Welcome back to the show you probably already binged last weekend but have been forced to never discuss by an army of coworkers and Facebook friends who can’t commit. Note: Yes, I have finished the entire season. By episode four, I was like, can’t stop, won’t stop, there is nothing you can do to prevent me from pressing ‘next episode.’ But because I love all of you like a giant homosexual family and I don’t want to spoil anyone who is reading the recap for episode two having only seen up to episode two, I’ll be treating plot turns and characters as if I know absolutely nothing of their fates later in the season. If you’ve also finished the season, you understand how gargantuan a task this is, and how much it pains me to pretend like I don’t know about absolutely crazy shit. Because shit does indeed get crazy, absolutely.
We start right out with a flashback, because Lesbian Jesus knows that this show does love its formulas. The best part is that the second this flashback’s spotlight child started singing Christina Aguilera, I knew without question that it was Taystee. That’s how goshdarn wonderful these characters are, so wonderfully written and portrayed that a single action lets us know exactly who we’re looking at and why what we’re about to see is important. The Taystee Formerly Known As Tasha is part of a “black adoption festival,” which is kind of like a job fair except instead of meeting prospective employers you meet small humans who need a family.
Tasha cusses out another girl in front of potential parents, and then she gives up on the fair altogether, taking her snowball and removing herself to a bench. Here she’s joined by a mysterious woman who we automatically want to love and trust and learn wise things from, because Lorraine Toussaint y’all! I don’t want to give too much away about this season, but her performance is mind-blowing and if she and Uzo Aduba aren’t showered with praise by every media outlet there is, I will no longer trust said media outlets. For those of you who were like, hmm, I like Lorraine Toussaint, and I like the older woman vibes, but I’d like to see some stud hotness, too, look no further:
Now that you’ve taken a cold shower and resumed the episode, Vee and Tasha are still on the bench. Tasha calls Vee on her shit, saying she knows this lady’s a drug dealer, and despite the fact that Tasha’s a total math prodigy and not exactly swimming in options, she turns down the offer to get involved in the game. When Tasha says her snowball looks blue but tastes red, Vee gives her the nickname of Taystee.
I want you to remember this small interaction because it will define every single tiny minute thing about Taystee for the rest of the season — the fact that she is capable of turning down Vee’s more superficial offers while never being able to shrug off the nickname Vee bestows on her. Taystee will always be too smart for some things, especially the business end of things, but it’s the emotional shit that trips her up and sticks to her like glue, reducing her to that same little girl on the bench whose ability to memorize the periodic table could never outweigh her telling someone to “fuck off.” Maybe the shaved ice was too clunky a metaphor for some of you, but I dare you not to think about how many people on this show have been locked up for looking just plain blue, when we’ve seen that their insides are a much more complicated and delicious blend of red. In all seriousness, though, this is the beauty of Taystee — Vee tells her she doesn’t need this shit, because it’s up to her to find her own “forever family,” and Taystee does exactly that. Queer structures of family, who the heck is with me?! And more importantly, we know who Taystee’s forever family is, and we’re rooting for them.
Litchfield, O Litchfield! How hast thee fared? Didst thou miss me? Much as I have learned over time to not only tolerate Piper but also genuinely enjoy what she brings to the show, a Piperless Litchfield is somehow the best Litchfield yet. If y’all are still thinking about whether or not to board the Season 2 train, let me convince you with two words: Ensemble. Show. This ain’t the Piper Kerman Hour of Power anymore. This is the Everyone You Love So Much Gets So Much Screentime Except Sophia But It’s Slightly Okay Because Laverne Cox Media Goddess Show.
It’s Career Day and the lady from Dress for Success is here, bitching it up and forcing everyone to wear unwashed clothes. It’s not actually that bad, although the woman in charge is definitely a stuck-up freak. You have to love the heck out of Sophia for recognizing this as another bogus activity that can be usurped into dress-up time. Morello finds a sexy sailor Halloween costume, but it totally goes with her go-to red lipstick, so who’s not on board. Leanne is dressed in an outfit I’m pretty sure I saw my mom wear a lot in 1995. I don’t know, my family just stopped wearing shoulder pads last year. No one told us they were out of style, y’all! Nichols achieves Bette Porter Realness but Taystee makes sure she’s got the winning outfit from last year because Taystee is in it to win it.
