Orange is the New Black Episode 501 Recap: How Is “Riot FOMO” The Actual Title Of This Episode

In the fifth season premiere of Orange is the New Black, we return to the scene of the crime — the literal crime (murder) and the literal scene (Litchfield). But metaphorical crimes and other scenes, too. The crime of killing a black lesbian character on the scene of a television show. A Black character killed to make a point about injustice for a scene that remains largely imaginary: thousands of white viewers who’d never heard of Black Lives Matter or cared about it but were suddenly moved by Season Four Episode 12 of their favorite Netflix show to develop human compassion. The perhaps less serious and undoubtedly petty crime of (yet another! yet another!) show that we relied on going wholesale problematic and heart-breaking in a way that makes continuing to discuss it far less popular and way less fun than it was before. (For more on that particular situation, read my comment here.) Furthermore, Season Four was pretty fucked throughout, you know? It wasn’t just that episode that hit the wrong note and highlighted OITNB’s desperate need to get women of color into the writing room.

But we’re gonna do it. Why? Well, a few things: we were one of only a few major publications to be openly critical of rather than heaping fawning praise upon OITNB’s decision to kill Poussey. Even the cast, in interviews, expressed despair over losing the character but solidarity with its intended message. The show’s already been renewed through Season 7, so boycotting coverage won’t change anything (not like it would regardless, but). Finally; as one of a dwindling number of queer women’s sites left, and a site built on television writing specifically, reporting on what happens on this show is how we do our jobs. Most television writers are not lesbians or queer women, which’s why their television writing is often unconsciously (or not) homophobic and transphobic. Have you ever read mainstream coverage of a television show with a lesbian storyline or a trans character? THEY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEY’RE DOING. I cannot read one more straight white cis man explaining why Poussey’s death doesn’t fit into the “Bury Your Gays” phenomenon. Sophia Bursett remains the most visible trans woman of color in television history, so we’re gonna stay here for that too.

We continued recapping Pretty Little Liars after the six-season manipulative homicidal villain was revealed to be a trans woman, who was then killed. We recapped Glee andThe Real L Word, which… well, you were there. We think it’s important for Autostraddle to remain a part of this conversation, we think what happens on this show is important to our community and we want to report on it.

Lastly; I’m not willing to forgive Orange is the New Black for killing a black woman to teach white women a lesson, but I also feel conflicted about abandoning the incredible, racially diverse group of women who star in this show and love this job because of a choice made by white showrunner. But we will also say to this show: PLEASE HIRE WOMEN OF COLOR TO WRITE SEASON SIX.

Some interesting pieces I’ve read this week about Orange is the New Black:

I’ll be recapping this first episode ’cause I haven’t recapped anything for a while, so I’ve got some recap energy in reserve to gift upon you. Subsequent episodes will be reviewed, not recapped, because recaps take forever — Heather is doing the next two but the majority of Season Five episodes are being reviewed by writers of color.


Which brings me back to the scene of the crime — Daya, with a gun, pointed at Humphrey, surrounded by inmates possessing varying opinions about her next move. This 13-episode season will take place over 72 hours following the riot ignited by Caputo’s choice to protect poor innocent water-tower-climbing baby-faced useless white guy Bayley from fallout over KILLING OUR FRIEND, so we’re picking up right where we left off. Why Daya, of all characters, is the one with the gun, is a puzzling narrative choice, but well, so is… so much.

GIVE ME OUR GOOD SHOW BACK!!!

Piper and Alex are gonna lay low, stay out of trouble, and seek comfort in each other’s problematic arms.

Do you hear that? I think I hear an ice cream truck

SHIT NO IT’S A KILLER CLOWN!!!!!!!!

So we’ve got Humps on the ground, fearing the merciful end of his pathetic and insufferable tenure upon this earth, attempting to elicit sympathy from Daya in the typical cinematic fashion — telling her authentic tales from a his ridiculous life. Apparently, ocne upon a time, unforgiving classmates called him “Tommy the Toad-Boy.” Also, he has two sisters who, let’s be real, probably hate him.

