Orange Is the New Black Episode 306 Recap: All That Is Gold Does Not Glitter

Chang takes her Frito/pea cakes outside and eats them while watching everyone else hang out with their prison families. And then she heads on over to the shed to watch her stories on her Samsung Galaxy S6 and treat herself to a single orange from her stash. Where did she get that thing? The phone, I mean. More importantly, though, how does she charge it? How did Blanca charge her phone, come to think of it? That’s going to drive me crazy.

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Dumb asses. Aria is A!

Flashback! Chang’s brother’s shop is in bad shape, so he decides to get into the business of contraband. He doesn’t want to make a drop, though, and neither do his buddies, so he recruits Chang to do it because he says she’s invisible and no one’s going to notice what illegal shenanigans she gets up to.

In real-time in the Panty Shoppe, Black Cindy and Janae wrestle with their sewing while Flaca continues to read the catalog. She’s says she’s like The Flash with sewing, so she’s saving it all up to hammer out at the end of the day.

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Is that a drone?

Janae: What page do you have to get to before you see a Spanish girl?
Flaca: If you’re talking about Latinas, there’s like 20 different countries that all look different. See this blonde chick here? She could be Latina. You don’t know.
Janae: [disbelieving look]
Black Cindy: Let me see. Eh, she probably ain’t, though.
Flaca: Yeah, probably not. Man, I gotta start running or something.
Janae: I ran all the time and boys just thought I was weird.

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Oh, I’ll bet its here to drop off Piper’s Fresh Direct order.

Flaca: It’s all Photoshopped anyway. Special lighting, tape and shit. We’re chasing an unachievable standard.
Black Cindy: I ain’t chasing nothing. I’m a strong black woman. We’ve got a different standard of beauty in our community.
Flaca: Not true.
Black Cindy: EXCUSE ME.
Flaca: Beyonce. She’s playing the white girl game.
Janae: And she’s winning!
Black Cindy: WINNING! And you’re proving my point, exactly, Morticia: There are hella ways for black women to be beautiful. [Whispers] A white girl, though? She’s gotta be skinny.

To wit, Piper and Stella are talking about how hard Piper’s life is, what with looking the way she does and being able to afford hundred-dollar underwear when she’s not in jail for being a drug mule. Stella’s mouth invites Piper to check her privilege for a second, but Piper declines that invitation. Stella’s body language invites Piper to her pants party, and Piper sticks that one in her back pocket.

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Australia is so weird. What even is a platypus? Is it a duck or is it a beaver?

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Maybe it evolved to challenge your binary assumptions.

She also sticks some extra Panty Shoppe fabric in her back pocket and a photo of one of the models from the catalog for Alex.

Gloria dips into Sophia’s shop for a late afternoon haircut. She says she doesn’t want any birdcages or sass or anything like that. Just a trim to keep her from being noticed. Sophia says she feels that, but Gloria doesn’t think she does.

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Carli Lloyd scored a hat trick in the first half?!

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She scored it in the first 20 minutes!

Gloria: Really? ‘Cause you’re doing the opposite. You’ve got this whole thing going on. The hair, the makeup. I mean, who has the energy to go full M.A.C. counter every day?
Sophia: Listen, after everything I went through to be me, I ain’t gonna let shit slide.
Gloria: Yeah, but you all up in our face with it, like blown out and shit. Look, if you wanted to look like a real woman, you would let your roots grow out and get some bags under your eyes.
Sophia: You know, historically? Mean and reality: not friends.

Okay, for starters, the idea that Sophia is all up in anyone’s face is hilarious since she seems to exist only inside this salon. Maybe she’s on a whole other show inside here and we don’t even know about it. Maybe she hangs out with Stella in here and they eat contraband cookies and talk shit about Piper. Maybe she keeps Stella’s buzz fresh and Stella teaches her Australian swear words. I would watch that show.

Sophia agrees to let Gloria’s kid ride with her wife and son to visit sometimes.

