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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The other thing happening in the cafeteria is Leanne being a real butthole to Soso. She trips her like it’s middle school and makes her spill her tray of food everywhere.
Angie is nervous as heck as she goes through check-out processing, but she doesn’t need to be. These new guard can’t even tie their own shoelaces. They can’t read her prints, can’t tell the difference between one human woman’s face and another human woman’s face, don’t know anyone’s name. So they give her $40 and a bus pas and load her up in the van and send her on her way. Pennsatucky’s driving the van — while Coates is being a raping creepster in the passenger’s seat, talking about how much Penn would miss him if she ever got released — so she wonders aloud how come Angie’s getting out so soon when she has so much time left on her sentence. Coates is all, “Don’t you have a whole different name that’s not Angie?” And Angie is all, “Um, yep. Mmm hmm.” And Penn goes, “Oh, yeah, I just call her Angie ’cause she reminds me of Angelina Jolie.”
When they drop of Angie at the bus station, she apologizes to Pennsatucky for their season two feud. Everyone was always just looking for something to believe in, you know? Pennsatucky does. know.
Back in Litchfield, Leanne arrives at church with the news that Norma’s blessings allowed Angie to just walk the heck right out of prison this morning. The Normaites are so psyched! Poussey tells Norma to hook her up! Everyone else gathers round and presents offerings of Snickers, Doritos, and Vagisil! Soso, however, is still unimpressed with this new religion, so she storms into the meeting to tell Norma that her followers are bulling her, mostly Leanne, not to name any names, but there’s a name. Leanne and Soso get very mean with each other and when Soso finally leaves in a huff, Leanne tells Norma not to worry about it, that she’ll “take care of it.”
If Leanne ever told me that, I would tie her up. Leanne “taking care of” something is like dropping a nuclear bomb on a traffic violator. What’s going to burn? Everything! When’s it going to burn? Now!
Actually, instead of setting Soso on fire, she just chops off all her hair in her sleep.
Out in the hallway, Stella bumps into Piper and asks why Piper’s been avoiding her. The answer is that Piper Has An Alex, obviously, but her attention is starting to wane on that front because it’s like Alex only wants to talk about Piper’s interests 50 percent of the time lately and it’s starting to bore her to death to hear Alex drone on and on about all the ways she keeps getting murdered. Stella pulls a sack of used panties from under her shirts and gives them to Piper, even though it means she’s breaking up Piper and Alex and crossing the picket line. She just wants Piper’s business to thrive because Piper is the smartest, bravest, beautiful-est, most successful girl in the world.
Piper spontaneously orgasms from the praise and returns to her bunk to get some advice from Red.
Piper: I need to talk to a criminal mastermind.
Piper: I mean someone who thinks like a Batman villain.
Red: Bitch, I make Catwoman look like a dumb little kitten.
Piper: Okay, I’ll talk to you then.
Red: For ten percent of your profits, you will.
Red: Okay, for starters, don’t be a fucking Trump. Pay your workers a fair wage and stop being a racist ass. You can do this by finding one of the ten thousand contraband cell phones hidden in the walls and putting money onto cash cards for them. And for seconders, stop this shit with Stella. She’s sexy and mysterious and her accent is great, but you’re Larry-ing her. You only want to fuck her because she makes you feel like she’s the luckiest person in the world to have her fingers inside you. That’s bad for business.
Piper: Oh wow, thank you.
Red: You’re welcome. That will be one million dollars and a sack of fresh vegetables.
Piper digs through all the trash cans and looks inside all the drains and takes some bricks out of the wall and crawls through the air conditioner vents and gets inside the oven and takes apart all the electronics in the building. She finds a bunch of contraband she doesn’t care about, including a dagger made of Jolly Rangers, and finally gets her hands on a flip phone and a charger. She runs out to the playground to brag to Alex about how she’s really, truly becoming Walter White, okay, she’s totally going to do it, but rather than cheering her on as some kind of diabolical genius, Alex tells her to grow up. I mean, it’s pretty much the end of them right then. If you refuse to validate Piper’s insatiable lust to be praised, she’s never going to love you.
Donadlson takes Time Hump Chronicles to Healy who calls in Suzanne who lets it slip that she was kind of writing her erotica for Berdie’s drama class. It’s a stretch and Suzanne knows it’s a stretch. Berdie’s much chiller about violent stories than sex stories. The whole time she’s weaving this yarn, Healy’s eyes are getting narrower and narrower and his face is folding up into a terrified Grinch smile. The guys on his subreddit are gonna fucking love this. Healy takes the story to Caputo, but Caputo’s not there, so he gives the story to Danny, who immediately suspends Berdie because he’s the biggest idiot in a forest of idiots. Healy drops by Berdie’s office to gloat, and she’s just like, “I mean congratulations? I’ll serve a month-long suspension and then come back and continue being awesome at this job and life in general, and you’ll continue being an racist, sexist, impotent little motherfucker for the rest of your life. Big win, Healy. Good job!”
Where is Caputo, you ask? (LOL, JK, no one asks that.) Well, Caputo has realized Angie walked out the front door today, into the wide world, and after flipping out on Danny about how this is all MCC’s software’s fault, Caputo grabs his keys and drives to the bus station in Ithaca to track down his wandering inmate.