“See, he doing that thing trying to make us see that he’s a person and shit,” Taystee observes. Meta! When Daya screams for Tommy the Toad-Boy to shut up about his fucking life, he simply changes course, continuing his story IN SPANISH. Daya doesn’t know Spanish, Tommy the Toad-Boy! So she shoots him in the leg, just barely missing his genitals.

Ok who’s ordering the pizza?

Hell no that shit gives me social anxiety Daya you know that

Just a reminder: Tommy the Toad-Boy was the guard who thrust Suzanne and Maureen into the ring of his own personal Fight Club last season.

You can use my radio if you let me have a piece?

I’ll have two stuffed crust pizzas with pepperoni and extra cheese—

…and one medium pizza with vegan cheese…

HOW CAN YOU NOT HAVE ANY VEGAN OPTIONS!!!???

I think they hung up…


Meanwhile, CO Blake and CO Stratman are chilling by the soda machine, probably talking about how underrated Crystal Clear Pepsi was and how RC Cola is pretty okay. Stratman was one of two geniuses who let Tommy the Toad Boy through the metal detector with a gun in his boot, so when they hear shots fired, he’s pretty sure it’s Tommy’s gun and who knows, maybe he’s “pulling a Columbine.”

Look pal, you want a Pepsi, you’re gonna pay for it

Thus we get rolling on this episode’s truly basic and profoundly unfunny running joke, wherein everybody in the building who didn’t witness Toad Boy’s Last Stand thinks that he’s an “active shooter,” and thus references Columbine, Aurora, Charleston, etc., while discussing the present situation.


Some inmates wanna finish Toad Boy off and start kicking him, which was the first moment this season when I considered maybe not watching it after all! Black Cindy doesn’t wanna get guard blood on her pants, Daya’s got the gun and Gloria would like everybody to chill out for a minute and not murder somebody. In the shuffle, Maria dumps out Judy King’s lil box of possessions and the inmates grab what they can and fill the emptiness with their name-tags while they also begin stripping off their prison scrubs, which is a great opportunity for fashion in a show that has not done a lot for fashion. Think about everything Shane did for fashion, and how little Stella did for fashion. Don’t forget fashion.

Oh right, and Linda’s still in the bathroom:

Ugh when will this BV go away already

The lockdown alarm blares on and the women hit the floor — until Maria reminds them that they’re in charge now, rules are off, and so is, apparently, CLOTHING!

FREE THE NIPPLE!

This is as good a moment as any for Linda to exit the restroom:

omg boobs

omg prisoners


The inmates break off into interest groups: Big Boo and Pennsatucky break into the commissary to enjoy an episode-long banquet of sweet and savory snacks and to dole out requested items to other inmates on a case-by-case basis.

You know, I think I COULD go down on a girl if the girl was like, you know, Kristen Stewart—


Ange and Leanne, predictably, have headed straight for the drugstore, and can these characters just get transferred to a van down by the river already? I think they’re here to make us laugh, ’cause they’re stupid and have stupid ideas, LOL!, but Orange is at its best when it’s a true dark comedy, in which both tragedy and humor move the story forward at equal pace, underscoring and enhancing each other. But here, now, it’s different. The tragedy remains, shot through with chaos, frustration, anger, division, fear; but the comedy, at least so far — and Maritza/Flaca are relegated to playing this game too, this episode — is just jokes. Justttt… jokes for their own sake.

Same

Nicky’s also keen to break into the drug emporium, but Morello’s a bit nervous about a drug addict taking charge of a room full of drugs. She suggests other hobbies now available in the Newer Better Litchfield such as “making a ham radio.” But Nicky’s thinking bigger. Like, BIG PHARMA bigger.

Nicky: This is a purely practical, tactical move. I mean the weak-wristed, short-statured, white-girl contingent that we represent, we need a stronghold. If I’ve learned anything from this grand corportocracy we call America, Big Pharma rules, right? SO does Little Pharma, Medium Pharama, and Pharma of all sizes. Let them eat Prozac!


