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Orange is the New Black – There’s Something Wrong with All of Us, Otherwise We Wouldn’t Be Here.

Posted on the 01 May 2015 by Cathy Leaves @cathyleaves
Orange is the New Black: 2x10 Little Mustachioed Shit.
Orange is the New Black – There’s something wrong with all of us, otherwise we wouldn’t be here.
Can people change? It’s a central question raised in this episode and it also dominates the season as a whole. It ties in with Piper’s question of whether she is more or less herself inside, which culminated in her coming to terms in the previous episode: her stay in Litchfield isn’t happening to someone else, and it wasn’t someone else whose decisions landed her there. Robbed of many other things, at least claiming her own story for herself is the least she can do. Part of claiming her own story is accepting that it will never be as clear or straight as is expected of her. We see more of the beginning of Alex and Piper, and it conveys how drawn they were to each other before things started going awry. As dysfunctional as they are as a couple (and as terrible as both of them can be as individuals), their attraction to each other is apparent in these flashbacks “I’ve never really thought of myself as a sexual person, but ever since… I wanna taste what you taste like.”, says Piper). Now that things with Larry are over, the pain comes from a different place – not being able to draw a line, still feeling an emotional investment in whom Larry is sleeping with. So Piper digs, and gets as much pain out of it as possible when she realizes that she isn’t just losing her fiancé – she is also losing her best friend. People do change, and sometimes that means growing away from each other, and hurting each other inevitability in the process, or just by not taking enough care of each other. Piper proves to be more resourceful than expected and takes Red’s advice not to “swallow poison and wait for her enemy to die”, and instead extract revenge. On the other hand, there is the brewing conflict between Vee and Red that will soon escalate. Vee is positioning herself at the center of power, and part of that manoeuvring, at least for now, is co-operating with Red rather than fighting her outright; but Red is hesitant because she remembers how Vee turned on her before, and she is convinced that it is who Vee is, not just one instance of when she acted disloyal. She struggles, because she does realize how hard her life will be if she chooses to fight against Red, but the decision is made easy for her when Nicky approaches her and asks for help. Vee’s girls have given her a free sample – that she knows well she will consume, given time, that she can’t bring herself to throw out. She is providing her own answer to whether people can change, because she has. She knows she has a family in Litchfield, people who look out for her and are supportive against all odds, quietly and stubbornly watching over her when they think she will do harm to herself. It’s something she can completely rely on, a resource for her in a place that in general lacks those. Red realizes that Vee hasn’t changed, but Nicky, perhaps, realizes that she has, if only by growing stronger through the people she is with now. 
Poussey: Oh what, now you’re all gangsta? You’re all brainwashed. You actin’ like a hood-wrecked corner kids?
Taystee: You don’t know where I come from. I didn’t have no daddy in the army, parents looking out for me and a fucking winter coat, you bougie bitch. So don’t pretend that you know me or my people.
Poussey: I thought that you wanted to be better than that.
Poussey has no such luxuries. She thought she had that resource, that anchor, in Taystee, but Taystee is now doing Vee’s bidding, and things that Poussey in all her idealism and care cannot ignore. They are selling drugs to inmates who are vulnerable and will have to bear the consequences themselves. Vee isn’t standing up for Janae when a surprise search of their quarters lands her in SHU – again, and everybody knows that Janae will likely not escape without scars. It’s a question of survival for Taystee too – she can’t imagine not doing Vee’s bidding, and part of it is a very deeply rooted fear of Poussey’s feelings for her (a fear that Vee has fed into from the beginning, realizing that it makes both of them vulnerable). Litchfield is a hard place to have to exist in, but it is an impossible place to survive without other people, so at the end of the episode, Poussey is very close to the abyss. On the systemic level, the question of change is also apparent in this season of the show. With Pornstache being back, the institution of Litchfield and the prison officials who represent that institution struggle with the fall-out – if there are no consequences to a guard breaching that trust, and even breaking the law, then where is the line actually drawn? Fig, cynically, tries to put the blame for the pregnancy in part on Daya, indicating that despite the fact that the law makes it clear that “employers who engage in sexual misconduct cannot claim consent as a defence, so officially it’s rape”, she is still willing to put the blame on her, for “encouraging” him. Of course there is always the additional layer of Bennet and Daya’s relationship that runs through these questions (at one point, Bennett points out to her that stating what happened would result in him going to prison, and Daya responds that this would “at least make them even”, bringing back the awfully skewed power balance between them), but Fig’s position and her way of handling it is still utterly disgusting – belittling Daya as a “young lady” creating trouble for her. “Congratulations. You’ve officially destroyed a man’s life”. It’s a systemic error in the system, the misappropriation of funds for personal gain, the way the guards abuse their power and are never punished for it, the lack of resources. Brook, so far unsuccessful in recruiting others for her hunger strike, is finally successful when Yoga Jones joins her: 
Jones: I’m sick and tired of the guards using solitary like it’s some kind of toddler time out. These are not violent offenders. It’s inhumane. And it’s torture. I think what you’re doing is very, very brave. You are a true activist.
In the end, when Pornstache is arrested and taken away by the police, Fig gives a speech to the press, pointing out that there are “still bad people in this world who commit heinous crimes” – which is the exact precise trick they always try to pull, blame systemic errors and injustices on individuals to cover up where the roots are – what Ta-Nehisi Coates recently called “a continuance of the American preference for considering the actions of bad individuals, as opposed to the function and intention of systems.” 
Random notes: 
In the same vein of needing other people to survive inside Litchfield, Healy and Pennsatucky cling to each other in their mutual inability to function like normal, empathetic human beings. But at least they’re trying. 
Nicky does a very convincing Alex. 
Back from furlough, Piper tells a very kind lie to Red about her shop. 
Fig realizes that Piper is a very personal danger to her and her husband’s campaign when she sees her talking to Nance, the journalist – and given the fact that she possesses a lot of power, this will not end well for Piper. 
Also this show is very, very frustrating in its choice to never ever acknowledge that Piper is bisexual. 
Christopher visits Lorna in prison which reveals to all the other inmates that Lorna has been lying about their relationship from the start, but Nicky is there to support her through everything (“No, I don’t hate you. It is clearer every second that you’re totally batshit crazy.”)
One of the hardest things to bear this season: how Vee uses Suzanne. 

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