Orange is the New Black Episode 504 Review: Does Litchfield Have Talent??

Lights up: Regina Spektor sings at us for an entire minute and twenty seconds before we make our way into Litchfield where Boo, dressed in a suit that is too well tailored for her to have just found, brings the guards their first meal since they’ve been locked up. A quick altercation occurs and all the inmates find out that it was Gloria, not Daya who actually had the gun. Everyone dives onto it, and the brunette meth head (Angie? I don’t keep track of them) emerges victorious holding the gun. She announces, “I’m the jefe now!” with one of the harshest American “j” sounds ever and decides there will be a talent show and the guard/hostages will perform. So, we know where this is going.

Alex and Piper are somewhere else on the grounds dreaming up a life outside of prison. It’s a cute domestic moment, even though I don’t like them. Alex is still feeling guilty about killing Aydin though, and anxious. Later on in the episode, after Alex has ripped off the sleeves of her thermal and set up a house (with a guest room!) with Piper, more people start coming outside trying to figure out whose turf this is and who’s in charge. Even though Alex works super hard to make it very clear that’s she’s definitely not in charge, of course she’s in charge. She gives a not-speech standing on some sort of construction machinery with the the machine’s name “Construction King” next to her the entire time. She leads the outside quiet resistance now, whether she likes it or not.

In the dining hall, Suzanne and Maureen and Brooke are sleeping. Maureen’s face is seriously fucked up still and I’m really concerned about how and why for the most part the infirmary still seems to be doing just fine, but she’s just hanging out sleeping on dirty floors.

The three hold a seance in the circle, and Taystee, Allison, Black Cindy and Janae join them. They have a conversation about spirits and there’s a rumbling in the ceiling which the prisoners think is Poussey’s spirit maybe, but we all know is THAT FUCKING RAPIST GUARD HIDING IN THE CEILING LIKE A CREEP. It’s so hard to watch these characters deal with grief this big without any hope of redemption or healing. That’s why this show has been making me so anxious I think. There are really light silly moments, but they keep reminding us through these tortured characters of color that something terrible has happened. And the juxtaposition of all the other almost frivolous stuff just lets me know early (and I haven’t finished the season yet) that these characters aren’t going to get justice, no matter what. And that’s hard to watch.

Anyway, we also learn that Allison and her husband were in a polyamorous relationship before she came to prison. And it seemed like something that was negotiated really well early on (or at least as well as straight people can negotiate anything while still working within a misogynist patriarchal system), but that Allison started to have weird feelings and had difficulty communicating those feelings. She should’ve come to the poly panel at A-Camp.

Echoing other Autostraddle writers, I don’t really get the point of the flashbacks anymore either? Are we supposed to think Allison is in prison because of bigamy? In this economy???

Sophia decides she’s done with whatever the fuck is going on in this prison, and I do not blame her. She tells the nurse she’s working with that she’s gonna give herself up to which he says, “Sophia, the fate of a large black person coming out of the dark through the front door isn’t a promising one right now.” When she says something about it being up to God what happens to her, he replies that actually, it’s up to her. “That’s right it’s up to me,” she says before walking outside with her hands held up…to a sleeping prison guard who really doesn’t have any idea about what to do with her. Seriously, how is any of this happening?

Right, so some white supremacists attached Judy King to a plank of wood alongside Yoga Jones and are leading her to “her drop spot” which is the roof, where she insists people are dropping off pizza and booze for her. They literally talk about torturing her, and her face is covered in blood? It’s all too much honestly.

Litchfield Idol is a literal farce. There are some good theatre jokes: Boo talks about dykes behind stage, CO Dixon said “Thank you five…it’s a thing,” and I laughed out loud. He also sings Hall and Oates’ “Rich Girl” and as much as I hate the guards I am a sucker for a 1970s gay anthem. It was one of few genuine smiles I had in the episode, even if under awful conditions. Josh from PR wins, and Caputo loses and is doomed to “The Poo” which is an outdoor toilet they duct tape him into.

And then, finally Judy King and her crew make it to the roof. The two white supremacists put on hijabs, because why not add a little extra racism? When they realize that they just walked up the stairs for nothing, they decide to throw Judy off the roof, but luckily, a helicopter does arrive! To take pictures.

Alaina is a 20-something working on a PhD in Performance as Public Practice. They are a mom to three cats, they listen to a lot of NPR and musicals, and they spend a lot of time on Pinterest lusting over studio apartments. They are actively trying to build A Brand on twitter @alainamonts. One day, they will be First Lady of the United States.

Al(aina) has written 226 articles for us.

15 Comments

  1. “Are we supposed to think Allison is in prison because of bigamy? In this economy???”

    ha! yeah, i was 10 minutes into the next episode before i was like, “wait, how did the allison story end?” no resolution! i like the idea of looking into the inmates’ pasts and showing a little bit of their normal lives instead of some big reveal about why they’re in prison, but this one felt very unfinished, or with a strange conclusion.

    they did so much more for freida in her backstory. like, wow, a girl can be raised to be independent and strong and can be given so much love and care when she’s young, and she still ends up in prison. i thought that’s where they were going with allison. like, she’s an open-minded polyamorous feminist trying to balance the pressures of a middle class life, and then… what, she feels left out and now she cries in prison? if they’d had it so she worked things out with the other woman and her family because she believes in clear communication, it would have been a better story. like, here’s this progressive woman who lives a complicated but highly functional life, much like many of oitnb’s viewers. and she somehow ended up here. they don’t have to show us why she’s in prison, just where she’s coming from. but ugh, the conclusion was kind of like bigamy = ??[redacted]?? = prison