Mr. Toad is taking a wild ride in a laundry bin to Sophia’s salon of beauty and chill. Gloria’s not gonna let Tommy the Toad Boy die, ’cause then Daya will go to max and never see her baby again. Gloria wants Sophia’s help ’cause she’s got EMT training from her years as a firefighter. Her first suggestion is a tampon to stop the bleeding. Zirconia reminds her that tampons are like raw gold around here, where has she been? “She don’t use tampons, don’t be insensitive,” Pidge retorts, and she’ll be receiving a fresh batch of ally cookies this evening! No cookies for Toad-Boy, though, who snaps back, “I need a surgeon, not a fucking fire-tr*nny!” Sophia informs him that he’s welcome to die and go to hell while she reads her magazine.

Did you know that with the notable exception of Genghis Khan, the grand historical tradition of brutal, land-seizing, culture-destroying warrior-kings has been virtually dominated by white men?

What are you implying

Can we save the history lesson for another time—

What do Alexander the Great, Atilla the Hun, Julius Caesar, Caesar Augustus, William the Conqueror, Napoleon and Adolf Hitler, all have in common, Gloria?

Not… all… men..


Flaca is upset that Maritza went to the riot without her but it’s okay, they’re gonna recap it to each other instead.

EVERYBODY is shipping us!


Meanwhile, Cindy, Taystee, Allison and Watson are hitting up the main office of this beastly building, where Josh the PR Man is taunting Caputo about his eminent job loss. I cannot look at this man’s moustache for three more seasons so please fire him.

“Are you insane?” Caputo asks Black Cindy when she orders Josh to the ground, threatening him with the chair of a table and the rusted nail atop it, and Taystee replies, as you do, “No, she’s angry. We’re all angry. You done my girl wrong, Mr. Caputo. And you’re gonna fix it.”

Hello, we received a package notification from the UPS?

Josh, that is NOT your Asos order that is MY Asos order and you better hand it over or swimsuit season’s gonna be real sad for everybody.

Caputo launches into, “Taystee, this is a very sensitive situation—” but before he can finish, Taystee punches him in the face. A victory for all of mankind. This is when I decided I would watch this show after all. Look at that!


Blanca’s working to secure all the exists, while Gina’s trying to enlist Luscheck’s help to turn off the blasting alarm that’s adding an extra layer of discomfort to this buffet of despair. The best way for Gina to do this, and really the best way for anyone to do anything, is to smear her face with period blood to look injured to inspire pity to get her way into the Room of ReWirement. GET IT?

…and if you don’t want a Diva Cup emptied on your head, you’ll hand over the golden ticket right now


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Riese

Riese is the 40-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in California. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2975 articles for us.

42 Comments

  1. This episode was hard to watch. I was exhausted and overwhelmed. Side note, since you mentioned his mustache and firing him, am I the only one that likes Caputo? Before you throw rocks, I get it. He is a bumbling idiot, he makes incorrect choices, etc etc etc, but I always feel like he tries. He seems to try harder than any other person and seems to try to advocate for them. Even if he doesn’t do it correctly.

    • you might be the only one that likes Caputo, yeah? especially after what he did for poussey — or, rather, didn’t do. i think that was the last straw for me and maybe many others.

      yes, it’s true that he tries harder than anybody else, and there have been times when i have really sided with him and rooted for him, but i’m also persistently disappointed by how quickly he’ll throw everybody under the bus when a woman he wants to have sex with suggests that he do so. also he really fetishises his inmates to an insufferable degree.

      and he prioritized bayley over poussey and for that i can never forgive him. if he thought bayley was in over his head — which is true — he should’ve indicted the system. He was going to lose his job anyhow. he should’ve said, she was killed by a guard who was in over his head because MCC wouldn’t pay for proper training or pay a wage high enough to get qualified professionals into this institution. or he could’ve indicted Piscatella or Humphrey for their roles, they are equally responsible.

      the fault isn’t entirely on bayley, but none of it is on poussey or suzanne or any of the inmates.

