Orange is the New Black 2×04-06: The taxation of trade routes is in dispute | Gotta Watch It!

Orange is the New Black 2×04-06: The taxation of trade routes is in dispute

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Welcome back, inmates!  Our time in the clink this week finds Piper and Larry’s relationship circling the metaphorical drain, sewage coming up in the bathroom showers through the non-metaphorical drain, Vee’s emotional manipulation taking the form of something more orchestrated and goal-oriented, Boo and Nicky duking it out out to see who is Litchfield’s most prolific philanderess, Red getting back to what she does best, and the continued investigation into Figueroa’s possible malfeasance and book-cooking.  The only thing that would make these episodes better is if they took place during Valentine’s Day.  What?  They did?  Hooray!

source: Netflix

source: Netflix

2×04, “A Whole Other Hole”: Lorna’s past is revealed to show her oft-mentioned fiance Christopher is actually just some guy she went on a single date with and then menacingly stalked to the point of criminality, hence her placement at the Litch, and she takes up the old habit again during a brief escape that no one notices; Sophia ironically (or, perhaps, not) gives the other girls a much-needed anatomy lesson in distinguishing the vaginal opening from the urinary meatus; Nicky and Boo begin a competition to see which is the most incorrigible cad, with points given out on both quantity and quality accounted for by Chang; Larry and Polly continue to play house while their respective spouses are away; Taystee and Poussey navigate their complicated friendship, while Vee schemes in the background; Red finds a new way to get back in her old game.

2×05, “Low Self Esteem City”: Vee continues to slime her way into coercing the Black girls into her master plan, preying on their fears of turf encroachment and generally being awful; the prison drainage system backs up and Caputo takes it upon himself to fix it, going over Figueroa’s head, which she is not happy about for suspicious reasons; Healy shows signs of being trapped in his obsession over perceived female persecution; Gloria’s flashback shows her to have trouble with keeping dangerous people around herself and her family; Piper asks for a furlough to visit her dying grandmother.

source: Netflix

source: Netflix

2×06, “You Also Have a Pizza”: All the Black girls under Vee’s tutelage are now working custodial detail under her direct supervision, surely to some nefarious future design; Daya is being kind of annoying about wanting Bennett to be more open in his affections toward her; the Kitchen exploits Bennett’s indiscretion to garner some benign contraband; Larry attempts to bogart the reporter’s expose on the mismanagement of the prison and asks get Piper to help him out, resulting in Piper concocting a front about a “prison newsletter” to cover for all the snooping she’s up to; Pennsyltucky begins an uneasy alliance with Healy after getting the boot from the Appalachian clique; Red’s contraband pipeline proves troublesome after the elderly and demented Jimmy escapes to find her lost love; Poussey’s backstory explores a history of harsh rejection.

I applaud the way this show manages to make many of its characters engaging and sympathetic while not absolving them from accountability; it would be too easy, I think, on a show predicated on the struggles of maligned and exploited female inmates to make them all helpless victims of circumstance and injustice (and sometimes they are!), but this show strives for more than just verisimilitude, and in real life people often are at least partly culpable in their own downfall.  In these episodes we see examples of that in Gloria and Lorna’s flashbacks, and while each are very different, both explore facets of dysfunctional romantic relationships and how the inability to actualize the harm those dynamic cause leads to further suffering.  I guess I shouldn’t be, but I was a little shocked to see how far off the deep end Lorna really was; she’s always been one of my favorites, probably because Yael Stone plays her with such a fragile optimism, and her pluckiness always seems made of eggshells and her eyes look like she knows it.  I had surmised that her obsession with Christopher was always somewhat pathological in nature; she’s been resolutely focused on getting that relationship rebuilt since we first met her to the point of fixation, and it became clear at some point that it was likely that Lorna’s belief in that happy ending was one-sided.  I felt that Christopher was probably just some guy she dated who had moved on after her incarceration, and she was holding him as an ideal to direct her optimism and hope in release; I hadn’t considered what the reality turned out to be, that Lorna was dangerously psychotic.  By stealing the prison van to ransack his house and steal items associated with his new wife, she showed one of the tragic traits of many mentally-ill people — the inability to correlate her diagnosis with her behavior — and unless eventually acknowledged, this could lead her down a dangerous path, which I hope doesn’t happen, because seriously, Lorna is so great.  Her eventual confession to Nicky about the true nature of her relationship with Christopher is a big positive step, though, and honestly I think Lorna and Nicky are in love and just haven’t got to a place where they can address that yet.  Maybe that’s just me.

source: Netflix

source: Netflix

Can we take a minute to discuss how gross Larry is becoming?  I mean, he was always a bit of an opportunistic weasel, going back to last season and using Piper’s story for his own gain, but here we now have Larry insinuating himself on two fronts: using Piper’s connections to steal a story away from an actual journalist, and involving himself further with Polly, Piper’s best friend.  I don’t want to give her any special consideration, because Piper doesn’t suffer from nearly the same level of social injustice that her fellow inmates do on a daily basis both within prison and without, but it does seem like Piper’s personal life has been custom-made to cause her an endless parade of misery.  Larry has turned into a slimy leech well after their personal relationship has started to disintegrate, and it seems like he sees Piper now as little more than a potential meal ticket to his world of legitimate authorship.  Polly here is just as bad, seemingly thinking nothing about Piper or her own husband as she gets ever cozier with Mr. Sadsack.  On top of all that, Alex has probably somehow managed to ruin Piper’s life for a second time, and Piper’s mom is just downright pathological.  At least her weirdo neckbeard brother who lives in the woods has her back, right?





Ugh.  Anyway, that’s my time, folks!  Katie will see you through the second half of the season, and now I’ll have time to go binge away the remainder.  Will Alex return?  Will Red get caught?  Will Vee consolidate enough power to take over as warden?  My guess is: Probably, Probably, and Definitely.  Hit me up in the comments!



Atomika D.

is a writer and critic of TV and film since 2006, an alumnus of NYFA’s school of celluloid direction and production, and she once ate seven burritos on a dare. It was not pleasant. Read all about it on Tumblr.

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