Last time we left off the neverending OINTB recaps (we’re so close folks, just hold on, the climax is coming I swear) Taslitz had just shanked the wrong Vee. This ep we get to find out what happens when the storm really hits the fan.
[Sidenote: A big thank you for the framily that helped me inject some much needed humor into this recap during a week I had very little in me. Your words and commentary can make any prison hurricane feel like a slumber party.]
The hurricane once again dominates the opening scene as Frieda tries to justify aforementioned shanking with, “She was only trying to help,” which usually convinces me when I’ve gotten a blade to the gut.
“A little more help and we’d all be dead.”
“She hates wearing her glasses. She says they make her nose look big.”
“You want to be an assassin, vision is a basic requirement. Step 1 pick a person to kill. Step 2 kill that person.”
Good to know I’m still qualified for something if I lose my jobs. THIS IS PROBABLY HOW JENNY GOT KILLED, Y’ALL.
This crack PR team tries to spin it but Red ain’t convinced. Beware of a 79 year old woman who will shank someone she’s never met. But Red proposes a parlay and when Freida asks if we’re all pirates Red shoots back with, “Well, one us has an an octopus (or Portland map) tattoo.”
The ladies are put to work battening down the hatches in completely useless ways such as taping Xes to windowpanes (is that what we can do with exes? ‘Cause that might be satisfying in a storm) when really there is going to be no stopping the flood, or metaphors, in this rundown facility.
What this show was really missing was some prison guard flirting. Luckily the male Corrections Officer whose name nobody knows calls out to the only female CO left, “Bad news Hurricane Wanda has been downgraded to a tropical storm. The weatherman says you’re getting wider though, you could flatten a few trees when your ass hits land.”
Poussey is sneakin’ the hooch, and I don’t mean Lauren Morelli, and we wonder about the tannin profile of rotting prison fruit. Drunk on (lack of) power she confronts Watson about Vee getting her thrown in the SHU but she’s not ready to hear it yet.
“Something is gonna fuck you, you know,” she says “the system, the man, Vee. At least with Vee you get 10%.” But Poussey is filled with righteous indignation.
Morello checks in with Chapman about her transfer but it’s not looking too good. She’s out of favors, even for a blonde, and any more from Healy would look “inappropriate.” But you lose sympathy quickly after she says she’s buried on that list with a mom with a new baby and a dozen others and then goes on to talk about the “worst” thing, i.e. her crappy WASP family.
Morello says, “The less time you got the slower it goes,” which also goes for pretty much anytime anyone tries to have a quickie anywhere, right? Maybe if Morello and Chapman were having sex instead of commiserating about Piper’s tragic, difficult life I’d be more entertained.
We’re then reminded that Morello was the first person who was nice to Pipes here at Litchfield and it’s sweet and touching, I guess. I, too, am going to remember that on my bad days. Which has been like every day of October, dear goddess is everyone else as thrilled as I am that Mercury finally got the fuck outta retrograde? Sheesh.
Meanwhile in the commisary where Vee is running the shop window (and we thought customer service in Portland was bad) Gina gives up the black flag, the international symbol for parlay apparently. Vee, too, thinks the pirate reference is weird. But Gina isn’t here for the banter. She’s just an envoy sent to schedule a secret makeout party in the greenhouse after work.
“Two chicken noodles and a Neosporin.”
Poussey drunkenly stumbles around and cracks open Vee’s tobaccy shipment boot stompin’ all of it before dousing in bleach. Oh some shit is gonna go down now. (Sidenote: this part, along with all parts showing Poussey in this episode, is SO SAD TO WATCH because Poussey is so beautiful and complex and perfect, and such a damn good friend to Taystee, and no one should be mean to Poussey and she’s hurting so bad and OH MY GOD POUSSEY COME TO PORTLAND WE ARE ALL NICE AND QUEER WE WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU HERE I AM SO SORRY YOU ARE HURTING. We’ll understand and shower you in kisses and hot toddies, though I can’t promise the customer service will be better than what you’re used to.)
Fig meets with with the worst accountant ever and gets him to overlook irregularities with the promise of a party with Tiki Barber, who I definitely had to look up to even not be excited about.