      • I agree completely with all of those comments.The only reason I don’t want him to go is because there is no one else who is even remotely on their side. They don’t care and the whole lot is totally corrupt. He is the only one also not in it for the money…he seems to try to do the right thing regardless of whether he fails each time. If he leaves, the next person in his seat could be better….but they could also be worse….

        • Yeah, that’s true — besides the drama teacher from Season Three, though, who I think would be the best person to be in charge of Litchfield!

          I honestly really find his mustache visually offensive… like it was a joke but it truly pains me to look at it.

    • No, I’m kind of with you. It’s not that I like Caputo, it’s that I also see him as one of the few people in charge that actually cares for the women in some small way and sees them as human beings. I do agree with a lot of the stuff Reise says downthread about what he should have done and said.

      But, I also work in a public system that our government is trying to move toward privatization (ie:I’m a teacher. And I’m a teacher in a poor urban district, so we’re also trying to disrupt the school to prison pipeline.) And the messed up thing about working in these messed up systems is that you are there to help in a system that isn’t really interested in giving you what you need to actually help people. And of COURSE people like

      • Hit submit too soon :| :

        …and of course people like Caputo would be crucified before the people making the real decisions at MCC are. Even though MCC chose to withhold the resources that could have helped. It’s the same way it’s easier to hold teachers responsible for failing schools while delivering 3x the resources to schools that aren’t dealing with chronic poverty.

        Idk, I agree with you both, but the system sucks. No one really wins (except shareholders I guess.)

    • I don’t like Caputo as a person, but I like him as a character. I like how they’ve put someone who is not black and white in the role of the warden. I think he’s interesting. Prison shows tend to either put a helpless “good” character or a conniving “evil” character in the role of warden. Because Caputo isn’t good or evil, we get an interesting character who is capable of change and growth. Whether he actually does change and grow is all part of why he’s an interesting character.

    • I wanted to like Caputo, but can’t get over him a)coercing Fig into blowing him and b)that time when he thought his crazy girlfriend pulling a gun on a reasonably concerned Crystal and her boyfriend (while basically reminding them she could murder them on the spot, claim self defense, and walk away unscathed) was hot.

  2. OITNB took a turn at the end of last season, and not for the better. This show was at its best when it was representative of real, and it no longer represents real. This is a fed prison camp. They’ve already taken license with what that means – for the record, I spent 21 months in one – but this season has gone way off the rails into a Tim Burton-esque view of what a prison camp is like and what might happen in one.

    I could list a lot of things worthy of discussion, including race, including the joke that is the BOP and how it handles, educates, and rehabilitates inmates. The show is trying to tackle that, but setting it in something as unlikely as a riot leaves so much potential message power on the table.

  3. I broke up with OITNB after episode 12 last season. Didn’t even watch the finale. I was thinking about giving it another shot, but after hearing about what’s going on this season from my girlfriend and from reading this, I stand by my decision. I hate when shows think they have to get grittier and darker to keep being good. I loved the balance between dark and light elements in the first few seasons. I have no desire to see these beloved characters torture and be tortured without reprieve for thirteen episodes. Very disappointed.

  4. I know you haven’t recapped the whole season yet so I’ll keep this spoiler-free, but as a whole I feel like OITNB is going downhill because there’s so much…tonal dissonance. The juxtaposition of everything is ridiculous.

    In Seasons 1-4 I could let it slide (because sometimes it was nice to have a “comic relief” storyline in the midst of the drama), but now that they SENSELESSLY KILLED A BLACK LESBIAN CHARACTER it seems kind of tone deaf to keep having all the other characters fucking around. THAT should be the storyline they’re focused on (Taystee + Brook + everyone else trying to get some form of justice for Poussey’s death).

    I don’t care about Piper (and I haven’t cared about Piper since mayyyybbeee Season 2). I don’t care about the White Empowerment/Nazi Bitches being wacky (because it’s totally cool to make literal racists comedic characters, right?).

