It’s an ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK Season 1 Recap Mega-Post!
By Alicia Lutes on June 6, 2014
Binge-watching can be a tricky thing for the brain. All of that information, all at once, seeping in at a massive rate. Naturally, you may have forgotten a thing or two. And considering the amount of time that has passed since season one of Orange is The New Black premiered, taking us all down the rabbit hole with a ferocity previously unknown, there may be a need for a refresher or two as to what went on in Litchfield. Especially when you consider that season two will be dropped on all of us like a brick of illegal narcotics on June 6th. It’s so good! It’s so good when it hits your lips (or in this case: eyeballs).
Now for the visualists among you, there’s always the Fine Brothers’ video recap, but when they talk all fast like that…sometimes it’s hard to keep up! So we’ve decided to lay a bit more down on the e-page in this, our season one redux.
If you’re ready, then jump oright in! The water is… temperate at best because what do you think this is, the Hamptons? I mean, I suppose it’s like the Hamptons, only fucking terrible.
Episode 1: I Wasn’t Ready
First impressions are the worst and Piper Chapman was the queen of that in her entrance into the Litchfield Penitentiary world. After finding out that our artisanal soap maker was going to take a forced dip into the criminal pool thanks to a one-time criminal act she did 10 years earlier, Chapman wasted no time making enemies with her privilege and naivete. First up was Red, the badass, hard-nosed cook and matriarch to many of the girls (particularly Nicky Nichols). Culture shock: it’s tough! But things really only managed to get worse from there when Piper came to realize that Alex Vause — her international drug-dealing ex-girlfriend and reason she’s in this whole mess to begin with — was also doing her time at Litchfield.
Episode 2: Tit Punch
Her poor form on the Red front resulted in a bit of a starvation trip for Chapman (rule one of prison: never piss off the chef). And guess what? No one is all that interested in helping her out. Loyalty runs deep here. Well — to an extent: Crazy Eyes proved herself to be Chapman’s one true ally, though that’s mostly because Crazy Eyes wants to get her chocolate and vanilla swirl, swirl on with her.
But Red remained the focus of the episode: both with the back lotion Chapman concocted to help her and in turn get on Red’s good side, and via flashback to her prison origin story. Namely, how a tit punch to a Russian mob wife’s boob job resulted in Red and her husband holding packages (yeaaaahhhhh…) for business men (suuuuuuuure…).
Episode 3: Lesbian Request Denied
As the episode’s title suggests, Chapman and Crazy Eyes’ intended love affair was anything but after the latter rebuked the advances of the former. (Aww…poor Crazy Eyes. Nobody ever truly appreciates her.) No matching prison wives unis for these two — but there was quite a bit of pee! This did not make Chapman’s new bunk mate Miss Claudette, a takes-no-shit-from-anyone hardline lady, a fan of Chapman’s.
But thankfully it wasn’t all pissing and pissants, as we were also introduced to the backstory of Sophia Burset, whose gender reassignment surgery is what got her into the crime game — committing credit fraud in the name of laying claim to her femininity. See, times are tough at Litchfield and Burset needs her regular dose of hormones (they’d cut down hers because of financial cutbacks and limitations), so she’s gone out on a limb to ask her estranged wife to smuggle them in for her. This goes over about as well as you’d expect, particularly when you consider the terribly fraught relationship the duo have in the wake of Burset’s transition from male to female.
Episode 4: Imaginary Enemies
Oh Chapman, even when she doesn’t intend to, she still manages to make a muck of anything and everything around her. This time it’s in the workshop, where her accidental procurement (read: stealing) of a screwdriver turns the whole goddamn prison upsidedown and inside-out. We’re also introduced to just how gross and terrible Office Pornstache, a.k.a. Mendez, really is: his molesting of Chapman in the “hunt” for the screwdriver was particularly egregious.
The whole thing led us to a bit more insight on Miss Claudette and what landed her in the warm, warm confines of Litchfield (she murdered. Woops!)
Obviously the star of this episode was Big Boo and her DIYing, Prison-Pinteresting ways: stealing Chapman’s stolen screwdriver and turning it into a dildo. That’s one way to get screwed (I’m sorry it was too easy and I just had to).
Episode 5: The Chickening
Ah yes, the chicken episode. Both allegory and literal, the chicken took hold of Chapman’s focus, bolstering her idealist hope for the impossible and also her potential freedom. It’s always there and yet never there — and it drives Chapman fucking crazy. But its not just a vision in her mind — it’s an old mythic legend ’round these parts, prompting Red to recall a time the chicken magically escaped slaughter and appeared to her in a dream wearing a top hat. Bring her the chicken and the biore strips will be yours, she declared! Because homegirl’s got Chicken Kiev on the brain.
In addition to some sexy times in a chapel between Lorna the part-time lesbian and her lover Nicky Nichols, we’re introduced to stone cold nutter and religious zealot Pennsatucky. More on her later.
