Orange Is the New Black Episode 304 Recap: Butch Please, Life’s A Butch, Etc.

Welcome to the fourth recap of the third season 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.

It was faint at first, the rumbling. The sound of a thousand bootcut jeans and thick-soled boots being dragged across the floor of a wood shop. The distant tinkling of power tools and twin engines and buzzing clippers against faux-hawked scalps. But I knew its call, even from so far away. By the time the leather and studs and powerful forearms had arrived, I had already ascertained its meaning. There was a butch given a fair appearance in the media somewhere, a butch powerful in the gay force. And I would find that butch, and I would consume that media, and I would talk about it.

Yes, I’ve been ousted from Internet retirement by the sweet harkening of a fellow bulldyke on TV. And truly, I was not disappointed.

The episode opens with Suzanne’s night terrors. She’s still obsessed with Vee and who could blame her? Woman was a hurricane who tore this prison open like a goddamned tampon wrapper in the final hour.

Red misses Nicky. I also miss Nicky, and am really upset that I have to go through a season without her smudgy eyeliner and her sandpaper voice cracking lesbian jokes. Man, who else is going to talk about U-Hauls and finger blastin’ and dykealikes? Am I going to have to endure all my knowing homo in-jokes from Piper or some other glass of skim milk? Christ, what a dark world. What a Hunger Games-esque reality. Nicky’s gone and we might as well be fighting each other over scraps for the entertainment of a bourgeoisie.

"You realize you are Jenny of this show, no?"

“You realize you are Jenny of this show, no?”

Big Boo and Penn are great friends now, which I’ve decided is the best thing to happen to this show. Big Boo needs toothpaste, but Penn doesn’t need toothpaste because her new teeth are porcelain, and thus should not be cleaned with toothpaste. I know some of you are judging, but like, look, do any of us really floss? My girlfriend keeps leaving floss around in obvious places, like in the bathroom and on my pillow and tucked into my socks, but I’m just not getting the hint, I guess. I’ve only recently discovered you have to brush your tongue or something – let me take my dental revelations in digestible doses, right?

Penn gets fan letters from fundamental Christians who admire her for murdering the employee of an abortion clinic. Like, I’m not a Jesus expert per say, although me and the Dude have hung out in the past, but I feel like Jesus would find this shit pretty reprehensible. Just a guess. Big Boo is interested in this particular detail of Penn’s life because these fans also send Penn money, and as far as Boo can see, that’s easy cash. It’s not that easy for Penn anymore, though, because she knows inside that she didn’t murder that lady for any particular holy reason, and that makes it feel a little wrong to keep taking money from these people. Boo understands the value of a Jesus dollar and says to keep taking the Jesus dollars.

​"It is the weirdest thing, I keep getting all this fanmail addressed to my Season 1 self, but it's like hey, I'm not a caricature of an Appalachian whipping bag for the writers to make clumsy class associations with anymore. I get my own complex story this season, shit is crazy."

​”It is the weirdest thing, I keep getting all this fanmail addressed to my Season 1 self, but it’s like hey, I’m not a caricature of an Appalachian whipping bag for the writers to make clumsy class associations with anymore. I get my own complex story this season, shit is crazy.”

Christ, these flashbacks. Fucking hell, these flashbacks. Stab me in the heart with a pickaxe and set me on fire so these feelings can be released. Actually, don’t do any of the shit I just said, because people will send you Jesus dollars in prison when you are eventually incarcerated for my murder.

​"Sweet baby dyke of the baseball tees and softball tournaments, may your comfortable shoe-loving soul be fulfilled someday."

​”Sweet baby dyke of the baseball tees and softball tournaments, may your comfortable shoe-loving soul be fulfilled someday.”

Big Boo is a baby butch. Her name is Carrie, and she is fighting with her mom about wearing a dress to picture day. Her mother doesn’t understand why she makes it so hard for herself – and you know what, raise your hand if someone in your life, parent or otherwise, has said that to you about your presentation. Hands to the ceiling, y’all. Her father explains to Carrie that sometimes we all have to do things like put on dresses to make other people happy, because they’re just a simple fix. But the thing is, and it’s a thing that baby Carrie will be learning in short time, is that it isn’t a simple fix for people like us. Luckily, her dad seems to be a pretty cool dude (for now), and says he’ll make it up to her with a root beer.

Piper and Alex are doing something, I don’t know. Can I be honest and say that I fast forward through these scenes? Adulthood has really changed me. Life is short. We are all in the rat race, existence is exhausting. Do we honestly have time to watch two unappealing characters touch each other’s faces? I don’t think we do, no. Granted my opinion towards Alex changes drastically at the end of the season, but for now it’s like, hey, I’d rather churn butter with my nipples than keep up with their story.

​"*Ambient noise plays over dialogue*"

​”*Ambient noise plays over dialogue*”

But since I’m being paid to watch this: They talk about whether or not they have been experiencing lesbian bed death. Did I not tell you that your obligatory lesbian cultural references would now be delivered by this watery bowl of cultured yogurt?