    I understand the show has been a “dramedy” for its entire run, but the writers just aren’t doing a good job of prioritizing the stories that actually matter right now. There’s too many characters and not enough pay off — I stick around because there are still characters I’m legitimately invested in, but sometimes even that’s not enough.

    Side note: I feel like the only reason this season is taking place within a 3-day span is so they can justify another two seasons. Like, Piper’s getting out in 3 months (I think Alex mentions it in either this episode or the second episode of S5), so they have to have a legitimate reason to still have her in there for two more seasons.

    Other side note: Wasn’t Piper’s sentence only supposed to be 13 months to begin with? So she’s only been in there for 10 months? Which doesn’t make sense because Daya had time to get pregnant and have a baby (at least 9 months)…does Litchfield exist in a timeless vacuum? Did Piper’s sentence get extended? Do the writers even care?

    • I’d argue they didn’t senselessly kill a black character, but rather there was no one else in the prison as universally loved (or not minded) as Poussey. She was the only one that could trigger the riot, and this season made her death far from senseless. In fact, I can’t think of any show that’s made a death this important (outside some nonsense motivation for a white boy to go on a killing spree).

      Piper’s original sentence was 15 months. Her having been there only 12 months is possible. This whole season happens over the course of 3 days.

      • Black people are getting awfully tired of having to die and having to have our few morsels of good representation ripped away to teach white people lessons.

        Also, the writing team made a lot of tactical steps throughout season 4 to put Poussey higher and higher up on a pedestal (even though she was already widely beloved) because I think they knew their white viewers wouldn’t have sympathized as much with any of their other black characters, and they didn’t think they could engage the BLM/police brutality/state-sponsored violence conversation unless they presented a black martyr.

        • Exactly. The myth of the “presentable black” has been around for ages. They knew their white audience wasn’t going to cry as hard if it had been Watson or Black Cindy. They needed to kill the one black character that was universally loved for maximum impact. That, in and of itself, is some gross shit. If they were so deadset on killing a black character then they should have made it Suzanne. That’s who it would have realistically been more likely to have been anyway. That way they could kill two birds with one stone and make it about how the police have a habit of not only killing POC but the mentally ill as well.

          • They made such a mess, but I agree that Suzanne would’ve been a much likelier casualty of improper deescalation tactics, especially since she’s somewhat prone to have volatile moments/accidentally hurt herself or others. I didn’t want anyone to die for their narrative, but at least it would’ve made sense that way.

  5. 8 comments so far? yikes. Ever since reading riese’s comment on how boycotting shows affects autostraddle badly, I would like to encourage those who’ve stopped watching oitnb to come here and read the recaps and participate.

    I’d always hoped that the writers would give Nicky another love interest.

    “We are so fucking resilient even when we really don’t want to be.” so true

    • I am also surprised at the lack of interest. I’m not ashamed- I still love this show. Yes, it’s problematic, but like Sense8, (also problematic, I get it, I get it…) it’s just so much more diverse than anything else I’ve got to watch.

      Yes, there are massively unlikely storylines, and some ridiculous caricatures, but that’s television- if you want the truth, read the book (which is also good, and much more shocking and political because it’s real).

      I miss Poussey. (As a side note, did everyone forget her dad’s like a general?! And therefore unlikely just to shrug and let this go as an accident?! Although- I am only halfway through).

    • I don’t disagree that winds me up, but ultimately, isn’t it better to try and understand people? Especially if you find them absolutely abhorrent?

      This show is set in a prison. There need to be some pretty unpleasant people in there.

      • This has nothing to do with the show having Nazis and rapists in the prison, as of course a prison is full of unsavory people(I’ve watched Oz, Wentworth and The Wire which are far more brutal so it’s not about that), and everything to do with how the writers have chosen to utilize them for the past two seasons. The Nazi’s and Meth heads as comic relief that we are supposed to laugh at and aw shucks over. And there aren’t enough expletives in the English language to express my rage at how they’ve handled Donuts and Pennsatucky.

