New episodic recaps of Orange Is the New Black Season 3 post on Mondays and Thursdays. You can read all previous entries here.
Things have been a little all over the place in Season 3 of Orange is the New Black, but it seems as though episodes 4 and 5 are starting to pull things together while still delivering strong, standalone components.
“Finger in the Dyke” gives us a look at what life was like for Big Boo (Lea DeLaria) pre-Litchfield, and it’s one of the most heart wrenching flashbacks yet. Carrie knew that she wasn’t like the other girls at a young age, but her mother refused to accept it — and that never changed, even decades later. Thanks to Carrie’s sexual orientation, she didn’t see her parents for years and even when her mother fell gravely ill, she couldn’t say goodbye because, according to her father, her mother wouldn’t be able to handle seeing her in such masculine attire.
Boo’s flashback is above and beyond most of the others because there are so many layers to it. On the one hand, I applaud Boo for standing her ground and being proud of who she is, but there’s also no denying that she’s stubborn and has a temper. No, she shouldn’t cave to the pressure from her mother and pretend to be someone she’s not all her life, but given her mother’s situation at the end of the episode, couldn’t Boo have made her happy just once? The flashback also plays especially well with Boo’s current situation — does she fake straight to earn a quick buck from Pennsatucky’s fan club or continue to honor her values? She winds up choosing the latter, and it’s a decision that’s made all the more powerful courtesy of what goes down in the flashback.
DeLaria has been dishing out loads of memorable, amusing moments since the start of the show, but it’s nice to see Season 3 break free of the stereotype and turn her into a fully realized person. Boo may be one of the toughest inmates at Litchfield, but she’s also especially bright, thoughtful and inspiring as well. It was a brilliant move for the writers to focus on her budding friendship with Pennsatucky because, oddly enough, the two are really bringing out the best in each other.
“Finger in the Dyke” also focuses on Caputo’s tour for the folks from the company that could possibly keep Litchfield from closing. As Caputo explains in his guard meeting, if MCC takes over, Litchfield would remain a federal property, but MCC would manage it and retain the profits. Sounds like a solid deal, right? Not according to Bell (Catherine Curtin). The moment she hears “profit,” she thinks “smoke and mirrors.” However, at this point, Caputo doesn’t really have a choice so he meets a bunch of MCC’s higher-ups and takes them on a tour of the facility. He does his best to make sure the inmates are on their best behavior, but it’s one strange encounter after the next and Caputo wraps up the tour positive that there’s no way MCC is going to bail them out. However, later that evening, he gets a call from Danny Pearson (Mike Birbiglia) who delivers the good news, MCC is acquiring them.
In “Fake It Till You Fake It Some More,” MCC begins their takeover by introducing a new job assignment. There’s loads of rumors about what the high-paying gig is, but no one knows for sure. In order to figure out who gets the coveted spots, MCC administers a test, but not a test assessing smarts or someone’s ability to complete a particular task. The test is packed with questions like, “True or false? Ideas are more important than real things.” After stressing over each and every answer, it turns out that MCC picked inmates at random. Danny smugly admits to Caputo that MCC has a system and that that system is simply designed to make the inmates believe there’s a system. Turns out, Bell was right. MCC is up to no good.
Episode 5 dishes out another successful flashback that’s especially well woven into the new job narrative. Flaca/Marisol (Jackie Cruz) was once like any girl in high school. She bickered with her mother, had a boyfriend she was super into and was eager to make some money so she could upgrade her wardrobe. Trouble is, selling fake acid turned out to be way more dangerous than she expected. It’s a stupid decision no matter how you look at it, but there’s a youthful innocence to Marisol that leaves room for forgiveness, and that makes what happens to her in the present especially effective.
When the new job opportunity pops up, Marisol is determined to get a spot. However, even though she’s convinced herself that she’s meant to do bigger and better things than work in the kitchen, she has a stress meltdown in the middle of the test and gets booted before her time is up. But thanks to MCC’s random selection process, she still gets the gig anyway. She’s thrilled that things are looking up, but when they reveal what the new job is, it’s like she’s back where she started – sewing, just like her mother. It’s a particularly poignant way for her to get what she deserves, but now the question is, will Orange is the New Black cut things off there or will we see the situation force Marisol to put her priorities into perspective? There’s definitely more to the scenario well worth digging into, but based on what the show does with most flashbacks for minor characters, it’s unlikely we’ll get to see Marisol come full circle.
And then of course we’ve got the main players. Episodes 4 and 5 continue to explore the budding relationship between Healy and Red. It definitely seemed as though there was interest coming from both sides, but then at the tail end of episode 5, Red winds up asking Healy to give her the new job assignment rather than taking his cue and getting the romance going. The moment was a bit disappointing because Healy’s growing on me, but much more so because it was an unearned twist. As Kate Mulgrew played it, it genuinely seemed like Red was into Healy so it felt like a stretch when she made it about the job instead.
There’s still some tension between Piper and Alex, but when Piper’s family comes to visit and she can’t help but to blurt out that she’s got a girlfriend, they agree to make their relationship official. However, Alex is still on edge about Kubra and the possibility that he could send someone to kill her, maybe that strange new inmate who keeps popping up everywhere. It certainly seems like something Kubra could and would do, but after Alex flat out pegs the new girl as the suspect, I’m going to bet that if there is an assassin inside the prison, it turns out to be someone else.
Meanwhile, Daya continues to struggle with the baby issue. When Bennett disappears, she gives up. She’s going to hand the baby over to Delia no matter what. However, when Delia comes to visit, she surprises Daya by not letting her give away her child in an instant. Delia genuinely wants to right her son’s wrongs (or what she thinks are his wrongs) and give Daya’s baby a wonderful life, but she wants to ensure that Daya decides to let that happen while she’s in the right frame of mind.
Mary Steenburgen is really making the most of her minimal screen time. There’s only been two scenes with her character but it feels like she’s been around for far longer than that. Not only has she completely convinced me that her heart is in the right place when it comes to the baby, but now Steenburgen has me hoping that she could have a longstanding relationship with Daya as well. Daya is going to have to come clean about the Mendez/Bennett issue soon, but after her conversation with Delia in episode 5, I can’t help but to wish she could keep it a secret and live happily ever after with a loving, caring women like Delia in her life.
Similar to the previous episodes, “Finger in the Dyke” & “Fake It Till You Fake It Some More” function best as standalone episodes with mini scenarios that have their own beginnings, middles and ends. But it does feel like the writers are positioning Danny and MCC to become the Season 3 villains, and that might be a smart move considering they’re going to have a major effect on every single person in the prison.
Episode 4 Rating: ★★★★ Very Good
Episode 5 Rating: ★★★★ Very Good
- “Rise and shine, ladies. Another crappy day in prison.” – Bell
- “Plates don’t get cavities and either do these bad boys.” – Tucky
- “Some bitch insulted you so you shot her? Now to me that makes a hell of a lot more sense than shooting a complete stranger that you’ve demonized for your own agenda.” – Boo
- “I look like a thumb in a dress.” – Young Boo (Special shout out to the insanely charismatic Melanie Hinkle who plays young Carrie.)
- That scene between Taystee and Suzanne marks the first time I’ve teared up this season.
- “Well, a big hetero hello to all of you.” – Boo
- “I refuse to be invisible, Daddy.” – Boo
- “I mean, you go around losing body parts, that’s some pretty irresponsible shit!” – Cesar
- “The opposite of you is … boring.” – Taystee to Suzanne