Guess who’s back, back again?! Congratulations for surviving a year of your Netflix subscription without new episodes of Orange is the New Black. The wait is over. The time is nigh. The lesbians are streaming.
This episode was directed by Jodie Foster. I don’t even need to follow that up with a quip about lesbianism and Jodie Foster because Jodie Foster speaks for herself. Although I should mention that the last thing I saw directed by Jodie Foster was that movie where Mel Gibson ran around with a beaver puppet on his hand. You know what’s weird about Mel Gibson? Do you know any other man whose name is Mel? If you do, he’s in his 70s and owns a diner or an instrument repair shop, right? Is Mel Gibson the only man who could make it big as a Hollywood stud-turned-crazy with a name like Mel? Is this thanks to Jodie Foster’s infallible and inexplicable friendship? Maybe.
Anyway, you don’t care about Mel Gibson. You care about hilarious inmates with hearts of gold who sometimes bang each other and sometimes try to murder each other.
The episode opens on Piper in her solitary confinement cell (Ye Olde SHU). Now, let’s recall what happened the last time we saw Piper: Piper was beating the everlovin’ patooty out of Pennsatucky. We worried that she might have lost herself in the violence and in the climactic tension that led to the confrontation. Watching her using her food to paint a picture of “Thirsty Bird” — to me, the first embarrassingly loud snort of the season — might just confirm our suspicions that our girl is three stations past With It on the Unhinged Express.
By the way, who else saw Laura Prepon listed as a special guest star and made this face:
I knew she wasn’t coming back this season but I think I had selectively forgotten that fact? Anyway.
Before we have a chance to get cozy at Litchfield, possibly the coziest prison on television with high concentrations of race and class after-school specials, Piper is loaded onto a bus and then a prisoner transport plane without any explanation. Confused? Me, too. Not that I was expecting the season to kick off with a Disneyland-style parade led by Sophia in a Svarovski-encrusted gown, but a girl can hope.
Fun fact: Connecticut is a strange and terrifying place that I have never understood and probably never will. Pastels with tiny whale patterns confuse me as a homosexual and I can’t fuck with it, you know? Anyway, we finally get our flashback into Piper’s childhood and why she is the way she is, although it’s probably the least surprising flashback on the show thus far. We know Piper’s background from the superb way she’s written, and I think we could have guessed at the fact that she was the type of kid who was not seen as “fun.” When the other cool kids jump off the bus and she doesn’t, she says that her father has always taught her to “not be a lemming.”
Piper ends up on a plane which I am 99.9% sure is the same plane I flew on a red eye to Ireland that was delayed for three hours because someone forgot to close a fueling cap or something. Shoutout to US Airways, thank you for being consistently late and making me watch episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond for 7 hours. Piper is seated next to an OLDER BUTCH with an AWESOME HAIRCUT played by Lori Petty and I love her. Her name is Lolly, which is one of my favorite Justin Bieber songs because I have no soul. I also love the spitter in the Hannibal mask who calls herself a cinnamon queen. I love everyone. I’m just glad to be here in this plane with everyone because I missed this well-written show so damn much.
Besides ye olde episodic flashbacks and the Exciting Adventures of Larry, we haven’t really left Litchfield. We’ve been busy seeing the way life within its walls has built all of the show’s relationships, its saddest and funniest moments, even the love affairs we knew were bad news bears. We definitely haven’t seen anything like this very dramatic situation involving a plane. But change is good, right? Change is the reason Shane got over that shriveled husk of a human named Cherry Jaffey and found our beloved Saint Carmen. Change is also the reason Shane eventually got with Jenny, though, so tread carefully, Narrative Turns that Involve Planes. We don’t want you making any terrible decisions for the sake of unhealthy relationships.
Piper breaks down because she thinks she might have killed Pennsatucky, and that’s why they’re sending her away. Trust a Seven Sisters graduate to spend a lot of energy and introspective thought power on articulating the “darkness within.” Was Piper an English major? I feel like she should be an English major.*
*I can make this joke because I was an English major. If you’re not an English major, you can’t make English major jokes, or so help me lesbian Satan, I will go on a rant about the fluid values of my degree and the necessity of the humanities in contemporary education. Bah, humbug.
Further flashbacks are meant to teach us that Piper was a goody-two-shoes. Past Piper would be horrified that future Piper is on a plane with prisoners, and now there are male prisoners, too! To sum up all this, it is uncomfortable. But it’s another moment when the show gets to use humor and anecdote to take a common theme from the last season – race and class – and add gender to the mix. Writers, write on.
Piper pulls up to Chicago and we get a nice “driving through the city” scene subverted by the fact it’s not a hopeful and inspirational character coming into her own in a new town — it’s a prisoner being transferred to an even worse prison with little hope of getting out. In this new prison, everyone has bitching haircuts and I’m excited to see how many queers will be getting inspired ‘dos this season. Prison internment montage! Isn’t it cute how we are now used to these? This show’s a trip, man.