Caputo – who would probably be a good guy if he didn’t think of himself as a really good guy – wants to impress the corporate prison company, MCC, with this tour of Litchfield. They seem like corporate stiffs except for one little fella in the back who wore sneakers and wants to make sure his outfit doesn’t upset the prisoners. Huh. We’ll come back to this human version of a Weeble Wobble.

Suzanne is becoming very unpopular as a result of keeping everyone up at night. She’s also still defensive of Vee, and Poussey loses it, reminding Suzanne of exactly how Vee died, sending Suzanne into a fit. Taystee has to be the mediator, as usual. It’s tough to see people who have been broken and manipulated left divided even after the problem itself is long gone, and it’s a sad reminder that I can’t recap about 25% of this show in a funny way because so much of it is serious hard stuff that doesn’t really jive with jokes about nail length

​Morello speaks for us all. Or rather weeps openly for us all, a sentiment I think we’re all feeling. I know there are a lot of people on this show who lean our way but man, who else was a living breathing Effing Dykes post? Who else could quote you The L Word and make some reference to a sex act that only lesbians know about and then insult Piper in some sideways lesbionic way? Goddamn Nicky, the sky has turned to ash. The buildings are all on fire. Why must they take away my characters and replace them with roly poly men who upset me and remind me of all the shit I have to do at my corporate-ass job? I am trying to escape over here, y’all.


This is just a cafeteria of tears and feelings this episode. Daya’s also feeling feelings because Bennett flew the coop. I mean…we all saw that coming, right? We really didn’t buy the happily ever after here, correct? She wasn’t actually going to raise this family with her manchild husband while she lives outside of the prison walls and he attends kindergarten or whatever.

Boo is doing a favor for Ingalls so that Ingalls can help her with her bible know-how. Boo can talk the talk, but she probably can’t walk the walk at this point. For one thing, she’s elbow deep in recyclable materials. That is some unrepentant butch shit right there.

"And after this, I'm going to build a table and wear a skinny tie with a utility shirt and get a free pass for casual misogyny because this is Real Butch Shit, Penn!"

“And after this, I’m going to build a table and wear a skinny tie with a utility shirt and get a free pass for casual misogyny because this is Real Butch Shit, Penn!”

Yet another absolutely stomach-punching flashback. Big Boo is on the prowl at a lesbian bar. Oof, the bandana. Everyone trying to look like they’re a biker gang who showed up at Lilith Fair. Add a wallet on a chain and some widespread radical feminism and the 90s were a dark time for our people. Side note: I am lovin’ the background dancers onstage who have 2014 haircuts and were for sure friends with the crew, or hot queers picked up from Juicy LA. Took me out of the moment, but I was like kudos, my people are in the house.

Boo is walking around this bar like she owns the place. And hey, in that moment, maybe she does. She seems to be some kind of bookie, reminding the bartenders how much they owe her, and then sidling up to a really cute girl at the bar. You want to know something? I thought this flashback would be Boo being rejected, because it wouldn’t be the first time a large and in-charge butch was used as a punchline, but she was not rejected. Boo got the cute girl! Boo got the cute girl and it wasn’t a novelty, it was written and directed as a thing that is common for Boo. I did a fist pump in the air, I shit you not. They are treating her sexuality as a 100% valid and kickass thing. Boo is hot, she is being treated as hot in this moment, and I am on board. Christ, I am so on board, I am like at the front of the train and I have got my Amtrak snack box in my lap and I am kicking the conductor’s backseat telling him to hurry it up and get this train moving, we are all board.



Of course, all good things must come to an end. Or at least all ugly heads must be reared. Outside the bar, some little shit calls them “fucking dykes” – technically not yet, little shit, depending on your definition of fucking – and Boo flips out. In that moment, I remember thinking that I really wished that I had been capable of doing that in the past. The girl Boo was bringing home is horrified by Boo attacking the kid and screaming at him, and she says that she doesn’t know why Boo is surprised when she’s walking around looking like that. Like she asked for it or something. And Boo gets angry at the girl now, too.

Here’s what I kind of love about this episode and what we learn about the character: Boo is angry. She is a Big Angry Lesbian, but it’s complicated. When she’s mad, she’s mad because she’s responding to legitimate shit – homophobia and oppression and people who hate what she is – but she’s mad in a way that resorts to misogyny and vitriol and physical intimidation. Like, you feel for her, but you’re also a little bit afraid of that anger. It’s aggressive and physical and she says point blank that she doesn’t have some sob story to justify it all, although I would argue that years of repression and feeling disrespected and unseen in yourself could tip a person of that disposition off one scale or another. What we think we knew about this character, and what we’ve previously seen in her, are turned up a thousand degrees in this moment, and at the same time we’re sympathetic to this heat. Lea’s super physical performance is fantastic here, but I also love the writing. So many of these characters have sad stories and tragic stories and upsetting stories, but I kind of love that Big Boo’s story wants to refuse you the right to pity her. It’s just as angry and complicated as she is.

Speaking of people who are angry and complicated, Soso is meeting an old friend during visiting hours, but she can’t believe how out of touch this bitch is, right? Thinking that Soso is getting cred for being in prison, that it’s so awesome and she’s really living or something. But Soso’s miserable, and prison is miserable, and she’s realizing that she’ll never be able to connect with her friends on the other side anymore. Life was all kombucha and Burning Man and hanging around girls who are professional hoopers, but apparently that shit doesn’t translate in prison. Which is fine with me, I’m already 99% confused by professional hooping as is. Feel free to fill the comments with your anger at my disrespect of the professional hooping community.