        As for “understanding people”. I understand Nazis and rapists just fine. There aren’t enough Kumbaya’s in the fucking world.

        • AMEN to this –> “As for “understanding people”. I understand Nazis and rapists just fine.”

          I’m grateful, at least, that the white supremacists and nazis have not been given flashbacks, which I think was a conscious choice. I feel like last year their existence served a function — to show how quickly Piper’s bad judgment and lust for power could get her in with the wrong crowd — but I’m not sure why they’re still around. It’s unfortunate, too, because Asia Kate Dillion is great and I want to see them in as many things as possible but I would like to see her character dialed way back! Also they were seemingly there in seasons 1-3, just not addressed, sooo let’s go back to that perhaps.

  6. I feel like this show has taken this formula of like Everyone Is Human And Complicated And Does Bad Things And Loves Someone and just kept getting more and more annoying and simplistic about it. Or maybe I have just gotten more critical idk. But I just feel like that theme is taken to this bizarre extreme where like, a character can do some truly terrible thing and then two episodes later it is not really reflected at all in their story or development and/or is explained away by some corny backstory. And it doesn’t really prove a point so much as just cause cognitive dissonance when watching. And there is a variation on this when they basically make a character sort of funny and likable for the sake of them being a delivery system for jokes but then want us at other times to know they are an asshole. In the beginning of the show I at least sort of felt like the point was more like “all the assholes who run this prison have done worse things than most of the women locked up in it / people shouldn’t be defined by their worst moment” but it has really strayed far if it was ever that.

    I don’t know why I am still watching! I wanted to see what happens to Taystee and Watson, who are basically the only ones I can still consistently care about?

    Also, as someone mentioned above, the Nazi skinheads turning into quirky comic relief is truly bad.

  7. My early review of Season 5 is that I didn’t think it was possible for the writers to do worse things than they did last season but they exceeded all expectations and managed to out-scumbag themselves.

    And that finale? JESUS CHRIST.

  8. I was disappointed with this season and what I saw so far. I feel like the writers were going for shock value rather than what drew of the viewers to this show in the first place. I am not sure if I will finish this season.

  9. I think Red is in there with Shelly Ginsberg (who helped Cindy convert to Judaism) and not Kacey Sankey the white nationalist who I think is with the skinheads. Hence the joke about how neither of them like Poles I think is more of a Holocaust reference for Ginsberg.

    They look so alike though.

  10. Thank you for still recapping this show. I always look to Autostraddle for your take on things, and there’s so much that other critics/recappers just miss or don’t get. I 100% understand why so many have boycotted the show or simply given up on it, but I’m glad you’re still writing about it and thinking critically, and especially that qpoc will be recapping the later episodes!

  11. God, like why is some white boy being put on trial for murder and then possibly serving prison time a tragedy and not exactly what should happen?

    Of course circumstances were not ideal but this whole show had been telling us about these women who have been victims of circumstance or worse, and they don’t get off.

    Also I haven’t finished the season yet but I’ve been spending way too much time thinking about the rioters’ media strategy.

  12. I’m really torn between watching this season and not. I feel like the cast deserves to have the opportunity to act out the scenes they’ve been given. I also really want to see how Sophia’s story turns out, though I’m worried given the past season. But like, I haven’t seen anything in this recap that makes me feel better about the show. Comical lightness isn’t going to change the fact that they murdered Poussey on national television for no fucking reason.

  13. Thanks for recapping this!!! I’m looking forward to Autostraddle writers’ takes on this season, and reading all the comments. Not sure if I’m going be motivated to watch the full season, but I’m happy to know I’ll be able to stay in touch with what’s happening on it regardless. Thanks for taking one for the team, Autostraddle writers!

  14. My poor, patient friends have listened to me airing my grievances about this show for a calendar year now, so I’m trying to set them free by reading recaps and engaging in the AS discourse instead of watching. Thanks for writing this, Riese!

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