Bennett tries to have a moment with Diaz but she’s trying to give him the silent treatment. It doesn’t last long though, she can’t hold back about feeling the baby move. And then they continue to have this kinda cute but also very heterosexual baby conversation and I feel so torn, not least because the power dynamic of their relationship really does constitute rape. But OINTB doesn’t really address that and I’m in a bad enough space already so let’s just keep it moving!
Taystee comes in to find Vee cleaning up the contraband mess herself. And as the conversation descends into just how Vee is going to retaliate against Poussey, Vee’s first and most important child/friend is realizing just how disposable she is. The best way to deal with P is to shove Taystee out. Will she finally come to her senses and realize Vee’s never had her back? Don’t worry Taystee, let’s fade to a flashback.
Back in the past, Vee is hot and restless, but brushes it off. “I sell smack. I’m always worried about something.” But then the realization comes. And what does come of a sexy fifty year old heroin dealer going through menopause? Nothing good. Oh look, there’s RJ, Vee’s other sort-of child! He’s trying to make her feel better about aging by telling her how attractive she is, which is sweet/weird.
“I’m serious, Vee. If you wasn’t practically my mom, I don’t know what might happen.”
Watching flashbacks of a character who we know is now dead is always anxiety-producing, but watching that character interact with a horrifying villain like Vee ups the ante to a level that I can barely handle. I just want to scream at my TV and tell RJ to get the fuck away from Vee and grab Taystee while he’s at it and go live somewhere quiet where the two of them don’t have to deal drugs for a vicious heroin dealer and they can just read to each other in a small library every day, but no, that’s not what’s going to happen because of the awful way our country handles foster care combined with the lack of resources available to homeless POC youth. So instead I have to watch these flashbacks waiting for the part where RJ dies. And the thing is, we all know Vee is going to have something to do with it… I’ll give the OITNB writers something, if they’re hoping to make me wish death upon Vee in next episode’s season finale (or like, right now actually) they’re doing a very good job. Much better than Ilene Chaiken ever did in making me wish Jenny was dead, or Dana for that matter.
Oh okay we’re back at Litchfield and no big deal I am trying not to sob because inmate Ruiz is telling her partner how he has to make sure to talk to the baby, even though she knows he hates talking, because babies need people around to talk to them to help them become humans. I definitely no longer give a shit that Piper is being transferred, would shank a stranger to allow this mom to stay close to her baby and dude.
Now we’re back to hanging out with Fig and her obviously gay husband and she just said “sperm” and I just don’t think that word is ever sexy and I never ever want to hear Fig say the word it again, let alone talk about the best way to keep it inside of her. Anyway her husband is a jerk who is obviously out to get his and it’s almost sad to see her try so hard to please someone who so is not there, emotionally. (And I’m totally not projecting.) Also he insults her career and implies that his is more important cause he’s gonna be a fancy senator (not if they catch you embezzling all that cash, dummy!) and she’s just the lowly assistant warden in a prison. And wait, is she having a moment of conscience? Oh no, she just doesn’t want to get caught. Fig, your horribleness, rather mundane mainstream hotness and intensely selfish realness confuse me. Will you marry me? then divorce me? then marry me again? It’s all legal now. Anyhow, closet case is even less interesting, though a good candidate for Outrage 2: The Documentary that Never Ends Because Patriarchy.
Now the toilet is flooding and shit is going to, literally, hit the fan. Black girl bathroom, white girl bathroom, this swirl ain’t no kind of pretty.
Vee and Red are at their parlay/makeout party/banter sesh and it’s not that different from anytime any queer runs into an ex they’re not over at that dance party that was supposed to be fun, leading us all to ponder the differences between relationships and friendships and desire and also DEAR LORD PLEASE DO NOT LET VEE KILL RED, SHE IS TOO FANTASTIC TO DIE, REMEMBER WHEN SHE SERVED PIPER A USED TAMPON IN THE FIRST EPISODE? Gosh those were simpler times, no one knew how dark things would get.