​"This isn't the Rainbow Gathering, Figwit! There's no one here named Acorn who wants to do blow off a Save the Whales campaign poster while we all appropriate Eastern religions and sew dreads into each other's white-ass scalps, okay?"

​”This isn’t the Rainbow Gathering, Figwit! There’s no one here named Acorn who wants to do blow off a Save the Whales campaign poster while we all appropriate Eastern religions and sew dreads into each other’s white-ass scalps, okay?”

Gloria had heard from her younger son that Bennie has been up to no good, so she’s trying to mother as best she can. Man, I love when you can see the genuine fear in that kid’s eyes as his mother lays down the law. Ain’t nothin’ like a mom to make you taste your own shit in the back of your throat, that is for damn sure.

Healy and Red are in the garden, gardening or something. It’s more like they are giving me weird romantic vibes, and I have the worst possible feeling about this. I can’t tell at this point if Red is genuinely into this giant sack of hemorrhoids, or if she’s accidentally leading him on. Or, or, if she is ensnaring and using this loser for her own purpose. Just a brief reminder that while his backstory is presented in the most pitiful goddamned way, he has done some horrific shit. Red is a beast who needs a goddamned beast, too, not this lukewarm diarrhea.

​"I am like powerful Russian mother bear with glistening fur and sharp teeth and you are like puddle that powerful Russian mother bear steps in, you are like puddle with mommy issues and backwards ideas."

​”I am like powerful Russian mother bear with glistening fur and sharp teeth and you are like puddle that powerful Russian mother bear steps in, you are like puddle with mommy issues and backwards ideas.”

The MCC tour is going pretty horribly for Caputo, as you do, with a highlight of Suzanne talking animatedly to her mop.

Boo gets her makeover, aka Sophia gives her a Mom wig and Boo tears up when she sees herself. Honestly? I also teared up at this scene. Because you knew that moment wasn’t about Boo seeing herself as the Jesus people were going to see her. Boo was seeing some parallel version of herself that her mom would have loved. A version that did what pleased others, and not herself. But maybe she would have been happier, because people have always told her that it would be easier to be the person she sees in the mirror, the person her mother wanted, the person that fits in and looks ‘normal’ and might have made her family more comfortable. That maybe is what makes her cry a little, I think. She looks like her mother, but her mother will never appreciate this moment with her, and she knows that.

​"From muff-diving to Monica Lewinsky's mother in 3...2..."

​”From muff-diving to Monica Lewinsky’s mother in 3…2…”

Okay, so this flashback. Ladies, we need to talk. A strap-on scene with full nudity and a fat butch who is not being passed off for a punchline? Y’all, we have arrived. I mean, we haven’t, the world is still a terrible place, but I will gladly take my buttercup in the field of weeds. This is a buttercup. A big lesbian buttercup that doesn’t want to talk emotions. Goddamn, I am so glad I get to see a sex scene that isn’t Piper and Alex. Christ, this is the best feeling.

Boo’s extremely goddamned hot girlfriend wants to talk to Boo about why she won’t go see her ailing mother. Boo pushes away from the conversation, because we’re learning that this is what Boo does. She’s angry under there. She’s seething, even, and maybe the one thing she can’t get angry enough at is this personal deep-seeded stuff about her family. Part of me was like well, that makes sense, I feel this, and part of me was like LISTEN TO THIS BEAUTIFUL WOMAN, BOO, LOOK HOW BEAUTIFUL SHE IS, YOU JUST SHARED A BEAUTIFUL SCENE WITH HER, HEED HER ADVICE.



Meanwhile in the present is this fucking scene. It’s Piper’s birthday which is basically a snore already, but now we need to watch her entertain her family. Her brother and sister-in-law are luckily hilarious as ever – BLT flavored ice cream? We laugh but you know some mustached bastard who moved to Redhook because upstate is a real escape for his mind already makes BLT ice cream in his fucking renovated barn. Christ, I don’t miss America. Anyway, this scene is ridiculous, Piper literally pulls the most childish shit, and I got up and made a sandwich.

But fine, because I am paid to watch this show: Piper tells her family that she has a girlfriend, and she’s productive in prison, and maybe prison is the best thing ever. Then she fakes an orgasm? I just…I look forward to your comments insisting that I am hugely mistaken and that this scene was totally great. Whatever, dweebs.

More with this Healy and Red stuff? Nay, I refuse. I didn’t sign up for it, I didn’t send in my membership fees, I certainly didn’t receive my free mini football, and I’m not going to continue supporting something that I have taken no part in, okay? Get this off my television.

Taystee, who has started to function as Suzanne’s keeper, takes Suzanne out of the target of the MCC tour and back to the bunks, where they finally break down about losing Vee. Vee meant something to the both of them, and it’s incredibly touching to see two people who were united by something ugly coming together against over something like love.


Piper talks to Alex, I used the toilet, etc.

But because they paid me to watch this show: Alex has made a mixtape for Piper, and then they kiss about it. Hoppy burpday Poper.

