OITNB: You Also Get a Pizza, Poussey

Young Poussey learns her family will be relocated to New Jersey on Orange is the New Black
Orange is the New Black (Screen: Netflix)

It’s time for the women of Litchfield to celebrate Valentine’s Day. That means painful memories of love lost for Poussey and reflections on relationships for everyone else.

“Love is like a pizza. Sometimes it’s cold and flat. Sometimes it’s hot and gooey. The secret is to take it a slice at a time and hold the anchovies.”

— Shelly Winters’ Guide to True Love

It’s Valentine’s Day at Litchfield, and so the topic du jour is love. This is particularly relevant to Poussey, who is the subject of this episode’s flashbacks. We learn she grew up as an army brat and was coming of age in Germany. She had an awesome German girlfriend on the base, but were discovered in flagrante delicto by Poussey’s girlfriend’s father. Unfortunately, he was Poussey’s father’s commanding officer, and so Poussey and her family were sent back to the States (specifically: New Jersey). Poussey tried to play it off by completely shutting out her girlfriend, lying about not loving her anymore. She then tried to reason with the CO, almost turning to violence, before her father intervened. The CO suggested “corrective” measures, but Poussey’s dad declines. Happy father’s day, sir.

What made the flashbacks interesting in this episode is the use of triggers to float between past and present. In the world of V and Taystee, we learn that V has orchestrated tobacco smuggling through cleaning products, which is why she moved her posse from the library to custodial detail. Taystee shares the news with Poussey with a surprise cigarette. This triggers the flashback to when young Poussey, smoking in her dorm, finds out that her dad has been reassigned. Since these are all memories, everything that happens in the past is colored by Poussey’s perception, rather than a retelling of all the action—such as in Gloria’s backstory. We also see Poussey’s deflection tactics emerge: she uses the same icing out technique on Taystee as was used back in Germany.

The ebb and flow of Poussey’s story underlines the transitional nature of this episode as a whole. Some plotlines from earlier in the season get wrapped up, such as Big Boo and Nicky’s sex game. Other arcs begin to take shape, such as Red and V’s contraband smuggling operations and Caputo’s pining for Officer Fischer. As for Piper and Larry1, he has enlisted her to start investigating the budget irregularities for the article he wants to write. Healy catches Piper as she investigates, and her form of bluffing is to start a prison newsletter. These leads to the runner through the episode of asking the inmates to define love. It’s not quite the interstitials from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, but it does make me want to re-listen to that album.

Other items of note:

  • Daya and Bennett are back to boning. Hopefully the writers actually go somewhere with this storyline this time around.
  • Sophia finds herself trapped by Soso at the Valentine’s dance with a thorough retelling of the theory that Ferris Bueller never existed. When she gets to the part about Cameron’s motivation within the theory, Sister Ingalls loses it and tells Brook to “shut the fuck up.” I love the dynamic Brook Soso is creating within the cast.
  • Larry and Piper ruined the Brady Bunch. Apparently February 14 is Florence Henderson’s birthday, and Piper in the past has marked the occasion by stripping to “Sunshine Day” for Larry. First, that’s just stupid. Second, if you are going to strip to any Brady Bunch song, it should be “Good Time Music.” “Sunshine Day” is too reminiscent of the Sesame Street theme and it deserves elaborate choreography. “Good Time Music” has a honky tonk vibe, and is not as much of an ensemble piece. Do your research, Chapman.

Although there are interesting ideas and character moments in this episode, it didn’t feel like there was much plot advancement. We’re approaching the halfway point of the season, so perhaps this is gliding to the pivot point which will set up the second half.

Tomorrow: Ryan talks about episode seven.

  1. UGH.  

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About Mike McComb 656 Articles
Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it "TV Camp." After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv