Orange Is the New Black Episode 311 Recap: I Can Do Breaking Bad All By Myself

This is a recap of episode 311 of Orange Is the New Black, a reality series about Tiny House owners who escape from the captivity of their truly miniature homes by mentally projecting themselves into the vast freedom of a federal penitentiary.


What do we want? Caputo’s backstory! When do we want it? Now!

Just kidding, no one wants Caputo’s backstory. If we wanted to watch a TV show about a white guy grappling with his own internal World’s Greatest Hero narrative, we’d watch literally any other show on television or go to bars where straight men hang out. At least this episode juxtaposes Caputo and Piper’s stories in a way that ties together some of season three’s biggest themes: How does relentless white-controlled capitalism affect human people, especially disenfranchised ones? And how do you hold onto who you are when giant corporations are perpetually trying to strip you of your humanity to make a dollar? And why are you so bad at dating women? (Caputo and Piper, not you. You’re great at dating women.)

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Your makeup’s a wreck.

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You look like literally every guy at a truck stop.

One thing I especially don’t care about re: Caputo is his and and Figueroa’s hate-sex life, which is how this episode opens. She only has power by proxy, in the hands of her gay politician husband who obviously doesn’t want to have sex with her because he is gay. He only has power because he knows how to work the coffee machine and also knows the names of the guards and inmates at Litchfield, so MCC didn’t fire him. They’re banging once a week to try to reclaim their power, and also because they enjoy post-coital insult sessions.

Litchfield’s Old Guard is getting furiouser and furiouser about MCC. They’ve decided to unionize, despite the fact that Caputo busts up into the break room and chides them for wanting a living wage and health insurance. They tell him he’s the hero they need, which triggers the very first Caputo flashback. He’s a wrestling bro in high school, the best wrestling bro in the tri-county area, and he’s agreed to wrestle a kid with Down syndrome as a favor to the kid. It’s this kid’s main dream, the other team’s coach says. A cute girl waves at Caputo about how he’s a hero, and he shrugs coyly about how the kid with Down syndrome is the real hero, and just when you think this video is going to land on whitepeoplewithgoodhearts.com talking about “YOU’LL NEVER BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT,” the kid with Down syndrome destroys Caputo with one lift-and-smash. It dislocates Caputo’s shoulder and he’s done wrestling for forever.

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Bet ya didn’t recognize me without all that hair.

Some of the guards are trying to spread their call to unionize with flyers, but not everyone is interested, and so at least one flyer ends up in the trash, where Flaca finds it. She takes it right to the women who work for Piptoria’s Secret and they rally around her cry for fair wages and benefits!

Other new guard mistakes include: Giving Angie some clothes and her release papers because she has the same last name as an inmate who’s supposed to get out today. Angie zooms on over to Leanne’s bunk to ask her if she should speak up about the mistake, or just try to walk right out of here because maybe, when you really think about it, this is less about incompetency and more about divine intervention. Leanne tells her to walk. Sometimes Norma’s blessings come in the form of inner peace; sometimes Norma’s blessings come in the form of heroin falling from the sky.

Wanda gets her hands on Suzanne’s Time Hump Chronicles and is really feeling it, especially when she realizes Donaldson is Rodcocker. He’s had it, though, with people calling him “Admiral,” and so he confiscates Suzanne’s masterwork and takes it straight to Healy.

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Stop, stop. You were right. Dottie dropped that ball on purpose.

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Thank you. Rockford Peaches forever.

In the bathroom, Alex tries to apologize for beating the hell out of Lolly, but 15 seconds into it, she realizes she’s going to have to try a whole other tactic, so she turns on the water and peeks under the stalls and whispers some black-ops nonsense to Lolly, like not only was Lolly right about the NSA, but Alex knows the truth like Lolly knows the truth because Alex is an undercover CIA agent who is on Lolly’s side and that’s how come she had to pound her face in, so the NSA wouldn’t know Lolly and Alex were tag-teaming to take them down. Lolly is so psyched to have a new friend to fight the man with her, and also who maybe has enough money in her commissary to buy Lolly some Vagisil.

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It’s hard to think of joke captions when this is so fucking real.

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Yeah.

Big Boo bebops into Pennsatucky’s bunk looking for a donut hookup, but Pennsatucky doesn’t want to talk today. She’s lying in bed staring at the wall, trying to deal with the mental and physical horrors of being raped by by Coates, but when Boo spots the bruises on Pennsatucky’s wrists and understands right away what happened, Penn flips the switch and starts regurgitating the sickening rape culture bullshit her mom started feeding to her the day she got her first period. It was her fault. She was flirting too much. She was smiling too much. She had it coming. She doesn’t deserve what’s good in the world when she’s so bad. And yeah, it hurt a little because she wasn’t “warmed up,” but she wanted it, okay, she wanted it, and that’s something Big Boo can’t understand because she’s a dyke.

You should read Riese’s recap of the last episode, if that is a thing you have not done. It’s important and it’s compassionate and it’s very very smart.