Anyway, Vee has found Red’s son via her secret contraband tunnel in the greenhouse that makes no sense but let’s not waste time on reason here, let’s watch Red’s face fall as Vee lets her know she’s found Yuri Reznikov. Poor Yuri, his mom yells at him when he brings her shit through her secret prison tunnel, his mom’s archnemesis might kill him just to prove a point… dude can’t catch a break. Just as Vee is reminding us of how badly she hurt Red last time she was in prison and the two are walking down the well-worn lesbian breakup discussion path of “we were friends!” “we were never friends!” (either way can we do it just one last time?) bickering, the alarm goes off and we’re informed that the weather related emergency is getting DIRE. (I mean we’re on the ground already anyway… just one last time?)
Back to the upsetting dramatic flashback that is literally just a long sequence of everyone holding their breath waiting to see how Vee is responsible for RJ’s death! Oh, here we go. Turns out some cop Vee has a connection with tells her RJ is planning to go into business on his own. MAYBE HE IS BUT THAT IS NOT A REASON TO HAVE HIM KILLED, VEE. I feel like we need to take a step back and reevaluate when it is and when it is not okay to just become an assassin. Cheat sheet: usually never.
The rain is just coming down and down and down in present day Litchfield and probably there is an Indigo Girls song we could reference here but Soso will just sing it for us later so I won’t bother.
Taystee is officially shunned from the slumber party and calls a white girl a kibble-head while Chapman and Nicky defy OSHA regulations by wading through waist deep poop-water only to find the generator is out of whatever makes generators run. I don’t know anything about pumps either… really… but Nicky and I both know about hooch taps and just that little touch of gasoline might make the prison hooch market bigger than Pabst.
When Fig refers to herself as “mama” I get kind of turned on, and I feel weird about it. Just needed to get that off my chest. Anyway we are at Fig’s husband big fundraising situation but Caputo is harassing Fig and calling her six times because he’s soooo needy, oh and also the whole prison is flooding and there are no resources available like oh say, juice in the generators, cause Fig has fucked the entire system trying to get her dumb husband into Senate and he doesn’t even love her and def doesn’t wanna have a baby with her. Seems like an awful lot of trouble to go to for a gay dude who is absolutely gonna leave you as soon as he gets into the Senate, ya know? Priorities. Everyone on this show needs to reevaluate their priorities, along with the handy dandy guide of HOW TO NOT BECOME AN ASSASSIN. Get it together, folks. Reel. it. in.
Back at Litchfield Inmate Rainy Night Sleepover 2K14, Red’s crew and Vee’s crew are eyeing each other warily in the dark. If ever Red and Vee are gonna cop to their feelings and just make out already, tonight’s the night! (My spellcheck tried to autocorrect “makeout” to “make up” which makes more sense, I guess, but I resent Microsoft Word impeding on my fantastical femme slash suggestions. Can’t a queer dream?)
Anyway, Gina points out Team Red is lacking in muscle and makes a joke about challenging the others to a sudoku contest. She is told to watch her tone but I wish she actually had a sudoku book because I’d love to see that contest go down; I love a good game of sudoku. Meanwhile, Team Vee is eyeing Team Red just as warily, but before the Jets and the Sharks can really go up against each other in battle, the walls come down in the form of life’s great equalizer: SHIT.
You see, the building’s pipes are now “compromised by water… meaning there is absolutely no working plumbing whatsoever.” This means everyone’s peeing in a bucket and dumping it outside when it’s full, and no one’s pooping ever again. “What if you gotta number two?” A brave woman asks. “Keep it clenched, ladies,” she is told. And just like that, there is no Team Red or Team Vee. They are all just women being treated horribly and deprived of their basic right to shit.
Just kidding, Red and Vee still totally hate each other and everyone is sleeping with one eye open, but in the meanwhile Soso is here to be almost be bearable. Yes, Soso wants to talk about how this is just like a fun cozy sleepover amongst friends, and for the first time ever this season her weird naive attitude doesn’t grate, but rather I fall in love with her as she sings the 90s hit “Bitch.” OK. “We’re all just women having the shared experience of deprivation. Like the hunger strike but bigger. We SHOULD totally have a sing-along.” I assume by sing-along she means orgy?
