Black’N’Orange: Episode Five

Interactions with others are often colored by the image we project of ourselves. That doesn’t go away just because you’re in prison. Episode five, “Fake It Till You Fake It Some More,” is all about pulling off those rose colored glasses.

Flaca from Orange is the New Black episode 5“People will believe what you tell them, until you don’t,” says one character in a heated exchange. And it’s true—which leaves a couple characters in a bit of a jarring whiplash. After consistently projecting a fake image of the prison (or at least attempting one) Caputo finds out exactly where he is when the dust settles. Daya is still reeling from Bennett’s disertion, and has hit an all time low in her pregnancy mood. Red’s softening to Healy only to be revealed as just another scheme to get herself back in the kitchen is true to character, but still jolts Healy awake from whatever fantasy land he had of yet another Russian woman falling in love with him for his character.

Norma, who’s been masquerading behind Gloria’s back about her healing properties, flies a bit too close to the sun and learns that sometimes the image you’re enjoying projecting doesn’t always belong to you. Appropriation is real kids, as Gloria is quick to remind Norma. “This ain’t your history; this ain’t your culture,” she warns, taking away what was never a super interesting plotline to begin with. The best things to have come out of Norma’s egg-healing was the revealing of others issues, and by the episode’s end Norma’s got her old groove back, and a way to keep that exposition going—good for us, and her.

Which is something that Daya could surely use. The mom-to-be is reeling, with the loss of not just a support system but a life plan and a romance, all with an illegal baby on the way who has nowhere to go. I had always assumed that in some way her father’s boyfriend would be the legal guardian, even if it meant Bennett would be the one who actually cared for him—which still raises a whole lot of questions about child services, but I could overlook that given just how far gone this plotline already was—but when she finds out that he can’t manage that it’s just another expectation letting her down. Her exchange with Pornstache’s mom is bittersweet; I’m glad that she has someone who’s willing to be there for her, let her know her rights, and take care of the baby, but their relationship is so tenuous—something the “Grandma” is all too aware of. Maybe this seed will pay off down the road (an ol’ “get what you need” payoff to all the Pornstache lies/Bennett leaving web of the past) but I’m guessing more likely Grandma is right. More on that to come.

Of course the spotlight of episode five falls to Flaca, who’s always dreamt of being somewhere better than where she is—whether that’s the prison’s kitchen or her mother’s sewing shop. To her it’s not a choice that means she’s abandoning her family, instead it’s just her becoming the image she’s had in her mind all along. I’m a bit tired of OITNB using “family break-ups” in such a huge sort of flare-up, given that outbursts like these often lead to season-long repercussions. But I appreciate the expanding of Flaca’s character, and she’s clearly learned a thing or two about how to stake out your own territory.  I hope they take the time to let her fake it until she makes it sometime.

Stray shots: 

  • As a big fan of “Arms and the Man,” I am way into Poussey’s retelling
  • I was doing the math on what saving a $1/hour could mean for an inmate and got as far as thinking about what that could’ve meant for Taystee’s first release and got too sad to continue. Though the third season isn’t exactly putting it front and center, it is allowing for a much more frank dialogue of life in prison.
  • “I’m really wearing it ironically” says Flaca of her fashion choices, showing that it turns out no one—even the wearer—is sure where the irony line is.
  • “I’m pregnant in prison, lady. Did you really expect me to be all happy and glowy?”
  • One of the downsides to Piper being a secondary character this season is that her neuroses don’t really carry across episodes very well, or at least the writers aren’t used to it yet. Her teasing of Alex here struck me as really tonedeaf, given what a real threat hangs over Alex’s life right now. She may have been paranoid, but she at least has some cause to be. Piper is really all over the map for me lately.
  • One of the best parts of season 3, conversely, is that without a “big bad” (or Larry—praise!) is there’s more time to focus on the relationships and strains of prison life. And damn that is a good (if slow) thing.