HI YES HELLO, you may notice that I am also not your usual OITNB recap enthusiast Kate Severance. Although I can see how somebody might get confused.
Anyway, I cried about a hundred times watching seasons one and two of Orange is The New Black. Then I braved my feelings and even updated my Netflix Silverlight plug-in in order to go back and recap episode 207 because that is how much I love you. HERE GOES NOTHING.
Wait, first we have to wait for that Regina Spektor song to finish playing over the opening credits. I don’t want to skip it because I might overshoot and miss something important. We just need to wait and it will end soon.
Nope. Still playing. Listen, I love Regina Spektor. It’s nothing against the actual song itself, I just need it to end twenty seconds sooner than it does in this context. Can we talk to somebody about that? Okay, here we go.
Vee has launched a selling-cigarettes-to-inmates-for-stamps business, so episode 207 opens in the custodial closet with Suzanne, Watson, Taystee and Cindy rolling tobacco and discussing profit margins. It is not a collaborative workplace. Vee calls the shots and talks down to everybody because Vee is terrible (I know, Lorrainne Toussaint is the opposite of terrible and that can feel confusing — evidently it’s this thing called acting).
Suzanne distracts a CO by talking about germs (a method of diversion I will utilize henceforth). Cindy questions the fact that Vee stands to make 90% of all the profits from the cigarette racket. Vee contends that it is because she will be assuming all of the risk. Spoiler alert: We know that this is bullshit because Vee’s prison cigarette trade is obviously a thinly veiled microcosm of her drug trafficking hierarchy in the non-prison world. We also know that this is bullshit because Vee is a brilliant self-serving sociopath who would never willingly assume risk for another person.
Cindy’s like “nope, pretty sure we’re assuming risk tho” so then Vee’s like “ummmm okay, well, so, I’m helping you earn respect then.” After which she immediately tells Suzanne that she’s not allowed to sell any cigarettes.
Suzanne solemnly relinquishes the cigarettes that she has rolled and sheepishly admits that she “makes people feel uncomfortable.” Vee is clearly the person that has explained this fact to her. It makes you even angrier at Vee for adding to Suzanne’s negative self-talk because you love Suzanne and you want her to love herself and hate how Vee manipulates her. UGH, VEE IS TERRIBLE. ANYWAY.
Vee implies that she has a master plan to surreptitiously sell and keep cigarettes in prison. Do you want to know what her master plan to hide the cigarettes is? I will tell you. SHE IS GOING TO HIDE THEM IN USED TAMPON APPLICATORS. Basically, they are selling ciga-tampons. Recycled ciga-tampons. Environmentalists rejoice.
Caputo is scolding all of the corrections officers because Jimmy escaped from prison by accident last week and showed up at Caputo’s shitty rock gig. Instead of being like “aw, that’s so nice, somebody came to this bar to see my totally unremarkable band” Caputo is like “wtf corrections officers how did Jimmy get out of this prison?”
Caputo implements a shot quota. Now all the COs have to give out a minimum of five shots (documented reprimands) per week. This is clearly not a terrible idea that will breed nothing but resentment between all parties involved and ultimately result in the harassment of prison inmates. Just kidding, it’s as terrible as Vee.
Upon leaving the meeting, a CO immediately demonstrates the failings of the shot quota by writing Cindy up for a minor infraction while ignoring a white inmate performing the same infraction. When Cindy comments on the overt injustice of her shot write-up, the CO escalates the situation and orders her to drop to the floor. It’s flashback time!
Cindy was once a TSA agent! She was once a TSA agent who also abused her own position of authority! Cut to her speeding around in one of those airport go-carts in her TSA uniform, snagging free snacks, groping passengers, stealing electronics from peoples’ luggage. Cindy as a TSA officer clearly can’t abuse her position over a traveler to the same extent that a corrections officer can abuse their position over an inmate, but we see the parallels you are trying to make, OITNB!
Meanwhile, back at the prison, a journalist dude is meeting with Piper. Piper talks to him about wanting furlough to visit her dying grandmother, and you know, some other unfair prison conditions that don’t involve her (mostly the furlough). Journalist dude says something awesome, which is that he lays awake “fantasizing about personally taking down an institution that is the single greatest stain on the American collective conscience since slavery.” Then he explains that he can’t actually do that, but that he can write a story about how two million dollars was misappropriated at Litchfield if Piper can bring him information about which companies Fig has contracts with.
Piper’s like “I don’t have the internet in here, and even if I did I would be too busy going through the Autostraddle recap archives, and anyway, what do you want me to do, break into Fig’s office and jeopardize my furlough?” Journalist dude’s mouth says “no problem, let me know if you change your mind” but his face says “I AM VRY DISAPPOINTED IN U PIPER U ARE ACTING LIKE SEASON 1 PIPER RN.”