Next up is the part where Healy and Pennsatucky talk about Big Boo and ‘Tucky begins her path down the magic road of lesbianing. Y’all, i forgot how fucking perfect this episode is. This is a gem among gems. This is beautiful. This is magic. This is the part where ‘Tucky wants some snacks and then asks if she can have some for Boo and Healy warns her to stay away cause Boo is a big lesbian and she’ll get ya, lesbians always have an agenda and they always wanna get ya, why do you think they’re so hot with such rad haircuts and tattoos, it’s all a ploy to get you in bed. Or, you know, get snacks.
“Um, hey is it okay if I take a few of these for my neighbor? ‘Cause she’s a lesbian, and I just wanna, like, distract her.” Pennsatucky asks… and dammit if this doesn’t work! The only thing that can distract a lesbian from her lesbianism is, indeed, snacks.
Just kidding, duh, that trope is so tired and annoying but honestly, listening to Healy warn Pennsatucky about his perceived understanding of the goal of all queer ladies is hilarious. “That’s how they get you. Being cool, doing cool things, and before you know it, you’re part of their agenda.” (Well, ok, maybe it is.)
Also Pennsatucky tries to tell Healy that men being in charge has never been all that great for her so actually maybe she will go sleep with Big Boo, don’t mind if she does, but Healy really shows her by pointing out that he is in charge and she is currently eating free cookies sooooo guess what having men in charge of your life totally rocks, duh. I bet the cookies weren’t even good. I bet the girl I’ve been seeing makes way better cookies AND pies, Healy. Just sayin’.
Then OITNB makes all my 90s dreams come true by actually having a Lisa Loeb sing-a-long. Soso you finally did it! I feel like I’m high on nutmeg.
More flashback with Vee and RJ, truly truly troubling power dynamics and upsetting foreshadowing of where the whole scenario is going. Honestly this is hard to watch because we all know exactly how messed up Vee is and RJ has no idea what’s about to happen… also, ew.
In present time at the Litchfield Lesbian Sleepover Singalong Party, Pipes tries to befriend the other inmate who is being transferred with her. The woman, reasonably, doesn’t give a shit about Piper. It’s always satisfying to have Piper put in her place — she doesn’t mean to be so annoying, but damn, how does someone stay so self-involved through two whole seasons in prison?! Girl is a slow learner.
I’m sure someone is gonna tell me how problematic the Pennsatucky/Big Boo friendship/lesbian romance is, and Boo is definitely not one of my favorites this season, what with partaking in gross sex games with Nicky and being a total sellout to Team Red, BUT you guys, let’s be honest, this part is really, really funny. I don’t even know how to make jokes about it because it’s so funny on its own.
‘Tucky wants to know how “this whole agenda thing” works and Boo tells her to keep her voice down cause “this shit is top secret” and then ‘Tucky wants to know if the LESBIANS are gonna let all the men die out and I’m sorry, if you don’t think this entire setup is hilarious you’re probably the kind of person who doesn’t think our MISANDRY t-shirts are hilarious and that’s fine but I just don’t think we have the same sense of humor. Anyway Boo and ‘Tucky are becoming BFFs and talking about eating pussy (or not, cause of God, duh) and I just love it so much. I really do.
This is truly the sleepover that keeps on giving.
Team Vee are playing Fuck, Marry, Kill to pass the time. Daya is having an anxiety attack because she feels like her baby can’t breathe and just when you think it can’t get any worse and the CO is just being the most giant asshole you realize he’s actually using a technique to calm her down and it actually works and sometimes there is one tiny ray of sunshine in a dark world. But then you remember the real world and the rain falling outside.
Caputo is on the phone with Fig, who gives zero shits about his plight, probably cause she doesn’t have to worry about (not) shitting in a bucket cause she is at a cocktail party on the Upper West Side drinking with the NY Giants.
Red is casually trying to steal a knife from the kitchen and even though Gloria tries to tell her she’s lost her damn mind (good goddess I love Gloria) Red is adamant. Some revelation is happening here but I really don’t know what it is.
