Saturday, June 25, 2016

Orange Is The New Black, S4 - Episode Six: 'Piece of Sh*t'


This episode was dark. All the forces which have been converging thus far are starting to come to a head: 
  • Piper's 'taskforce' is basically a white power gang working with the new, brutal CO to crack down on the new Spanish inmates 
  • On a brighter note, Brooke and Poussey seem to have cemented their bond and moved beyond the awkwardness of a few episodes ago.
  • Overcrowding is really starting to cause headaches for everybody


The main action of the episode is based around stoner/CO/assholeJoel Luschek (Matt Peters). Luschek   starts getting notes with single sentence insults -- it turns out they are the work of Natasha Lyonne's Nicky Nicholls. Since we last saw her, Nicholls has completed rehab and is sleepwalking through life in max. 

Enlisting the counsel of Judy King, Luschek tries to get rid of the guilt he feels about what happened. This culminates in a visit to max, which goes as expected: Nicholls lets him have it and falls into a deeper funk. Clued in by casual lover Stella Carlin (Ruby Rose), she also falls back into drugs. 

Ironically, this regression takes place just as Caputo is signing off on her return to Litchfield. This action has been engineered by Judy King's lawyers, and she uses this power to force Luschek into a sexual relationship. Ewww. At least we found what her motives were, I guess?


On the Maria front, the Latinas start in celebration at the launch of their new venture. Fresh of her last minute save last episode, Maritza gets rewarded for helping Maria's business get off the ground, and gets a new Bond-inspired nickname, Pants-y Galore. This season looks like it's about to get EXTREMELY dark, so any pinprick of levity would be much appreciated. More Guerrero, please. 

However, nothing is as rosy as it seems.

Despite its founder's escape, Piper's internal police force is working exactly as it was supposed to -- screw shit up and raise ethnic tensions between the inmates. Ironically, this bunch of moronic racists stumble upon Piper's panty business.

In order to save herself, Piper leaves evidence under Maria's bunk and tips off the guards, who then finger her as the panty kingpin. Threatened with more years on her sentence, and the prospect that she will miss more of her daughter's life, Maria goes nuclear. With nothing to lose, she revokes her previous ban on dealing hard drugs. If Chapman wants a war, she's going to get one.

Best zinger: "You are a straight white man. You don't get to be the victim, sweetie" -- Judy King

Flashback: Interesting. No flashback this episode -- just the miserable present. The structure of the story doesn't really permit it, plus the lack of cutaways forces the viewer to really experience the sense of entrapment all the characters are feeling. In the end, they are just like the characters in that Twilight Zone episode CO Healy describes -- just small people in a world they do not recognise, and powerless to escape it.

Final thoughts: Easily the most depressing ending to an episode this season, Episode Five sees the tensions between Piper and Maria escalate, while old favourite Nicholls is cursed to repeat the cycle that got her sent to max in the first place. And then there's Sophia -- nothing in her cell but blood on the walls. Ugh.  

A few episodes back, I mentioned that one of the key themes of the show is the idea that even a good person will do things which are ostensibly selfless for selfish reasons. Well, this episode gets rid of the 'good'  part and just focuses on the selfishness. Everyone is out for themselves. Luschek just wants to stop feeling guilty, Judy King wants a stooge, Piper wants to retain her status. Ironically the only people who are not out for themselves are Brooke and Poussey -- which means they're probably going to get in the way, somehow.

Next episode is going to be interesting...

For previous episodes

Episode 1 


Episode 2


Episode 3


Episode 4

Episode 5

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