Welcome to a recap for episode 303 of Orange Is the New Black, a docu-drama about the last, bloody effort of men to thwart the inevitable genesis of an earth-saving matriarchal society.
Norma is performing a morning blessing when Luschek grouses into her cubicle to wake up Nicky for an electrical emergency. Surprise, though: It is not an electrical emergency. Luschek has recruited his sister’s husband to unload Nicky and Boo’s super secret stash of zillion dollar heroin. The tantrum he throws when Nicky tells him the drugs are missing is really special. He stomps his feet, he pulls his hair, he says he’s going to give Nicky a shot. She goes, “You’re going to give me a shot for not selling you drugs?”
Whenever Luschek whips out his old Lois Lane-style reporter notebook and threatens to give someone a shot, I imagine him going to Caputo and turning in a little piece of notebook paper with crayon notes scrawled on it and a lot of frowny faces. He kicks the wall and explains that women aren’t in jail because they’re criminals, but because they’re bad at being criminals, and then he takes his toys and he goes home.
Flashback! Nicky is hanging out in Brooklyn with a few buddies trying to score some heroin for the weekend, and when their dealer shows up without any, she gets so agitated she steals his taxi. Well, no. First she whoops, “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!” And then she steals his taxi. And immediately smashes it into another parked car, before having a chance to reflect on the fact that Tami Taylor would never approve of that kind of behavior. Although, Julie Taylor would absolutely pull such bratty shenanigans, so maybe Nicky wasn’t so far off with her Friday Night Lights battle cry. Anyway, that’s how she ended up in jail. The first time.
In real-time in the library, Piper and Alex are hate-fucking. Just pulling each other’s hair and pushing each other down and around and debating who’s the most Slytherin between them. Um, both? Both of you assholes are the most Slytherin? You sold me out! Slap. You sold me out! Smooch. You’re a narcissistic psychopath! Shove. You’re an opportunistic asshole! Hair yank.
You can tell, even though they don’t say it, that Piper and Alex think they invented angry fucking.
Outside in the Vitamin D, Daya is planning her wedding with Flaca and Maritza and Maria, who are all full of advice about flowers and caterers and dresses and engagement photos. The only minor hiccup is they can’t choose a wedding date because they’re all getting released different times. Maria takes the hardline, all, “None of us will befriends after we get out of here; in fact, most of us will end up here again, because the system is so stacked against women of color it’ll chew us up and spit us back into Litchfield before we even have a chance to get used to sleeping on a mattress again.”
The Grandma Farming Co-Op is working in the garden, trying to figure out the most profitable crops to plant — amazingly, Frieda suggests corn so they can rent it out for sex hijinks once it gets tall enough — when Healey ambles on up like a mansplaining cowboy from the days of yore and asks Red to mediate some arguments between him and his wife. He thinks it’s a language barrier that’s keeping them apart, instead of thinking the correct thing, which is that he’s an angry, entitled shitbird with misogynistic leanings and an inexplicable lesbian chip on his shoulder. Also, he bought a wife. Red agrees to do it, though, because she has never seen an angle she can’t work.
The Office of Berdie Rogers, Compassionate HBIC. Alex has a hickey but she insists it’s not a hickey. She says she punched herself in the throat or whatever misanthropic thing. Rogers is super unimpressed and unintimidated by Alex’s aggressive better-thank-you over-it-ness and invites her to the improv drama class she’s teaching today. Alex would rather be trampled by a wooly mammoth/fed to sharks/etc. than go to a drama class, and because her thing isn’t just feeling nihilistic but also spreading her nihilism, she identifies what Berdie holds dear, zooms in on it, and tries to bludgeon it to death.
Oh, you wanna make a difference? Yeah, I get it. You’re one of the good guys. But guess what? We all think we’re good guys. I used to work for a drug dealer who wouldn’t hesitate to put a bullet in your head if you crossed him, or if you stopped being useful to him, but in his mind, he’s still a good guy. Heroin Robin Hood because he cut out the Mexican cartels and passed on the savings to the consumer, and he never cut his shit with brick dust. And you’re not just another shill taking a paycheck from an evil system of oppression, ’cause you’re fighting it from the inside, with drama class. Fine. Whatever you need to tell yourself to get by. But excuse me if I don’t want to spend my precious time catering to the delusion that you’re making a difference. I have my own quilt of lies to sew.
Rogers becomes my favorite immediately because she smiles so sincerely and says, “That was a great speech! I’d love to hear it again, in drama class!”
