“Tied To The Tracks” is a slow burn compared to the season’s first six episodes of Orange Is the New Black that mostly boasted a crowded ensemble acting out cruelly in the name of justice for Poussey. Or in the name of an unfocused and homogenous writer’s room, you decide. I mean, can a black man get his damn insulin??? When all is said and done, episode eight is a welcome return to a focus on the core group of characters that we grew to know and love/hate in the first three seasons.
While on a pharmaceutical-grade amphetamine binge/sleuth sesh, Blanca and Red attempt to lure giant man-child Piscatella into the prison by catfishing him with an iPhone. By the way, Red stole said phone from a catatonic Humphrey right before slicing off his thumbprint and taping it to a pencil for unfettered access and let me just say that’s exactly why I use a numeric password on my phone instead of that iTouch bullshit.
Anyway, press-starved Judy King makes an appearance on Meredith Viera’s “The Review” where she is unexpectedly joined by Aleida for a segment on “Riot Girls/Grrrls.” I’m guessing they spelled it the second way because daytime TV, y’all. Judy tries to paint herself as a heroine/ally to the cause and Aleida promptly shuts that shit down by calling out the mountain of special treatment Judy received during her too-brief stay at Litchfield. In what seems like calculated retaliation, Judy spills the beans about a guard being shot and drops an ignorant and less-than-subtle clue about the perpetrator’s identity: “That Spanish girl who doesn’t speak Spanish and has those puffy lips.”
Aleida immediately calls Daya and urges her to “be the shark instead of the manatee” by lying that the shooting was self-defense because Humphrey is physically unable to tell his side of the story. Daya has an epiphany that not being a shark doesn’t make her a manatee.
At the governor’s urging, Natalie Figueroa shows up with a plea for the women to make some major concessions on their demands due to the MCC’s alleged budgetary restrictions. Taystee has come to play ball and makes it clear that she’s very aware of the CEO’s multi-million dollar bonus and the MCC’s overall decreased institutional expenditures. Just when it seems like they might have some leverage, Figueroa gets a phone call informing her of Judy King’s rat turn on “The Review.” She informs the group that amnesty is completely off the table unless the shooter turns herself in.
After being mostly absent this episode, Piper dispenses her sage white lady wisdom without anyone asking her to because that’s what her annoying ass does. She petitions the inmates to decide whether they’re willing to sacrifice their well-being as a unit to protect a single member of the group.
Alex is still reeling over The Greenhouse Murder and tries to open up to Daya who confesses to having no remorse for shooting Humphrey but also refuses to take responsibility for the act. Daya blames Humphrey for bringing the gun and the other inmates for cheering her on. Flashbacks throughout the episode illuminate her mindset by showing Aleida gaslighting a sensitive and empathetic young Daya (played to perfection by Dascha Polanco’s real life daughter) while pressuring her to be self-serving and opportunistic above all else.
Mendoza finds out her son Benny is comatose in ICU after having been badly beaten and begs Caputo for advice on how to visit him before it’s too late. Caputo assists her the best he can from the confines of a porta potty in exchange for a promise to help end the riot turned stalemate. Only time (or a couple more episodes) will tell whether Gloria will be able to be there for her son when it matters most, but she can definitely still be there for Daya. Gloria encourages Daya to reclaim her humanity and hold herself accountable for the shooting, once again proving herself more of a mother figure to Daya than Aleida ever was.
Cabrera, Pidge, and Ouiji joke about raping Josh and Luschek. More than a little disturbing is the writers’ choice to portray the potential and actual sexual assault of guards as alternately comical/flirtatious and the young Latinx inmates as gleeful predators. Suzanne discloses her childhood history of sexual abuse and tries to protect the guards. This results in her being tied to a bunk (where she remains for the rest of the episode) and the hostages dragged to yet another holding area.
Inspired by Gloria, Daya calls Pornstache’s mom (Delia Powell) to confess that her daughter Armaya is alive and in foster care. Daya asks Delia to raise Armaya as her own so that she can have a semblance of a normal life. Figueroa is very much over playing negotiator but Daya shows up to turn herself in just as she’s about to make her final exit.
The Skinheads and The Meth Heads (Methskins?) team up to torment Tiffany and refuse her access to the prison’s sanitary facilities. She runs to Big Boo for guidance and is turned away because Boo wants to spend more time fucking/wooing Linda who’s playing this game like freshman year at Mount Holyoke. This is notably uncharacteristic of the woman who has until now been Tiffany’s guardian, confidant, and best friend. Tiffany finally snaps which leads to her getting thrown in The Poo. Can we talk about how Leanne should have gangrene in her shot off Saran-wrapped finger by now?
This study in self-preservation versus altruism closes on Nicky helping Red come down off of meth and Gloria clandestinely ringing the MCC from Caputo’s office phone while a giant man-child-sized figure in SWAT gear cuts a chain off the back door of the main building and slips inside. How long can the remaining five episodes stretch all hell breaking loose?