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Like I don’t want to brag but when I was outside running earlier, it’s like the sun was orbiting me.

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I can’t believe I’ve spent this whole season only interacting with you.

Piper’s bunk.

Alex: I’m here to apologize for being so paranoid lately. I mean, someone was stalking me, that part was valid. And a drug-dealing sociopath who is known for killing narcs is also after me, so again, valid. But I dealt with Lolly and I really want to —
Piper: UUUGHH! You have been talking for 90 entire seconds without mentioning me once, what the fuck, Alex?
Alex: You’re not finger-banging Stella, are you?
Piper: Actually, you’re right; your paranoia has become the main problem in our relationship.

They kiss. Piper’s eyeballs are wide open but her mouth is not.

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WE ARE NOT WATCHING SCREAM QUEENS! WE ARE NOT PUTTING OUR HEARTS IN RYAN MURPHY’S HANDS AGAIN!

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Fuck me. Ryan Murphy is doing that show?!

In the cafeteria, Gloria’s sporting a shiner and when Taystee asks what happened, Aleida not only dimes out Sophia, she cloaks the entire thing in the most transphobic tirade. She misgenders Sophia repeatedly, drops a bunch of slurs, completely dehumanizes her, throws her hook into all these negative and completely untrue stereotypes and trans women, and reels in everyone who’s listening. It’s horrifying. I mean, I know it’s meant to be horrifying, that they’re telling a specific and all-too-true story here in a very purposeful way, but it’s just so brutal. Also, I don’t want to see Aleida doing this because I don’t want to see a war between a black trans woman and two Latina women. I want to see a war where ALL WOMEN take down the Healys of this world! Anyway, Taystee doesn’t believe them at first because Sophia has never caused trouble and basically lives in her salon, but the most effective propaganda digs its claws into the stereotypes you’ve seen on TV all your life. Pretty soon, she’s sold on it.

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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 1005 articles for us.

27 Comments

  1. You know I’m not the biggest Alex fan but man if I wasn’t cheering her on during that scene. Piper’s getting what I’m assuming roughly 300 to 500 dollars per week and she’s paying her workers in flavor packs. Not only that but she has the nerve to cheat on someone who she got thrown back in prison with her because she was lonely? I also really dislike the whole Sophia/Gloria feud. I feel like both women are acting really out of character. I’d rather just have had a storyline where Sophia is struggling to raise her son while also maybe developing feelings for someone else. That Big Boo/Pennsatucky scene was heartbreaking.

    • When writers need a third person (Aleida) to go out of their way again and again to pit two people against each other it’s a sign the fight is going to be forced and boring. And it is. They really have no reason to dislike each other.

  2. I actually sort of enjoyed the Caputo backstory. Obviously it’s not as entertaining as the prisoners’ backstories but compared to Healy’s constant 1 step forward 2 step backs (EVERY EPISODE FOR COUNTLESS MINUTES) approach to figuring out he’s actually a bad person or the 2 guards who used to be fun until they kept getting 5 minute scenes about donuts or the scenes with annoying Danny and his dad, Caputo was down right riveting. I think the show should have 1 guard/management person to root for and despite his mustache I feel like Caputo could be that guy now that Bennett is gone. It just would have landed better if they didn’t spend so. Much. Time. On the other guards too this season.

    I should probably find Piper’s actions really gross this season but when her business is used panties…I can’t help but find everything to be this cartoonish criminal mastermind character and find it funny (I don’t laugh at the end of 3.13 though.) what she did to Flacca wasn’t good but it just put Flacca in the same position she was in before Piper started her schemes so I wasn’t horrified. Her lack of understanding that Alex is in real danger is much more infuriating to me.

    • I liked Caputo’s backstory, to tell the truth. This show asks us to feel compassion for the least likely people, and he’s on the list, so I appreciated that. I enjoyed a lot about how this season really got into the system’s machinations to show how little choice it left the people (like Caputo) who look like they’re “in charge,” but are still ground down by the entire system. When the final say on everything is left in the hands of people who won’t even spend one work day at the prison, someone else has to be the bearer of bad news at every turn. Caputo’s arc this season was really fascinating to me. Plus, Nick Sandow is a damn good actor.

      That Angie subplot was fantastic in the way it advanced the new guards vs old guards plot, gave her character more to do, tied in with the Norma story, let us see more of Caputo’s humanity (including him turning DOWN a blow job, ha). And it was also a bit of comic relief at a point in the season where I think the audience was desperate for it considering the episode just before it.

