Previously on Orange is the New Black
While framing Piper for drugs would have been a suitable tit-for-tat, Maria’s actual revenge was all the more fitting. The swastika-branding scene was brutal, but was it much worse than intentionally targeting the Latina women and framing Maria? How about the fact that Piper, however inadvertently, started a gang of white supremacists and then used them for protection despite knowing exactly how that looks? Don’t forget the way she kicked her Hawaiian bunkmate to the curb with a line that just oozed privilege.
“I can’t help you, but I’m rooting for you.”
Since that’s only a handful of the repulsive acts she’s committed, Piper kind of deserved this wake up call. Maria did promise she would never come back from this, and for a hot second, I hoped it might be true. That maybe the old Piper wouldn’t come back, and we might finally see some growth from her character.
Though Piper is merely reaping what she sowed, Orange continues to try and make the audience feel sympathy for her. Instead of using this experience to change Piper for the better, we’re subjected to a series of scenes intent on the near hopeless task of endearing us to this woman. Unfortunately, the phone conversation with Cal, the crack smoking, and the various shots of her bleeding arm, only made her even more irritating. Had Piper been able to learn something from this incident, something that truly transformed her outlook on her behavior, perhaps Red’s generous act of turning the swastika into a window would have felt earned.
Well, the mystery of the shower pooper has been solved: it was Angie, in the white washrooms, trying to pass drugs. Trust Nicky to solve that one as soon as she’s back from Max. Speaking of her return, Red is absolutely over the moon that her prison daughter has come back, which makes it all the more heartbreaking to learn that Nicky has been stealing from her to make trades for drugs. Having anticipated Nichols’ return for such a long time, it was a real let down to see her take such an unpleasant turn. Not only has she betrayed one of her biggest defenders, Nicky is being excessively aggressive with Lorna. A woman who she once shared a great deal of intimacy with, the newlywed asserts several times that she wants to remain loyal to her husband, but Nicky can’t take no for an answer. She winds up being brutally judgmental of Lorna’s new relationship, to the point where it’s no surprise that Lorna is the one to divulge to Red that Nicky has fallen off the wagon.
When dragging herself down isn’t enough, she coaxes Alex into sharing a crack pipe and the two of them have a wild time in the cornfield. Piper ends up joining in, and the unexpected side effect of this particular strain kicks in. Piper reveals that she always goes too far, that she doesn’t know when to quit, and shows the two women her swastika. Alex, in darkly comedic fashion, reveals that she murdered Kubra’s man, and they’re sitting on him, as they smoke. Unfortunately, the most “truth’ we get from Nicky is how crack is good for you, in small amounts. Excuse me if I don’t exactly trust her when she tells Red how badly she wants to get clean.
Judy King has shifted from being a Martha Stewart parallel into something more akin to Paula Deen. When old footage from King’s highly problematic ’80’s-era puppet show surfaces in the media, we learn she’s the type of person who uses their “black friend card” to somehow prove they’re not racist. Basically, King doth protest too much. Hoping to clear her name she seeks out help from Poussey. After justly calling out King’s further racism in assuming black people would immediately turn to violence in response to King’s initial racism, Poussey generously agrees to mediate the issue.
Meanwhile, Taystee and the celeb photo team had been looking for a picture with a story, and the puppet show footage has provided just what they need. They manage to get a shot of Cindy chasing King down the hall; it’s not exactly ideal but it’s workable. Of course, Alison’s phone then promptly dies. With no charger in sight, the ladies need a new plan. Cue King and Poussey, who have set up a candid photo of King kissing Cindy. Here’s the thing, as cute as the subsequent fake relationship between Cindy and King is – they pretend to be together to escape punishment from Caputo – this was clearly orchestrated as a means to help King’s public appearance. She’s even getting a cut from the profits. We all know that if this had gone sideways, Cindy would be the one to take the heat and King would wind up with even more special treatment.
