hard to be merciful. Moved, Hoefler has a confession: It was she who tried to drown Ruiz in the toilet. “It led you here,” she adds. “Right? I guess the Lord works in mysterious ways.” Wrong: Ruiz is convinced anew that “this whole thing is a joke.”
Piper is, in her typical Piper way, smug as hell about regaining her position as captain of the kickball team until Badison — whose stamina might not have been great even before her recent stabbing — overexerts herself and pukes in front of the team. Piper is unconcerned about this as she later reports it to Alex, who notes in response, “She’s a vindictive psycho, and you just unseated her as kickball queen. Something tells me she’s not the type to let that go.” (Were I there, I might add that someone in Badison’s position can’t really risk looking weak in front of underlings by vomiting too many more times at Piper’s challenging kickball drills.) Piper tries to wheedle the recently recovered Alex into joining the team, but she’ll be earning a business degree online.
In their cell, Badison tries to dominate Piper by getting her to give up on whatever scam kickball is a front for. Piper insists there’s nothing else to it: “It’s one small fucking thing that I can do to make this place a little bit nicer before I’m out of here in a few months.” Until now, Badison was not aware that Piper’s release was so soon. Instant cudgel. “A lot can happen between now and a few months,” she muses. “Maybe a guard finds drugs planted in your shoe. Or you’re forced to defend yourself and you end up in Solitary. Or maybe you wake up with a bloody shiv in your hand next to a dead body and there’s cheese up your nose.” Piper’s torture begins with Murphy sticking her gum in Piper’s hair — something I thought for a second was a rehash of a moment on this show until I remembered it was Amma sticking a lollipop in Camille’s hair over on Sharp Objects. Keep an eye out for Wyatt Russell tangling a Sugar Daddy in David Pasquesi’s hair on Lodge 49 and we’ll officially have a trend.
Anyway, back to this show: Piper’s in line waiting for her turn in the salon to get the gum out when she absently slides a foot out of her shoe and, sure enough, finds drugs in it.
Piper manages to conceal it well enough to escape detection and, when she makes it to a chair, whines at Taystee to tell her why everyone thinks they can fuck with her. “It’s ‘cause what they see when they look at you,” says Taystee. “They don’t see you. They see the shit they never had — money, education, opportunity … But at least that’s only in here. People out there have been fucking with me my entire fucking life. They see dangerous, poor, ghetto … So, like, if you want to trade places, I’m game.”
Piper decides to do what Taystee does — “try to survive” — and tells her stylist to cut off the gummy hair hank. At practice, Badison has started a very lopsided game of dodgeball, confident Piper’s getting dragged to the SHU. But actually, Piper’s right behind her, and hisses that she’s not afraid of her. Badison responds by clotheslining Dwight and breaking her nose again, to try to spite Piper by getting kickball shut down. But Copeland and Alvarez, eager to score some fantasy inmate points, decide it was a running accident; that they should all just be more careful. “What did I ever do to you?” moans Piper to Badison back in their cell. Badison says Piper must be used to getting her way on the outside, but in Max, it is Badison who decides who stays and who goes.
This very question is also at issue as Taystee’s trial approaches. Caputo meets with Sophia to get her to file suit against MCC for her inhumanely long stint in solitary confinement: It will help Taystee’s case if negative publicity arises against MCC from attacks on multiple fronts. Sophia is disgusted that Caputo wants to use her story to help Taystee when she begged him to help her at the time, but agrees to meet with a lawyer he’s found to take her case. In the meantime, though, Linda sees Caputo’s name on the visitor’s list and gets to Sophia first, offering her an immediate $300,000 cash settlement and early release in exchange for her signing away her rights to sue or testify against MCC. Sophia takes the meeting with Caputo and the lawyer, to tell them she’s already taken Linda’s deal.
Black Cindy is still suffering with back pain, which Flaca tells her is a symptom of other unresolved issues. Black Cindy realizes that she won’t have any peace unless she tells the truth at Taystee’s trial, but her lawyer tells her doing so won’t do Taystee any good, and will only harm Black Cindy herself. Black Cindy insists that Taystee didn’t do anything, and her lawyer says she’ll have to trust a jury to see that. On the stand, Black Cindy is still in agony, but she does as she has been advised.
Danielle Brooks continues doing spectacular work as Taystee — the show’s best character, in case I haven’t said so lately.
Carol and Red are playing fantasy murder, a game in which they imagine ways they could kill Frieda, like burying her alive or feeding her to an anaconda — or, as Carol says, the way she’s actually going to die: Carol’s paid someone a lot of money to slit her throat with a shiv. “Bullshit,” sputters Red. “Bull true,” says Carol. Red is not familiar with the expression: “Is it an American thing?” “It’s a me thing,” says Carol, “and it means that rat bitch Frieda will be dead by the end of the week.”
Frieda’s death is also a matter of some concern to Frieda. Suzanne suggests that Badison is a candidate for possible assassin, but Frieda says Carol would assign the job to someone more expendable. After initially suspecting Pennsatucky for offering her pudding to Frieda (“It was vacuum-sealed, Sherlock,” snits Frieda, after Suzanne’s smashed it on the floor), Suzanne enlists her to be her sidekick while she interrogates Florida inmates.
At the same time, Nicky realizes that she’s not going to be able to turn Lorna against Barb and thus derail the plan to kill Carol et al., so she makes sure to be part of the cleaning crew posted up outside the salon for the event. She drops a bottle cap on the floor for Red to retrieve, but Copeland notices it first, finding a note inside that reads, “Hit on Carol. Get out now.” Copeland’s eager to rack up some points off this, but Young reminds her that there’s protocol, which is to put Carol in protective custody. When she’s led out past the D-block crew, Carol figures out what she’s just avoided.
Suzanne hasn’t turned up any persons of interest, though she mentions a rich inmate hoarding the caviar of Doritos — the ones in the black bag. Frieda goes to make her acquaintance: Her name is Gladys, and she has a truly impressive snack hoard.
Frieda trades her pruno for some cream pies and chats about the origin of Gladys’s nest egg: Her Uncle Eddie died and left her everything. Curiously, Frieda asks whether the smoked chili Doritos really are superior; Gladys says they are. “Bullshit,” says Frieda. “Bull true,” Gladys replies. Frieda shrewdly asks if she’ll throw a bag in on their trade, and when Gladys turns around, Frieda pulls a sharpened popsicle stick on her. “You didn’t really think I was going to go for that Uncle Eddie bit, did you?” she asks.
“It was worth a shot, says Gladys, putting up her dukes. But before Gladys can get near her, Frieda stabs her own arm and screams her way out of there, framing Gladys.
Nicky is summoned to the laundry and surrounded by Barb’s coven, forced to defend herself against charges that she’s a mole (thanks to intel from Daya about her relationship with Red). Nicky points to her having testified against Red as proof that they’re no longer aligned and (barely) talks her way out of the situation, Barb turning on the skinniest blonde junkie, Annalisa, for feeding her bad information. Later, Barb’s in the hall when she happens to glance down and see Frieda being led out to a bus, presumably for Taystee’s trial — apparently the first time she’s seen that Frieda’s back at Max.
And finally, Copeland wakes up Barb in the middle of the night, leads her through the halls, opens Carol’s ad seg cell, and puts Barb inside.
I wonder how the new fantasy inmate commissioner will rule on this shameless points-grubbing.
A previous version of this recap misidentified Danielle Brooks.