OITNB: Prison family is key for survival

Red and Vee in a prison flashback

Finally Orange Is The New Black gave me the episode I had been waiting for since they introduced Vee (Lorraine Toussaint) this season in “40 oz of Furlough” by flashing backing back to Red (Kate Mulgrew) and Vee’s prison past. It revealed when these two different but strong women met each other at the Litchfield Penitentiary.

Both Red and Vee arrived to the prison around the same time and as soon as Vee came in, the black girl gang brought her some prison essentials as an offering to be part of their gang. Vee told them she didn’t want it and offered some to a fragile Red who has been recruited to kitchen duties. Red quickly takes advantage of the kitchen, beginning to sneak in goods and shows Vee her secret.

One day a black girl comes back and tells Red she wants to buy the kitchen smuggling business. The Russian redhead laughs it off and tells her to bring in her boss. Vee later shows up in Red’s kitchen and asks Red who she though ordered the girl to buy it. Red is confused and considers Vee a friend but Vee tells her they never made a friendship bracelet. Vee demands her to continue taking in orders but that her girls will distribute the product. Red tells her she will tell Healy but Vee tells her that Red’s first mistake was not having any backup and slaps her across the face and orders her girls to beat up Red.

In prison you need family to survive and if you got one the better off you are and Red has been on the outs with her friends since she lost her kitchen and has been desperately trying to get them back since Vee arrived. She’s made new friends with the AARP club (old ladies) but since she’s had her “greenhouse” business going with no backup, she has been trying to get her old friends back.

She asks Nicky to get the girls at the greenhouse for dinner. The gang (Nicky, Lorna, Big Boo, Gina, Yoga Jones, Sister Jane, Norma and the AARP gang) meet for dinner and Red tells them they are her family and she is sorry for hurting them in the end. Norma, the quiet one, accepts the apology and the rest follow. The dinner reminded me of the last supper with Red, playing Christ, and her posse of apostles and a trader among them.

Red and her AARP gang.

These flashbacks are what the season needed to tie Red and Vee together. They were strong women before the prison and continue to be strong in the prison in knowing how to survive. Red is not making the same mistake this time around.

The other major story in “Furlough” was Piper (Taylor Schilling) getting 48 hours of freedom to attend her grandmother’s funeral. Schilling showed her comedic side again as there were plenty of jokes about Piper’s prison days and her ex’s flaccid penis. However, the jokes are quickly overshadowed by the fact that Piper wasn’t there for her grandmother’s last surviving days and her father being disappointed in her. To add to that, Piper learns that Larry slept with a close friend of hers as they tried to have sex. While in the bathroom with Larry, she realizes their relationship is over.

Piper drinking a 40 oz across NYC

While Piper had 48 hours of freedom, it seemed like she never felt more lost in her old world. Her relationship was over, her grandmother was dead, her brother was starting a new life, and her father was didn’t approve of her life. She ended up leaving the funeral/brother’s wedding reception to go check on Red’s business which was now closed. She buys a 40 oz. Colt 45 and watches New York City from Harlem, realizing that her life isn’t there anymore.

In other prison news, Poussey learns that Vee is not just smuggling in tobacco. She questions Taystee about it but Taystee tells her not to get in Vee’s way because Vee’s her family. Pornstasch enters prison and begins his reign again as the prison asshole but has competition from a jealous Bennett who makes a big reveal to Caputo.

Here are some memorable quotes from this episode:

“What could I possibly be taking out of prison?” Piper.

“It just warms my heart you’re finding your way in here, settling in with the AARP crowd,” Vee.

“Mendez is back bitches,” Pornstach.

“Just one, I learned I like to smoke after I read my sati times novelas. It feels glamorous you know. But I am not a real smoker,” Flaca.

“This sound great. I like where your head is at. It’s great to know you’re a rule breaking criminal at heart,” Cal (Piper’s brother).

“Nope see, no handcuffs,” Piper.

“I can see that with my normal people eyes. I bet those slits make it hard for you to see,” Pornstach to Soso.

