Orange is the New Black: Where My Dreidel At

"It's important to know where you make sense. Otherwise you're not really living, you know?"

Prisoners tend to turn to God to find meaning and comfort in their situation. I've always particularly liked the way Orange is the New Black deals with religion and the metaphysical: the Wiccan energy circle, Big Boo and the Eastburg Church, the Norma cult, Pennsatucky's belief that she was Jesus. Even Alex is reading the Qur'an.

And now there's Leanne's surprising past as a member of the Amish community, something she keeps secret because she finds it embarrassing. I've never liked Leanne and this episode didn't change my mind -- I still see her as one of Pennsatucky's truly nasty acolytes -- but I thought that speech she gave in the chapel about the meaning of faith was beautiful and surprisingly profound. I particularly liked what she said later in the episode about how people on the outside talk about the Amish as if they're in prison, but at home with her people was where Leanne felt free. As often happens on this show, we didn't find out exactly what Leanne did to wind up in federal prison. Although I'll give her credit for choosing to leave home rather than continue to cause problems for her family.

At one point, Leanne said that she doesn't know why she takes structure so seriously, but hey, obvious. Because of her upbringing, Leanne needs to organize and define the Norma cult. She wants labels, a creed, something comparable to baptism because that's what she knows. Where Leanne lost me was her need to find someone to "shun", as she was once shunned.

That turned out to be Brook Soso, whose story this season has been resonating with me. Like Leanne, Soso gave a touching little speech about what faith meant to her -- that faith was armor to get through life and keep her safe, and Norma helped her take the armor off. Even her "roommate" Chang ignores Soso and treats her like an alien. It was nice to see Poussey, one of my favorite characters, choose to defend Soso. Maybe I was right about the two of them possibly becoming a couple.

Another thing I like a lot about Orange is the New Black is the way they deal with food, something that is so important to everyone's lives over which the inmates have no control. (Loved how Red was compelled to keep telling everyone that she hadn't created the horrible food, which actually does look like shit.) This thing with the kosher meals was a way for the women to at least have some choice about what they eat, and I found it sad that these women just lost access to decent food because MCC is so cheap. Even though it was hilarious watching Black Cindy describe her childhood with plots of Annie Hall and Yentl. I also loved Janae wearing side curls (they're called 'payot' -- I had to look it up), and the fact that Sister Ingalls was the only one to pass the Rabbi's test, which actually made sense.

Black Cindy says she's going to convert for real now. Like Leanne, Cindy had a deeply religious childhood. This could be interesting.

The other standout story was Pennsatucky's adventures with Charlie "Donuts". Charlie doesn't know his job yet and doesn't understand that there are boundaries, and this relationship rings all sorts of alarm bells. Especially when he was ordering Pennsatucky to act like a dog and "fetch". There was an odd expression on Pennsatucky's face after he kissed her; I couldn't tell if it was what she wanted or not. But just like the relationship between Red and Healy, the power is all on one side, and Charlie is no Healy. Plus donuts are not good for the ducks.

Why am I finding our main characters the hardest to write about?

The panty business is booming, and I'm enjoying Cal, my favorite outside character, as Piper's business partner. But do you think greed goeth before the fall? And even though it's been signaled big time, especially when Stella was standing around in the bathroom naked and Piper couldn't take her eyes off her, it's reprehensible that Piper is cheating on Alex. Piper, what's with you? Is it just the euphoria she's been experiencing with the panty business?

I just realized that I like Alex a lot more than Piper. Alex decided to face her fear of a Kubra assassin head on by trying to befriend Lolly, and she found Lolly's incriminating notebook. Did Lolly take that huge piece of glass?

Actually, I'm starting to think Lolly might be a great big red herring, and it's Stella who is working for Kubra. We shall see.

Bits and pieces:

-- Suzanne's story is so popular that it's crossed Litchfield's racial divide. The polymorphously perverse Maureen in particular is obsessed, but in a nice way. At least I hope it turns out to be harmless.


-- Sophia has realized that Michael's bad behavior and homophobia wasn't caused by exposure to Gloria's son Benito, after all. Sophia was going to apologize to Gloria, but changed her mind. I wonder where this one is going.

-- When Leanne left home, she looked in on her parents, who were sleeping. They were lying on their backs looking like they were dead. Interesting choice by the director.

-- Red and Blanca had a cute card-playing scene. "Blanca" means "white". Red and white, like the cards.

-- Caputo told the Rabbi that there were 200 or so inmates at Litchfield. Did we know that?

-- Caputo called Danny "big brother".

-- What was Chang soaking her feet in?

-- Ruby Rose (Stella) is undoubtedly gorgeous, and I love her complicated hairdo. But I have to admit that that many tatts look ugly to me. I heard somewhere that she has a tatt of Lori Petty (Lolly) as Tank Girl on her back, but I forgot to look for it, even though I watched the episode twice. Did anyone see it?

-- There was another television news item about celebrity chef Judy King (Blair Brown), who may or may not be living with two husbands. Is this just set-up for next season?

Quotes:

Maureen: "I really love how Edwina outsmarted the orgasmator. It's like a shout-out to Barbarella but still totally new."
Suzanne: "Yeah. Meant to do that."
Maureen: (re: Suzanne) "She has a beautiful mind."

Caputo: "I'm pretty sure we don't get to second guess people's religious beliefs. Something about the Bill of Rights."
Danny: "Oh, that old thing."

Taystee: "See, I don't believe it. If that lady were getting it on the regular with two dudes, she would not be sweating a rosemary garnish."

Maureen: "Tell us about your process."
Suzanne: "I think of shit and write it down."
Maureen: "So pure."

Lolly: (to the Rabbi) "... and may I say I think y'all are doing a wonderful job controlling the media. I mean we. We are doing a wonderful job."

Black Cindy: "But I couldn't stop worrying and cooking lobsters and hanging with women in suspenders…"

Rabbi: "While I am heartened that you appreciate the works of Woody Allen and Barbra Streisand, I think you've confused cultural Judaism with committed Jewish belief. Also, I hear Mandy Patinkin can be difficult to work with."

Chang: "You churn butter! You Harrison Ford in Witness!"
Leanne: "That movie has a lot of inaccuracies."

Sister Ingalls: "The Abrahamish religions are pretty much all the same till you get to Jesus."

Another good episode, although I still feel like this season hasn't come into focus for me. Three out of four pieces of paper with the word 'Kindness' on them,

Billie
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Billie Doux is the founder of Doux Reviews and has been reviewing her favorite shows for quite some time. More Billie Doux.

2 comments:

Jess Lynde said...

Not much to add on this one. Leanne's backstory was really surprising, the Jewish inquisition was funny, and I had the very same thoughts about Lolly and Stella.

The situation with Doggett and the new guard really bothered me, too. It went from clearly inappropriate but potentially harmless, to really uncomfortable and scary. I couldn't read that expression on her face after he kissed her either. She seemed pleased, even after seeming a bit unnerved by the dog thing. It left me wondering if she was working an angle or if she'd gotten herself into a bad situation.

Marianna said...

"Plus donuts are not good for the ducks." - that's exactly what I was thinking the entire duck scene. Also the white ducks are clearly domestic ducks.