I can’t even talk about this scene because I can’t. Maybe some of you reading this felt similarly. When her father talks about how everyone wears a costume, and couldn’t she have just done this the one time, for her mother? Fucking hell.

You want to know something? I get along really well with my family. It wasn’t always like this, but I’m really honest with them about stuff now, and I live my life, and they live theirs, and it’s all cool. It’s the best it’s ever been, I think. But I still put on a blouse when I Skype with them. Sometimes I push up my hair so it’s less of a men’s cut. I tell them I get it cut at a salon, not a barber. I remind myself to wear my floral shirt when I send pictures – it’s a men’s shirt, but it’s got flowers on it. I am achingly exhaustingly aware of everything I give to them when it comes to my presentation. I know it’s more comfortable for them if I am still a little feminine. I know it probably feels safer and better for them that way, and I’m happy to give that to them. It’s easier than the alternative. I don’t see it as a bad thing. I don’t really see it as compromising myself. I do it because I love them, and because maybe I see some of what homophobic people have seen in me. Maybe I’m not really Boo. Maybe I’m one of the self-hating gays she seems to hate even more than her family. I don’t know. We’ve all got our reasons, I think.

​"Some of those reasons might be that dressing like a teen boy pop star is a noble calling. No judgment."

​”Some of those reasons might be that dressing like a teen boy pop star is a noble calling. No judgment.”

When Boo walks away from that hospital room, I think she does it to protect her mother. I know most people saw that as an act of her being true to herself and not compromising, but I didn’t see it that way. I think it is her final gesture of love to someone she feels she has to protect from herself. I think it’s sadder that way, but it’s truer, too. She knows who she is, and she’s confident in that, but she knows walking in that door as her true self will upset her mother, so she leaves. Not because she doesn’t want to be the receiver of hate, but because she doesn’t want to be the dispenser of hurt.

Which is maybe why the next scene is so damn good. Boo is being visited by one of the Jesus dollar dispensers, and he’s throwing out some choice words that only we can say ironically and in certain contexts and definitely not when you’re drunk and trying to hit on me, fuckhead. He tells Boo that she was right to repent from her wicked ways, and she’ll be trotted out as an example of that. He also mentions that she’ll have to cover her Butch tattoo, and this is a step too far. Boo isn’t going to hide herself anymore. She doesn’t need to protect anyone right now, so she can flip the fuck out whenever she wants. She’s going to teach this homophobe a lesson.

Penn tells Boo that she’s brave. I die. You know why I die? Because nobody has been in Penn’s corner for a while, and Boo’s got a lot of righteous anger she could use for good on behalf of someone else. I’m glad to know they’ve got each other.

​"A toast to the end of people self-identifying as 'Celesbian' in their Twitter profiles!"

​”A toast to the end of people self-identifying as ‘Celesbian’ in their Twitter profiles!”

In other concluding news: Caputo’s hijink-filled tour has paid off, because MCC is buying the prison and saving it from being shut down. Daya and Gloria share a necessary moment. And Suzanne climbs into bed to cuddle Taystee, because she is still not 100% on personal boundaries. As you do.

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Full-time writer, part-time lover, freelancing in fancy cheese and cider.

Kate has written 130 articles for us.


  1. I’m a big fan of how Boo and Penn’s friendship is developed this season. Also, I agree with your interpretation of why Boo didn’t go see her mom in the hospital room – it is sadder, but deeper and better that way. Great recap!

  2. I wasn’t expecting to see any more OITNB recaps from Kate, I am getting so many wonderful surprises this morning!

  3. Netflix is 2 for 2 with these strap-on scenes(OITNB and Sense8). Keep up the good work, Netflix. You are truly doing God’s work.

  4. I really enjoyed your analysis of Big Boo. Really shed new light on how complex she really is. Thank you!

  5. Everyone else’s recaps are good, but yours have always been next level. Thank you for taking a retirement break to tell us your thoughts re: butch presentation in media

  6. Ok but that dress Boo’s mom wanted her to wear as a kid? That wouldn’t look cute on anyone or anything. No one looks better in that than a baseball tee, is what I’m saying. It’s like a metaphor for homophobia: better to have something ugly but appropriate for your gender than something comfortable and wrong.

  7. From now on I shall only be referring to Pooper Choopman. That entire storyline has improved dramatically already.

  8. Thank you for this SPECTACULAR recap.

    One thing that killed me on some of the sites with normally-great coverage and discussion on this show was a lot of people in the comments sincerely confused about how Boo was pulling all of these hot girls, and wondering if that was remotely realistic. (Don’t worry, I schooled them! Because hell yes it was realistic. She’s got swagger and bearing and… well, there’s those just-right clothes she’s wearing.)

    And I know we all hate Piper too much now to even appreciate how much the writers hate her, too, but I have to say I really enjoyed the juxtaposition in this episode — Big Boo fighting so hard for her identity and her dignity vs Piper’s incredibly childish behavior around her parents (which in HER mind was a “stick it to homophobia” moment for her folks not accepting her queerness but in reality was middle-school nonsense). Lauren Morelli did a great job writing the contrast there. (Especially Piper annoying explaining that LBD “is a thing, look it up” as if she’s fucking introducing the world to it, because of course.)