Miss Rosa and Morello share a moment. Now seems like a good time to (FORESHADOWING) remember that Miss Rosa is the best and she deserves a lollipop.
Daya and Bennett have a seriously depressing conversation about their baby and it just drives the point home of how fucked their relationship dynamic is. I can’t make any jokes about this, it’s just really unhappy.
And now back to white girls tripping on nutmeg:
“Do you ever think about why we wear clothes all the time? Like, really think about it?”
“I feel trapped inside my face.”
I think somebody needs some time in the Tripping Shed ladies…
Oh and now the not-so-lesbian duo of Taystee and Poussey are tasked with saving the books and I’ve never heard anything gayer. Can this friendship be saved? It better be, or else we are all gonna be sad literally forever.
“It was awesome… as far as being deprived of your civil liberties and stuff,” says Yoga Jones of spending time in another prison.
So maybe being transferred won’t be so bad after all? Piper hopes not.
“This place is bullshit.”
RED IS GONNA KILL VEE! IT’S ALL HAPPENING! WITH SARAN WRAP! Another creative way to become an assassin.
Red is in the process of killing Vee and she’s giving her props while fighting for her life. And is it death of le petit mort? Because the sounds could go either way. And it all seems so absurd but it’s so serious. Like I don’t know about opposites, balance, whatever.
“We’ve got enough hell in here right?…Truce.”
But that never ends well. Because you literally can NEVER trust Vee. Ever.
Finishing up the world’s most depressing and suspenseful flashbacks in a show that is literally built on delivering depressing and suspenseful flashbacks: RJ and Vee have had sex. As if the mother/son aspect of their relationship would be troubling enough if we all didn’t know that Vee is clearly setting RJ up, and yep, sure enough, a white cop is about to shoot a black boy, and this is how RJ dies, and I suddenly feel a desperate urge to go rescue Taystee (and Suzanne! and everyone, but oh god, Taystee and Suzanne, ugh) from Vee’s grasp.
This scene also made me think about how true to life some of the struggles articulated in OITNB are, and how even though the show does a good job treating these issues seriously and with more care than many other comedies, it is still, at heart, kind of mostly a comedy. And that can make dealing with heavier subject matter (racism, classism, the fucked up entity that is the prison industrial complex — which is not just “heavier subject matter” but obviously “the premise of the whole show”) difficult. Because even though the writers do a good job making us care, is it possible to address a lot of these issues with enough nuance and levity, when for many people in our country and the world these are real problems that ruin lives, not just character arcs and plot devices that we get to invest ourselves in for easily digestible chunks of time via Netflix subscriptions? I’m not sure. Writing about RJ’s murder as a recapper is difficult, and it makes me think about what my friends who have trouble with OITNB are talking about when they speak of the show trivializing real issues. I’m by no means writing off the show as bad, just offering up some food for thought.
To recover from the latest devastating flashback, we have a really beautiful, hard, sad, perfect makeup scene between Taystee and Poussey. It’s intense, and stupid and sad and amazing.
Taystee’s been let down by so many people in her life, and she’s been so mad at Poussey, and she’s got all these walls up, and Poussey isn’t used to being pushed away by Taystee, and she’s also been so mad, but oh my gosh, they are best friends, they are family, they are fucking there for each other, and if Vee thinks she can fuck that up for good she is much, much dumber than she thinks she is. Taystee and Poussey are besties and when they apologize to each other and make up all is right in the world for just one damn second. And let’s all pause and savor that for just a moment before the season finale. Here, I’ve got Kleenex. Who wants a hug?
Now if only this were the last scene that would be something to hold on to. Instead we’ve got Chapman sneaking into Fig’s office to find a candy stash and some files. Then the lights come on and there’s Caputo. And then there’s the inevitable betrayal by Fig’s husband because he’s gay and/or bi but more importantly because he’s a lying, hypocritical asshole cheater. And then there’s the destroyed greenhouse that Red looks over forlornly. And then there’s Vee… with a coin-filled sock… and a beating. And everything that could be right with the world is also wrong.
Thank goddess we only have one more episode to go.