We’ve reached the end of the road…for now. Orange Is The New Black wraps up season one with characters in a variety of compromising positions
Let’s bitch it out…1×12: ‘Fool Me Once’
In the wake of Larry’s (Jason Biggs) notorious radio interview, Piper (Taylor Schilling) has a lot of explaining to do. Well…not really. Crazy Eyes (Uzo Aduba) just flat out tells her that she’s mean, while Miss Claudette (Michelle Hurst) is more hurt than anything. It’s the people that Piper doesn’t realize will be affected that the interview harms the most: it accidentally reveals elements that Figueroa (Alysia Reiner) would rather not come to light, which end up setting off a chain reaction in the finale.
These last few episodes have been chock full of secrets revealed and ‘Fool Me Once’ continues that trend. In a calculated move, Red (Kate Mulgrew) sets Pornstache (Pablo Schreiber) up so that he’s caught in the act having sex with Diaz (Dascha Polanco). Unfortunately for both Red and Diaz things don’t go quite according to plan: rather than face the embarrassment of a “rape” on record, Figueroa tells Caputo (Nick Sandow) that Pornstache will quietly go on unpaid leave, suggesting that he’ll be back once things have calmed down.
In retaliation Pornstache gives Bennett (Matt McGorry) a heads up about his drug stash, knowing that it will look like Red is the one bringing narcotics in. And on top of this Pornstache thinks he and Diaz have something and Bennett is pissed. This is now a situation that has gone from bad to worse for pretty much everyone involved.
And then there’s Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning). The most frustrating character on the show continues her quest to save Piper, who initially plays along by praying to Jesus for forgiveness. When Pennsatucky escalates her demands to a baptism in a dirty sink, however, Piper balks, pulling the plug on the whole affair in favour of a soliloquy on her preference for science over religion. It’s so traditionally Piper that you can hardly blame her for being so obtuse – clearly our favourite WASP has forgotten she’s trying to reason with someone who recently believed themselves to be a religious healer.
As expected Pennsatucky doesn’t accept her change of heart, instead interpreting Piper’s change of attitude as an insult. This fits with what we know of the meth head from her flashbacks: Penns wasn’t really religious until she became a superstar for killing an abortion clinic employee. Her rise in social popularity may have helped instigate a religious conversion, but at its core she became a celebrated figure by the religious right because she committed murder. As a result it’s hardly a surprise that the episode ends with Pennsatucky stating she’s going to kill Piper.
- There’s a lot of bad news in this episode: Miss Claudette loses her appeal and ends up attacking nice guard Fischer (Lauren Lapkus), who has been ordered by Caputo to be more strict with the inmates
- In the bad news for her/good news for us column, add the appearance of Taystee (Danielle Brooks). After being granted parole in ‘Fucksgiving’, the larger than life personality returns to prison, much to Poussey’s (Samira Wiley) chagrin. Their confessional reunion is emotionally raw: Poussey confesses she missed saying goodbye to her mother because she was in prison, while Taystee outlines the impossibilities of adapting to life on the outside without rules or support. Great scene from both women, who each deliver knock-out performances
- I love the idea of Red acting as a marriage counselor to Healy (Michael Harney) and his mail order bride
- The “make up” scene between Janae (Vicky Jeudy) and Yoga Jones (Constance Shulman) is heartbreaking and hilarious. After the latter cancels yoga because her headspace is filled with the details of her crime (killing a young boy sneaking through her marijuana crop), Janae reanimates her with some mild electric shocks in the chapel. I love that the gag continues into the next scene when we see the lights momentarily dim while Caputo and Fisher talk
- Finally, after Larry dumps her, Piper prompts Alex (Laura Prepon) to consider what a future together looks like. While I’m sure Alex thinks she’s doing the right thing admitting that it would be an unplanned adventure, I’m unsure that it’s the right approach to convince Piper to turn down Larry’s impromptu wedding proposal
- Alex (when Piper asks why she didn’t admit she turned her in when Piper arrived): “I wanted you to like me”
- Fisher (when Caputo suggests Sister Ingalls killed a man): “I thought she was a political prisoner” Caputo: “That’s not the point”
- Fisher (when Janae tells her she and Yoga were having a moment): “Shit, I’m sorry, carry on”
- Piper (after Pennsatucky declares ‘Jesus’ is too familiar for her to use in prayer): “Dear Mr. Christ…”
- Alex (when Piper asks what Alex will do when they get out): “I’m really good at moving large amounts of heroin. Like, really fucking good”
1×13: ‘Can’t Fix Crazy’
It’s the season finale! That means it’s officially time for shit to hit the fan. After twelve episodes of simmering, a number of conflicts come to a boil, several of them in spectacular fashion.
