Saturday, August 2, 2014

Summer TV Rewind: Orange is the New Black 1.08: "Moscow Mule"

“And on my end, I have a really strong shot at a Twix bar. It’s a great day.”

I wouldn’t say this was one of my favorite episodes of “Orange is the New Black.” It was a bit too melodramatic for my taste. It was, however, more closely tied together by a cohesive theme than many of the episodes we’ve been looking at recently. There was a big focus on childbirth in this episode, although I don’t think the theme really went deeper than that. One of the Latina ladies in Litchfield has a baby, Daya finds out she’s pregnant (sorry…spoiler alert). In other, not really related news, we also get some flashbacks to explain a bit about both how Red eventually found herself in prison and how she has been so easily able to smuggle contraband into the facility. Some interesting things definitely happened in this episode, but it just didn’t resonate with me emotionally as much as some other episodes of the show. I think I’m just over Piper in general, so her drama in this one didn’t really speak to me.

Healy is really, really pissed at Piper over the whole getting the track reopened thing. Early in this episode, he shows Piper that Larry’s article about how Piper’s incarceration affects him got published in the New York Times. Then he promptly tosses the article in the trash can and pours coffee over it before Piper has a chance to actually read the article. Later, she talks to Larry on the phone, and it doesn’t help her mood much. Polly and some of their other friends are planning a party for Larry to celebrate. Larry is not particularly looking forward to the party, and Piper is bummed that she’s going to miss it. Larry doesn’t really have a good time at the party, and the whole thing comes to an end when Polly goes into labor. Larry is the one who actually manages to get Polly to the hospital. Piper is generally moody (again) because she’s missing out on big events like Larry’s party and the birth of Polly’s child. She’s also not thrilled with Larry trying to take some ownership of her prison experience. The things she and Alex did were her real life, not just a charming anecdote.

We get a kind of random Piper flashback in this episode, too. It fits in with the theme of the episode and everything, but I consider it kind of random because it’s Piper and not Red (who is featured in the majority of this episode’s flashbacks). Piper’s got a used pregnancy test in a cup, and she and Larry are waiting for the results. Larry is hoping it will be negative because he doesn’t want to have kids yet. Also, you know, Piper is about to go to prison. Piper chirps naively about how being pregnant in prison could make her time there meaningfully, but thankfully, Larry does his best to bring her back down to earth. He reminds Piper that once the baby is born, it would be taken away, and she’d still be in prison. Despite Larry’s pragmatism, Piper is still a little sad when the test is negative.

So, while we’re on the topic of flashbacks, as I already mentioned, we get a bit more of Red’s history in this one, and we start to see where she turned towards crime. Red’s husband is trying to hob nob with some Russian mobsters in their store/café, and while serving them, Red starts to make some business suggestions. She suggests they go for big government contracts involving schools and hospitals, because it’s a stable source of income. Red’s husband tries to laugh the comments off, but in a later flashback, he’s shocked to walk into the store one day and see Red actually sitting at the tables with the mobsters. Said mobsters own Neptune Produce, which, as we’ll later see in this episode, is the connection Red uses to smuggle in her contraband.

Continuing with the baby/birth theme, Maria, one of the lesser-known Latina inmates, starts to go into labor. Prison regulations say that they won’t take her to the hospital until her contractions are less than a minute apart. Gloria and Aleida (Daya’s mom) spend some time trying to take care of her. There’s also a nasty flu going around Litchfield, and Daya thinks she is sick. Daya is a bit jealous that her mom is paying so much attention to Maria, so Daya and her mom get into an argument over it. Maria tells Daya that she would be devastated if she and her soon-to-be daughter ever talked to each other like that, and Daya is mollified for now. Maria, after laboring at Litchfield for a while and (obviously) in a lot of pain, is finally allowed to go to the hospital. We see what Larry warned Piper about actually happen, as following the birth, a dejected-looking Maria returns to Litchfield. Everyone stares at her as she is wheeled into the common room. It’s Aleida, of course, who tells Daya she is pregnant at the end of the episode.

Red is tied into this episode because Pornstache is desperate to find a way to get his drug dealing operation back up and running. Tricia is having withdrawal symptoms (that are currently being covered up as flu), and Pornstache uses that as an opportunity to harass Red. He wants Red to take care of Tricia on the down low. Instead, she sends Nicky to deliver the message that Tricia is no longer part of Red’s “family.” Tricia is devastated. She ends up admitting to having taken drugs in prison, and she gets an extended sentence for her trouble. Nicky is pretty broken up about what she had to do, too, but we all know she has mommy issues, and she will do whatever she has to do to get back in the good graces of her de facto Litchfield mother, Red. Pornstache really wants to find out how Red smuggles in her contraband. He tries harassing Morello to find out, but she knows nothing. Nicky, however, is only too happy to cause her “mother” pain. She says it’s the Neptune Produce truck, which Pornstache of course investigates the next time there is a shipment.

Finally, Piper and Alex take some more steps towards repairing their relationship in this episode. Piper is supposed to fix a dryer in the laundry room where Alex works. Alex offers to help, and after trying and failing a few times on her own, Piper accepts the help. Alex is on laundry duty, not electrical, so there will be trouble if anyone finds out. Someone does find out, though. While Piper is off getting some more tools, Pennsatucky locks Alex in the dryer. After being admonished by Alex to step up for once (look who’s talking), Piper is trying to get the dryer door open when they are caught. Healy, with his phobia of lesbians and general dislike for Piper right now, is going to make their lives miserable after this.

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