Sophia is in a scene for like a half a second and it’s almost not cool for the OITNB writers to give us that half a second since everybody so clearly wants her to be in all of the scenes for all of the seconds. They did gift us with this exchange though, for which I am eternally grateful:
Sophia: I think a nice faux hawk will give that “don’t fuck with me” vibe, you know.
Gloria: I mostly use my face for that.
Elsewhere, the first ciga-tampon sales are underway! Everybody is really excited about ciga-tampons, ciga-tampon sales abound!
Meanwhile, Gloria is not happy with the state of the rice in the kitchen and deems the spice selection unsatisfactory. Bennett enters the kitchen with unapproved items for Flaca, Ruiz and Flores. You may recall that he is being blackmailed because several inmates know about Daya’s pregnancy and you get the feeling that maybe he is about to snap.
This is another Lorraine Toussaint moment (wherein there is this thing called acting that makes you feel confusing things), because I did something with this actor one time for like two hours and in those two hours I decided that I genuinely liked him. He let me name-drop him for something once and asked for consent to touch my knee in this picture. Basically, I think he is great. Endorsed.
So, I hate that his character is this corrections officer in this storyline that is depicted as a love story, but is actually legally sexual assault. Which adds a really creepy subtext to all of his and Daya’s interactions, especially now that we are starting to see cracks in his whole “nice guy” demeanor.
Anyway, now it’s lunch time and/or dinner time. Soso is on the cafeteria line with Piper, who is trying to convince Soso to forego her vegetarianism while at Litchfield, given the circumstances. Soso assesses the salad bar: “It’s just frozen peas and iceberg lettuce! I need nuts! I need legumes!” Soso would have a great time at A-Camp.
Soso starts talking about the “agro-business complex” and Poussey interrupts her to point out the fact that they are currently in the “prison-complex business.” I’m glad to see Poussey. I assume that you are excited as well given this website’s collective obsession with Samira Wiley. Seriously, “our cats would play together and we’d write poetry by the moonlight”? I don’t want to be the one to tell you this, so I will let Usher do it.
Sister Mary Eunice tries to sneak a piece of cornbread out of the cafeteria because of her low blood sugar. Fischer, the “nice CO” has let her do this before but because of the shot quota, Litchfield is like SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS EVERYBODY. So, Fischer gives her a shot but offers a “please don’t hate me” because she is the “nice CO.” Piper sits down with Jimmy and offers to cut her food for her. It is a sweet moment. Jimmy is still talking about things that aren’t entirely real, but she seems to be happy that Piper is sitting with her and Piper is doing something nice for somebody else.
Back in the sleeping area, Cindy is trading cigarettes for personal favors. This was not Vee’s intention with the selling-cigarettes-for-stamps business model. VEE ASKED FOR STAMPS, CINDY. STAMPS ARE THE ONLY CURRENCY ACCEPTED FOR CIGA-TAMPONS. VEE HAS A LOT OF LETTERS TO WRITE.
Flashback number two! Past Cindy is visiting for her little sister’s birthday. She gifts her little sister with an iPad she stole from somebody’s luggage and offers to take her on an ice cream date for the occasion. Cindy’s mom is weirdly hesitant, but reluctantly agrees to let Cindy take her sister. After they leave, Cindy’s mom realizes that the iPad is stolen because Cindy has forgotten to delete the original owner’s photos off of it. Oops.
At present day Litchfield, Piper is starting a
newsletter riot grrrl zine. So far Daya and Morello both want to contribute to it. Morello verbalizes trying to “keep busy,” and “stay away from romance,” which seem to be euphemisms for “keep from losing it.” I love that self-awareness seems to be creeping into Morello’s character. They decide that she will write a beauty column and then she says “Chapman” all cutely and shit (and like, slightly creepily) and leaves.
Nichols hits Poussey up for a cigarette, assuming that Poussey works for Vee and Poussey is like “Nope, you are mistaken, I am not friends with Vee.” Nichols is like, “your friends are friends with Vee, so…” and then Poussey drops this gem, which further confirms my initial analysis that Vee assuming risk in the ciga-tampon racket is bullshit because she is self-serving and manipulative and clearly establishing a hierarchy wherein other people will ultimately take the fall for her:
“She’s using them to do her dirt while she counts the cash. You ain’t gonna find her hands in no contraband.”
Nichols starts telling Poussey about this “thing that happens to lesbians in high school” where you fixate on your straight best friend and everything is cool until she gets a boyfriend. Then you irrationally hate the boyfriend even though he’s “probably a decent enough person.” Did this happen to people? I was like, pansexual in high school, so I basically fixated on everybody and hated everybody. Just kidding. Sort of.
Anyway, in this analogy, Taystee is the straight best friend and Vee is Taystee’s boyfriend. This is kind of weird because Vee is also kind of Taystee’s mother figure, but it’s just meant to imply that Poussey is in love with Taystee and feeling jealous absent her affections. Nichols is wrong, because Vee is not a “decent enough person,” because we have already established that Vee is terrible. Nichols suggests that Poussey needs to get Vee to like her in order to get back into Taystee’s good graces even though it is a terrible idea.