The obvious watercooler moment is the final scene when Healy turns the other cheek as Pennsatucky prepares to kill Piper with a shiv/cross. The fact that the skinny meth head finally acts on her hatred of Piper is unsurprising, nor is Healy’s decision to let it unfold unchallenged. These are both reactions that we’ve come to expect from these characters: one suffers from mental illness masking as religious fevour and the other is proud hypocrite homophobe. Healy’s actions are disappointing, certainly, but this is really just an escalation of the petty tactics he’s been employing since ‘Fucksgiving’: locking Piper in SHU for “lesbian tendencies” and ratting her out to Larry were both pretty indicative of how Healy reacts if bitten.
No, what’s most surprising is Piper’s response to Pennsatucky’s attack: Piper beats the mother loving crap out of her.
Alright…maybe that’s not so surprising, either. After all these last few episodes have been pretty tough on our indecisive protagonist. Her bisexual love triangle is a hot mess as both Larry and Alex now want nothing to do with her. So Piper has suddenly gone from having lots of emotional (and some physical) support to suddenly have none – all in zero to sixty. Add to that her newfound fear of being physically harmed after Pennsatucky’s bloody attack in the showers (And to think that previously all I was worried about while showering was Anthony Perkins in a wig. Thanks for the new nightmare, Orange Is The New Black). So yeah, no one can say that Piper Chapman isn’t on the brink when Pennsatucky unwisely decides to try and smite her during the Christmas Pageant.
So now comes the big question: does Piper stop herself before she kills Pennsatucky? (Spoilers here if you want to know) Even if she does, Piper will likely be charged with attempted murder and that’s before you throw in the 5 years for the screwdriver. If Penns dies, it’ll be much worse than that.
No matter what, when S2 begins next year (so.far.away!), you can bet that life for Piper Chapman is only going to get worse. 🙁
- Before she goes punch happy on Pennsatucky’s face, I almost thought Piper had the hang of things. She tries to get her marriage certificate through Healy (who cleverly throws her own insult from ‘Fucksgiving’ back in her face) before using Figueroa to do her dirty work
- This is the second episode in a row that Pornstache claims he loves Diaz. This time he admits that he’s written her an anonymous love letter. I’m now more convinced than ever that Pornstache knows he was set-up by Diaz and that she’s involved with Bennett. I’ll bet that this is the start of a payback scheme that will have Bennett take the fall
- Just because Pornstache is gone doesn’t mean Red’s troubles are over. Gloria (Selenis Leyva) takes over the kitchen, bringing with her all of the Latina girls and relegating Gina (Abigail Savage) and Norma (Annie Golden) to manual labour. From the get-go Red is completely delusional about her chances of reclaiming the kitchen (again, this makes sense given her flashbacks). Unfortunately her attempts at sabotage carry a heavy price when she burns Gina (literally) and Norma (figuratively) with a grease fire
- Secret Santa in prison looks a bit sad unless you’re crafty. Alex’s earrings for Nichols (Natasha Lyonne) do look pretty sad, though the lackluster gift develops into a long anticipated sexual relationship between the two confidants. Of course as soon as Alex hears about Piper being up shit creek, this will all come tumbling down. Enjoy the touchy-feely while you can ladies!
- It took me a moment to realize that Larry and Alex had never met before. Talk about hella uncomfortable! It’s clear as soon as Alex shows up that Larry is out of his depth: Alex is much more clever and Larry is already neurotically insecure after his parents tear apart his idea to marry Piper as soon as possible. However, in both their defenses, it’s not as though Larry or Alex are saying anything inherently untruthful about Piper. Girl is a hot mess
- Finally, this is the only episode of the season to take place entirely in the present. Did anyone miss the flashbacks?
- Gina (discussing Red not showing up for work): “I said they’re going to throw you in the SHU, but then she gave me that look that makes my ass leak”
- Piper (when Taystee asks if she broke up with Alex): “Wow. Twitter’s got nothing on prison”
- Everyone (when Piper asks what Pennsatucky needs): “New teeth!”
- Yael Stone’s Morello (after Lea DeLaria’s Big Boo guesses she’s Morello secret Santa): “You get used to having cold feet that ain’t magenta!”
- Caputo (to Bennett, about Figueroa): “She’s cutting off your balls to protect her own”
And with that our time in Litchfield has come to an end (for this year at least). What are your thoughts on this first season? Did the final two episodes deliver on your expectations? Were you surprised by any of the storylines in the finale? And what would you like to see happen next year? Comment away below
Orange Is The New Black S1 is available in its entirety on Netflix. The show will return for a second season, likely debuting in Summer 2014