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Orange is the New Black: The Chickening

"All I wanted was to eat the chicken that is smarter than other chickens and to absorb its power. And make a nice Kiev."

The grass is always greener. And the chicken is always on the other side of the fence.

The elusive chicken had become a legend to the inmates. It somehow gets over fences when it cannot fly. It represents escape, money, drugs, candy, a gun (how could a gun fit inside a live chicken?), although for Red, it's just the main ingredient in a nice Kiev. Piper caused a sensation when she said she saw it; then when no one could find it, they were all mad at her. In the end, Piper gave up her super important conference call to chase the chicken. And she didn't catch it.

Interestingly, in an episode about a magical chicken, we got a lot about differing religious beliefs and a fight for possession of the chapel. Piper's idea of a nice Sunday involved coffee, a good book, and eating peanut butter and granola under a tree, but for new character Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett, it's her do-it-yourself and in-your-face cross with glow-in-the-dark paint. Pennsatucky made quite an entrance; in her first scene, she carried that huge cross out of the chapel like Jesus on the Via Dolorosa. Pennsatucky destroyed the chapel with her huge cross (how fraught with symbolism), many of the inmates were forced to clean up the mess, and the AA meeting had to share the common room with the yoga class.

Is Pennsatucky truly religious or is she faking it? I think she believes it. And she's such an obvious stereotype -- a Christian who constantly talks about it and uses it as an excuse for hatred and bigotry. I actually almost liked the way Pornstache called Pennsatucky "a missed opportunity for cradle death" when she called Sophia an abomination.

On the hunt for estrogen and with ulterior motives, Sophia developed a friendship with the fascinating Sister Ingalls, who did not fall for it. But they are just lovely together; Sister Ingalls is the sort of person who truly lives the precepts of her faith. I so want to know more about how she wound up in prison.

The chicken business overshadowed our character of the week: it was Dayanara Diaz's turn for the flashbacks this time, along with her no good horrible very bad mother, Aleida. After some motherly advice that Dayanara should prostitute herself to a fat guard because they'd be more grateful, Aleida forged a Daya love note and got Bennett alone in the utility closet. (Did he sucumb? I really hope he didn't.)

Although Aleida is such a terrible mother that her negligence was taken to an almost ridiculous extreme, it turned out that Aleida went to prison for her boyfriend Cesar, and Daya took Cesar away from Aleida. So they take men from each other. It's all in the family. Why is Daya in prison? For the same reason as her mother? And with an upbringing and example like that, we can understand why.

I am continuing to find Larry's scenes on the outside pointless, even though his parents are hilarious. This time we learned that Larry's parents support him and he desperately needs the money Piper was going to make on the PoPi business. And he lied to Piper about Alex naming her, which was totally the wrong decision. I'm starting to think Alex might be better for Piper than Larry. Alex is definitely still interested; she didn't "share" at AA for her own sake. Alex wanted Piper to know.

Piper didn't tell Larry that Alex was in the same prison. I get that, but it was yet another sign that Larry and "Pipes" don't have much of a relationship.

Character bits:

-- Piper is changing. She's more aggressive, less frightened. She demanded (but didn't get) masks. And she masterfully manipulated Red.

-- I loved pretty much everything Red said in this episode. Kate Mulgrew's delivery was just perfect.

-- Nicky and Morello had sex behind the altar in the chapel, and then they broke up. Either Nicky was kidding, or she has mommy issues. I bet she wasn't kidding.

-- Bennett should have known the note wasn't from Daya. No drawing with big eyes on the back.

-- Healy let Piper off the hook, but not Poussey. He's racist as well as homophobic. Plus he's a snob.


-- It's fall, and Piper has been in prison for only three weeks.

-- Piper was reading Gone Girl. Another candidate for Most Obvious Symbolism.

-- The eggplant retarded joke. What is that? We keep just getting the punchline.

-- Red offered a box of Biore strips as a reward for the chicken. Everything is relative, isn't it?

-- If there was really asbestos and toxic mold, those flimsy masks wouldn't have been enough. And was Eva, the little girl in the flashback picking lead paint off the wall?

-- Communion wafers are good with dip?


Morello: "Nichols, we gotta stop."
Nicky: "Yeah, I gotta work out the other side. Otherwise I'll be asymetrical like a crab, or a tennis pro."

Pennsatucky: "You and that Pope's bitch are running the place."
Sister Ingalls: "I like to think of myself as more of the Pope's homie."

Piper: "It is beautiful up here in the fall."
Morello: "Yeah, sure. I got myself incarcerated just so I could see the changing colors."

Piper: "I had my tea. It was almost hot. I had my book. It was almost good. And I saw a chicken. How random is that?"

Red: "I saw it in a dream. She came to me, already dressed in herbs and a little top hat, black, tilted to one side. And she said, soon, Red, we'll be together. Soon I will be yours."

Pornstache: "You are not an agent of God, okay? God can do so much better than you. You must know that, right? Jesus Christ, how did you survive infancy?"
Pennsatucky: "My auntie helped my mama…"
Pornstache: "That's a rhetorical question! Do you not understand what a fucking rhetorical question is?"
No, she doesn't. Pennsatucky is deeply stupid.

Sophia: "You knew? This whole time?"
Sister Ingalls: "I figured it out when you thought Stations of the Cross meant Christian radio."

Taystee: "… and when I look closer, I see that the dude is wearing my shirt, barbeque sauce all over his face, and he's dead. That's when I knew it was time to make a change. Thank you."
Crazy Eyes: "Almost the exact same thing happened to me, but it was tuna salad."

Piper: "Dogs does not a chicken catch. Determination, Red. That's what catches chickens. Who wants that chicken the most? Who will prepare that chicken the most expertly? The woman who dreams about it. The woman who was born to eat that chicken. You."

Healy: "Do you think this is the first time I heard about the 'chicken'? It's popular fiction. It's like global warming or female ejaculation."

"The Chickening" is an exceptional episode. It's what made me a fan of this show. Four out of four nice Kievs,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. I don't think Healy is racist, he's just a huge snob and knows that Piper is very WASPy because he likely aspires to the same societal level. I don't like Healy as a person, but I do think he's an interesting character and the actor is killing the role.

    Very nice review, although I don't think Daya stole Cesar from Aleida. It was just a 'fuck you' to her paranoid, sociopath of a mother.

  2. I agree with your assessment that Piper has stronger feelings for Alex than she does for Larry. That much hate evidences more passion than we have ever seen for her fiancé.

    I'm also with Nobody. I think Daya slept with Cesar because she was just that angry with her mother. For good reason!

  3. For the record, chickens can in fact fly.


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