    DeLaria was awesome here. One thing I loved about this season was how it gave a chance to DeLaria and to Laverne Cox, who have been magnetic performers in the past but leaning toward more presentational than usually works for the small screen, to really, really shine at their most raw and truthful.

    • *ANNOYINGLY explaining, not “annoying explaining.” Oops.

      Also, one point: thankfully Penn didn’t actually murder the clinic worker. Just tried to?

    • People really don’t seem to get it. I feel like I’m just tentatively raising my hand in the corner and being like “Hello, yes, over here.. I’m “conventionally attractive” and and feminine presenting and THAT’S WHAT MY PARTNERS LOOK LIKE. That’s what our sex looks like. And it’s great. She’s great. This was great”. This is the first time that I’ve seen a scene like that, a couple like that, shown on tv. And I was holding my breath waiting for them to ruin it, to make a joke of it, for it to be cheapened somehow. AND IT DIDN’T HAPPEN and that made me so happy.

  9. I totally understand that Alex and Piper are not the most groundbreaking or interesting characters on OITNB, but all this “I’d rather churn butter with my nipples than keep up with their story” stuff feels a little too close to Rachel Maddow (at least I think that’s who it was…) and her interview in the New York Times Magazine where she says something along the lines of “being gay isn’t cool and exclusive anymore! I miss the old days of fear and oppression!” Can’t we be genuinely happy that Alex and Piper are hugely popular? It’s a pretty cool thing in my opinion.

    • I don’t think they’re hugely popular nor do I think we are knocking them for being “too mainstream.” I just genuinely don’t like their characters (although spoilerish, I was totes on Alex’s side by the end). I don’t think we are obligated to like all the members of our community just because they share a preference with us – same goes for characters in media. It is sort of beyond the point to celebrate the portrayal of queerness on this show by being nice about Piper and Alex, as they’re hardly the only gays on here and if anything, the least interesting ones. I can be psyched to see lesbians fucking on the small screen while simultaneously disliking their characters. It probably isn’t helpful to anybody to put aside the way we consume media – personal preference, personal biases, favorites and most hated, etc – for the sake of politics. I’m genuinely happy that I get to watch a hugely popular show that stars all kinds of representation, but I’d be doing everyone involved with the show a disfavor by blinding back patting and pretending like I consume this show in a different way than anything else I like.

      • Sorry to break it to you but they are hugely popular whether you like it or not. I understand not being an Alex/Piper fan (as I’m not) but I’m getting real tired of this self-righteous, hipster mentality of “I don’t care about some of the most popular characters on the show” schtick in an effort to come off as somehow “cool” and “funny” for not agreeing with mainstream opinion. Yeah, we get it, you make sandwiches and go to the bathroom when characters you don’t like come onscreen. It’s neither funny or original and your recaps have gotten more insufferable episode by episode goes on. It’s no wonder no as many people read these recaps anymore.

          • i keep trying to like this comment and it won’t let me but i’m just gonna tell you, i like this comment

        • Piper and Alex may be popular but that is not any reason to endorse their behaviours, talk them up, sing their praises, thank Netflix for their existence etc, not when there are other more interesting characters to talk about: Everyone besides Piper and Alex, so far.

          Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Margaret Thatcher, Idi Amin, Robert Mugabe, President Botha, Hitler, Sarah Palin, and other irritating folk were also popular, among other alternatives, in their day. To choose other than Popular is not a crime, it is a choice we ALL have.


          I dunno if disliking Piper makes a person cool(?), but getting pissy over someone who disagrees with you about a TV character definitely doesn’t.

        • Pedantic Comment #2:

          Sorry to break it to you, but this is Kate’s first recap for Season 3. If you want to accuse Kate directly of being a “hipster” for not liking two of the main characters, then I guess all of the writers so far are equally “insufferable”.

          Also, are you a child? Disliking something that is popular can be a sign of “critical thinking” and “personal taste”, not automatically an attempt to be “cool” and “counter-culture”. This isn’t fucking middle school, so give the writers some credit in being able to express their preferences and their dislikes. Good grief.

          • Thanks for pointing out that it was Alison Bechdel! That’s the name I was looking for. And I apologize if I offended you, that wasn’t my intention.

        • “It’s no wonder no as many people read these recaps anymore.”

          Sorry to break it to you but they are still hugely popular whether you like them or not.

        • Thanks for saying this! I feel like I wandered into The Twilight Zone here first reading the Piper and Alex hate and not even wanting to watch their scenes then saying they’re not popular. Maybe it’s Opposites Day lol

      • If anyone goes anywhere on the internet (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, message boards, etc.) then it’s impossible to say that Alex and Piper aren’t popular. By a longshot they get the most likes, the most fanfic stories, the most talked about positively, the most everything. Not to mention Alex and Piper were voted the favorite lesbian couple of alltime in tv or movies in a recent poll. Also I’d say the fact that Taylor and Laura were on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine is a pretty good indicator of popularity and as a lesbian I literally cried seeing the actresses portraying a lesbian couple on the cover of one of the most prominent magazines in history. Laura Prepon basically broke the internet when it was announced she was leaving. Many other actors and their characters have left the show since and hardly anyone has batted an eye. If you don’t like them that’s your opinion but I don’t see how anyone can say they’re not popular.

