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ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK Recap: They’ve Come Undone

Despite best efforts, things are coming undone on Orange is The New Black. Relationships once solid now falter as people scramble to save themselves from what’s sure to be a bunch of very-no-good stuff up ahead. And we know this inevitability is likely because all they can do is slug along within a broken system nobody cares enough about to change. Just like the building itself: everything at Litchfield is crumbling and pretty soon it’s going to burst (and there’ll be a whole lot more than shit everywhere). All the women can do is stay tough and hope they survive the fallout with their sense of autonomy intact.

But that sense of autonomy and basic human freedom comes at a cost. The ol’ boys from the army say it often, but here it feels especially true: Freedom isn’t free — something Piper learned quite quickly at the announcement of her furlough approval. Still, after all the hemming and hawing, her trip began and ended without a hitch. Well, without much of a hitch. She and Larry did break-up, seemingly for real this time. But more than that, the freedom of furlough and being reintroduced into her old, lavish and selfish life, showed Piper that maybe she doesn’t like what she once was. The sacrifices of self she had to make in the “real world” in order to toe a certain line. Is that freedom? Or is Piper more free in Litchfield where she doesn’t have to keep up appearances or pretense? Which is, perhaps, a scarier thought for someone as used to rules as she.

For the rest of the prison, the concept of freedom is pretty much nothing more than exactly that: an idea, not a thing. Since they cannot be physically free, they can at least carve out some sort of interpretation of it that works for them — so then freedom becomes less about possibility and more about creating power and control in a monotonous but unstable environment. It’s how they maintain their sanity and stay alive — and that’s all that really matters. It’s why, ultimately, Red became a contrabrand pusher: it gave her power, control, and respect, which is the ultimate “get” in prison.

So it’s no wonder, now that we see how it all really began for Vee and Red, that the two women managed to become such frenemies. Vee doesn’t fuck around. She’s manipulative but also jealous and opportunistic. After we learned through flashbacks that Vee gave Red the idea for creating a sort of pipeline through her produce distribution friends, she was quick to want in on the deal when it proved a powerful influence amongst the inmates. Apparently being the new den mother for the black girls wasn’t enough for her. When Red refused to deal Vee provided… well, Red got abused. Badly.

It was especially fascinating to see the change in Red: how she transformed from a meek little Russian mouse when first introduced to the prison system, to the ultimate matriarch that runs shit. Sure, we saw glimpses of that difference in her flashbacks last season, but part of me always believed she just came into prison after being locked up guns a-blazing and running the place given the Neptune connection (I am sometimes very naive). Red’s identity — the Red she was born to be — only truly came to life in prison (and yes, at the hand of Vee). Where once there was a meek and mild woman now stands a tough, confident broad who runs things and gets shit done. It’s no wonder Piper and she have such a kindred relationship: in many ways I think Red sees that sort of “follow the rules and do what they say” attitude that she had with her husband prior to jail, in Piper. Two sides of the same coin, these two are. One side’s young, the other, old.

(Which is probably why Piper, out of guilt, never told Red the truth about her store being closed. These two are slowly but surely becoming bedfellows that care for one another. What a long way they’ve come!)

But there is an upside to getting old — just ask the Golden Girls. Despite their crimes, people just don’t take them seriously anymore. How could an old lady hurt anyone? Well how about you ask the one whose shiv is by your neck how it felt to cut off her husband’s penis with a blunt knife, eh? The great thing about the Golden Girls is their adaptability, though: they’ve used people’s impressions of them to their advantage as a cover — which is exactly what made them such great henchwomen for Red and her contraband operation. Don’t mess with an old bitch, everyone: take note.

And we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about Healy. Poor, dumb, angry, ignorant Healy. “I thought we just established I’m uncomfortable with everything.” Healy, who cannot deal with himself and his own feelings, just gets angry. All the time! He doesn’t understand why other people’s will won’t bend to his own, so he’s upset. And he got really upset at the therapist he was paying to help him (always an effective use of everyone’s time and money), but that didn’t stop him from pawning off her advice on Pennsatucky. Since he cannot face himself and the real truth behind his anger, instead he finds himself a proxy. Someone whose own anger problems, be believes, mirror his own. They’ll meet once a week, and no doubt we’ll hear more than a few of the therapists’ wise words come from Healy’s mouth. Only with Pennsatucky in the opposite chair, the conversation will be much more constructive. Maybe Healy will find his way out of his own misguided feelings? Ripping off the therapist and trying to pass her own knowledge off as his own is pretty rich though, isn’t it?

Oh yeah: somehow Vee and the girls are selling drugs now (like HEROINE!) so that’s sure to definitely not be a disaster at all. One question: H-O-W?!

Odds and Ends:
– Seriously though: anyone have any theories on the drugs? Because wow.
– Bennett told Caputo about Daya’s pregnancy, leading him to believe its Mendez’s. Hoo boy.
– Big Boo: you just CROSSED A LINE with us, selling Red’s contraband route out to Vee.
– Big mistake. HUGE!
– Kitten heels really are the boiled carrots of the shoe world. Grams was right.
– Rosa is so good, so wise: “The thing about reality is that I’s still there the morning after.”
– Pornstache: “D-List Burt Reynolds But More Rape-y.” OK Fig, we’ll give you that one.
– Neri and Cal’s use of the funeral as an opportunity for the wedding was great.
– Always good to see the wasps lookin’ might uncomfy with a lack of decorum.
– At one point in time Piper was more of a champagne gal, but now she’s a straight-up 40, isn’t she?
– (Well OK only sorta)
– SOMEONE PLEASE KEEP POUSSEY SAFE. We are very worried about her.
– Particularly after that drunken fight with Vee: that will not end well for her, we bet.
– Although it looked like Black Cindy was o-v-e-r i-t as well so maybe she’s got a savior there.

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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