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Orange is the New Black: Hugs Can Be Deceiving

"I'm not weird. I'm just like everyone else."

I've been waiting for a Suzanne backstory, and yes, it was interesting and I felt for her. But it didn't tell us much about Suzanne that we didn't already know.

Her adoptive parents were quite sweet and loved her very much, and little Suzanne was already having behavior problems when her unexpected little sister Grace was born, so it wasn't childhood trauma. How did Suzanne end up in prison? What sort of emotional illness does she have? She wants so much to fit in and be part of things, but she's just too strange.

Taystee's clique in prison included Suzanne in their games, but only marginally. At the flashback party with the six-year-olds (and truthfully, a ten-year-old with behavioral problems doesn't belong at a party with six-year-olds), Suzanne was also treated as peripheral and unwanted. Little Suzanne saw herself as a princess trapped alone in a magical house and burned by a dragon. That also applies to adult Suzanne in prison, doesn't it?

Sadly, Suzanne overreacts with excessive devotion to anyone who treats her kindly. In the flashbacks, a nurse treated her nicely and did her hair, and Suzanne wore that hairdo all the way into present day. Which brings us to Vee, who spent this entire episode buttering people up. Vee apologized and explained herself to Taystee, pronounced Poussey's name correctly, and then traded some ancient cigs from her previous stretch in Litchfield in order to give Taystee's friends some cake with chocolate frosting and funfetti. Vee flattered and praised everything Suzanne did, got her into the charades game, and even gave her a new hairdo. Suzanne was just made over into Vee's acolyte, and I hated it.

Vee's manipulation of Taystee's friends could be benign, a survival technique on Vee's part and a desire to reconnect with her "daughter", but just like the way she recruited little Taystee in the previous episode's flashbacks, it felt sinister. Red's reaction to Vee's advent confused me even further. Red finally got her hair and nails done in order to intimidate Vee, which suggested that they were old enemies. But when they finally ran into each other, they hugged like old friends. Hmm.

In other news, Piper returned in orange to the home of Darth Vader and Mister Clean, and was very, very happy to see them. But as the title stated, hugs can be deceiving. At first, Piper gave tissues and good advice to new character "babbling" Brook Soso, who could have been wearing a sign that said "I'm exactly like Piper was in the pilot episode." But later, the change in Piper showed when she lost patience with Soso and told her, "We are not friends… I am a vicious lone wolf. Don't make me rip your throat out with my teeth."

Piper has embraced her own dark side, and the only reason she didn't end up in Max was what Suzanne did the night of the Christmas pageant. Interestingly, Suzanne losing it and screaming "No, Mommy!" at Piper before knocking her out also explained Suzanne's strong attraction to Piper, and her overreaction to Piper's romantic rejection. (Although it didn't explain what happened to the sharpened cross and the screwdriver.)

That meeting in Caputo's office was weird. Has Pennsatucky lost all of her rage because she finally got the new set of teeth that she wanted? She couldn't seem to stop smiling. Hugs can be deceiving and I certainly don't believe that Caputo was successful in getting Piper and Pennsatucky to hug it out, but Piper appreciated her luck. Maybe Pennsatucky does, too.

Suzanne rejected Piper's gratitude and overture of friendship. It's like the two of them have come full circle. It also felt just a bit like Suzanne symbolically rejected Mommy/Dandelion in favor of Vee. But maybe I'm projecting.

Bits and pieces:

-- The Daya/Bennett romance has turned into clandestine discussions about prenatal vitamins and folic acid. It looks like Bennett is about to start smuggling.

-- Leanne just isn't into Pennsatucky any more. Pennsatucky didn't seem that upset about it, and didn't mention religious persecution, God or Jesus.

-- Caputo brought out the hand lotion, but thankfully had second thoughts.

-- Gina was also back, and was sitting quietly in a top bunk.

-- Red is shaving her own legs now.

-- Soso mentioned her best friend Meadow, who WWOOFed with her in Xenia, Ohio.

-- Morello's Christopher is getting married and moving away, and Morello had a total, homicidal meltdown on the phone.

-- Nicky is restless and wasn't happy with her latest shower conquest. She misses Alex and I think she also misses her relationship with Morello.

-- Unfortunately, Larry still hasn't vanished from the cast. Both Larry scenes (Andrew the reporter and the blind date in the restaurant) were all about how Larry is still all about his relationship with Piper.

-- This episode's feminine hygiene reference was Bennett ordering Daya to use a maxi pad to clean the floor.

-- They found a song with "crazy eyes" in it for the end credits.


Suzanne: "Sometimes people just don't want to play with you, and that's okay." Awww.

Red: "I want to look fierce."
And she certainly did. That may be the orange-iest hair I've ever seen.