“How long as it been since you came in a real life vagina and not in your hand,” Piper to Larry.

“Do not defend your boner to me right now,” Piper to Larry limp penis.

“The D list Burt Reynolds but more rapey,” Soso about pornstach.

“One of them looked like a Disney witch,” Ramos.

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OITNB: Don’t mess with a Latina, you’ll get burned

Gloria (Selenis Leyva) confronts Vee (Lorraine Toussaint) in “Low Self Esteem City”

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.

Big Boo and Nicky in OITNB

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.

OITNB: Are hugs deceiving?

Vee (Lorraine Toussaint) and Crazy Eyes (Uzo Aduba) on “Hugs Can Be Deceiving”

“Hugs Can Be Deceiving,” the third episode of the current season of Orange Is the New Black, had a lot going on since Piper arrived back to the prison with the rest of her cellmates. In Hugs, we also got more insight into Crazy Eyes as the story showed flashbacks of when she was younger. This episode wasn’t as good as the previous as the story line is getting more complicated and involving the rest of the supporting cast, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

So instead of doing a rundown of what happened throughout the entire episode, I’ll give a summary of the main players involved in this episode.

Crazy Eyes: We first get a glimpse of young Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” (played insanely perfect by Uzo Aduba) meeting her newborn white sister dressed in a pink butterfly suit. Her parents were able conceive after adopting her. In these flashbacks, we get to see Crazy Eyes’ mental stability. In one particular flashback, her mother has pushed her to sing at her high school graduation, and as a teenage Suzanne stands before her classmates, she begins to scream she can’t and hitting herself in the head.

Although her mother’s intention was for Crazy Eyes to have the same opportunities as the rest of her white friends/classmates, by pushing her to be someone else, it, however, didn’t allow Crazy Eyes to be herself. Crazy Eyes took out her anger instead on Piper, who resembled her mother, in a flashback to the season finale episode that revealed Crazy Eyes punched Piper and saved Pennsatucky from getting killed.

Vee (Lorraine Toussaint): Former Taystee boss seems to be a big player this season. Although her scenes were minimal, her lioness demeanor was very present. She revealed that she had been in prison before as she and Red hugged and reminisced about old times. Vee also befriended Crazy Eyes and told her she was a garden rose and  to not consider herself anything less. It seems that Vee is stirring up trouble in what seems to be a peaceful women’s prison. She traded some old cigarettes with the new cook Gloria for a cake she then shared with the other black girls. She told Crazy Eyes that when she was there, the black girls ruled the prison and it seems this lioness is trying to reclaim her turf again by gathering all the other black girls and creating a deeper racial divide.

Pennsatucky not only came back with new teeth but also with a much bigger ego. Her friends accused of thinking she was better than them and are not liking her new found attitude. Pennsatucky and Piper also met to hug out their differences.

Larry also meets with City Post reporter Andrew who wants an inside scoop on the prison since he’s investigating money laundry. The reporter told him he wants to talk to Piper. Larry tells him that he will talk to Piper and the counselor since he’s gotten closer to him. Of course, all of this is a lie since Larry and Piper are no longer together.

Lorna learns through a phone conversation with her sister that her fiancée, who’s never visited her at the prison, is marrying someone else. She is heart broken.

Deception was a big part of this episode. Even though we consider hugs to be warm and friendly, the hugs given in this episode were  frigid and full of lies.  Here are a few great lines from the show.

“The White Michelle Williams” –Poussey to Taystee on a charade game.

“Momma said pretty is for flowers and movies stars ‘cause neither one gots a brain,” Leanne to Pennsatucky

“He doesn’t realize she’s a whore. You don’t go Jessica Simpson when he’s got Rhianna,” Lorna on hearing her fiancée is leaving her.

“You’re one Cheerio in the bulk box of life but you fucking tickle me so I think it would matter” Nicky to Piper after Piper confesses about considering death.

“You’ll even get the hang of pooping while making eye contact with somebody,” Piper to new inmate Soso.