Orange Is The New Black 207: Comic Sans

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.

For reference, I am the goofier looking one about to cry into those tortilla chips.

For reference, I am the goofier looking one about to cry into those tortilla chips.

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).

Just catching up on some light reading

Just catching up on some light reading

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.

gerrrrrrrrrrmmmmmmsssss

gerrrrrrrrrrmmmmmmsssss

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.

CIGA-TAMPONS FOR EVERYBODY

CIGA-TAMPONS FOR EVERYBODY


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?”

WTF?

WTF?

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.

shots shots shots shots

shots shots shots shots

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!

Happiness is a Pittsburgh Airport go-cart

Happiness is a Pittsburgh Airport go-cart

I see Autostraddle finally ran that scissoring piece

I see Autostraddle finally ran that scissoring piece


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.”

YR SO ACTING LYKE SEASON 1 PIPER RN

YR SO ACTING LYKE 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:

MAL_OITNB10

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!

ciga-tampon sales abound!

Ciga-tampon sales abound!

ciga-tampon sales abound!

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.

hi, there is a 95% chance that I am going to snap at any moment

hi, there is a 95% chance that I am going to snap at any moment

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.

luv at 1st knee grab. Photo and doodle credit vance barber.

luv at 1st knee grab. Photo and doodle credit vance barber.

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.

nightshade sensitivities, this line!

nightshade sensitivities, this line!

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.

U got, u got it bad when you’re on the phone, hang up and you call right back.

U got, u got it bad when you’re on the phone, hang up and you call right back.


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.

Low [eternally damned] blood sugar

Low [eternally damned] blood sugar

"I'm not possessed by the devil, that's an entirely different storyline from another tv show!" "Suuuuuuuuure"

“I’m not possessed by the devil, that’s an entirely different storyline from another tv show!” “Suuuuuuuuure”


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.

ciga-tampons for daysssssss

ciga-tampons for daysssssss


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.

Oh boy, a new social anxiety tears machine!

Oh boy, a new social anxiety tears machine!


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.

Cheeahhpmun

Cheeahhpmun

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.”

Your truth-bombs are so dreamy

Your truth-bombs are so dreamy

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.

I AM NOT NICE!!!!

I AM 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.

Exactly.

Exactly.

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.

what is with your character and the creepy plant tending, is that supposed to symbolize something?

What is with your character and the creepy plant tending, is that supposed to symbolize something?


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.

nobody cares

nobody cares


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.

Autostraddle Saturday Morning Cartoons

Autostraddle Saturday Morning Cartoons

soooo many letters to write once I retire on the funds from my ciga-tampon empire

Soooo many letters to write once I retire on the funds from my ciga-tampon empire


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'm only nine so don't make fun of me for not knowing that bubblegum ice cream is gross and terrible

I’m only nine so don’t make fun of me for not knowing that bubblegum ice cream 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.

GAVIN BEDROOM EYES

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.

I said NO Gavins. You have betrayed me.

I said NO Gavins. You have betrayed me.


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.

Wake up, it's time for the surprise-night-time-prison version of Mal's therapy sessions

Wake up, it’s time for the surprise-night-time-prison version of Mal’s therapy sessions


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!

No, but really, why is this dude literally carrying a tiny plant for 90% of his life?

No, but really, why is this dude literally carrying a tiny plant for 90% of his life?


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.

GIRLS TO THE FRONT

GIRLS TO THE FRONT

oops, we sold out

Oops, we sold out


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.

If only there was some sort of obvious metaphorical vehicle we could put here to represent life strategy

If only there was some sort of obvious metaphorical vehicle we could put here to represent life strategy


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.

"compassionate" release

“Compassionate” release

you, after watching this episode

You, after watching this episode

Pages: 1 2 3 See entire article on one page

Mal Blum is a New Yorker and a musician who has released five albums, tours nationally and mostly sticks to writing songs, but also sometimes writes other things that aren't songs (like the preceding piece and also secret poetry that nobody is allowed to read). Website. Albums. Twitter. Facebook. Tumblr.

Mal has written 3 articles for us.

27 Comments

  1. ok, NZ doesn’t have OITNB and I am not illegally scamming Netflix here…. so far….

    so I am getting my fix on recaps alone. Yes, going on the smell of an entertaining fortnightly fix of an oily rag..