    • I don’t like Piper because I genuinely don’t like Piper. It has nothing to do with being “hipster” and not liking what’s popular. Alex, I don’t mind. Most of the time. But I find Piper insufferable. Especially by the end of this season, which I won’t spoil for you. I am under no obligation to like Pipex as a couple simply because they are popular. I don’t like them because they bring out the worst in each other. I think Piper specifically is downright toxic this season. And hey, guess what, there are other queer women on this show. And I just find them more enjoyable. I’m happy they actually made Big Boo more of a three-dimensional character this season. I’m always happy to see Poussey do literally anything. I loved Nicky while she was on the show. And their are a few other queer developments that occur with other characters this season that I can’t talk about yet that excited me more than the Pipex relationship. If you like them great. But it seems like this particular recapper does not. Different strokes, people.

    • Pedantic Comment #1: It was Alice Bechdel who complained that being gay wasn’t “cool and exclusive anymore”, not Rachel Maddow.

  10. I’m SO FUCKING GLAD that you wrote this recap, Kate. Thank you, this was beautiful. Are you going to recap Pennsatucky’s episode as well (episode 10, I think)?

    • I honestly don’t think I can watch that episode twice. I had to take a couple days break from OITNB after that one and go back to Skyrim.

      • We just got to that episode and that^^ is literally exactly what I have done. I’m on a break from the Dark Brotherhood to post here.


  11. raise your hand if someone in your life, parent or otherwise, has said that to you about your presentation.

    I don’t even think Boo necessarily needed to wear a flowery blouse to see her mom, but maybe a nice blazer, a long-sleeved shirt, even a little

    less hair gel? Something to minimize the shock value?
    Though I suppose the throughline of the episode is that compromise is not on the menu, even when it would be emotionally or financially or

    sexually the ideal route. She is who she is. And I so dig that we get to see her be that person on ours TVs.

    • I got that a lot growing up and I think my internalized homophobia comes directly from being told over and over by family members that I shouldn’t wear certain things or do certain activities or else “People will think you are a DYKE”. And I’m not even butch. I think it wouldn’t have taken me so long to accept my attraction to women if that hadn’t been ingrained early on that that was a bad thing. So yeah, I related a lot to Boo’s story.

  12. raise your hand if someone in your life, parent or otherwise, has said that to you about your presentation.

    I don’t even think Boo necessarily needed to wear a flowery blouse to see her mom, but maybe a nice blazer, a long-sleeved shirt, even a little less hair gel? Something to minimize the shock value?
    Though I suppose the throughline of the episode is that compromise is not on the menu, even when it would be emotionally or financially or sexually the ideal route. She is who she is. And I so dig that we get to see her be that person on our TVs.

    • I also imagine she was so conflicted about going to see her mom, and when she finally decided to do it she probably just went and did it without thinking about changing clothes. That was just what she had on in the moment she made up her mind to go to the hospital.

  13. My favorite thing about Boo and Penn is how both of them are used to being looked down on, and just kinda aren’t doing that to each other? No one else would appreciate Boo’s form of emotional comfort, because it’s horrible emotional comfort. No one else would even say they respect Penn *more* for committing murder on personal grounds instead of for jesus. Probably like half the other inmates would be all for swindling the jesus people, but wouldn’t be just as cool with Boo just shouting at the guy instead.

    I’m so proud of this show for not letting me feel all one way about any of these humans.

    • I have really loved the development and presentation of Pennsatucky and Boo’s friendship, as you say they have had their worth reduced to punchlines and negative caricatures so far, and now they are emerging from the background and owning their experiences, different as they are from each other. I loved the scene a few episodes back where Boo was dressed as a clown for Mother’s Day at Litchfield and was giving perspective to Pennsatucky who was honouring her 6 aborted children in a private ceremony in a part of the grounds, that aborting her kids may have been a blessing…

      I am really enjoying Pennsatucky’s almost equanimity about issues that she previously got all hellfire and danmnation about. It is like she has gained a huge amount of insight and compassion regarding her opinion of others’ life choices. I also like that despite this sea change in Pennsatucky’s character, Taryn Manning creates Pennsatucky as an intelligent hustler who is humourous, candid, and evokes sympathy.

      This was not meant to be about Pennsatucky. Getting back to Big Boo. When Big Boo chased away the young male homophobe, I could understand her over the top anger at him. She has probably been so pissed upon by various Rulers of Accepted Female Decorum and Normality that her rage is always there, anticipating the next random attack on her being that dialling her rage to 11 is a default survival technique. I really understood this scene, considering the stakes involved were protecting the existence of her potential date and their future. I read this scene as Butch Big Boo declaring her right to the Little Homophobe that she is Butch, she has a woman who wants to be with her, and if that offended Little Homophobe well Big Boo will go out of her way to offend Little Homophobe. I actually found this scene satisfying because Big Boo had the balls to take Little Homophobe down, unfortunately at the cost of driving her new date away. In other more threatening situations, Big Boo may be outnumbered by more homophobes, however, in this situation she saw that she could defend herself ably. She wanted to show him that she was the scarier opponent of the two, which she demonstrated. I am not endorsing her over the top Scariness display, but I can understand and sympathise with them. Picking your battles. I really like Big Boo’s character this season, and the backstory into how her experiences have formed and informed her life strategies and choices. I was gunning for Big Boo from early on and I have enjoyed the reveal of her life outside of prison, particularly the depiction of her in her stride: confident, capable, full of swagger, and a little crack of self doubt where her vulnerability comes through.

