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Orange is the New Black: Mother's Day

"These are complicated ladies in a complicated place."

And we're back for season three with a somewhat sweet and occasionally funny but mostly sad and bitter episode about mothers and children and prison and separation.

Somewhat sweet and occasionally funny

There weren't a lot of outright positives. But Sophia got to give some good advice about girls and shaving to her son Michael, and when one of Gloria's kids didn't come, she stopped grousing about it and paid attention to the kid that did. There were some lovely flashbacks to Sophia/Marcus back when Crystal was very pregnant, Aleida telling Daya that babies ruin your life while she flashed back to her own joy when Daya was born, and Poussey's late mother happily reading to little Poussey so that we could see where Poussey got her love of books.

Even though five abortions is nothing to laugh at, Pennsatucky praying at her little popsicle graveyard and being comforted by Big Boo looking like the angel clown of death and talking about Freakonomics was amusing. They have such a strange friendship. Boo was tactless about it but she was right that any kids of Pennsatucky's would have had truly rotten childhoods.

Sad and bitter

It was probably supposed to be funny, but the Pennsatucky flashback to her mother making her drink a liter of Mountain Dew in order to get an increase in benefits showed what sort of childhood Pennsatucky had. In Nicky's flashback, her mother completely ignored her as well as her homemade Mother's Day card. Healy's mother was mentally disturbed and took it out on him, which explains his rampant misogyny. Poor Suzanne isn't even permitted to be around children; always on the outside looking in, or vice versa, you know what I mean.

I thought the second most poignant moment in the episode was when the kids got down on the ground with their mothers when the siren blew. We all know that those kids are emotionally and economically imprisoned by their circumstances. The most poignant moment was when Maria's husband/boyfriend told her that he wasn't bringing their baby back to visit Maria because he doesn't want her to see her mother in prison. So sad. No wonder Daya is so bummed about her pregnancy. It's probably starting to feel real to her.

But I do have to give credit to Caputo for allowing the inmates to have such an event. He may be revolting (eww for his explanation for why he keeps lotion in his office), but at least he's trying. He was even letting inmates celebrate the full moon in a Wiccan ceremony. I wonder how long that will last?

And in other news...

Here's to the returning inmates Red, Sister Ingalls, and Alex, "the Bettie Page of Litchfield"! Alex and Piper were immediately back together, communing and kissing behind the altar in the chapel, but I'm betting that won't last when Alex finds out who turned her in.

And Red, who got a nice visit from her husband and sons who are still lying to her about the business, only has two years left on her sentence and has decided to go straight. She just cemented shut the tunnel in the greenhouse. Big Boo and Nicky won't be happy when they find out about that, since they have big plans for that stash hidden in the air vent.

So in short, it was a nice introduction to a new season. Everyone in the huge cast got a moment to shine, and there was some story set-up, mostly about drugs. I was most eager to learn what happened to Miss Rosa, who apparently drove her stolen van into a quarry. The African American clique aren't aware that Miss Rosa killed Vee. But Red knows; she wrote "RIP V" on the cement sealing the tunnel in the greenhouse. And Wanda mentioned it to Pennsatucky, too.

Character bits:

-- Pennsatucky gets to drive a van now, but Morello is now cleaning toilets. Was that punishment for letting Miss Rosa take the van?

-- Angie thinks that Nicky has a thing for her. Funny. Wishful thinking, maybe.

-- I really liked that Sophia only did hair for the moms right before the fair.

-- Caputo is still doing his own job as well as Fig's, as he helpfully explained to new character, Bardie Rogers.

-- Healy is threatened by Bardie Rogers. But I liked how gentle Healy was with Suzanne.

-- Daya got a card from Pornstache's mother, who wants to see her and her approaching grandchild. Except that it's not Pornstache's, of course. Aleida pocketed the card. I'm sure we all know where that is going.

-- Aleida's boyfriend is being indiscreet by talking loudly with Bennett about joining the family. I also got the impression that Caputo isn't happy with Bennett. Our prison Romeo had better be careful.


-- The credits included everyone from last season except Jason Biggs (yay!), with the additions of Selenis Leyva (Gloria), Adrienne C. Moore (Black Cindy), Dascha Polanco (Daya), Nick Sandow (Caputo), Yael Stone (Morello), Samira Wiley (Poussey) and Laura Prepon (Alex).

-- Luschek and Piper had a discussion about suicide methods. He's a carbon dioxide guy, while Piper prefers the pills that she probably won't be able to afford when she gets out.

-- This episode's feminine hygiene product: a maxi pad as a pinata blindfold. CO Bell had to use her nightstick to open the pinata. The fact that there was no candy in it was pretty obvious symbolism about this particular mother's day celebration.