Daya is mad constipated because I guess pregnancy causes constipation? Pregnancy is crazy weird, guys. Shoutout to my partner for 100% being ready to deal with that and any other complications my transferred egg causes. Anyhow, this is a real problem. Back in the day, I had a really bad stomach virus where I couldn’t stop throwing up and feeling like the entire world was not worth living, and my mother decided she was going to give me Imodium to stop me from throwing up. Big dumb move for my naive ass, because Imodium is meant to stop diarrhea, not vomiting. Needless to say, she gave me 3 of them, and I did not see the other side of my meals for about a week and a half. What a miserable painful time. I ate broccoli for every meal and cried a lot. So I feel you Daya, I do.
Flashback to younger Taystee trying to do honest work, but fast food pay and a shitty foster home situation are not cutting it. When the temptation of Vee’s offer is too strong to resist, Taystee proves her worth by doing insane mathematical figures in her head and demonstrating some very savvy business skills. Vee is impressed, impressed enough to offer her a place in her company as well as her home. And home is exactly what Taystee finds, with Vee seeming to balance both business and hominess pretty well in her set-up. Taystee gets to eat homemade dinners and come home to her own place, and Vee gets a brilliant sidekick. Even when we see the business taking its toll — RJ’s death deeply shaking Taystee, making her realize that the safety she feels with Vee is a illusion — Taystee lets Vee be her only source of comfort. No one could watch that and think that a relationship built on that much dependence could ever end well.
What’s that? That sad pitiful whistling noise? It looks like the Womp Womp train has made it to No1 Care station, because it’s a Larry scene. Larry’s at a gay bathhouse with his dad. For those of you who watched this scene and completely ignored the dialogue, thinking instead “Why don’t we have lesbian bathhouses? Why isn’t that a thing? Why don’t I get to go to a sauna and fuck a random chick while people watch us but pretend like they’re not watching us?“, it’s because no, don’t ask, and you don’t want to anyway. Bathhouses are, as far as I can see in my brief checking of Wikipedia, a dude thing. Their clandestine nature and ability to allow preciously incriminating activities to take place in safety make them them famous in gay male history, kind of like how we have vegan bakeries and zine libraries. Also, when was the last time you wanted to finger somebody in a slightly more visible version of the YMCA’s locker room? No, you’d rather eat goat cheese off each other’s nipples at a dog farm in Vermont.
I was gonna put an image here, but, um. Never mind.
Also, aren’t you glad you ignored the dialogue? Larry was telling his dad he was excited because he figured out how to get Piper off internally. Are you kidding me with this shit? The entire queer world just did a six-minute long Ursula laugh. Rookie bitch, please.
For those of you worried about Red, duh! We are all worried about Red, we are holding lesbian prayer circles and lighting lesbian prayer candles for Red. This lady was our favorite prison mother and now her roots are showing in a hardcore way, literally and figuratively. Her family has lost control of the business at home that was her pride and joy, her old prison throne has been handed off to someone else, and whatever friendship she’d found behind bars has abandoned her with a grudge. The fact that is becoming all too clear is that Red actually has a heart, and that’s why she can’t just ruthlessly fuck over everyone in her path. It’s something we love about her, but it also means it’s going to be a rocky road to the top, if she ever gets to the top again.
Long story short: Red is aching for a bitchy reveal and an emotional comeback like it’s the last twenty minutes of a Catfish episode. When we see how defeated and miserable she is, it eats us to our very core, right? As everyone else in prison whispers, it’s like seeing a bear going into hibernation. The table that was labeled the Golden Girls during Piper’s Season One introduction to everyone in the prison a la Mean Girls cafeteria scene is the same table that wants to acquire Red, but Red feels like while she’s slowly dragging her limp body up the hill, she is not yet over it. Hanging out with the elderly inmates would be a sign of complete defeat, and at least she’s not ready to admit that yet. Hang in there, baby girl!