It’s no surprise that Nicky stole her own drugs, or that she hides them back in the same room in a different location, or that Soso basically thwarts Nicky’s creepin’ to monologue about how they can definitely still be friends even though they’ve done some hardcore scissoring with each other because there’s no point in trying to avoid hanging out because they are in prison after all so it’s not like they can get away from each other and Soso doesn’t really even have a best friend in here and isn’t this the way lesbians make best friends, by sleeping with each other and then breaking up? Nicky finally snaps at Soso to zip it and skedaddle, and hides her heroin up in the ceiling.
Flaskback redux! Nicky’s mom bails her out of jail, and on the way home in their limo(?), Nicky begs for some cash so she can bail out her friends too. Nicky’s mom knows she wants the money for drugs and not for bail, and she gives her cash and credit cards and basically her whole entire wallet, because if she doesn’t, Nicky’s just going to steal an airplane and crash it into a playground. That’s the addict life. Higher stakes and higher stakes until you blow up the world.
In real time, Alex storms through Litchfield until she finds Piper talking to Morello and Yoga Jones and Sister Ingalls about how mouths evolved to give blow jobs, which I absolutely refuse to believe is true. Plus also, Google backed me up when I looked it up just now. Mouths and lips evolved for eating and chewing and maybe kissing. Did you know chimpanzees kiss on the mouth to make up after they fight? And bonobos French kiss? I learned that just now too. Also, Bonobos are all bisexual, but I knew that from a long time ago. Alex clomps up and points at her hickey and yells at Piper about how she just did it to be possessive and controlling, which seems accurate.
Morello is happy the Get Along Gang is together again and can’t wait to express the fullness of her knowledge of “Chlamydia dell’Arte” (“which is from Europe!”) in drama class. Morello! Ha! I love Morello so much! I also love her face when Alex says Piper is her sex cow. She’s goes, “Oh. That’s … sweet.”
Healy gets gross with Rogers before her drama class, talking about Father Knows Best and no one’s going to come to this thing and don’t get too disappointed, little lady, but then of course the class fills up with practically everyone in the whole jail because Rogers is heaven and people just want to be near her. Healy also cannot tell the difference between women clowning lovingly on each other and him calling Alex a “dumb bitch” because he is the biggest fucking idiot.
Actually, it’s a toss-up between the two best events in Litchfield history. Inside is Rogers’ drama class, but outside, Poussey and Taystee are holding a funeral for all the books that were burned in the Great Bed Bug Breakdown of 2015. It’s probably the greatest scene in TV history.
Taystee: We are gathered here today to mourn those that were martyred in the Conflagration of Three Days Ago! It is a sad day when any book is not returned, or when it is returned with pages missing because some fool needed to write a note or they need to wipe their nasty ass, but anyway. To have our entire flock taken from us is almost beyond reckoning! So, we take this time to honor those titles that we have lost. Go head, Washington.
Poussey: Yeah, I’ve never been at a funeral for books before. And like, I feel like there’s nothing I can say that wouldn’t be better said in, like … a book.
Poussey: But books are made of paper, trees. So we thought they should be returned to the trees. From whence they came and everything.
Taystee: The ultimate book return.
Poussey starts reading off the names of the books that were martyred. Great Expectations, The BFG, Squirrel Nutkins and then loses it when she gets to the dictionary: “Damn. The dictionary. The dictionary, man! What are we going to do in the world without a damn dictionary?!”
Daya wanders up and says she didn’t know Flores was so into books, and Flores speaks for me:
Really, Daya is just looking for Bennett, who hasn’t been around in many days. She tells herself his shifts probably got switched up, even though she knows in her heart that he has moved to Shondaland without her.
In the laundry room, Angie and Leanne are talking about the Blessings of Norma when it starts raining heroin from the ceiling. Their faith has been proved genuine! Praise and glory to Norma! Her promises have been revealed! They stuff the bags of dope into their pants and bounce up outta there.
Drama class is going as amazingly as you suspected it would. Morello is doing improv with Chang, who keeps shooting down her scenarios and flipping the script to dogs and dicks. Everyone thinks it’s super hilarious, except for Morello. Suzanne wants a turn next, to “sublimate her abandonment issues through the art of role play,” but Rogers calls on Piper and Alex, who start making a scene about it immediately, about how they can’t work together, about how they can’t give their best performances today, about how they don’t need an improv class to be a black hole of melodrama. Rogers says she doesn’t want a performance; she wants to see them stop masturbating to the sound of their own voices and listen to what another person has to say for a single minute of their lives. “Let’s worry about empathy,” she says, because she doesn’t know Piper or Alex.
