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ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK Recap: Get Useful or Get Out

I’ve been incredibly remiss in not mentioning Jimmy all season in my recaps. Hers is a character that’s particularly fascinating, shrouded in mystery, and ultimately depressing. She’s a soul in a system that doesn’t care about her, stuck in her own mind, and without anything that really ingratiates her to anyone. She’s lost. But that’s the struggle of the elder inmates who’ve had a bigger focus this season than last, and exactly why they’re arguably far more cutthroat than their young compatriots. It’s hard out there for ladies — especially once the world doesn’t find you sexually attractive and/or viable anymore. And Orange is The New Black‘s seventh episode, “Comic Sans,” highlighted exactly how the Litchfield ladies (like all women) deal with that.

Hustle and flow: you’ve got to make yourself useful.

And while, predictable, the younger guard are all about idealism, the older crew are all about action. I mean just look at the evidence: there’s a new prison newsletter being started, by Piper, to create “dialogue” a.k.a. serve as a cover for a justice-crusade. There’s Soso and her “compassionate” vegetarianism idealism being thrown in the faces of the couldn’t-care-less kitchen staff, and Flaca’s preference for guy-on-guy porn because she “doesn’t want to be exploiting women and shit.” All of this is stuff that is, in theory, quite admirable. In action all these things mostly just don’t do anything effective (well… except for that last one. That latter bit can be pretty effective if yannowwhatimean).

Except for Black Cindy, who’s honestly just sort of a self-victiming asshole. Listen: I get that she feels like she’s a loser and the whole world hates her so that’s why she might feel as though she can well do whatever-in-the-fuck it is she damn well pleases, buuuuuuut… nope. She gets none of the sympathy that comes with that understanding from me, because all of her actions are just so brazenly, disgustingly selfish. Be it stealing (and not even deleting the photos? C’mon Cindy) or smoking or being careless with her DAUGHTER (not little sister), none of what she does is OK and everything is completely self-serving. I was glad to see her get a bit of comeuppance from Vee — homegirl sort of deserved it.

But before we get to Vee and the rest of the elder crew, let’s get back to Jimmy and her “compassionate release” which was, clearly, anything but. Her dementia makes her a moving target for so many things to go wrong, and instead of being given real compassion she’s given the door. Because god forbid someone paid actual, effective attention to the poor, old woman who can’t seem to keep herself from sneaking out of prison and/or jumping off of stages thinking they’re pools. It would be too much to ask someone, anyone, to even nominally care about this woman who clearly has no one in the world to care about her.

This whole thing gutted me. Jimmy cannot be left alone; she needs care, she needs actual compassion not something in-name-only. But will she be afforded such? Nope, she’ll be put out to pasture in a way that all-but-guarantees disaster and told that it’s the best thing for her. Honestly shit like this makes me wonder are we all more human or monster because some days it’s hard to tell.

So you sort of have to admire Vee and Red, at least in that way: they’re creating a family — whether that family likes it or not — and network of people who will have their backs. Sure, they’re buying and/or manipulating their way into necessity rather than through who they are as people, but this is prison, folks: stuff talks, agency talks, action talks. It’s something Vee, Red, and the Golden Girls know quite well: do, don’t be.

Vee’s cigarette empire certainly talks to these nicotine-fiending inmates, and Red’s magically appearing supplies are bringing happiness (and her returned necessity to the entire prison communal structure) to a lot of the ladies. It might not be love but it is value, and creating an environment where you are necessary for daily survival is vital to staying afloat (take it from a freelance writer). Don’t let yourself become disposable (even if as a woman you sort of already are to the society at large. Womp womp)!

Oh and before I forget: we’ve got a bit more insight on Fig! Is she giving her husband the money? Well, it looks a heck of a lot less clear, actually, considering the fact that her husband’s campaign might be broke. But the reasons as to why she might do such a thing were made crystal clear: her husband doesn’t want her because he’s in-the-closet gay (he’s cleeeaaaaaaarly fucking that campaign manager of his, I mean c’mon). But she wants what he has: the power… to affect change? Wait, what? I mean, yes, things are a mess and need to be changed but if she’s actually stealing from the prison to try and “make” that change happen — change does not happen in a vaccuum, Fig — she’s just as bad as the “bad guys” her husband asserted they aren’t. Fig is like the middle tier between these young (idealists) and old (actionists) girls we’ve seen try to make themselves useful. But lord knows: the middle ground almost never wins.

Odds and Ends:
- The show is really setting the stage for a lot of bad, bad stuff to explode at once.
- Fischer knows that Daya’s pregnant now.
- Caputo’s making everyone come down hard with the shots.
- Maritza’s in the SHU!
- That City Post reporter is still on the case.
- Polly and Larry have had SEX NOW, you guys! Holy cats.
- I mean, we knew it was going to happen, but still.
- Shit is getting ca-ray-zay.

If you want to check out our other recaps for the season, click here!

Are you caught up on this episode of OITNB? Tell us what you thought about it in the comments (or on Twitter)!

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