by Billie Doux
Miss Claudette (funny how important is it to keep the "miss" in there) isn't in prison for murder, is she?
It sounded like it had something to do with immigration. As a girl, Miss Claudette was smuggled into the United States illegally, and she worked off her parents' debt cleaning houses. As an adult, she became the boss of the same illicit organization, but she emphasized the principles of honesty, cleanliness, courtesy and respect, which she does in the present day.
Miss Claudette may have scolded Piper repeatedly, but she has already taken responsibility for her, much as she did with the girl in the flashback. Miss Claudette risked everything by throwing that screwdriver into her Rice-a-Roni hotpot. Miss Claudette even saved Mercy from Tricia's attempt to plant drugs in her bunk. These are not the actions of a criminal. Okay, so she killed a man in cold blood with a great big knife, a man who had beaten a helpless girl under her protection. Hey, is that a crime?
I loved that last scene with all of Piper's books carefully shelved on the table instead of stuffed under the bunk, a lovely nonverbal way to show that Miss Claudette had accepted Piper. And she respected Piper for helping the other inmates with their legal problems. Miss Claudette is quite a lady. Piper could have gotten much, much worse roomies.
Even though this was Miss Claudette's flashback episode, Nicky practically stole it away from her with her sparkling eyes, potty mouth and huge, huge heart. Everything Nicky says either makes me laugh or go awwww. The lunch scene where Piper confided in Nicky about her state of despair was just excellent, possibly Piper's best scene yet. Even better was the one in the library stacks where Nicky and Alex bonded and commiserated over the length of their sentences. Like Piper, Alex is successfully hiding how utterly miserable she is, but she told Nicky the truth. Alex's story about how she didn't go to college but just hung around campus and went to parties and movies was sad, and made me feel for her for the first time.
Paralleling young Claudette's horrible new job in the flashback, Piper was assigned to electrical shop with a completely disinterested and not even trying to conceal it jerk named Luschek. The idiocy with the screwdriver proved that Piper still hasn't completely internalized the rules; just being stupid could have gotten Piper five more years. She was lucky that the worst she got was sexual assault in public by Pornstache, who is obviously hot for her.
Instead, the illicit screwdriver was appropriated by Big Boo, who had reasons of her own for taking it. The first time I watched this episode, I was certain it would end with Big Boo hurting either Tricia or Mercy; the episode feels completely different the second time through when you know Big Boo isn't going to stab someone. How lovely of Red to notice and to defuse Big Boo with advice, corn on the cob, and salt.
A prison romance seems to be substandard in comparison to anything on the outside. Mercy gave her prison belongings away as if they no longer had value, and it just felt like, despite her protestations of eternal devotion, Mercy would drop Tricia as soon as she walked out the door. Tricia could feel it too, which was why she was about to plant those drugs. The Mercy Tricia Boo triangle made me think that the Piper Larry Alex thing might be a different situation altogether, since Piper ten years ago was a lot hotter for Alex than she ever was with Larry. Wasn't she?
Miss Claudette at first refused to allow her case to be reopened. The letter from Baptiste made her change her mind. Now Miss Claudette has hope. I don't know if that's good or bad.
-- Red gave Mercy a job reference. That was lovely. In fact, Red was just wonderful in every scene she had. Bravo, Kate Mulgrew.
-- Nicky has completed three years of a five year sentence. Alex didn't say how long her sentence was. How much is a fuckload?
-- Janae Watson got some lines, but mostly as a stereotyped chip-on-her-shoulder character. There must be more to her than that.
-- Bennett and Diaz had another sweet moment with, of all things, chewing tobacco. He was touching her lips and teeth. This is not going to end well.
-- Crazy Eyes did the Incredible Hulk. You wouldn't like me if I'm angry.
-- Piper again started to confide in Healy, and changed her mind.
-- Taystee loves Harry Potter and writes and performs poetry based on Rocky VI. And she doesn't like Ulysses. Neither do I.
-- Luschek (what a great character) smuggled in another screwdriver. No worries about a guard getting a punctured lung for him. Does that make him worse than Pornstache? No, nobody is as bad as Pornstache.
-- Tricia's corn row braids may have been the ugliest hair style I have ever seen in my life.
-- You consent to being searched by a male guard who could feel you up, or you get taken down to SHU to wait. Either choice is bad.
-- Speaking of Pornstache, wow, does he love being a brute. He destroyed Piper and Claudette's bunk like he was having the best time ever.
-- Loved the toilet paper decorations at Mercy's goodbye party.
-- Tricia called Miss Claudette "OG". Original Gangster.
-- Luschek called Nicky "Rabbit Pearl". What's that?
-- James McDaniel from NYPD Blue as the older Baptiste didn't feel quite right for the part.
-- That screwdriver is still an on-the-loose plot McGuffin. I'm sure it will turn up later.
Piper: "I have to sleep with stranger pee on me."
Ick. Serious ick.
Piper: "What are you doing?"
Nicky: "It's an art piece representing the futility of blue collar labor in a technological age. And vaginas."
Piper: "In the morning when I wake up, there are these few seconds before I realize where I am. And then I do realize, and I can't breathe. And I want to cry and throw shit and kill myself. When does that end?"
Nicky: "I'll let you know."
Piper: (electric shock) "Ow!"
Nicky: "Hey, it's like free shock therapy. You might lose your short-term memory, but it's a sweet escape."
Piper: "I wouldn't say that she's my friend. I say 'Hi', she says 'Shut the fuck up'. I say 'Hey, how's it going', she sucks her teeth, maybe calls me 'Bitch' or 'You Taylor Swift ass mutherfucker'. We're on our way."
Nicky: "That's just fucking racist. You look nothing like Taylor Swift."
Actually, the resemblance is a bit scary.
Piper: "Is SHU really that bad?"
Nicky: "It's just like the Hamptons, only fucking horrible."
Alex: "Piper loves tequila. What? Afraid I'll tell them the pork chop story?"
Nicky: "Now this is fucking weird. I have a pork chop story, too. You go first."
I really, really want to hear the pork chop stories. Both of them.
Piper: "I have been here for less than two weeks. I have been starved out, felt up, teased, stalked, threatened, and called Taylor Swift. And now, you."
Piper: "You scared me."
Nicky: "Yeah, I get that a lot."
Pretty darned good. Would that be three or four out of four pinatas?
Billie Doux is the founder of Doux Reviews and has been reviewing her favorite shows for quite some time. More Billie Doux.