    So what has prompted me to write in here as I haven’t seen the show and it is bugging me, people, is this

    “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”.

    Ok, this disturbs me as a human because used tampons, and cigatampons. Are we talking tampax here with applicators? Is the used applicator going into some lucky punters mouth?? Please no, but please clarify, because I am getting worried about future sub plots involving diminished quality of life scenarios because of vaginally (used tampon) orally transmitted (ciga tampon) stds in the future for Litchfields smoking population. Just a thought.

    • I watched the show and I can’t figure this one out and I’ve been wondering how they would make sure that there was no blood on the applicator. Maybe I’m just bad at using tampons, but I always get blood on the applicators (before I switched to non-applicator tampons, which I’m also bad at using).

    • They sort of just store the cigs inside the applicators, inside the wrappers, to disguise them because (in theory) COs aren’t going to be checking individual tampons for contraband. And if I recall correctly Vee was asking Cindy to get to work on cleaning applicators for that purpose. Still very icky, but at least you’re not, you know, putting the applicator itself in your mouth, and hopefully as part of the cleaning staff they have access to disinfectant and stuff.

      • thank god, I was worried, and although I am still grossed out, I am relieved there is some attention to infection control measures. In NZ the tampon applicator comes in two options: shiny soft cardboard, and plastic. There is so much in the way of flora and fauna living on a used tampon, though its probably more of a jungle on the cardboard option.

  2. I love Soso and I have celiac so the scene when she was told “prison is gluten” for laughs I was pretty disturbed. The show has pointed out how unfairly prisoners are treated in terms of getting appropriate medical care, and making a joke out of someone not being able to have a potentially medically necessary diet bothered me. I mean, I know many people these days think gluten free food is hilarious but wow, it really made me think about yet another way in which people who are incarcerated can be abused by the PIC.

  3. cindy is my favourite (she’s just so blunt), and although her backstory re: her daughter bummed me out, i still loved the montage of her being The Actual Worst in the airport, stealing a payday and giving zero fucks.

  4. YOU GUYS. A few hours ago I was sitting in an airport waiting for a connecting flight reading this recap and thinking about Black Cindy and her back story and riding through the airport being the worst. AND THEN I GOT ON MY FLIGHT AND LEGIT ADRIENNE C MOORE WAS SITTING ACROSS THE ISLE FROM ME AND I TOTALLY CREEPED ON HER.
    And then I got her signature and she was totally awesome and sweet and I died of happiness and my ghost came back to write this comment.

  5. Thank you so much for the Bennett rant. To be honest I prefer Daya when she’s with her mom and want that relationship to be explored more. The power dynamics between Bennett and Daya prevent me from shipping it. They kind of ignored it in season 1 and treated their relationship as more romantic so I’m glad that they touched upon it more in season 2 however I felt like they kind of brushed it under the rug towards the end. I will say that I find the actor who plays Bennett to be attractive, also Black Cindy’s antics as a PSA agent were hilarious. It sucks that she ‘s distant from her daughter though.

  6. That compassionate release thing…i think thats how we get a lot of our dementia patients tbh. Have you guys ever given an 80y.o lady you dont know from Adam a bath? When they think youre stealing house keys they dont have in the stockings they are wearing that have roaches cause no one cared or looked after them. Guys. Its sad. So sad.

    • honestly, bc I don’t live in the US, what does “compassionate release” mean? When I was reading Mal’s comment I thought that the woman was released from prison, but then who cares for her if she is mentally incompetent? Surely a social worker has sorted some care out for her so that she can get the level of care she needs for quality of life and safety. Or maybe not. Maybe she is released into the wild, at the nearest bus stop. This episode is bringing out all sorts of health concerns and questions.

  7. I so wanted that picture of nighttime creeping Vee to be captioned ‘I am the ghost of Christmas Past’!

    I love Vee, by the way. You know how some people have an absurd love for Cruella DeVille even though she wants to skin a hundred puppies? I have that with Vee, that glorious sociopath.

    • I actually enjoy season 2 Piper a bit better. I’ve been really enjoying her moments of toughness and sarcasm, like when she confronted Polly and Larry or that little speech she made to Brook. Granted she still has her flaws but it’s nice to see this new version of her. I also really enjoy the fact that she’s taken a backseat and we get to explore other characters a bit more, like Taystee and Gloria really shined this season and of course there’s Suzanne.

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.