-- In this episode's hair report, Red's was darker, and Pennsatucky was wearing a wig again. And there were visiting kids noticeably scratching their heads. That can't be good.


Caputo: "How about this? Welcome to Litchfield, where your services are needed in both the counseling and hair removal arenas."

Blanca: "I won a goldfish once in one of those games. Tequila, we named him. We gave him, like, Froot Loops to eat. Twelve years, that thing lived. Until my cousin Antoni ate him on a dare. Fucking asshole."

Alex: "I forgot you should let crackheads have their way."
Piper: "Yeah. Crackheads, Wookiees, you gotta let them win."

Nicky: "We need to space these pompoms out more evenly."
Big Boo: "I'm a wacky clown. I don't need symmetry."

Gina: "Don't do that. It's metaphorical naked. I mean, we're passing around an invisible ball, for Christ's sake."

Alex: "Diane would smack the shit out of me if she was still alive. She's probably looking down right now vomiting angel dust. I feel so stupid."
Piper: "You were living in Queens. I'm sure that made prison seem much more attractive."

Alex: "I'm just a fly in the web of the prison industrial complex."

Gloria: (to her son) "What have you been up to the last thirty months?"

Soso: (re: pinata) "Omigod. This is such a metaphor for their lives."

Three out of four empty pinatas,

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


  1. Programming note: I'm hoping to post two or three reviews a week and I'm even going to not binge watch. Because if I binge watch, I won't get the reviews done quickly. :)

  2. I'm going to binge-watch. :-)

    This was a really touching episode. But Big Boo really did look like the Angel of Death.

    I want a backstory for Big Boo; I'm sort of hoping she was a professor of something wacky--like health sciences or comparative religion--before her time on the inside.

  3. I'm planning to space out viewing to just two or three a week, too, so your programming schedule sounds perfect to me! I think it might be harder for me to resist the binge with this show, though. I was planning to only watch the first episode yesterday, but the world and this group of characters are so compelling that I decided to immediately watch the next one, too. Then again, I do like taking the time to reflect on just a couple episodes for a few days before moving on to the next one or two. Maybe that will help keep me on the binge-resisting path. :)

    For this episode: I liked how the flashback to Pennsatuckey's own upbringing sort of reinforced what Boo told her about the likely outcomes for her unborn offspring. But then we also got the various other flashbacks to undermine the point a bit. Some of these ladies were loved and wanted, but still ended up as criminals. Some were from financially stable backgrounds but were essentially unwanted and ended up as criminals. And some of the Litchfield crew, like Healy, came from a damaged background, but didn't become criminals (although he's got serious issues). Maybe some backgrounds combined with systemic problems are more likely to lead to incarceration, but anyone can take a wrong turn. Kicking off the season by reinforcing the overall themes of the show: perfect!

  4. It strikes me as confusing that Netflix didn't just release this series a month ago basically to the day, then the first episode would've fallen on the actual Mother's Day.

    I thought this was a good one, it covered every character and gave us some continuity updates for the obvious time jump from last season. The dialogue was as funny as usual, and the tone felt more like first season to me.

    Honestly, if Piper does come clean to Alex, I don't know how Alex would have any leg to stand on to be indignant. She might not want to be with Piper anymore because they constantly hurt each other, but she can't justify anger without being a total hypocrite.

    Excellent review. I'm probably going to watch the season alongside your reviews.

  5. I *may* have already binge watched the whole thing. Most of what made this season so good (the show's best ever imo) is shown in this episode. A renewed focus on the prison and not the drama outside of it (i.e. NO LARRY), less focus on main characters in favor of its superlative cast of supporting characters, and being more character-driven than previous seasons. All of which are just awesome choices. The "minor" characters on the show are all so amazing, so impeccably drawn and beautifully acted. They're so much more interesting to me than Piper and Alex and their drama. Elizabeth Rodriguez (Aleida) in particular just rocked this season.

  6. Like Sunbunny, I can neither confirm nor deny that I have finished the entire season.

    I can also not confirm or deny that I had to take an Advil to compensate for the neck pain caused by sitting on the couch for that many hours in a row. Because TV-induced neck pain is a pathetic medical condition.

    I can, however, state that this season is quite wonderful.

  7. Were some of the kids playing beer pong?

    A more serious question: I'm unclear on the timeline. I though Piper originally had a 15-month sentence. So either each season is less than a year or I missed something.

  8. Marianna, it's definitely less than 15 months because Daya is still pregnant. I expressed some confusion about the timeline somewhere in these reviews, too.


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