Poop and Lies, Mustachioed and Otherwise

Orange is the New Black (Photo: Netflix)
Orange is the New Black (Photo: Netflix)

Piper gets shanked, Bennett and Daya get married, and Poussey and Taystee ride into the sunset. J/K, I lied, everything is still terrible!

[Content note: drug use, alcoholism, violence.]

Doesn’t everyone lie to everyone? -Nichols

I put almond extract behind my ears sometimes. It makes me smell like a cookie. -Bell

I can’t be the only one who is 100% done with Piper’s storylines, especially as they relate to Alex, Larry, Polly, and anyone else who is not actually in residence at Litchfield Penitentiary. So, let’s take Mike’s lead and dispense with her part in this episode right away. The flashbacks from this episode focus on the early stages of Piper and Alex’s relationship. Alex heads to her kitchen to grab water during a sex break, and while she’s out of the room, her girlfriend Sylvia comes home, find Piper naked in bed, and punches her in the face.1 Alex ends up breaking up with Sylvia, and later, confesses that she never loved Sylvia but does love her. Piper, of course, believes Alex, and more sexcapades ensue. The tables are turned when Polly comes to Litchfield, and Piper realizes that her best friend is the one who cuckolded her. Piper retaliates by arranging for a bag of shit to be set aflame on Polly’s porch. As much as Polly deserved it, the ease with which she diffuses the situation is a reminder that Piper is ultimately ineffective and childish.

Otherwise, this episode is all about the lies we tell. We lie to protect others, like when Polly pretends not to have seen much of Larry recently, or when Piper tells Red that business is booming at her market on the outside. We lie to protect our own interests, like when Taystee lies to Poussey about selling drugs harder than tobacco, or when the reporter lies to Fig about why he was visiting Piper. We sometimes even lie when we don’t know what else to do, like when Christopher comes to confront Morello in person about the break-in, and she tries to keep up appearances in front of Nichols and the others.

Ultimately, though, lying can just be a lot easier than admitting the truth. Gina spends the episode tailing Nichols, knowing that Vee’s crew has given heroin to the recovering addict, and seeing through Nichols’ protestations that she’s in control and has no desire to fall off the wagon. In truth, Nichols can’t wait for an opportunity to get high, and finds herself on the brink of giving in before finally taking the drugs to Red and asking for her help.

Meanwhile, Poussey’s stress about her relationship with Taystee and the threats from Vee drive her to surreptitiously and constantly tap into her hidden caches of hooch. After a bender leaves her heaving her guts in the toilet, Poussey sloppily and angrily confronts Vee in the bathroom. Never one to fight her own battles, Vee releases Suzanne to aggressively neutralize the threat.2 I really enjoy seeing Suzanne so self-confident … I just hate that it’s happening as part of Vee’s scheme to manipulate and use her for violent purposes.

As we head into the home stretch, the action is starting to spiral more tightly around Vee. Red’s angry about the heroin, and also that Vee finds the sewer grate and wants to “share” the pipeline. Poussey has had friction with Vee from the beginning, and it continues to rapidly intensify with the aforementioned beating. Watson is sent to the SHU a second time when the guards find cigarettes in her bunk, and Vee does nothing to stop it. Cindy watches helplessly as Suzanne pummels Poussey in the shower, and slinks away, speechless and shocked at what she’s seen. Even Rosa, who normally stays out of the fray, is obviously pissed off when Vee and her crew bully her out of her seat in the cafeteria. Is Vee spinning her way to the top, or spiraling the drain?

Other notes from this episode:

  • Healy’s going to therapy, but spends most of his time lashing out. His therapist does manage to inspire him to start helping others (instead of just pretending to do so). After helping Pennsatucky with some individual counseling, he sets up a regular Safe Place group therapy session, to which no one comes. Sad trombone.
  • Brook is on a hunger strike to protest the treatment of visitors. Boo and others mock her, but Yoga Jones comes over to show her support, and quite possibly also to passive-aggressively shame Sister Ingalls about not doing the same. I understand Brook is a caricature of bleeding-heart liberals, and yet I legitimately appreciate the social justice perspective she brings.
  • Sophia’s son comes to visit. He’s not interested in talking, but is happy to kick her ass at Go Fish. Terrible, terrible pun alert?
  • Amateurs, part one: the prison does a basic pregnancy test on Daya, but doesn’t also take the opportunity to verify paternity? Even the Maury Povich show knows, you’ve gotta get a paternity test.
  • Pornstache continues to harass inmates, and to be suuuuuuuper creepy to Daya. Despite this episode’s title referring to him, he doesn’t actually have much to do except walk around being smarmy, and to be both fired and arrested at the end.
  • Amateurs, part two: the prison guards do a sweep looking for drugs, and collect tons of contraband they’ve been otherwise ignoring. They realize that is all smells like poop, and assume it’s coming in via “the rectal pipeline.” Because there’s definitely no other way that could be happening.
  • “You don’t know where I come from. I ain’t have no daddy in the army, parents looking out for me, and a fucking winter coat, you bougie bitch. So don’t pretend like you know me or my people.” “I thought you wanted to be better than that.” </3 </3 </3

Monday: Mooch leads off the final stretch. Only three episodes remain!

  1. Does anyone else suspect this was not an accident, but a plot by Alex to stir up drama? Piper definitely does not.  
  2. By the way, this scene is ugly and unpleasant in its outcome — Poussey broken and bawling on the shower floor — but magnificent in its non-verbal acting from Vee, Suzanne, and Cindy. Watch it again.  

A Brief Word From Our Sponsors:

About Ryan Brazell 135 Articles
E-mail: ryan@whatelseison.tv
  • Thank you for including the Bell quote at the beginning. The delivery of that line was so perfect and endearing.

    • You’re welcome. I loved the juxtaposition of that scene, where Bell and Piper smell like flowers and cookies, with the later digging-through-contraband scene where everything smells like poop. A+

  • bsawhill

    Good call on the non verbal acting in this show. I think, as I look back, that is one of the things that truly separates the good actors from the meh ones in this series…what they can do with their mouths closed and when we only have their faces and their body language to tell us their story. Vee is terrifying not for what she does and says but for how she comports herself and puts her whole self into that role. Whoa.

    Rosa is another one that I liked to watch for precisely this reason. Her role is to sit and take chemo and vegetate here. But she does so much more than that in her acting.

    I did appreciate some of the smaller details the directors took in this episode when fleshing out Miss Piper. Was I the only one who enjoyed seeing her trash her über expensive suede Uggs when she stomped on the bag of flaming shit? Chuckle.

    Pennsatucky: sigh. The minute she started co-mingling with Healy I knew that character was in a death spiral. Her power was in the fact that she was a (as one person called it) “Hillbilly meth head” who stuck to her values (no matter how toxic).

    • Aaron Mucciolo

      After how utterly vulnerable and even cute (yes, it’s a small-bias) ‘Tucky was in that moment on the bench with Healy, I have hopes that the character is in a death spiral, but a new, interesting ‘Tucky will emerge.

  • Aaron Mucciolo

    In other news – am I the only one confused as to what anyone expected Vee to do re: Watson? The only way she could help is to say the cigs were hers. Is the crew really so blind to general self-interest to expect that would happen?