Sophia: "If it ain't sex, what's got you crawling out of that gutter of bad hair?"
Red: "Ever look at yourself and realize how other people must see you?"
Sophia: "You caught the whole used-to-be-a-man thing, right?"

Morello: "You don't go Jessica Simpson when you got Rihanna!"

Gloria: "Prison is gluten. Don't commit the crime if you can't fucking have flour, got it?"

Nicky: "So you and me, we're like snatch sisters now, right?"
Piper: "Could we not talk about my ex-girlfriend's vagina?"
Nicky: "I hate to be a stickler here, but isn't it more like ex-girlfriend-mistress-life-ruiner?"

Nicky: "She came running to me like an injured lamb. Yes, a lamb with great sexy glasses and giant pillowy tits inside of my mouth."
Piper: "Alex Vause was never a lamb. She is the wolf that eats the lamb."
Nicky: "You can't blame the wolf. Lamb's delicious. That's smart eating."
And now Piper sees herself as a wolf and a lot more like Alex.

Sophia: "I knew them bitches was lying when they said you left here looking like Omar from The Wire."
Which is why everyone was staring at Piper.

Piper: "I spent a lot of time wondering if it would matter if I died."
Nicky: "In the macro sense, no. You're one Cheerio in the bulk box of life. But you fucking tickle me. So I think it would matter."
It's probably obvious how much I love everything Nicky says. I have a hard time not putting everything she says in quotes.

Larry's date: "I am so tired of going on dates where I have to listen to guys go on and on about turning their Twitter feed into blogs, their blogs into books, and their books into Twitter feeds. It's exhausting! Stop pretending that your podcast is work, right?"

Vee: "In my day, the black women ran this place."
Which might be a clue as to why Vee was buttering up Taystee's clique.

Vee: "At the end of the day, you are a garden rose and that bitch is a weed."

Morello: "What kind of woman doesn't want to pick her own date?"
Nicky: "One that doesn't get excited about the wedding industrial complex and society's bullshit need to infantilise grown women."

Three out of four Cheerios,

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


  1. I feel the need to whinge that the CGI on Bennet's missing leg was some of the worst I've ever seen. Go watch Game of Thrones and think about what you did, OintB effects people!

    Vee is really creeping me out and not in a good way. I don't know where this is going, but I'm rooting for Red to take her down in some way. (Er, some not too horrible way, obviously).

  2. Poor Suzanne-that was heartwrenching.
    Larry really is a waste of space. Real-Life Larry is probably nicer-but we're stuck with Jason Biggs.
    Oh Vee is super-creepy in all sorts of ways. Team Red then.

  3. What I have found so interesting about these early episodes is how uninteresting Piper is. The heroine of this piece, I don't care about her nearly as much as I do the others. She seemed to have a minor role in this episode after being absent the last one. I didn't miss her.

    And, let's get rid of Larry. Seriously. His scenes just distract.

    Suzanne breaks my heart, especially the scene when she begged her "mommy" to stop making her do things she doesn't want to do. Very telling.

  4. I was really disappointed to see Piper back so soon. I enjoyed a whole episode that had very little to do with her.

    I CAN NOT stand Vee and I'm hoping she goes away soon. I keep hoping she'll do something and get sent to SHU soon.

    Suzanne's back story was very unsatisfying. I feel like we already knew that about her and I was left wanting to know more.

  5. And, let's get rid of Larry. Seriously. His scenes just distract.

    Here's my Larry theory. Who wants my Larry theory? Well, I'll give it to you anyway: he's meant to be the equivalent of all the boring wives and girlfriends on other "serious" drama shows. The Skyler White, if you will.

    All of his scenes are about either A) Piper, or B) him trying and failing to get over Piper. If there were an opposite of the Bechdel Test, call it a Ledhceb Test, he's fail, every time. We're supposed to be bored by him, so we can realize that it's possible to have a serious drama that marginalizes male characters while paying lip-service to them. It's a fun subversion of traditionally-gendered narratives on TV.

    That doesn't make his scenes interesting, though.

  6. That's a really interesting theory, Josie. Any "subversion of traditionally-gendered narratives" works for me.

  7. Josie&Chris,
    I agree with both of you--that what Jenji is doing with Larry is shining the light on the archaic pat girlfriend stereotype and the idea that subverting anything in the typical-gender category is awesome.
    And, Josie, I always want to hear your theories, okay?!?
    The Fearless Freak: Totally agree about your thoughts on Suzanne's backstory. I mean, I can't wait to be blown away by the next lap the writers do on her life before prison in S3, but they whiffed this one. Unless I missed some nuance or subtle statement about mental illness or the randomness of life, her upbringing didn't say much about her now other than why she associated Piper with her mom.


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