Bennett shows up empty-handed to Maritza, Blanca and Maria with the latest blackmail order (I believe they asked him to buy them gay porn) and states that he won’t be blackmailed any longer. Instead, he gives all of them shots and throws Maritza in SHU for super valid reasons. Just kidding, he throws her in SHU for literally no reason at all. Then he yells at everybody and it is mildly terrifying. GUESS WHAT: BENNETT IS NOT NICE.
We were supposed to think that Bennett was the “nice CO” last season but it is quickly becoming evident that there is no such thing as a “nice CO.” That, even if a CO intends to be “nice,” there is an inherent power imbalance between CO and inmate that makes it impossible to consider that relationship using the same parameters that you would a relationship in a non-prison context. Even the “nice” interactions are suspect because you can’t eradicate the fact that, ultimately, COs have the power to do something like what Bennett just did.
Which sums up Daya and Bennett’s problematic relationship in a nutshell: You can’t remove that power imbalance from their interactions, but everybody seems to want to, which weirds me out.
Coincidentally, the next scene is Caputo calling Piper into his office to ask her to portray the COs as “human” in the Litchfield newsletter while creepily tending to his plants.
OH GOOD A LARRY SCENE, I REALLY MISSED LARRY AND HAVE BEEN WONDERING WHAT WAS GOING ON WITH HIM. Just kidding, nobody cares about Larry. I forgot that he was even on this show. Polly shows up and slaps him and then fucks him, but not in a fun way.
The Litchfield riot grrrl zine is still underway, but starting off a little tense. Vee is still collecting her stamps for her stamp collection ciga-tampon empire. Cindy doesn’t have any stamps for her, since she has traded all of her cigar-tampons for personal favors. Vee takes her ciga-tampons and gives them to Poussey, who says she’ll think about selling for Vee.
Flashback number three! We’re back to Cindy taking her little sister out for ice cream. By the way, the little sister wants bubblegum ice cream, which is gross and terrible.
I don’t want to “yuck” anyone’s “yum,” but I think we can all agree that bubblegum ice cream is a travesty to ice cream dates everywhere. You know what else is a travesty to ice cream dates everywhere? Saying that you’ll take somebody out for ice cream and then doing something completely different, like making them wait in your car while you go hang out with your friends. Which is what Cindy does to her little sister.
Fig is married to somebody who is trying to become a senator and he is (spoiler) clearly having a secret gay affair with somebody named Gavin who is working on his campaign. We all deduce this immediately given the fact that he won’t sleep with Fig coupled with his Gavin bedroom eyes.
It’s so important to be open with your partner. If I end up with somebody like Fig, I will one hundred percent make sure to check in about hooking up with people named Gavin, and if they are like, “Nope. Hard boundary. No Gavins” I will be like “ok, bb, don’t worry, just keep embezzling money 4 me and I’ll stick 2 brets n trevors.” Direct communication, y’all.
Polly’s husband shows up to bro down with Jason Biggs, nobody cares. Jimmy’s dementia causes her to jump off a stage in the chapel mistakenly thinking that it is a diving board. She needs more care. She needs full-time care.
Vee wakes Cindy up in the middle of the night and you think it’s going to be for something scary, but she just calls Cindy out on hiding behind her humor and not working towards building a future. So, Cindy is basically in the middle of a surprise-nighttime-prison version of all of my therapy sessions. Except that Vee calls Cindy a loser, which wouldn’t fly in a therapy context.
Which brings us to another flashback: Cindy’s mother is upset with her for keeping her little sister out until midnight and bringing her around “pot smoke.” They fight. We find out that Cindy’s little sister is actually her daughter. Cindy’s sister/daughter doesn’t know about this. Cindy’s mother insinuates that Cindy is not capable of raising a child and the look on Cindy’s face implies that she believes this about herself.
We return to the present, Fischer is listening to the inmates’ phone calls. Caputo makes a cameo with a tiny plant. Fischer overhears news of Daya’s pregnancy. Uh oh!
Everybody is an equal editor at the Litchfield Riot Grrrl Zine. It is non-hierarchical and very punk. They literally publish a piece titled “Guards: They’re People Too.” Caputo hangs it on his wall.
Gloria asks Red to grow cilantro for her, which is as “black market” as Gloria gets. Vee is talking long-game strategy while playing chess with Suzanne when Cindy walks in. Vee has gotten into Cindy’s head and she’s ready to sort through used tampons and work at the bottom of Vee’s hierarchy.
During Cindy’s final flashback she states that she doesn’t have kids. We never learn what Cindy was ultimately incarcerated for during this episode.
Jimmy still needs full time care and has become a liability to Litchfield. Two corrections officers drop her at the bus station with literally no resources under a “compassionate release” policy. This is the final scene of episode 207. You are now weeping and not leaving your house tonight as you had originally planned.