Orange Is the New Black Episode 509 Review: American Horror Show

This episode opens up with shots of spooky hallways and the spooky church and the spooky library where there have always been people in every other episode, but now these places are empty to support the wacky idea to do a horror movie episode two thirds of the way through a season where nothing has really happened at all.

Flores is alone in the basement cleaning up her booby traps when Piscatella appears behind her like villains do and proceeds to beat the everloving fuck out of her. She fights back and the scene is really violent and quiet and hard to watch. Eventually he punches her in the face with his giant hand. Well, they certainly are off to a good start in terms of being horrific.

Red wakes up in a panic about Piscatella showing up but Nicky calms her down by reminding her that there is no logical reason for him to be there, and also there was never any logical reason for Red’s entire plot of this season. This is the way this episode works. Somebody gets grabbed and Red tells a new person that bad things are happening and they don’t believe her and then they or somebody else gets grabbed.

Next up is Nicky, lured into a closet by Piscatella who is not even trying to disguise his voice. It’s stupid. Then Red goes looking for her in the pharmacy and Morello is Morello about it but Zirconia mentions that Flores is also missing so Red goes off looking for her. Then Boo, being slimy with Linda from Sales, gets dragged off while Linda is looking for a light switch in their sex closet. Red finds Piper and Alex, who are having a debate about shower sex, and tells them what’s going on. Alex almost believes her, but then remembers that she and Piper are not allowed to be plot relevant any more, so that’s that. Red continues on her mission and Piper and Alex continue on to have the first thirty seconds of shower sex before they are also taken by Piscatella. Then Red’s roommate gives her back a cookbook she borrowed that had Frieda’s invitation/map to her bunker tucked into it and assumes Piscatella sent it to her, which he may as well have because believe it or not he is holding his hostages in the same room as the secret bunker entrance.

The flashbacks are Red, when she was in Russia, finding blue jeans and rock and roll and cute boys for the first time and then having her friends disappear. I guess the point of them is “people are disappearing, and people also disappeared before”? Like a lot of the flashbacks this season, they seem to be included mostly out of habit and we learn effectively nothing from them.

Elsewhere, Black Cindy is smartly rejecting the horror movie concept of this episode. The meth heads call her on an office phone and try to be scary but they are just themselves, which is to say, annoying and best ignored. Then she happens upon Flaritza singing a spooky tune in an improbably lit stairwell and leaves them to it. And also for some reason she is I guess kneeling in the shower when Piper and Alex are trying to bang? I don’t know.

The meth heads find Suzanne zip-tied to her bed while they’re in the dorms stealing finger maintenance supplies and being casually racist in a really tired way that I think was supposed to be funny. Instead of freeing her they decide to be horrible, but we don’t know exactly what kind of horrible they have been until Morello decides to bring Suzanne her medicine and finds her, alone and still tied to the bed, in white face. This was the point in this episode, and there were points like this in almost every episode, where I went cold and just thought “Why am I still watching this fucking show?” Where they’ll put a vulnerable black woman in white face to arouse sympathy but also have Linda from Sales spooked out by the port-o-johns but LOL it’s not The Monster it’s just our harmless comic relief white supremacists who have gotten more screen time this season than Suzanne has? What the fuck story do you even think you are telling at this point?

But ANYWAY. Morello is almost kind to Suzanne. She cuts her free, at least. But then she also denies Suzanne her medication on the grounds that her own bullshit and the lab coat she stole are more important that the actual medical needs of the actual human being in front of her, so she convinces Suzanne to be “free” of her medication while not giving her any choice in the matter.

Aleida shows up outside the prison to see Daya surrendering, and she is loud and wonderful and I miss her. She calls Gloria to test her, and Gloria, distracted by her concern for her own child, fails by saying that Daya is doing alright. Aleida calls her out and tells her she’s a shitty mother and it’s honestly very sad, because these two characters and their relationship are one of the few stories I still care about on this show. Earlier in the episode, Gloria had called MCC per Caputo’s tip and been told that to see her son she’d need to free the hostages, but she had been hesitant because it would screw over everybody and cause the riot to fail. But the call with Aleida shakes her, so she decides to get in with the girls on guard duty to do what she has to do to get to her kid.