If you were concerned about Daya’s bowels, a combination of yogurt and spices does the trick, apparently. And this causes Daya to play the peacemaker between her biological mother, someone who has not really been there for her ever, and Mendoza, who has had to give Daya a bit of mothering in the meantime.
Pennsatucky leaves solitary confinement to much fanfare and fear. Things in the laundry room have been pretty chill according to Leanne, and no one is actually looking forward to a walking Planned Parenthood protest showing up and yelling about purgatory all the time. Tucky seems to have turned a new leaf in her time alone, though, and part of that leaf was functioning with, like, three teeth. Healy has her into his office to confirm that his silent confirmation that she go right ahead and murder Piper in cold blood is a thing she needs to forget if she doesn’t want her ass handed to her in a gift-wrapped prison package. Tucky, not the sharpest tool in the shed but still a tad bit pointier than people like to remember, uses the bargaining chip of her real world weight to get herself some new teeth. Now she can make the methheads jealous and maybe get her mojo back. You go, angry scary baby girl. You shine like the little nickel I know you are, murderous feelings and all.
Larry visits Piper’s friend Polly, whose boobs are fully exposed but she doesn’t care because new mom exhaustion and nipple confidence. Is it weird I’ve always found Polly attractive? Christ, I have the most intense fucking mommy issues. Larry stares at Polly’s boobs which I guess is meant to indicate it’s been a while since he had some? But also just comes across as come on, man, don’t be a gross weirdo over someone who you’ve known as a protective friend for a very long time. I’ve been celibate for like a month and a half and I’m not staring down the shirt of every Victoria’s Secret ad that comes in my Sunday paper, you know?
Taystee kicks absolute ass in the job fair, making Poussey so proud that my face actually hurt from how much Poussey smiling makes me smile. Poussey Washington has the greatest smile in the world. That is a goddamned irrefutable fact. I will defend this as fact until they put my cold dead 100 year old body in the ground when I am wizened and surrounded by all my great-great-grandchildren and their love for the old school show Orange is the New Black. And they’ll be all like, I don’t know Great-Great-Grandperson, Poussey’s smile is great but is it really the best? And I’ll say, kids these days have no respect, wearing their plastic trousers and listening to space droning and riding around on rocket scooters and eating their electronic ice cream, thinking Poussey’s smile isn’t the best goddamned smile that has ever been dreamed into existence. And then I shall shudder and shake a fist at the heavens and die.
The bad thing is, the rumors Taystee heard about last year’s winner getting a job when she got out of prison weren’t true, and Fig shoots her down in the nastiest way possible. Fig is an unforgivable bitch, y’all. When you have utter and complete control over the lives of so many people, down to the conditions of the toilet in which they must shit, and you don’t give one single tiny little fuck about them, not even on the micro level? You’re a terrible person. If you fear people in power who don’t care one bit about those who are affected by their power, this show is probably one of the scariest on television. Even the reporter from last season’s NPR fiasco doesn’t shake her, and you know she’s cooking the books in the worst way.
Speaking of scary things, Vee is waiting just outside the chapel when Taystee finishes the job fair. And from the look on Taystee’s face, this is hardly a happy family reunion. If your nethers tingled with a sense of dread, your nethers weren’t far off! Tally ho to episode three, hoes!
Oh, and and I should mention this before I forget because my mind wants me to forget. That whole scene with Big Boo was… yeah. No. As someone who is so obsessed with dogs to the point that people have to physically restrain me when I cannot pet a passing pitbull, no thank you. Please don’t do the thing with the dog, please. I know we all heard this urban legend in middle school but I think we also all knew even as wee baby middle schoolers that it was a thing we never wanted to see as part of our favorite gay television show. Vomity vomitous vomit.