Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer TV Rewind: Orange is the New Black 1.11: "Tall Men with Feelings"

“Look. Life gets messy sometimes. You gotta learn you can’t always fix it.”

This particular episode of “Orange is the New Black” was kind of the culmination of Piper realizing that she didn’t treat her fellow inmates as human beings when she first arrived at Litchfield. The realization was thanks to Larry’s episode of Urban Tales (the NPR show he really likes) airing some not so flattering things Piper said about her fellow inmates. This episode also deals with the fall-out of Tricia’s death and Piper’s choice to set up the situation that sent Pennsatucky to the psych ward. We also see Daya and her friends/family try to come up with a plan to hide that Bennett is the father of her baby, and we start to learn a little about the non-disgusting side of Pornstache in the process. I guess you could say this episode is tied together by the theme of people not really being what they seem on the surface. That’s really a theme of the series overall, but it’s clearest in this episode.

The plot that was most poignant to me was Litchfield’s effort to memorialize Tricia. Early in the episode, there’s the task of cleaning out Tricia’s bunk. Pornstache starts the effort, but Red takes over. Piper decides she wants to organize a memorial, even though she didn’t know Tricia very well, and she gets huffy when nobody volunteers to help her. Alex calls Piper on being judgey about other people not wanting to mourn in the same way she does. An impromptu memorial ends up organizing itself, really. As the white inmates are cleaning out Tricia’s bunk, the ladies of other races that we know drop by to offer condolences and gifts. Black Cindy and Poussey bring by some moonshine, which really gets the party going. Even Piper joins in (after griping about how the other ladies decided to do a memorial without her, of course).

Meanwhile, there is new life to contend with, too. Daya is very much still pregnant. Bennett thinks he has the perfect idea for how to hide his paternity. He’s going to try to get Daya furlough to visit her “sick abuela.” Daya’s mom knows that the furlough trick never works, though. It’s Red who comes up with the plan that Daya decides to go with. Red knows Daya is pregnant because she has noticed Daya has been sick and note eating for a while, but she still has a glow. Red really wants to get back at Pornstache for hijacking her food service operation for his drug selling business, and I think she also in some way blames him for Tricia’s death, so Red wants to frame Pornstache as the father of Daya’s baby.

Meanwhile, Pennsatucky is in the psych ward, and it’s quite disturbing. There’s a scene where she’s screaming in what is essentially a cage, and there’s another scene where she’s restrained and begging the doctors not to inject her with more drugs. It seems like the aim of the psych ward is just to knock everybody out with meds. Suzanne (“Crazy Eyes”) confirms this later in the episode. Piper slips and falls on the wet floor near where Suzanne is mopping, and she injures her knee. Suzanne, promising not to hit on Piper again, helps her back to her bunk. During the walk, Suzanne talks about how every once in a while she has to go down to psych, but because her family is well connected, she’s allowed to leave once she gets herself back under control. She says psych is a really terrible place, and Piper starts feeling guilty.

The flashbacks in this episode illuminate Alex and Piper’s relationship a bit more. Specifically, we see their rather messy break-up. Alex is stressed out with work, and to ease the stress, she wants Piper to play drug mule for her again (this time in Istanbul). Piper refuses to be a mule again, and it leads to Piper and Alex calling things off. Later, Piper asks Alex to help her find her passport so she can go home, but Alex is silent. It turns out that Alex’s mother just died. Alex wants Piper to stick with her through the funeral, but Piper refuses. She needs to end things with Alex right here, right now. Alex still kind of resents her for that to this day, although it’s not exactly stopping her from having sex with Piper.

Before Pornstache gets screwed by Daya (both literally and figuratively), there’s a scene that attempts to humanize him. Bennett and Pornstache hit up the bar after work, and once he’s good and drunk, Pornstache starts lamenting that none of the Litchfield inmates care about who he is or what he does outside of work. He's human, or so he claims. Daya uses this intelligence (given to her by Bennett of course) to get Pornstache interested by pretending to take an interest in his personal life. Soon enough, they’re having sex in a storage closet. The only problem is that Pornstache insists on using a condom, so there is none of the evidence Daya needs to claim he raped her. Feel like I should make a brief PSA here and say that even if you’re trying to save your corrections officer boyfriend’s career, falsely crying rape is never a good idea. It makes people inclined not to believe the many women who really were attacked, and that’s just not okay.

So Piper feels super guilty about being responsible for sending Pennsatucky to psych, and she tells this to Alex. Alex is kind of responsible too, since she had a part in orchestrating the whole trick where the inmates were trying to make Pennsatucky think she should faith heal. Alex really doesn’t want to take the rap for this, so she wants Piper to get over her WASP guilt already. Piper says that this time, she’ll take the blame for the both of them. She confesses what she did, and luckily for Piper, all she gets is a few weeks of janitorial duty. Pennsatucky is released from psych, but not she’s more unstable than ever. It’s only going to be a matter of time before she attacks Piper.

Finally, Larry tapes his episode of Urban Tales, which as I said, is the “This American Life” clone that he likes to listen to. Morello heard a teaser for it while on one of her transport runs, so all of Litchfield knows when to tune in. Piper and all of her friends are super excited about it, and everyone tells Piper that they wouldn’t miss it for the world. This turns out to be a very bad thing. Larry tells some of the stories that Piper has told him, and it’s not very flattering to Suzanne or Miss Claudette. He also says something that makes it very clear he knows about Piper and Alex. After the broadcast, Piper frantically calls Larry to find out how he knew. He tells her about the call from Healy. Both Piper and Larry are really upset with each other at this point. Suzanne and Miss Claudette are also both really upset with Piper, and Piper feels horrible about it.

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