Oh we also learn, from Larry (Chapman’s fiancé), that it was indeed Alex Vause who ratted Piper out to the feds. But he doesn’t tell her that because he’s very resentful at the moment.
Episode 6: WAC Pack
There’s a scandal afoot at Litchfield: one of the inmates has access to a cell phone and is taking photos that have ended up on PrisonPoon.com (yup, that is exactly what you think). This makes the assistant warden, Natalie “Fig” Figueroa, very upset. So Joe Caputo, the liaison between the warden and the correctional officers, got tasked with checking every CO’s bag as they entered and exited the place, resulting in Caputo getting his flirtatious creep on with Susan and left Pornstache no choice but to leave his drug stash (yeah: real surprising, huh?) at home.
While the series’ main love story is that between Chapman and Vause, most viewers were rooting for the illicit love of Dayanara and prison guard John Bennett. The sweetness of their courtship is equal parts surprising and heartwarming — even if their feelings for one another are wrong in the eyes of the law. Dayanara’s mother doesn’t think he’s real, so in this episode she tried to put the moves on him (he rebuffs) to prove his sleaziness, which of course backfired. Bennett wasn’t interested! This results in not only a BJ for ol’ Benny-boy, but also the realization that he has a fake leg.
There’s also an election for the WAC (basically student council for the prison) and several folks run, including Taystee, Pennsatucky, and Lorna (chosen by Red, which upsets Nicky her right-handy lady/prison daughter). Oh yeah, and Larry decides he’s going to write an article about dating someone in prison.
Episode 7: Blood Donut
Perhaps the most emotionally stirring part of this episode revolves around Janae Watson’s story, who in this episode is finally released from SHU (a.k.a. the worst) after taking the fall for Screwdrivergate. In flashbacks we see her as a child playing a game called “boys chase girls” but Janae is too fast and the boys tell her to “slow down and stop showing off.” This, obviously, hits home for many a gal out there, as you watched Janae go through hurt feelings and sadness when she sees the boys go off the chase the slower girls who are purposefully trying to get caught.
Her whole story is pretty sad: she was a high school track star with heaps of potential who lost it all when a boy finally gave her the attention she was so desperately seeking. (Not that he actually cared about her.) In the middle of one of their myriad petty crimes she got caught by the cops when the man — just like the little kid on the playground — told her to stop showing off with how fast she could run. She got caught and he got away.
All of this ties back to Chapman’s main goal this episode: to get the track reopened after it was closed due to budget cuts. It resulted in Chapman confessing the truth to Janae (who was, surprise surprise, none too happy) and handing over the elusive phone from episode 6 to Healy. None of this really works to Chapman’s favor outside of the track being usable again.
Episode 8: Moscow Mule
Remember that article Larry wrote about Chapman’s prison time being “one sentence for two people?” Yeah well, it’s out now and there’s a party being thrown in his honor. Additionally, Polly — Chapman’s best friend and specialty soap co-conspirator — goes into labor.
In fact pregnancy was a pretty big focus of this episode in particular; with Maria having her baby and Daya realizing she’s pregnant with Bennett’s (oh snap, crackle, pop). All of this action and focus on the people in her life outside makes Chapman feel very left out and misunderstood. Forced to confront such issues head-on results in a very emotional Chapman, giving way to her and Vause finally having a moment of respite and closeness — potentially leading to a reconciliation (or at least discussion) regarding their current issues and past relationship.
But Pornstache/Mendez and Red were also up to some antics of their own: what with Pornstache’s desire to funnel his drug-selling business into the prison with the vegetables — just like how Red does with all of her, well, stuff. (We learned through flashbacks that Neptune Produce is actually a money-laundering outfit for her “business men” friends.) Naturally, Mother Russia over here was having none of it, even after Pornstache revealed that one of her girls, Tricia, was ~mysteriously~ going through withdrawals.
Episode 9: Fucksgiving
Hoo boy, alright: this episode was a bit chaotic. In a good way, but still: lots happened and we learned quite a bit about several characters. We got more Vause backstory, an abortion attempt, a visit to the SHU, Taystee’s farewell, a casual murder threat, and briefly meet Crazy Eyes’ tres-bougie white parents.
Chapman was sent to SHU (thanks to Healy’s homophobic rage machine) and had a bit of an existential crisis in the solitary confinement ward. This later leads to some seriously angry, “take that, Healy!” chapel sex between Vause and Chapman once she’s released. Taystee’s impending release loomed large in her mind (and not in a positive way), and we learned more about how Vause went from father-figure-less daughter of a single working mom to international drug smuggler. A war’s a-brewin’ between Pennsatucky and Vause, you guys: and the former ain’t too keen on all the “lesbianing” that’s going on (after all she is an angel of god, you guys).
But perhaps through all that, the most unsettling issue was the continually heated battle between Red and Pornstache. The man moved swiftly from jokey idiot to terrifying sociopath in this episode with pee-filled aplomb.
Oh and did we mention that, after a fauxbortion at the hands of her terrible mother Aleida, that Daya has decided to keep her baby? Yeah — that’s sure to end well.