I’m sorry, y’all. I think Piper and Alex have sexy-as-hell chemistry, same as you, but they’re wearing on me this season. I think the thing is that, like, obviously none of these women want to be here, right, and most of them don’t think they deserve to be here (and most of them are probably right; the prison system is fucked), but Piper and Alex think they’re too good to be here. There’s this superiority and exclusivity to the way they act, like yeah they sold drugs, but they’re pretty white women who sold drugs, so it’s extra unfair that they have to go to jail for it, and I think that’s just waaaaaay too close to the way the world actually works for me to be even a little bit comfortable with it. They look real good when they’re making out, though! I do agree with you about that!
Despite Suzanne’s excellent suggestion that Piper and Alex’s scene should take place on the moon and/or in a grocery store where a customer is returning the moon, they end up in the grocery store with a bruised piece of fruit. Alex is mad the fruit is rotten. Piper thinks it’s cool that the fruit is rotten as long as it’s pesticide-free. Alex doesn’t give a free range organic fuck about the origin of the fruit, just that it’s inedible. Piper sold the fruit to Alex because she wanted to have some power over her. Alex ate the fruit because it’s delicious, regardless of the power play. Piper kept selling the fruit so Alex would come back to the store. Alex will always come back to the store because she has a toxic addiction to Piper’s fruit. The whole time they’re saying “grocery store” and “fruit” and “customer,” Suzanne is doing air quotes around it. She is a magician.
Pennsatucky finds Nicky staring out the window at the inmates who are getting early release and tells her the best plan is not to care if you get out. If you do, it’s a nice surprise. But if you don’t, you didn’t expect it anyway, and so it’s not a disappointment. She calls it “a double-reverse-jinx strategy,” which is how my girlfriend watches sports. (It doesn’t work.)
Big Boo menaces her way in between Pennsatucky and Nicky to ask about the missing drugs and Nicky weaves a yarn about how it wasn’t her and Boo can’t prove it and deal with it and her friends can trust her, okay, and then we flashback to this time she was hanging out with her drug buddies after she’d been arrested for the taxi-stealing thing, and to get some money to score some more heroin, they decided to break into one of their friends’ houses and steal her rare books and pawn them. Which, apparently, is the thing that landed her in Litchfield finally.
While Norma leads a group of silent worshipers in prayer, Angie and Leanne come bebopping by, tripping balls, and Nicky realizes they’ve found her stash. She runs to Luscheck to dime them out and get her drugs back. He does, and when he brings the bags of smack back to electrical, Nicky gets so Gollum with them that Luscheck has to pry them out of her hands while she screeches about nasty little tricksy hobbitses. Her Precious. HER PRECIOUS. Nicky knows she’s fucked up about the heroin, and she knows if Luscheck doesn’t get it out of there, it’s going to actually kill her. She says she’s a master of self-destruction, and then in the next breath she says he’s just got to trust her because it will be different this time.
Red’s mediation with Healy and his wife is pretty awful because Healy and his wife are pretty awful. Red finally snaps about, like, what did Katya think she was getting into when some random dude off the internet offered to pay for her to come to the U.S. and then marry her for citizenship. Like, that’s not some kind of Disney Prince situation, okay? She’s lucky it was Healy and not Pornstache. (Sophie’s Choice of Immeasurable Horrors.) But then Red takes it one step further and says Healy is a handsome, hard-working good guy and Katya is lucky to have him. Which is ridiculous. That Red said it out loud, yes. But also, that she might actually believe it.
No! No, I refuse that reality. In the name of Norma, I command the evil spirits to depart from you, Red! Return her to her right mind, you devils, you hellworms!
Alex and Piper return to the empty library for another hate-fuck but they can’t work up the anger because they got tricked into being empathetic for a nanosecond. Well, now what are they going to do? No books and no sex? What a bleak world! What they need is someone to write a book about sex for them, inside Litchfield. But who could be such a hero?
Daya hears a couple of women in the bathroom talking about how the cute, good-smelling guard is back, so she rushes out thinking it’s Bennett. Her face is so sad when it is so not Bennett.
Caputo is having a day. The guards have heard the word that Litchfield is probably closing down, and they’re guilting him about it, and so he calls up his old frenemy Natalie Figueroa and asks for her help, which is dumb as shit because she’s got a vendetta against him and all kinds of power now because her gay husband is the governor or mayor or something. Some kind of political guy. She does give him a hot tip about getting an independent firm to take over Litchfield, though, because allowing unchecked capitalism to govern a group of powerless people, that always works out. The point is, Caputo is angry and annoyed and when he hears Leanne and Angie talking about Luscheck lifting their drugs, he marches to electrical to conduct a search.