Finally, in the plot that should have been the plot the whole time, Taystee is trying to negotiate the inmates’ demands with Figueroa but things are stalled because Fig is being a smug businesswoman about it. They pull Caputo out of The Poo to back them up on the failure of the “education” program, which had actually been unpaid manual labor. He does confirm Taystee’s information, but also he pretends not to know who Linda from Sales is because he’s no longer fucking her so obviously he has no reason to treat her like a human being anymore.I guess now that there is a white man to point at the same files that Taystee has been referencing this entire time, negotiations can finally get started.

Anyway. There you have it. Halfway a horror movie themed episode, halfway not, and mostly a mess. Please feel free to use the comment section to discuss shower sex instead of this episode of television.

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Sarah lives in the Boston area and plays a lot of video games. Her interests are cats, bragging, and foods that can be eaten lying down. She has too many sneakers and not enough pants.

sarah has written 30 articles for us.


  1. I thought it would be fun(the shower sex, not this whole season at all) I was excited to try it, but I am just not cut out for standing and performing complex, meaningful interaction at the same time(not just in the shower, like ever.)

    • Right?! Trying to balance in a slippery tile prison while standing in water is not conducive to anything other than falling and possibly breaking something. Things get worse when the whole “sexily washing each other” thing happens and then I’m trying to balance in a slippery tile prison while standing in SOAPY water, which just makes everything more slippery and dangerous.

      My complete lack of any kind of coordination probably helps nothing, as well.

      • And it doesn’t help that most folks don’t like shower water to be practically boiling as much as I do, so it’s not even a satisfying *shower*

        • I am shocked that dropping the soap wasn’t already mentioned in this conversation too (or am I the only one that is just soooo clumsy). There is nothing attractive about having to stop, mid smooch (or whatever), to pick up the soap you dropped, or the shampoo you knocked over with your elbow, etc. Way too much stress!

      • Yes, trying to balance and then leaning against the shower wall and trying to remember when you last cleaned does not help the mood. And my hair doesn’t get properly clean.

  2. “Alex almost believes her, but then remembers that she and Piper are not allowed to be plot relevant any more, so that’s that.”


  3. You’re right that we didn’t learn much from Red’s flashbacks, she had already told the story of those two men in her life before. But it was such a breath of fresh air to hear Russian that was not only spoken perfectly but also perfectly translated, in all four of the characters from the flashback. Then even Red’s final line in Russian in the present didn’t seem to be right.

  4. Much like shower sex, I had hope for this episode but it left me with nothing but an earful of regret

  5. Hi, I have been waiting for this episode to be reviewed so I could point out the one GLARING PLOT FLAW: Alex says she hates shower sex, but in S01E01 Piper and Alex are CLEARLY having shower sex in, like, the first scene.

    Also: there were 100 other flaws in this episode.

    Also also: I hate this show.

    • Weren’t they just making out? Also, if they were having shower sex maybe that was the basis for why Alex hates it so much…

  6. I have so many angry feelings about this episode (especially since I felt this season as a whole did an incredibly shitty job at portraying mental illness and this episode might have been the peak of that), but instead I’ll say that the only thing I actually liked about this episode was Red’s backstory. I agree that pretty much none of the other backstories this season had any substance or were relevant to the plot (except for maybe Frieda’s), but I thought this one was actually kind of well written, especially compared to everything else in this garbage season, and it gave insight into how Red’s traumas have made her who she is today.

    • I thought the same thing too – at least red’s backstory helped it somewhat.

      Also is it sad that (minus piscstella attacking Flores), I actually didn’t mind the horror movie concept because it didn’t actively make me hate this show like I have at other times in the recent past?

  7. y’all, i actually love shower sex? but only in a big tub.

    i do not like this show, however.

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