  14. Thank you for this, Kate. This was one of the best and most important hours of TV I have ever seen and I’m really glad you wrote about it <3

  15. Dear friends of Schecter, I never knew how you felt but now I understand you, from the bottom of my little Piper loving heart. Sincerely, a ladybrain

    • haha me too. like I get why everyone hates her (you are the third person I’ve found on the internet who likes her too!) but I just really like her a lot. though I would probs not want to interact with her at all in real life.

    • I’m greatly enjoying how self-absorbed and obnoxious she is as a character, especially when she gets those occasional moments of self-realization like “Yes. I’m white. I’m privileged as hell but there’s nothing I can do about it.” and “Omigod, maybe I AM manipulative!?!?”. I mean, how many female characters on TV can be this AWFUL without being reduced to offensive misogynist caricatures? In a show with this many women, it’s amazing to see the whole spectrum of female complexity.

      • By the end of this season I’m really not all that sympathetic to Piper’s character, but I don’t think she is boring.

        • I’m only halfway through the season, so I’ll have to see whether my opinion of Piper remains the same by the end.

  16. Kate I wish you had the inclination and time to write recaps of OITNB on the regular again, but, thank you for surprising me by writing this, it was great to read your words again.

    Most poignant moment? Big Boo choosing not to hurt her Mum in hospital by “being herself”, and contending with that, and not saying Goodbye.

    Most cringeworthy/WHY moment? Piper with her family faking an orgasm. WHY WHY WHY ugh. too much information. That was very immature. She has dropped many more levels in my estimation. Maybe the writers forgot to edit this scene out.

  17. that sex scene felt really huge! im so glad we got to learn so much about Boo.

    i’m glad i’m not the only one that fast forwards through alex and piper and is also confused by professional hoopers.

  18. Both watching this episode and reading this recap (miss you Kate!) were lovely treats that totally made me cry. #theautostraddleexperience

  19. This was the first episode of this season that didn’t feel off somehow (in terms of its… essential OITNB-ness, not because fucked-up things didn’t happen). Having seen Lauren Morelli’s panel at A-Camp and learning that different writers are assigned particular episodes (and this was one of hers), I think it’s safe to say she’s one of the best.

    One thing about the Red-Healy thing – you kind of glossed over their second interaction out of ickiness (which is totally valid), but the way I read that scene was that Healy started trying to get all creepily romantic with the rose seeds etc., and Red suddenly clued in that she might have opened up a very unwelcome can of worms. To me, her face at the end of that scene was saying NOPE NOPE NOPE.

    • (However, I haven’t watched further in the season yet so I hope I’m not proven wrong about that. Because seriously. NOPE.)

  20. I guess I’m in the minority around here too, but I watch this show for all of the characters and that includes Piper and Alex. I want to enjoy these recaps but I can’t read one here that doesn’t shit all over Piper and their storyline.

    • (mine don’t, actually. we can have a little safe space right here for piper if you want. i think she’s an interesting character and was really engaged in her story for the first half of the season. as the season went on i really started to dislike her a great deal but i still think she’s an interesting character.)

      • Thank you from me, too. I think recappy goodness has to come from it being subjective and personal, and I’m not in a place to criticise, really. For me, being invested in Piper’s character, I just can go elsewhere, too, where her scenes are perhaps more appreciated. But a little safe space here sounds wonderful. Favourite site ‘n all ;)

      • Thank you! I joined this site since it’s celebrating all things lesbian so imagine my shock at seeing recaps that don’t even bother to “recap” the two most popular characters and couple who are the face of lesbians in a good way for mainstream America and have brought so much positive attention to our community.

  21. Thank you so much for rejoining us for this, Kade. I’ve missed your words immensly. Is there someplace else we can read them?

  22. I am totally digging Pennsatucky and Big Boo’s broship as well as Pennsatucky’s character development and I really like how Big Boo’s father was supportive of her

  23. It was such a pleasant surprise to see Kate back. Seriously Lea DeLaria needs to be put forward for an Emmy, she just brilliant in this episode where she finally got to show more range, now we just need a musical episode where she sings. Also the young lass playing young carrie was fucking amazing, almost unnerving how onpoint she was. Seriously do the producers have access to a cloning device, the child actors are just so consistently brilliant.

  24. Most frustrating moment of this episode was the absolute refusal to use the word bisexual. Anybody else pick up on that?

    Piper was all “I have a girlfriend” and her mum was all “So you’re…” and then… just. UNNECESSARY DODGING. Come the fuck on.

    The rest of it was really good, though, I love and adore Penn and Boo’s friendship.

    • I’m not bothered that Piper doesn’t call herself bisexual. Actually, given the amount of Piper-hate, I’m kinda glad. On the other hand, given the vast range of lady-loving-ladies on this show, I’d appreciate if someone on the show identified as bi or acknowledged bisexuality as a valid thing.