He does find one small bag of heroin, taped underneath Luscheck’s desk. Luscheck says it’s Nicky’s, and Caputo immediately believes him. Or, well, who knows if Caputo actually believes him. It doesn’t matter. It’s the bro code, the law enforcement code, the power code. It’s one of those things or all of those things. Caputo grabs up Nicky, no questions asked, and hauls her off to max.
Red and Morello find her being pulled down the hallway and tell her how much they love her.
On the way to max, Nicky remembers the day her mom stopped bailing her out. She was in her lawyer’s office on the hundredth floor of some high-powered law firm and her mom pulled the plug on the money, the support, all of it. Nicky said everything an addict does, blamed everyone but herself. Her mom said Nicky’s desire to self-destruct was unquenchable, and Nicky knew she was right.
I think what’s most poignant about Nicky’s flashbacks is — unlike so many of the other characters who had different options and didn’t take them, or were truly victims of a severely broken system (like if Flaca was a white dude, she’d never be in prison for basically selling little squares of notebook paper to her high school classmates) — Nicky kind of knows that if she had it to do all over again, she’d fuck it up the same way. Driving down the hill, Pennsatucky says the bright side is, it can’t get worse. Nicky disagrees; she’s says she’s very resourceful. The embodiment of a Shakespearean tragedy. A Bloodhound for Oblivion. Chlamydia dell’Arte!
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I was sad to see Nicky go. I don’t read spoilers so I was completely shocked that it happened. I missed her all the rest of the season.
I don’t know if the writers wanted us to be turned on by Piper and Alex’s hate-fucking but I was so far from that. I didn’t find those scenes sexy at all. And while the actresses may have chemistry(though that is subjective), I just don’t care anymore. All of their scenes these days leave me with a bad taste in my mouth. I am so glad that I don’t watch this show for them or I would have quit watching a long time ago. Thank God, everyone else is so much more interesting. Piper and Alex(to a lesser extent), look whiny by comparison.
Yeah, Nicky is one of my most favorites. I missed her a lot, lot, lot.
mostly i just feel like i have no idea whatsoever what alex still sees in piper.
i never saw what anyone was meant to be seeing in piper. she’s just this insipid, anaemic fucking whiner who’s somehow meant to be driving everyone she meets crazy with desire.
I agree every time Piper and Alex are on I’m thinking to myself “Gee maybe we could give a sex scene to Sophia one of these days” or “I wonder what Taystee and Poussey are up too?” I mean they’re just not that interesting.
masturbating to the sounds of their own voices!
I stand by that assessment.
it is a massive testament to natasha lyonne that she has me rooting for a scheming, lying junkie to turn it around like she keeps promising she’s going to. i hope we get nicky back next season!
and i agree with you about piper and alex thinking they’re too good to be in there, although part of me feels like alex was sliiiiightly more aware that this was a potential consequence of their actions.
healy is just so, so gross.
Yeah, so agree with you about Natasha Lyonne. I will be heartbroken if she doesn’t come back. She is a wizard.
I also agree about Alex being like a fraction more self-aware than Piper about her horribleness. But just a fraction.
My gf and I immediately tried hate snuggling.
Turns out it’s just tickling, because tickling is the most cuddly hateful thing you can do.
I would like to preemptively gift you with this Comment Award.
I had a bad day but reading this made me cackle and all of my roommates think I’m INSANE. I’m probably going to be thinking about the phrase “masturbating to the sounds of their own voices” for many, many days. I’m still giggling about it.
I agree with you about Piper and Alex, Heather. I’m having a hard time getting through the season because I give no fucks about them.
Do you think Healy owns a meninist t-shirt? Because I imagine that Healy is always wearing a meninist t-shirt under his CO uniform, and that at least makes me giggle while he’s saying dumb shit.
not that i ever imagine what Healy is wearing under his uniform, but i’m down with the meninist shirt as long as it comes with a pair of Tea Party tighty whities.
That is a the most horrific/amazing image anyone has ever planted in my brain.
Perfect recap, just perfect.
I missed Nicky so much for the rest of the season. Also I agree, I’m not feeling the Alex and Piper thing. (Okay…yes, their scenes were hot af.) Too much back-and-forth hate and love and it’s just a weird relationship that I don’t see having a healthy future. Reminds me of the one relationship I’ve had. And that shit was dumb.
blanca is one of my favourite characters after this episode; i hope they do her backstory next season
Me too. I love Blanca. I’m so glad she was featured more this season. I remember she barely said a word in season one.
Agree with everyone else re. Piper and Alex. Snore, go away already.
Poussey doing the book elegy in her I’m-tough-but-in-a-cute-way persona was the cutest cuteness.