Episode 10: Bora Bora Bora
The biggest happening in this episode was most certainly the tragic death of Tricia. Her story was particularly tragic, highlighting the issues with the system and what happens when people are not afforded real opportunities to get out from under it. Tricia always meant well — remembering every single item she’d ever stolen so that, once better, she could repay them all in full — but Pornstache’s desire to be a drug kingpin of his own were stronger than she, and she ended up overdosed in a closet.
Other things to note: Pennsatucky is convinced she’s a faith healer now, Larry’s going to tell he and Piper’s story on an NPR-esque show called “Urban Tales,” the girls went Scared Straight on a bunch of teens, and Bennett’s lost leg story was revealed (hot tub!) alongside the fact that he’s the father of Daya’s baby. Vause and Chapman are also boning on the regular now — the latter swearing it’s just for physical connection and a sense of release. So make of that what you will!
Episode 11: Tall Men with Feelings
Ahh yes, episode 11: or as I like to refer to it as — the episode where everything goes off the rails in splendid fashion. Daya and Bennett devised a plan to get her a furlough to attend a fake funeral outside the prison (in turn giving her a time and place to blame her pregnancy on, effectively keeping Bennett off the sex offender’s list and in his job). When that doesn’t work, though, things take a turn for the particularly dark and morally corrupt: they decide to frame Pornstache for rape. Which also doesn’t work because he used a condom. Oh jeez.
And then there’s Pennsatucky who’s been sent to psych — a place Crazy Eyes explains as way worse than SHU and the place prisoners go and get lost in. No one comes back from there (except for her). This guilt turns over to Chapman who resolved to get Pennsatucky out following the hungover realization, brought to you by the memorial for Tricia.
But the biggest game-changer was Larry’s interview on “Urban Tales,” which results in Chapman’s prison friends getting an earful of how she’s talked about them with Larry in private. This, obviously, does not go over well. For anyone. So Chapman and Larry get on the phone and she admits that, yes, she’s been having sex with Vause, and in turn Larry quickly announces that it was her ex that got her sent to prison in the first place. By the end of this episode, literally no one is happy.
Episode 12: Fool Me Once
Hoo boy, OK. So: Fig was revealed to be embezzling lots of Litchfield funds, Larry felt a bit of actual remorse for his using Chapman’s story for personal gain, Taystee’s back in orange, and Pornchstache got the boot. But none of these revelations really end up resolving anything in a good way, for anybody.
Because Pornstache admitted to Bennett both that he a.) loves Daya and b.) has been smuggling drugs into the prison via Neptune Produce. This puts Caputo on Red’s ass, convinced she’s behind it all. And it also causes a bit of conflict within Bennett himself, particularly after he realized that Daya orchestrated this whole thing on purpose.
Taystee cannot survive in the fucked-up life she found herself in once outside: struggling to work for paychecks other people steal, squatting (essentially) on a mat on someone else’s floor. It’s tough out there but prison? Prison she knows.
Yoga Jones’ accidental murderous backstory was revealed as a way to unite her in an unusual (in a good way) friendship with Janae. On the other side of things, Miss Claudette is awaiting a hearing that will get her out of prison once and for all, and the man she loved — Jean-Baptiste — is ready and waiting for her on the other side. But her appeal is denied and the rage takes over her: after choking a new corrections officer, Claudette is going to maximum security prison. Probably for the rest of her life.
And in matters of life and death, Pennsatucky is on the warpath, furious at Chapman for her loss of faith. After being rebuffed on the friendship front, Pennsatucky can only think of one thing to do: kill Chapman.
Episode 13: Can’t Fix Crazy
Did jail turn Piper Chapman into a monster? Or was she one all along? That’s the question hanging in the balance coming full circle on what was essentially posited at the beginning of the season (“I’m afraid I’m not myself when I’m in here, but I’m also afraid that I am”). Whatever the answer, Pennsatucky’s actions — coupled with Chapman’s bottled rage — started the whole thing rolling. I mean, she followed Chapman into the E Block showers, cut herself with a shiv, and smeared blood all over Chapman’s naked body. And that was just a casual threat.
What came next was the reckoning. Having lost a lot over the course of this season — and with all of that heightened anger and frustration bubbling over just as it always does during the holidays — she only needed a reason to really blow. Which ends up being good ol’ Pennsatucky, in full-out angel regalia, carrying a cross-turned-shiv. With Healy momentarily (and approvingly) watching on, Pennsatucky declared Chapman was unworthy of love, and that’s what really sets her off. Chapman comes out swinging with a rage we’ve never before seen in her, and, hoo boy, it may have just cost her not only her life, but Pennsatucky’s as well.
In the world of the other inmates, things aren’t lookin’ so good, either. Red has been kicked out of the kitchen thanks to Caputo, and Aleida’s crew, headed up by Gloria, is taking over.
So needless to say: things are changing big time heading into season two. Are you ready? Let us hear about it in the comments.