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I got to level 300 of Pac-Man.

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Bullshit, there’s a kill screen after level 256.

Flashback! At the drop-off, Chang and Fu chat happily about the wonders of ’80s pop culture until Fu harshes Chang’s buzz by bringing up his super tall, super thin, super blonde American girlfriend. The Korean rare goods dealers further harsh Chang’s buzz by trying to pass off ping pong balls as turtle eggs. A full-on martial arts battle breaks out because this episode didn’t meet an Asian stereotype it didn’t go all in on, and Chang ends up saving Fu’s life by walloping one of the Korean guys in the head with a tire iron. Fu pledges to pay Chang back by giving her literally anything she wants.

What Chang wants is for Fu & Co. to drag the asshole who agreed to buy her as a bride but then backed out to their warehouse and beat the smugness out of him. They do beat him, but they do not succeed at eradicating the smugness. He keeps hurling insults out Chang out of his bloody mouth.

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*taught Don Draper how to sit like a boss*

In real-time, it’s drama class and Sister Ingalls is acting out Chang’s script. She bludgeons the Fu in the story and while the rest of the class is freaked out, Suzanne is ecstatic. She loves it! Chang shrugs about how that’s Hollywood, and bounces.

At dinner, Black Cindy enjoys a delicious kosher meal, courtesy of Lolly’s hot tip, while Poussey and Taystee work out their feelings about the squirrel. Taystee wants Poussey to cut way back on the hooch and maybe even come to AA with her, even though Poussey says Taystee only goes to AA so she can have a platform to tell crazy stories that aren’t true. Taystee loves Poussey, and Poussey knows it, but she needs a different kind of love, a love-love kind of a love; Poussey needs a real girlfriend. Taystee smiles sadly. She agrees. She’s known it all along.

UGH, TOO REAL.

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If Mary had Jesus and Jesus was the Lamb of God, Mary had a little lamb.

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Piper tries on her new underoos and Chang clowns on her, so Piper apologizes for being a jerk earlier that morning and Chang accepts. She says, “Thank you, lesbian.”

Flashback! The guy who ridiculed Chang is now lying bloody on the warehouse floor. He yells at her some more about how she’s ugly, so Chang tells Fu to cut out his gall bladder, and then she swaggers her bad ass right out the door while that motherfucker screams and screams.

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You don’t deserve my tears, I guess that’s why they ain’t here.

Speaking of motherfuckers, Healey does Red a solid and gets Caputo to sign her back into service in the kitchen. She walks up in there to the sound of Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl” and everyone nearly faints dead away. Everyone except for Norma. She grabs Red’s apron and wraps it around her like a cloak on a queen.

Next page: The roundtable!

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Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior writer who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 1138 articles for us.

54 Comments

  1. It is as if the writers of Chang’s backstory did not know how to build in complexity and humanity into Chang’s lines. Besides the priceless bathroom scene where Chang is given visibility, and validity, in her interaction with Piper, where Chang shows Piper how to interact with another human being with dignity, confidentiality, and respect, and just for a moment, Chang is there, taking up space and time as though she existed beyond her limited and go nowhere excuse for pre prison life. I can’t imagine if the OITNB writers have given themselves enough credible leads in introducing Chang as a Human, to develop her as nuanced, idiosyncratic, paradoxical, with conviction enough to extend her character into future central storylines, say, in the way that Pennsatucky, Black Cindy, Gloria or Big Boo have grown. I was cheering for Chang, as her temperament of being so far, contained, self sufficient as to ?not want small talk, or risk her security, could be represented with more authenticity and investment. I was disappointed at the lack of investment of complexity and depth in her character.

    • Same. I just felt like they could have done so much more. But they haven’t really built anything around Chang as a three dimensional character up to this point, so maybe it was too much to ask for one episode? However, I feel like the writers did it with Rosa in Season 2 in a really meaningful way. I’m glad they decided to finally focus on Chang as they have with other secondary characters. I just wanted more for her and better Asian representation on the show, in general.

