Sunday, August 10, 2014

Summer TV Rewind: Orange is the New Black 1.09: "F*cksgiving"

“The only sicko here is you. And under different circumstances, what? I’d be your girlfriend?”

This episode of “Orange is the New Black” saw Piper take yet another step on the road from Brooklyn hipster to more stereotypical Litchfield inmate (although, if anything, “Orange is the New Black” tries to teach us that there really are no stereotypes in prison). Because of Healy’s continuing grudge, she finds herself in the SHU (it was inevitable, really). While she’s not even there for two days, it seems like the experience hardens her. Meanwhile, Red has to try and prepare a decent Thanksgiving dinner while both contending with the Litchfield dietary budget and Pornstache wanting to mooch off her smuggling contacts. And Daya continues with her adventures in early pregnancy, and Taystee finds release from prison isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. While you might think this episode might have an overarching theme thanks to the Thanksgiving element, it really doesn’t.

Of all the things I mentioned in the introduction, it’s Taystee getting released that is the most interesting and really propels the story of the episode forward. The inmates are allowed to throw Taystee a going away party, and it’s a really community affair. Piper even makes the decorative banner. There’s lots of music, and everyone seems to be having a good time. Piper and Alex, who have gradually been getting more and more flirtatious with each other, start dancing together. Pennsatucky is still pissed at both of them for various transgressions, both real and perceived, so she runs to Healy and says she can’t tolerate the lesbian dancing. Pennsatucky gives Alex a hard time throughout the episode, really. Her minions steal Alex’s mattress and break her glasses. What happens to Piper is the worst, though.

Healy, again thanks to the combination of his phobia of lesbians and general being pissed off at Piper right now, crashes the party and seriously overreacts to Piper and Alex’s dancing. He calls it attempted rape, and he sends Piper to the SHU. Even Pornstache thinks this is serious overkill. Piper is really terrified, and it turns out she has good reason to be. SHU is a nasty place. The people there just scream at the time, the food is either moldy or maggoty (or both), and there is absolutely nothing to do but be alone with your thoughts. At one point, Piper has a conversation with what seems to be a woman in the cell next door who talks about how time seems to have no meaning in the SHU. It’s not entirely clear whether there was a woman in the cell next door or if Piper was just hearing voices.

As for Taystee, her situation isn’t much better. The party is joyous, and her exit from Litchfield is rather triumphant. It’s Thanksgiving weekend, so a CO tries to rush her onto the one available van. Taystee is upset that she won’t get to say goodbye to Poussey, but the friends see each other through a window, and finally having said her goodbye, Taystee dances her way to the van. She finds herself in a really stark reality on the outside, though. A one-time foster sister tried to hook her up with a place to stay, but her would be landlady wasn’t expecting her and doesn’t really have more room in her apartment. After Taystee acts really pathetic, she’s allowed to stay there for one night only.

Thanksgiving is one of the biggest days of the year for Red, since she tries to prepare something resembling a turkey dinner for her fellow inmates. The turkey itself is just trimmings, but she has a lot of pride in her gravy. While unloading some produce from boxes, Red spots some pills that Mendez had smuggled in. She quickly grabs the baggie of pills and flushes them down the toilet. When Mendez comes to the kitchen and sees that his pills are gone, he is furious. So furious that he urinates in Red’s gravy. At the big Thanksgiving meal, there is no gravy, which kind of irritates some of the inmates. One of Red’s assistants says she doesn’t understand why Red scrapped the gravy, because it tasted perfectly fine when she (the assistant) tried it. The look of disgust on Kate Mulgrew’s face at that comment is hilarious.

Meanwhile, Daya is understandably in panic mode about her pregnancy. Being pregnant in prison would be a difficult thing (to say the least) all on its own, but she really doesn’t want to get Bennett in trouble, either. Gloria apparently has some basic Santeria knowledge, so Daya approaches her for help. Gloria gives her a gross tasting concoction and a set of odd tasks to complete, and Daya goes for it. She later learns, however, that her mom, Aleida, got to Gloria first. All Gloria gave Daya was something that would make her feel a little sick for a bit. By the end of the episode, Daya decides that she wants to have the baby after all. Aleida promises she’ll come up with a plan to keep Bennett from getting into trouble. This can’t possibly end well.

Since a focal point of this episode is the rivalry between Alex and Pennsatucky, it’s appropriate that the episode’s flashbacks feature Alex. Pennsatucky says she hates Alex because she’s a “rich bitch,” but Alex’s roots are anything but. In fact, the first time I saw this episode, I thought that the first flashback featured Pennsatucky. In fact, it’s actually Alex (I think). Either way, the first flashback is a little girl who gets made fun of for her Payless shoes by rich snobs at school. She complains to her mom, who basically tells her she shouldn’t worry about such things because her dad is a famous rock band drummer. In the second flashback, we see Alex trying to meet said drummer, and she’s kind of disappointed in him when she does. As she leaves the room where he is partying, she meets another main who would end up being her boss in the drug smuggling operation.

It also wouldn’t be an episode of “Orange is the New Black” without some Larry emo-ness. He visits Litchfield on Thanksgiving, and he gets really pissed off when he finds out he can’t see Piper because she’s in SHU. He starts making all the phone calls he can possibly make to rectify the situation, because he knows Piper loves Thanksgiving and, in reality, he would feel guilty about celebrating Thanksgiving himself knowing she was in SHU. Eventually, though, he gets nowhere and relents, and we see the group Thanksgiving. Piper’s brother has a new girlfriend who is a welder, which was kind of interesting. Anyway, although he doesn’t realize it, Larry’s harassing calls do eventually get the job done. Caputo finds out what happened, and he’s acting warden for the day. He doesn’t want any more trouble (and he knows in an audit, what Healy did to Piper wouldn’t stand up), so he forces Healy to release Piper. Piper returns to Litchfield, and she and Alex head right to the chapel for some “I just got out of solitary” sex. Guess Larry’s efforts kind of backfired.

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