Piper makes the grave mistake of stepping on a cockroach upon entering her new cell, and pissing off everyone because said roach was their pet. His name was Yoda.
Let me tell you something about cockroaches: One time I was working in Philadelphia in retail hell and we had cockroaches in the dressing rooms (along with chronic masturbators, lots of shoplifters, disposed weaves, pills, needles, and dirty diapers). If you killed a cockroach in the dressing room, you got a spot reward, as it was called. Spot rewards were like, here is a $5 gift certificate to Dunkin Donuts, please enjoy one iced coffee from a company that pays you minimum wage to be supervised by people who are younger and have less experience than you. One day, I’m on dressing room duty and a cockroach the size of a small horse appears in one of the stalls. We have big velvety curtains in front of each stall, and the homie is perched on that curtain like he’s waiting for a steak delivery. He hisses at me with raptor-like volume and does not budge an inch. The beauty of constant dressing room duty like my own is that anytime there is anything to be done that involves human feces, splooge, pornography, possibly infected needles, etc, my ass has to go in there and take it out. It’s a terrible job with no perks that barely pays my rent. So of course, this St. Bernard-sized cockroach is my job. I use insect spray that is technically illegal to use indoors. I spray this thing until I literally run out of insect spray. I use all the cleaning products we have. I soak this motherfucker in a deadly cocktail that could probably make a nuclear warhead or a lifetime supply of meth if combined correctly, and this cockroach is unfazed. He crawls down the curtain covered in chemicals and looks like he’s sauntering downstairs to get his mail. I am trying not to make a scene but here I am, attacking this cockroach with a series of things that have probably just given me breast cancer, panting slightly, wearing a shirt around my mouth so I don’t die from inhalation. When I trap him in a plastic cup, I feel as if I have accomplished a Herculean task. I put him in a Tupperware container that still has chicken curry in it and I spray him with more chemicals. Then I seal the container. I name him Spot Reward and leave him in my manager’s office. I write the words “Spot Reward” on the Tupperware to make it perfectly clear. I do not receive a Spot Reward.
Anyway, RIP Yoda. I already fear and respect these inmates because they have fantastic Star Wars references.
Loving the lesbian who loves astrology because, cough, I fucking love astrology. Piper as a Gemini is not at all a surprise, even if I’d initially assumed from her behavior that she was more of a Virgo/Scorpio cusp. You lose some, you win some, you know? She also thinks Piper might be Lindsay Lohan which is inaccurate because every gaymo knows who Lindsay Lohan is because we will go to our graves wishing that Lilo and SamRo would just get their shit together, you know? Her name is Mozall but I think I will call her Warby Parker.
Piper calls Larry asking for his father’s legal help. We’ll see how that works.
Piper Flashback! Piper sees her father kissing another woman at the movies, even though he’s always telling her about integrity and she’s always idolizing him for it. She tells her mother what she’s seen, and her mother grounds her. Clearly she knows, and clearly she doesn’t want to hear it, and clearly Piper’s learned her first lesson in the slippery nature of the truth and how people feel about it.
Piper sees Alex and there might as well be “womp womp” music playing, because we all know how this is going to end. (Badly. It’s going to end very badly because no matter how conventionally attractive they look together, chemistry is not enough to make a bad thing go good.) She trades dirty panties with a hitman to meet up with Alex, who tells her that she’s in Chicago for the trial and very explicitly instructs her to pretend she never met Kubra and knows nothing. For those of you who at this point were like, hey, this is probably a set-up, ding ding ding!
Larry’s father tells her that she needs to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me Mariah Carey circa-1996. Obviously Piper will not follow this advice because smart decisions don’t make a plotline, honey. This will spiral into Piper lying under oath and Larry’s father giving up on her once and for all. But, this lends us a flashback of lesbianism, which is important to us because lesbianism.
In classic Alex style, it turns out Alex legitimately told the truth and set Piper up to stay in while she got out. We all knew Alex wasn’t coming back for this season, but we didn’t know exactly how that would work. We were also upset because seriously, hot glasses? Main romance? Why kill that off so quickly, y’all? I was torn because while I don’t want to lose a character who has driven so much of the plot, I’m also excited to find out how this tears Piper asunder. So far, we’ve seen her sacrificing everything for Alex, time and time again, even when Alex is very clearly not reciprocating. Stripping Piper of the ability to fall back on old habits, her final comfort when she was still drifting at Litchfield, means she’s about as fish out of water as she’s ever been. Finally showing her in the plainest way possible that Alex is more than capable of betraying her, leaving her behind, and not giving too many fucks about it might be Piper’s harshest wake-up call yet.
We hate to tell you, Dorothy, but you ain’t in Kansas High Security Prison anymore, and Toto’s only looking out for Toto.
So, what do we think of the second season thus far? Does anyone else think it’s the tightest writing yet, even if we didn’t get to see any of our faves? How excited are you going to be when Poussey is on your screen again? Hit me.