Any opinions on whether the heroin that Caputo found was actually stashed there by Nicky for later (which seems like a not very smart idea and I don’t understand why she wouldn’t have just taken it back down to the laundry room or wherever), or by Luschek so that he could screw her out of the 20% (which also seems unlikely because he could just… not give her the 20%)? Neither scenario makes much sense to me.
I assumed that Nicky stashed it there because she couldn’t let it all go. She didn’t really seem like she was angry when she was carried away. To me it seemed more like she was pissed at herself for fucking up again because of drugs. But I could be very wrong, I haven’t finished the season yet so I’m not sure if it comes up again!
I think your right that it seems really odd for Nicky to stash it under Luschek’s desk rather than put it somewhere where it had gone undiscovered for so long. I mean, OF COURSE someone was going to find it eventually. I wonder if there was a bit of self-sabotage involved. She knew that it was possible for her to get heroin in minimum security, and she knew that if she started using again she would probably die. So maybe getting caught and transferred to max is the better option?
I think the more likely answer is that they needed a way to get Nicky busted and that seemed convenient. I’m not at all surprised that she held on to some, but I’m with you that the placement was weird.
I imagined Nicky had only a couple of seconds to hide it somewhere — like if Luschek turned away for a moment — and she saw the desk and went for it, meaning to retrieve it when she had the chance later.
I’m pretty sure that Nicky was the one to hide it though, from her panicked look when they started searching.
Yeah, I guess just shoving it down her underwear or something would have been riskier.
I think it’s Nicky, too, just because I felt like the theme of the episode was that she was going to find a way to self-destruct no matter what. Blodhound for Oblivion and all that. And on the way down the hill, she seemed resigned to it being her fault. She’s the first one to shout about something not being fair.
The end of this episode really had me bawling my eyes out, particularly how Red feels a sense of responsibility for Nicky. You can tell in some sense Red feels like she failed as a prison mom in looking out for Nicky, but at the same time you see that Nicky’s problems go back so much further and probably have quite a bit to do with her actual mother, and Red couldn’t have stopped Nicky’s self-destruction.
I was already wishing that this season had had more Nicky in it, but now this recap is making me wish that the season had had more Aggressively Feminist Comic Book Fan Nicky in it.
I might have been projecting onto her. Maybe.
I’m the opposite. I mostly watch for Alex and Piper.
I will most likely stop watching if they leave the premises.
Everyone I know watches the show because of Alex and Piper so trust me you’re not alone! I’d like to see what would happen if some people got their wish and they weren’t on anymore. My guess is that would be the last season for sure.
Heather I died, like scream laughed to my death in front of Laura W. with this line:
Nicky gets so Gollum with them that Luscheck has to pry them out of her hands while she screeches about nasty little tricksy hobbitses.
Aww! Thanks, Gabby!
This recap just makes me want a musical episode of OINTB. That could be some Scrubs level ish, I’m just saying.
Oh please. As if Alex wouldn’t be Marceline every. Single. Time.
Yeah fuck the third Hunger Games book. That shit never happened.
So say we all.
I am so happy with the use of the captions to make silly pop culture references. Was especially pleased with the Fun Home runner.
Heather, you do such a great job of distilling the essence/subtext of scenes/jokes into both different jokes and poignant words. (I realize now that this is just kinda a job description of recapping. Still great though!)
Hey, thank you, ducky!
Everybody needs to relax. They’re not taking Nicky to Max. They’re taking her to conversion camp, but she’ll meet Clea DuVall there. Nicky gets her happy ending.
I’m 100% here for this. Brilliant.
Nicky’s last line as they’re pulling up to Max broke my cold black heart. I cried. And missed Nicky intensely the rest of the season. Why ya gotta be so cruel, OITNB???
(almost) everything awful happened so early in the season!! you forget that when you eatch it all in 3 days.
Great recap! You are hilarious.
The drama scene with Alex and Piper was hands down one of the best written, directed and especially acted scenes ever on the show. Laura and Taylor played the hell out of the subtext of that scene and played it to perfection. I would’ve liked Alex waiting longer to forgive Piper but it played out so perfectly that I can’t argue with it. I will miss their hate sex though ;)
” but Piper and Alex think they’re too good to be here. There’s this superiority and exclusivity to the way they act, like yeah they sold drugs, but they’re pretty white women who sold drugs, so it’s extra unfair that they have to go to jail for it”
Damn that’s some huge projection. LOL. There is literally nothing in the show to support your projection-claim, particularly for Alex. Sounds like you’re just bitter they’re “pretty white women” who have a tumultuous ongoing relationship you dislike and they get screen time.