Corporate Greed 101
Since prison is allegedly a place of rehabilitation, giving the women of Litchfield access to education was a highly valuable objective. Unfortunately, Caputo learns the hard way just how difficult it is to make change in a broken system. The bigwigs at MCC took his education plan and turned it into a means of free labor under the guise of giving the women real-world skills. Arts, math, and science classes have been scrapped, replaced instead with Concrete 101, Foundation Pouring, and Plumbing. Yippee! The inmates who had once been making a dollar an hour – which is actually good for prison wages – were transferred to a construction “class” and were forced to start working with absolutely nothing in the way of safety training. Caputo’s intentions may have been pure, but it was doomed from the moment he handed the proposal over to Linda, the horrible bitch from purchasing.
A briefly interesting character, Linda provided a window into the world of for-profit prisons, and almost made Caputo look like a saint in comparison. Part of me hoped that the two of them would manipulate the system from the inside and use it to their advantage for good. Silly me. Just when you thought you could have a shred of respect for Caputo – his education plan and negative opinions towards solitary confinement were pushing me in that direction – he reverts back to his disgusting, season one self. When Crystal Burset shows up at his doorstep, Linda pulls a gun on her and starts spouting the typical stand-your-ground bullshit. Instead of being repulsed by such an action, Caputo finds it sexy. Well, they can both go to hell then.
If only Lolly had grown up in a different time. Today, her efforts to expose the invasive surveillance-state of our governments wouldn’t have seemed so outlandish, as it did 15 years prior when she was still a young and ambitious investigative journalist. Lolly’s story is a tragic example of how society can so easily cast aside those who need our help the most. How different could her life have been if she was afforded the medical treatment she deserved instead of the prison sentence forced upon her? Unfortunately, the conspiracy theorist inside of her was only nurtured by her unchecked Schizophrenia and paranoia. Which meant when her neighborhood gentrified, she was seen as a stain, an annoyance to get rid of. Lori Petty’s portrayal of Lolly’s complexities has truly been a revelation this season. Most of her dialogue is played for laughs, so whenever she has a moment of lucidity – like when comparing the voices in her head to Magic Eye Posters – it’s all the more heartbreaking. Lolly’s backstory was one of the richest explorations of a character we’ve seen thus far.
It’s regrettable the same can’t be said for Blanca’s. While her form of payback to the sourpuss old woman she worked for was highly amusing, the overall jump back in time offered nothing more than a quick laugh. It presented an apt parallel with the rebellious attitude she was taking towards the guards’ Latina targeted Stop and Frisks, but if nothing else, we already knew Blanca was tough. Focusing on an original cast member, especially one who remains so mysterious 4 seasons in, was exactly what I had been hoping for. As it stands, we still know very little about Blanca in general, though it’s safe to assume she won’t be stepping down from that table of her own free will.
- Sister Ingalls’ efforts to get into SHU were both hilarious and admirable. I wish the sister would have asked before acting, but Gloria taking the “punch” that finally sent Ingalls down the hill was a touching display of the bond these two have been gradually forming.
- O. Humphreys is one of the most vile and warped characters ever on Orange. He put a gun to Maritza’s head and force-fed her that mouse simply because he could. I have a feeling this isn’t the worse we’ve seen of his unchecked power.
- Coates’ apology to Pennsatucky is a complicated issue. While it may have been something Penn needed to start healing, and hopefully she can find even a fraction of solace from it, I hate that it’s being framed as a mistake. Rape is not a mistake. Boo’s lack of compassion in her reaction to Penn’s confusion over to how to feel, wasn’t cool, either.
- Aleida’s lack of faith in the education system is upsetting, but you can’t really blame her for it. I hope she manages to stay optimistic about her goal to open a nail salon.
- Orange has no idea what to do with Yoga Jones this season, and sadly, her character has become an afterthought.
Orange is the New Black S4E7-S4E9 = 8.7/10