Everyone’s favorite inmates are back for another round in Litchfield. Orange is the New Black hit Netflix on Friday, with all 13 episodes released at once (standard Netflix practice). Since doing a recap for each episode doesn’t work, I’ll be splitting the season into 3 episode chucks all week. SPOILERS will be included, so be careful if you haven’t gotten your binge in yet and let me know what other shows you’d like State of Mined to cover.
No sooner that I criticize Orange is the New Black for making all the inmates out to be victims do they throw it right back in my face. “A Whole Other Hole” dove right into Morello’s backstory, and what started out as flashbacks of a New York girl who just wanted a little more for herself turned into some psycho/delusional behavior. We were first lulled into her story thinking she was pulling some petty mail fraud. Yes, a crime but in the grand scheme of things still petty. So you think “Oh, she meets Chris and is caught somehow, but he was waiting for her because he didn’t care”. Man, Chris is a great guy. Then, we find out not only is Chris not waiting for her, he is getting married to some other chick. Chris, the hell man, we liked you. When Morello meets Chris at the post office, it’s a cute moment for a likeable character that goes really fast. Like, the lights just cut off.
Before we get back to the wedding bell psycho, I want to address the rift between Poussey and Taystee, who’s friendship/sisterhood has always been a favorite. The give and take, the good natured ribbing, the way they check one another along with Black Cindy, it’s always worked. Last year when Taystee was paroled, Poussey was the most elated and hurt by the loss of her friend. To see she may love her as more than a friend, and to see Vee take advantage of this awkward time in their relationship is heartbreaking, but also exemplary of her predatory ways.
There was also the side story about where women actually pee from, in which a large group of under-educated women had to learn basic biology from someone who’d learned most about the subject; Sophia. Turns out when you make the decision to transform from male to female, you tend to read up on the subject extensively.
So back to Morello, who was doing her usual van run duties and decided this was the time to drop in on Chris and his new bride. That’s when the flashback let us know they’d only been on one date and she proceeded to stalk him after he called things off. Following him on vacations with his new girlfriend and even threatening her life and placing a bomb underneath her car. The scene of them in the courtroom was bad enough, but to see her break into his home and try on his fiance’s veil, bathe in their tub, was just disturbing. The only real knock on the whole situation is the scene in the house is pretty much the story in an Alanis Morissette song. Kinda takes on a hokey feel once you know that, so…sorry bout that.
“Low Self-Esteem City” saw the racial divides coming to fruition as Vee made a move to get the Black inmates their own bathroom. Vee is really good at getting people to do what she wants. Gloria, thinking she had the upper hand in negotiations played right into her hands, getting two more Black women to work custodial. Red, knowing exactly what’s going on tried to warn her but it was too late. So now she is setting up shop in the gardens. Lines are being drawn and sides are being taken whether people realize it or not. This was evident when resident hothead Jenah tripped Daya during lunch for no reason, getting a rise out of the Hispanic side since they all know she’s pregnant.
We also learned a bit about Gloria’s past with her flashback. A former bodega runner who circumvented the system a bit and used EBT scams to make extra money since her store barely broke even. There was also the abusive spouse angle. I don’t want to gloss over it too much, as it does speak to a larger narrative of strong women being controlled by insecure men, but it regressed OITNB back to the “victim” theme they had just gotten away from with Morello’s stalker story. I will say this much, dude burning up in that fire was sweet revenge, but what that hell kind of room has to doors that lock from the outside?
Finally, Piper got something to do in “You Also Have a Pizza”. Yes, she’s our main character, but with the prison mostly at peace (for now), and Alex out of the picture all she had to do really do was walk around and be a shitty person. First going around and reclaiming her property from everyone, with them all telling her “we didn’t know if you were ever coming back”, this is a legit reason for pilfering her stuff. Then she made sure to be extra short with new inmate Soso, who is clearly a reminder of how bad Piper was when she first got to Litchfield. Now she is being used as a mole for Larry and starting a newsletter about the financial shenanigans in the prison, setting her on a clear collision course with Fig by seasons end.
We also got to see another broken relationship for Poussey as we learned she’s an Army Brat who was used to moving around but finally found a semblance of stability in Germany, along with real love. Yes, Poussey speaks German, and as cool as it is this proves that German is not a language of romance in the slightest. A scene with two beautiful naked women came off like angry stereo instructions instead of sweet declarations of love.
Sadly, the romance wasn’t to last as Poussey’s girlfriend’s father walked in on their sexcapade. OH, he’s also a high ranking official who had the power to have Poussey’s family relocated back to the states. A little too plot-convenient for my liking. I also didn’t really care for Poussey lashing out at her girlfriend after finding out it was pretty much her fault that her father was being relocated. It’s an old and tired story trope. Just once I’d like to see a movie or show go the other way and say “Shit, we don’t have a lot of time left, so let’s enjoy these moments”.
Seeing Poussey start to pull that gun out to seemingly blow General Blowhard away was a bit extreme, but I guess they were illustrating her anguish. It was fairly obvious that’s not why she’s in Litchfield, as shooting a military officer probably doesn’t land you in minimum security prison, so her dad stopping her fit. That whole flashback also gave more understanding as to why she wants to protect Taystee from Vee so much; she sees Vee as yet another adult taking her love away.
The second three episodes picked business up a bit, and connected some dots. Hopefully we see a little more for the version of Piper we like, and not the annoying one, as well as some legit tension within the prison itself. Part of what made season one of OITNB so good was the juxtaposition of hard prison life with interesting characters that were fun to watch. We’ve been getting the fun, but the tension was slow to come. I guess the ebbs are just as important as the flows, so now we’re earning the “bad times”.
What do you think; were these 3 episodes better than the first 3? Let me know. @TheArnold_SoM