    • Right. Like, yes she’s not trying to assimilate to white American culture, but that doesn’t mean she’s not relatable on a human level? As a first-generation American I’ve seen people in my parents’ immigrant community be “othered” due to their heavy accents in ways that are not always so blatant, but still quite damaging, especially in health care contexts. Though I am white and blend in with American culture, I see the struggles that my family and friends have had just to be treated as human sometimes. By portraying Chang as an immigrant who doesn’t mind being left alone and treated as other in an otherwise progressive show, it loses a dimension of humanness that is almost completely universal: the need for connection.

  2. Laura, KaeLyn, Yao, and Fikri: Thank you, thank you, thank you. You guys hustled over the holiday weekend to create this wonderful, insightful commentary, without which this recap would just be even more erasure for Chang. I learned so much reading your thoughts and am so so so thankful that I get to work with you every day.

    KaeLyn, that part about Chang symbolically killing the male gaze was so on point, and I’m so glad you called it out. I would haven’t seen it on my own.

  3. I’m sorry but I found the writing for Change incredibly racist and predictable. Is it so much to ask that we get Asian characters with stories that don’t involve arranged marriages, Karate, Asian ~mysticism~ or violence?

  4. THIS WAS AN AWESOME RECAP.

    I personally found the parts of the episode about Chang’s day really heartbreaking at first. Totally projected myself onto those lonely meals. Then I just found it kind of badass that she had a hidden bag of oranges and a phone – WHO PUT THE ORANGES THERE?!

    I’ve always found Pilex/Aper a bit annoying/boring – but I’m really starting to actively dislike them in this series- they’ve been hella racist and bitchy. WTF is up with that?

    Also- no spoilers but- can we all hold hands and eat marshmallows during the Episode 10-11 recaps? I really struggled with those episodes.

  5. aahhhh, thank you so much for the roundtable! I was having trouble articulating why this episode didn’t really do it for me, and it was so helpful to see my reactions reflected in other people’s responses. Also, I want more Soso in our lives. Hapa girls unite!

  6. That screen cap of Chang looking at Piper– oh, my heart. KaeLyn, your commentary on here was really fantastic to read. Roundtables like this expand my worldview, which I appreciate so much.

  7. I have wondered where Chang’s story might get explored.
    It just strikes me as kind of unique that the audience hasn’t been shown yet, a few things about Chang that seem to be pretty forthcoming and common for the show’s other characters.
    Themes such as How does Chang cope with remaining sane and balanced while being in prison? Who supports her? Why have her desires and the struggle to fulfil her desires and goals while she is in prison not been elaborated on? Is she as self sufficient as she seems? She is not depicted as struggling, but she is visible by the very fact that her support systems within and outside of prison have not been disclosed and explored. No one is an island, but if Chang is an island, I wish the writers would provide context for how and why Chang is. Who is bringing her her supply of oranges and her cell phone? How does she fly so unnoticed under the radar to remove food items from her food tray in the cafeteria without anyone reprimanding her for doing so?

    How did she get her job in commissary? Why is she in prison, exactly? I am hoping that the writers of OITNB have as yet not finalised her story, since there is so much to explore. Any thoughts? There is no danger of a spoiler here in speculating as season 4 has not been released.

  8. I don’t know if Fikri can respond to questions, but do you know what a better translation of “你说你要我们把他怎么办” would have been? I studied mandarin chinese in the past, hence my curiosity.

    What about “你要我们把他做什么?”

    • I’m a native speaker and I feel like it’s not grammatically wrong, but it’s just a lot of words for that sort of moment…it’s unnatural.
      你想怎么处置他or 咱们该怎么处理这个家伙or something like that would have been better.
      It just showed that they didn’t have a script consultant who was fluent in Chinese while they wrote this. x_x

  9. “One last thing that bugs me about this episode (I’m sorry! I told you I hated it!) was that Chang’s backstory is probably not going to be worked into the rest of the prison’s story in any meaningful way, just as how Chang is going to be relegated back to the sidelines after this.”