  2. See I was almost positive that they framed her story as a function of her religion, because they carried that theme throughout this story. It is not uncommon that Black Muslims are in multi-wives families, especially if the husband is African. Furthermore, in her flashback she makes the comment about her husband’s father having multiple wives so I thought it was hinting at a part of their religion. I believe that she and her husband entered into a multiple wife relationship because she believed it would be more about duty and economic sharing but didn’t realize the tremendous toll a relationship like that would take on her emotionally with her husband and daughter. It could have been done really well but hey it’s this show so of course it became a mess against the back drop of Judy King’s “open relationship” with her two husbands and then framing wearing a hijab as a punchline at the end of the episode for the white supremist. Ugh this show just really makes me sick bc it screws up EVERYTHING that could be meaningful or done halfway well.
    Also ugh I continued to watch up until this episode because I thought SOPHIA was BACK and to me the chemistry and respect with the nurse was undeniable. It could have been a great opportunity to not give her a love interest per say but to have someone really see her as a valuable person so of course the writers decided she should “turn herself in” and they end up ruining a potential good character in the nurse by introducing him to the meth heads!!! OITNB please just stop…I mean seriously cut your loses and just stop smh

    • I thought Sophia wanted to go to MAX to find (or find out what happened to) Sister Ingalis; not just to get out of the craziness that is Litchfield.

      Also, I thought Allison’s story aligned with Sankey’s (blonde meth-head) b/c Sankey and her husband, boyfriend, whatever, made an arrangement with another woman while Sankey was imprisoned, but Sankey got jealous when seeing the photos of the “other” woman at her daughter’s birthday on social media. Just like Allison did when she saw her “family” having fun without her. They lash out at each other not realizing what they have in common.

      • See, I like the story even less for the Sankey-Allison comparison. Aw, what Black Muslims and white supremacists have in common is they are both human beings with complex relationships in their lives. If only they could stop hating each other and step down from their equal positions of power over ea… no wait, NAH.

        The namecalling really bothered me. Like, Allison calls Sankey a nazi, which Sankey doesn’t identify as because she identifies as a white supremacist, and Sankey calls Allison a terrorist. It’s presented as though they are both calling each other names like petulant children, but Allison’s name for Sankey is just a slightly different name for the hate group that Sankey legit belongs to, and Sankey’s name for Allison is a label used to oppress and legitimize violence against Muslims and people of colour throughout the country.

        My gf and I had a really long ranty conversation about this at 7:30 in the morning and I still have lots to get out of my system about this episode!!!

        • Oh, I totally agree that it’s a problematic comparison. I should have inserted an (eyeroll) at the end of my paragraph. And I was also left feeling unfulfilled b/c we haven’t learned WHY Allison is in Litchfield. (It can’t be the polygamy, right???) What was she packing up in the kitchen? Maybe she doesn’t have a food-handler’s license or something…

          I’m very sad we’re not going to see a lot of Sophia. But what about Lolly? Now that Sophia is in MAX are we going to get to see Lolly?

          • See it would be interesting but they have lost all credibility and no one is even excited about another season of this mess [SMH] next season I’m just gonna read the recaps and see if characters like Sophia and Lolly return.

          • Also sad about Sophia. That seemed so pointless and stupid, and I’m not watching another season of Sophia getting tortured! Plus every time someone goes to max I’m worried we’ll have to put up with more ruby rose.

        • I know, please just go back to two seasons ago when the worse thing that was happening on that show was Poussey was falling in love with Tastyee! Please can we have THAT show back! And I’m completely confused about the difference between those three characters. One is Nazi-racist, one is white supremacy racist and the other is just a racist that makes coffee? Versus the meth-heads that are racists, but mostly just meth heads?

    • i have nothing to add to this conversation
      i just wanted to say good points, everybody

      the other thing about the criminal charges missing from backstories is that the crimes gave each given flashback story its structure — they each had a beginning, middle, and a twisty terrifying end. because they had a story to tell of how a person got into a situation that caused them to be put in prison. now they’re just… a bunch of scenes. and allison’s is the crime i’m dying to know most of all!

      • Exactly! I mean Allison is not in a max prison so she didn’t kill anyone … and I’m pretty sure bigamy isn’t it…so what did Allison do? Someone who was smart enough to smuggle a phone into the prison, probably didn’t get legally married several times to leave a paper trail for bigamy, right? And we can definitely count out drugs, because she is a practicing Muslim…I don’t understand why she is here. I’m almost forced to go rewatch this season because I’ve obviously missed something, but ugh, I just can’t…I really just can’t. SMH

        • well, she could’ve killed someone because the rules of who goes to max and who doesn’t are different in the world of this show than they are in the world of the actual world. like — norma, suzanne, claudette and yoga jones all killed people, right? Red had several severed heads in her freezer at the time of her arrest, Morello tried to kill Christopher’s girlfriend, Pennsatucky shot a nurse but I can’t remember if she died or not…

          I think legally anyhow, her husband would be the one who’d be arrested for bigamy, as he’d be the one married to two women, not her. But I doubt that’s what happened… it seemed like they were setting up some inequity or discomfort in their arrangement that may have led her to commit some kind of other crime…?

  3. I really don’t like Allison’s storyline.
    We have one visible muslim in this prison and OF COURSE she is in a one sided poly relationship. I’m not against poly at all. But this just feels like “She’s a muslim, her husband has probably more than one wife, isn’t that what muslims do?”.
    I’m sure this is even true for some muslims, but definitely not for most. This is just another stupid stereotype portrayed in this show.

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