    • I like Caputo; in that, as Weez above said, (paraphrasing), he is one small wheel surrounded by larger lumbering slow turning wheels who usurp his effectiveness and intent in supporting his team and the women in his “care”. I have found Caputo to be mainly ethical in his intentions and behaviour with his staff and prisoners such as Angie at the bus depot, Piper when she revealed Figueroa’s prison fund embezzlement.. other examples escape me for now. I thought that Caputo has humility, kindness, zero hypocrisy, and treats people as human and gets infuriated when the prison system and Useless Foil Danny disables him in doing his job, which is to ensure the safety and welfare of his prisoners and staff. Caputo is compromised in fulfilling his job description because of the shit in the way (Danny and Danny’s Father, CEO Corporate Legit crime solutions) sabotaging him at every turn.
      The hate-fucking scenes with Figueroa were priceless, that was the punchline that keeps on giving to the mutually beleaguered impotency both Caputo and Figueroa feel. Also the various compromises Caputo has made for certain people in his personal life and career make for a late brewing volcano of resentment and disgruntlement. I thought the various breakthroughs of Caputo’s fury and injustice were compelling.

    • What I like about Caputo’s backstory is that it shows he’s been a Nice Guy his whole life. The toxic “I’m doing the bare fucking minimum to be a human person; please give me my cookies and my free girl” brand of Nice Guy.

      • I don’t think that is it. He has the obsession with Do The Right Thing And The Universe Will Reward You. Something most of us want to believe is true but know isn’t. And sure that popped up in his love life but you also see it with the unions or even with his band and burying the hatchet with his friend. He really believes in karma.

        • I agree. Caputo is interesting because he can see and actively fights, the hypocracy (despite caving in to mutually fuck with Figueroa), and unethical treatment that the corporate prison systems doles out to its women prisoners. He is ethical, he won’t stand for treating his charges (women in his care) as anything other than human. In a system where the Danny’s of the world are a spineless ethically apathetic and indifferent dime a dozen, Caputo stands out as a fucking human being who is accountable, and CARES.
          What goes around comes around, and if Caputo is the hub of that paradigm, I’m in. Karma is real and he could be written potentially as an advocate for fairness and justice, and vengeance. I would love the storyline to develop this way, as it is showing that trajectory already.

  3. Straight up, this read was worth it just for the use of the phrase “Piptoria’s Panties.” I mean, obviously, it was all that and more, but any fictional LLC that challenges my current fave of Dildopolis deserves a gold star. Maybe 70 gold stars…

  4. I am actually heavily enjoying Piper’s negative character development. She went from ‘appears flawed’ to ‘deeply selfish’ to ‘cruel and power-hungry’, and I think it’s brilliant that prison is shedding her layers to reveal an ugly core, given that 86% of her annoyance in the first season was her expectation that prison would make her (and the ‘lesser people’ she encounters) into an improved person.

    Piper is a Slytherin through and through, but how far she is prepared to go to would probably have stayed completely hidden had she not gone to prison. She is an awful person artfully disguised as a nice person, and I love it.

      • I think it’s more of the fact that she has this really pious veneer and is trying to use Slytherin cunning to get ahead while insisting that she’s got a Gryffindor heart. If she owned her shit like a real Slytherin, she’d be 1000% less annoying. Btw, Slytherin won the house cup at Pottermore! There’s a thing about the greatest Slytherins in history as part of the celebrations :)

      • No insults here! I’m not a Slytherin, but my two most important friends are. I’m referring to the very Slytherin-type combination of ambition, self-preservation, intelligence, high social smarts, and tendency to override people’s autonomy when she feels she knows best, that forms the base ingredient for Piper’s character.

        This combination can develop into an awful person (Piper), or you know, not at all – I wouldn’t be dedicating myself to people in my life who are awful or potentially awful.
        Slytherins are also, among other things, brave and unflinchingly loyal to those they choose. There’s a lot to love, and I do. Piper’s just an example of the Slytherin Dark Side (there’s a Dark Side for all houses, I assure you).

  5. Great recap! And a minor correction: the bus station is supposed to be in Utica, not Ithaca. Except that I actually live right near Utica, and the real bus/train station is a lovely old marble and wood giant hall. We do have a minimum security prison here, but it’s men.

  6. You know, I feel like this season was the result of a bunch of dudes and straight people complaining that the show wasn’t hetero enough. WAY too much time was spent on Caputo and Danny and Healy (who has literally not changed a single iota in 3 seasons). Literally why.

  7. I honestly don’t get what they’re trying to do with Caputo and Fig. Like there’s not enough dysfunctional hate-sex relationships on TV? Was I the only one who was grossed out by the blowjob last season too (the power balance, not the hetero sex bit)?

    Loved Angie though. Of course she would just end up sitting at the bus station wondering what to do next. This show is full of people who, when it comes down to it, would have no idea of what to do with a miracle if they got one. Like if Poussey got a service puppy and wandered up to their bunks to see if they wanted to go on a walk and recite poetry to each other, I dunno if they’d even be grateful for that shit, let alone take her up on it!

  8. I am actually laughing so hard at your (spot on) descriptions of Piper that I literally can’t breathe! She was so infuriating in the second half of the season and this episode was her worst. I’ll always want Piper and Alex together but even I was standing up and cheering when Alex broke up with her narcissistic, cheating, lying, completely unsympathetic ass. On the flip side I love seeing Alex’s newfound maturity and wanting to go down the right path. I’m gonna need a whole lot of groveling and redeeming from Piper before I want her back with Alex!

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