    Yes this! Even just from a storytelling point of view, nothing about Chang or her backstory ended up going anywhere this season and I’d be surprised if that changed next year. It felt gratuitous, which made the stereotypes all the more egregious. If you’re gonna tell a story that riddled with stereotypes, make it matter.

  10. Thanks so much for this. This is why Autostraddle rocks so much. .. no matter what minority within our minority is representedby something, more often than not you find someone who identifies with it to share it with us.
    I’m reading the AE OITNB recaps too, mostly out of boredom and I’ve realised what difference it makes.(and not just OITNB – exactly the same thing with Transparent and The Rich Man’s Daughter…) it’s always better here when you put the effort into matching the best writer/s to the task! :)
    I feel like in general they give the ‘Piper lens’ on the world and you guys share the lens around for the betterment of us all.

  11. This article was so great and insightful. I was so excited and pleased that Chang was getting an actual backstory. She had been used pretty much exclusively for comic relief in past seasons, and I was afraid that her character wasn’t going to be explored at all. But I was kind of disappointed in all the stereotypes. Maybe if there were more Asian characters on the show with lots of varied backstories, it wouldn’t have been such a big deal. But when the Asian representation is so low, every single stereotype that you put into one character becomes that much more prominent. I was really enjoying young Chang being so strong and badass, but I literally could not believe that they threw a martial arts fighting scene into the mix. Talk about excessive.

    I don’t know. Like Heather, I’m a white woman, so my views are limited. I just was so happy that you guys did this roundtable thing. It was really helpful to me and opened my eyes to a lot of issues I was blind to because of my white privilege. Thank you!

  12. I’m so glad the roundtable was part of this recap. People have been saying OITNB has a problem with how they underuse their two Asian characters, and it looks like this ep didn’t really redeem the writers on that front — too many stereotypes.

  13. I just watched this episode today and was unsure how I felt about it afterward. The roundtable format was super helpful in clarifying the many things going on and helping me see things in ways that I, as a white woman, did not before. Thank you for this!

  14. I really liked that they showed Chang making her own food that seemed way more appetizing than any of the other food available. I would agree that I don’t think she was envying the prison families, she seems very set in her independence and self made comforts.

  15. I always enjoy reading the OITNB recaps, but am especially grateful for this one because when I watched the episode, the source I was watching it from didn’t provide subtitles. So the recap helped me to catch up on the parts I missed! I did roll my eyes pretty hard at the martial arts scene though – thanks for calling out the stereotyping. Really appreciated the round-table discussion.

  16. i really appreciated the roundtable at the end of the recap! i also had some weird feelings about this episode–glad they included a backstory, but why choose THIS backstory, stereotypes, etc–so reading about how y’all felt about it was helpful with organizing my feelings about it.

  17. Regarding Chang’s backstory, it felt too much like an 80s American action-movie style storyline to me, and I felt a bit ripped-off compared to the back-stories of some of the other characters.

    But then I wasn’t sure whether I was so disappointed because I’m Asian and so to me it’s the Asian storyline that’s dripping in stereotype, or whether folks from other minority backgrounds feel like the back-stories of other minority characters were similarly as overtly stereotypical?

    But to echo what everyone else has said, it’s really disappointing that Chang is still on the periphery. I’d be really really pleased if they somehow utilised Chang’s invisibility (the scene where the brother points out that they’d use Chang because she’s invisible really rang true for me), and have some sort of ‘it was Chang all along’ reveal of a major plot-point or season arc.

  18. Echoing others above – great recap, and I’m so glad the roundtable was part of it. Y’all are so insightful, I love it!

    Also I just watched A League of Their Own for the first time about a week ago (even though I was a Rockford Peach at A-Camp 4.0, whoops) and I thought that Kit and Lolly(?) looked very similar but I didn’t realize they were the same actress until right now!! Also p. sure the ball was dropped on purpose.

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