The fifth episode of Orange is the New Black focused on prison cook Gloria Mendoza (Selenis Leyva) and the bang-off contest between Big Boo and Nicky – the only show that could actually get away with having this as a plot line for the characters.
Finally we learn more about Gloria’s past in “Low Self Esteem City.” The first flashback takes us to Gloria working a convenience store somewhere in New York. In the back of the store, her aunt is performing a sort of cleansing on a man. An angry customer walks in and asks for a refund because his cleansing didn’t. As they wait in the store, a customer walks in with a Welfare debit card and asks her for cash instead. She tells him no in a loud voice so the other customers hear she doesn’t do fraud, yet she takes the card and keeps $50 as a fee. Her Dominican boyfriend shows up and as she jokes with him about not having a job, he slaps her.
Gloria isn’t the tough girl she is inside the prison as we see her take her boyfriend back even after her aunt warns her this is not a way of being treated. Her aunt tells her that he could start hitting Gloria’s two young sons but he publicly begs her and cries on his knees at a playground. Her aunt was right though and we later learn that he hit one of her kids.
Gloria tells her aunt that she’s been saving money in a box from the welfare debit cards she’s been accepting. As she is telling her this, the police come in and arrest her for fraud. The disgruntled customer ratted her out. But before this happens her boyfriend comes in with apologies and sees her box. But never mess with a ‘curandera’ (healer) because their magic comes back to bite you in the worst possible way.
Back at the prison, the Spanish Harlem bathroom is flooded and the Latina girls take over the black girl bathroom. Vee (Lorraine Toussaint), of course, is not taking this lightly. This time around she plays it cool though and starts taking control of situation by playing games. Vee tells Gloria to move 2 girls from maintenance to the kitchen so two of Vee’s girls can move to maintenance, it seems like a smart move, but Red tells Gloria she’s been played. When Gloria confronts Vee, she sort plays the hyena in disguise by telling Gloria she wants no trouble, yet the lioness lurks inside her taking control while no one else notices.
Piper (Taylor Schilling) learns that her grandmother is dying when her mother and brother visit her. She asks Sam, the counselor, for a three-day furlough but he tells her they don’t exist. Later though Sam tells her he is putting her on the list but she has to call her fiancé, Larry, to make sure she can stay at their house.
And since boredom must kick in heavily at a prison, Nicky and Big Boo come up with the bang-off contest. It’s kind of like playing a basketball game, whoever scores the most wins. The girls are ranked in points by how hard they are to lay. Nicky takes a challenge in trying to bang the correctional officer Fisher who is considered a 10 pointer.
Things are starting to get interesting in the prison. Players are making chest moves and positioning themselves in places to gain power. We’ll have to wait and see how things will work out.
Here are some memorable lines from the episode:
“I was hoping that you would have like a gnarly scar. Add character and mystery,” Piper’s brother.
“Furlough is much like the Loch Ness monster. Much discussed but never seen,” Sam.
“I’ll put a coconut in my sock and BAAAM! Sock a nut bitch!…I’m just playing.” Hayes.
“I don’t smell fingers. I just write numbers,” Chang.
“Bagnut. It’s like a bagel crossed with a donut,” Larry
“Le voy a poner una vela a Santa Barbara para que te destruya!” Gloria’s tia.