by Billie Doux
Was this one about how even dysfunctional families are better than none? Or was it about seeing yourself as you really are?
It's lovely that Red threw a party, apologized, and finally got her surrogate family back. It was a long time coming. I liked that it took a long time for Gina to forgive Red, because it should have; it was a lot for Gina to forgive. I also particularly liked the way Red sent Piper off to her furlough with a hug and good wishes. Although my favorite bit was the three Golden Girls as Red's SWAT team. Take that for underestimating old ladies, Spanish kitchen staff.
And the flashbacks finally explained Red's past with Vee, and why Red has been treating Vee like an old friend who is also a cobra. That's because Vee is a cobra. She and Red were new to Litchfield at the same time and bunked in the purgatory bunkroom (along with Anita, who, sadly, would never leave that bunkroom). Red was naïve enough to think Vee was her friend, and confided details about her relationship with Neptune Produce. Vee took over Rhonda's existing operation and then moved in on Red, beating her to a pulp in the process. It was almost worse that Vee ordered most of that beating instead of doing it herself. Very evil kingpin of her.
As hard as it was to watch Red getting beaten, the present day follow up was just as upsetting. No surprise that Vee is getting hardcore drugs into Litchfield, but like Poussey, I was shocked and disturbed when Taystee gave Nicky a free sample. Taystee called Poussey "pussy", too, a terrible betrayal of their friendship. It feels like Taystee has sold her soul to Vee, and I absolutely hate it. Miss Rosa was strong enough to resist, but I'm not so sure about Nicky. Not when someone just handed her a tiny bag of her "best girlfriend".
Moving on to the A plot -- or was it the A plot? Red versus Vee felt like the A plot -- Piper's family furlough allowed her to say goodbye to her grandmother and to finally, FINALLY break the hell up with freaking Larry. No, I'm not sick of Larry. Why do you ask?
The episode began with Piper waking up and smiling like it was Christmas morning, and at first, it sort of was. She jumped right into gratifying her deprived senses: coffee, wine, comfortable upholstery, non-beige clothing, crunchy green vegetables (I totally get that), and throwing herself at Larry in the bathroom. At least Larry had the grace to confess that he had cheated, and to not have sink sex with Piper.
And that wasn't the only revelation. Piper learned that her father won't visit because he can't stand to see her in prison. Everyone constantly asked her about prison, too, so she couldn't just leave it behind for forty-eight hours. Her little eulogy for her grandmother included a sugar cookie remembrance about "life is made in mistakes", and by the end, after that inevitable trip on the N train to Queens to find that Red's store was closed (you knew that was going to happen), Piper bought junk food and cheap liquor, sat on a bridge, and apparently accepted that she had become a different person. I was just a little proud of her.
Cal hijacking his grandmother's funeral and making it into a wedding was both uncomfortably funny and appalling. I can see where he would think it made sense -- he could marry Neri and it wouldn't cost him a dime, free food, free flowers, plus Piper and his entire family were already there. But thinking everyone would be okay with what he did was childish and super selfish. His father just sat there with his jaw dropped, watching his son destroy his mother's funeral. Way to make Piper look like the good kid, huh?
(I realized that I was probably more pissed off at Cal than I should have been. But then I remembered that at my mother's funeral, her only sister wore turquoise sweats, got roaring drunk, and talked only about herself. Not as bad as what Cal did, but a hijacking nonetheless.)
This busy episode also included the return of Pornstache. Predictably, he joyously gave out shots right and left, and picked on poor little Brook Soso, who has decided to organize a hunger strike probably because she's starving anyway. Daya's reaction to his return shouldn't have surprised me. It's awfully flattering when you know someone is in love with you, and I agree with Daya that it's not fair for Mendez to go to jail for the same thing that Bennett did.
But why did Bennett have to be such a total jerk? Was it just jealousy and worry that Daya might actually decide that Mendez's love for her was worth acknowledging and possibly even returning? (Let me pause for a moment and gag.) Mendez saved Bennett from getting fired, and then Bennett reciprocated by deep-sixing Mendez with Caputo. That made Bennett look bad and Mendez look… almost good. Are they setting up Daya dumping Bennett for Mendez? (And gagging again here. Please don't let it go that far.)
Like Mendez, Healy was also surprisingly sympathetic. He's actually seeing a female therapist about his misogynistic rage issues, and talking about how he used to think he was making a difference, but now he doesn't any more. Chris the therapist told him that a change in perspective might make a difference, and he called her a "condescending cunt". But then he took it to heart and applied it to Pennsatucky, who was heading for the SHU for banging up Leanne. Healy is actually counseling Pennsatucky like it was his job, which it is.
Has Healy had a genuine change of heart this season? I think I like that possibility.
Bits and pieces:
-- Big Boo betrayed Red's secret pipeline to Vee for 10% of the business. Not a surprise, but I was disappointed in Big Boo.
-- Cal drives an old rusty green Chrysler filled with clutter and covered with dirt. Very Cal.
-- Nicky again gave Red some great advice. I'm worried about Nicky and Taystee's little present, which was unresolved at the end of the episode.
-- Neptune Produce is why Red is in prison. That makes sense. Although we didn't get details.
-- Is Piper going have a furlough violation for all that drinking?
-- Did Freida really Bobbitt her husband, or did she just want to sound scary?
-- In this week's hair report, it was nice to see Red with long hair again. And it was obvious here that Pennsatucky is wearing a really ugly long wig; it's bigger than she is.
-- I also have to commend Cal and Neri for wearing the ugliest funeral slash wedding clothes I have ever seen. Way to go.
Bell on P.A.: "I know I said toasted, Scott. If you cover it with a paper towel, it'll still be warm when I finish the cavity search."
Piper: "That was really impressive."
O'Neill: "Thanks. I sing it to the tune of 'Poker Face' in my head to remember."
Red: "What's your price?"
Nicky: "Oatmeal pies. The Little Debbie ones that leave an oily residue all over your hands but are still somehow delicious."
Chris the therapist: "Are you uncomfortable with the amount I charge?"
Healy: "I thought we just established that I'm uncomfortable with everything!"
Chris: "Are you always this quick to anger?"
Healy: "Are you always a condescending cunt?"
Loved how she wrote 'cunt' on her scratch pad and underlined it.
Nicky: "Heroin is the love of my life. She's my best girlfriend, she's my soul mate, 'cause she makes me feel better than anything... So in closing, fuck the Germans."
Poussey: "Just make sure you reshelve this book in its proper place. We on Dewey Decimal and shit in here. Don't let me find no aquatic sports over in paranormal phenomena."
I love library-related quotes. :)
Piper's mother: "Celeste despised her. She always wore kitten heels. You know how grandmother felt about them."
Piper: "The boiled carrots of footwear."
Soso: "That new guard. D-list Burt Reynolds but more rapey."
Red: "Norma, my dear Norma. You've been by my side for many years. You stood beside me, listened to me, plucked the hair out of that weird mole on the back of my arm. You're my best friend, and I miss you so much."
And here, they showed flashback Norma holding Red's hand after she was beaten, too. Aww.
Three out of four boiled carrots,
Billie Doux is the founder of Doux Reviews and has been reviewing her favorite shows for quite some time. More Billie Doux.