First, though, you should know that one time Caputo was in a band that was about to get a big break, and he had hair and a mustache and a denim jacket like some kind of ’80s Jersey cowboy. Also, he had a girlfriend who was pregnant. Only it wasn’t Caputo’s baby. She slept with one of the other guys in the band when she and Caputo were on a break and he put a baby inside her and now everyone is going on tour. Oh, but not Caputo! He will stay! He will stay and get a job in a prison as a guard and take care of this baby like it is his own! He will do this for one full year until his girlfriend leaves him for the guy in the band who followed his dreams.
On the plus side, his relentless internal monologue that drove him to try to be a hero did allow him to meet Ms. Rosa!
ROSA! She watches TV whenever she fucking wants to.
So anyway, Caputo goes to the bus station and it only takes him about ten minutes to find Angie. She’s sitting on a bench eating some chips and drinking a soda, and when she sees him, she sighs and confesses that she didn’t really think it through. She didn’t have anywhere to go. (And even if she did, $40 isn’t going to help her survive longer than a single damn afternoon.) Caputo’s actually really sweet to her. He sits with her on the bench and lets her finish her snack and tells her to please come back with him and spend a few days in max, instead of making him call out a brigade of cops to treat her like an escaped convict. She offers him a blow job; he politely declines.
Back in Litchfield, Daya’s body hurts because she has been pregnant for about ten years now. Her baby weighs 70 pounds. Maria tries to help. She gives Daya a blanket and a pillow and some advice about how to breathe and moan when she goes into labor in 2022. Daya feels really grateful and Maria feels really gracious, until Daya tells her she’s giving her baby up for adoption because she can’t provide the life her baby deserves, and of course Maria takes this as a violent slap in the face because she kept her baby, who has now been taken away from her anyway. She takes back her pillow and her blanket and she yells. Neither of them are wrong. The system is built to break them.
Speaking of which white-controlled capitalism: Piper meets with the Piptoria’s Panties employees to tell them she’ll now be paying them $8 per pair of panties to be deposited onto cash cards. Also for benefits they will receive two packets of Ramen per week. Oh, and Flaca’s fired because she had the audacity to challenge Piper’s authority and if anyone ever does that again, Piper will fire their asses too because they need this job way more than she needs them to wear her panties. And if Flaca dimes them out, her friends will lose hundreds of dollars a month, just P.S.
Again, Piper spontaneously orgasms. Nothing gets her off like her own displays of power.
Poussey is bummed that Time Hump Chronicles got confiscated, but Suzanne feels free. Everyone coming at her with their ideas for her story all the time, complaining about what she wrote, about what she didn’t write. And anyway, they weren’t into her for her. They were into her for what she could do for them. The thing about Vee, Suzanne says, is that yeah she was a user and yeah she was an abuser, but she’s the only person who ever always treated Suzanne like a human person. Everybody needs to be loved. Poussey knows it and she’s sorry she’s been such an ass to Susanne. Suzanne forgives her because she did actually beat the literal hell out of Poussey last season.
Suzanne revealing herself as the wisest person on this show continues to be my favorite thing.
When Caputo returns with Angie, he rips into Danny about how he’s had it with MCC’s incompetency and from now on, his guards are going back to full time and they’re going to get benefits and this prison is going to stop being run like some kind of social experiment designed by Nazis. This isn’t Azkaban, okay? This is the United States of America. People have inalienable rights here. Danny shrugs. He says Caputo should stop trying to be everyone else’s hero for once in his life and take care of himself. He’s not wrong. But he’s still a gross little monster baby.
Big Boo arrives in Penn’s bunk with a whole bunch of stuff from the commissary and hands it over and starts demanding sex stuff. For the Oreos, Penn will go down on her. For the Starburst, Penn will finger-bang her. For the Cheetos, Penn’ll use a strap-on on her. I mean, isn’t that how it goes? All Coates had to do was buy her a dollar-store bracelet and he could do whatever he wanted to her. Right? Penn’s for sale now? Finally, she breaks down and says she didn’t want it and it hurt and she wanted it to stop, she just wanted it to stop. Big Boo grabs her and hugs her and says it’s going to be okay. Penn just needed to say it. They’re going to take this motherfucker down. YES. GOOD. MAKE HIM PAY, BOO, MAKE HIM PAY.
It’s the end of Vauseman as we know it, and I feel fine!
Piper tracks down Alex and tries to regal her with tales of her awesomeness, about how she fired Flaca in front of everyone and made her pay for wanting money, but Alex is so over Piper’s shit. It’s one thing to be generally narcissistic. That’s the human condition. It’s entirely another not to realize that you have become the human embodiment of MCC. Alex for real goes, “Of course they wanted money, Piper. They’re poor! They’re excited about a job that makes one fucking dollar an hour! That’s how fucking desperate they are because of a fucking system that has tried to crush the humanity out of them so they can be used as labor robots! You’re a child and I’m done with this. The business this and the you this. Done.”
Alex bounces. It’s the sexiest thing she’s ever done.
Caputo goes to the Hog’s Head to meet with the guards who are there to unionize. At first he tries to chastise them, but when they realize he knows what he’s talking about, they beg him to be their hero. He finally agrees and they sing Les Miserables to him. It’s the wrong song, though. Caputo’s no revolutionary. He’s just wants to be a king. He lives in a castle on a cloud.
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