    • Drinking game do a shot every time OITNB mentions the word bisexual. I mean I love the show but that’s one of the only things that irritates me about it

      • Yes! I thought of something similar and decided it would be too sad a drinking game.

  25. Kaaaate! *chants* Kate Kate Kate Kate
    I had no idea how much I missed your recaps until right now. This was all so on point.

  26. Thanks for the recap!
    I heard someone say once, that she had two coming outs.
    One as a Lesbian, the other as a femme.
    Coming out as gay is one thing, but then presenting as something very specific within that community is an entirely different matter and I am so psyched that the show explored that.
    And re the hospital scene:
    We don’t actually know how Boo’s mother would have reacted. There is the chance that before her death, she would’ve been just glad to see her daughter, or at the very least it would have done Boo good to say her Goodbyes.
    I love the show for the quiet undertones and for exploring queer culture.
    Guess what, Lesbians don’t just aim to get pregnant or have sex with men,dearTV shows, we’ve got a whole lot of stories to tell.
    And I like Pipex, btw.
    Classic Bad Girl complex, what can I say?

  27. I think that episode may have literally been the first time I’ve seen television tell a fleshed-out story of a conventionally unattractive, masculine-of-center woman.

    Of all the queer representation that’s been on TV and in movies lately – don’t get me wrong, I love it – but almost none of it represents life as I live it: Fat. Butch. Unapologetic about it. But vulnerable, too.

    (And then the sex scene…! My god…welcome, cornfed America, pick up your eyeballs and see this is how it’s DONE. Icing on the cake!)

    I don’t cry, but I cried.

  28. Phenomenal recap! I was really hoping for Big Boo’s backstory this season, and I’m so glad we got it. Since we don’t find out how she actually wound up in prison I’m hoping we get more Big Boo flashbacks later.

    I did feel a bit conflicted about the scene where Boo’s date backs out on going home with her. On the one hand, the girl is being awful in suggesting that Boo shouldn’t be enraged by homophobic comments, and I totally want to be on Boo’s side. On the other hand, I imagine I also would have left, simply because I would be uncomfortable hooking up with someone so quick to become physically aggressive.

  29. My mom used to tell me to wear more girl clothes. To which I would reply, I am a girl and I am wearing these clothes, which makes these girl clothes. She has come around and no longer wants me to dress other than I please, and often compliments my ties or other formal wear.

    I loved this recap, and I loved seeing Big Boo’s back story even if it made my heart ache in complicated ways.

  30. I created an account just to comment on this post about how much i love Kate’s writing.
    When i first stumbled across Autostraddle i came across Kate’s Butch Please posts and binge-read all of them. Yes all. Cried, laughed and had more feelings than i knew i had.
    I am so happy to see her back even if it’s just for a guest re-cap. Kate you are so eloquent, witty, insightful and raw as a writer. I need direction to where in the interwebs i can find more of your writing.

  31. I don’t understand the Piper hate. She is no worse than any other person on the show and a good bit better than several of them. She is dynamic, evolving, learning and hot as fuck. Her chemistry with Alex is the best thing about the show and without it the majority of the series is a snooze fest. Seriously, I was actually bored with this season because there were so few Piper/Alex scenes. In the pilot, in an hour of footage, Piper had 4 minutes of screen time. 4 MINUTES. Her and Alex only had about 55 minutes of screen time THE ENTIRE SEASON. I mean, come on. The amount of time they spent on Nora’s freaking story nearly had me crying tears of boredom. Let me see a passionate, dynamic lesbian relationship please. Everything else is the cookie part of the Oreo.

    • Yeah there was definitely not enough Piper and Alex this season. They’re the reason so many people watch and I get it’s become an ensemble show but after hardly any Vauseman last season it was a big letdown to see so little of them this season.

  32. Well I watched the Piper and Alex scenes enough times to make up for the recapper not watching them lol. Loved the “Will you be my girlfriend scene?” I do enjoy them at odds but then they turn around and be so freaking cute that I can’t help but love them being romantic together too. Alex making the mix was absolutely adorable. It cannot be said enough that it’s so good to have Laura Prepon back in every episode!

  33. I know I’m late to the party but…

    “She knows who she is, and she’s confident in that, but she knows walking in that door as her true self will upset her mother, so she leaves. Not because she doesn’t want to be the receiver of hate, but because she doesn’t want to be the dispenser of hurt.”

    Wow, I teared up.

  34. Kaaaaaaaaaate. We all missed you.

    I realize this is a late comment, but man what a fantastic recap. Your writing is always amazing and witty. So many feels about Boo this season…brought up a lot of personal stuff for me, too. When you mentioned presenting yourself more feminine than usual to your parents, I completely relate. In those circumstances, it’s not really “compromising”, as you say. It’s actually more comfortable. Idk…hell, even if it is compromising, I still love my family so. It’s what I gotta do, unfortunately. But besides that, I don’t compromise for anyone else.

  35. I had so many feels from Big Boos backstory. I totally unexpectedly cried when she defended herself to her dad, god. Amazing episode and great recap.

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