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Friday, June 20, 2014

Orange Is The New Black Review: 40oz of Furlough

Orange Is The New Black (Netflix), Episode 9 of Season 2
"40oz of Furlough"
Written By: Lauren Morelli
Directed By: S.J. Clarkson
Flashback Of: Red & Vee


Brief Description: We are way too late in the season to have an episode like this. If "40oz of Furlough" aired three episodes ago, mainly with the flashbacks, then this episode would be another solid "A". However, we can only hint at the Red vs. Vee war for so long before something is actually done about it. Don't get me wrong, the flashbacks were great and the Red vs. Vee story line is consistently the first or second best story line in a given week depending on how terrible or amazing Piper's story is. But a war has been brewing for so many episodes now that I've lost count on how many times I've mentioned it in my recaps.

The few flashbacks we got in this episode show us just how much the Black girls ran the prison back in the day and that Vee just wasn't blowing smoke up everybody's asses as well as the specifics of Red's first rise to power. However, these flashbacks seemed to contradict a little bit of the brief flashback of when Healy first introduced Red into the kitchen back in Season 1. Back in "Moscow Mule", Healy shows Red the kitchen and asks if she can cook. Red confidently says "yes" and Healy makes an off hand remark that maybe Red can be the Cook. Red then sees deaf Lorna, and forces her to kiss her hand. While all of that can technically easily be configured into the events of "40oz of Furlough" without any inconsistency, tonally though, I didn't buy it. In "Moscow Mule", Red was the cocky SOB who got shit done and in this episode she was a scared little girl who needs Vee help to get the ball rolling. Don't get me wrong, it was a fan-fucking-tastic back story that I enjoyed watching, and I want to go back and watch those Red/Vee scenes again after watching this episode, but again, this should not have happened in Episode 9 out of 13.

I sound like a broken record as the war of Red vs. Vee is really starting to heat up as Big Boo, in an uncharacteristically selfish move, tells Vee how Red is smuggling in her shit after finding the drain pipe in the greenhouse. Red has not always acted kindly towards Big Boo, as we saw in the first episode of this series when Red refuses to give her yogurt, but ultimately, Red has always had Big Boo's back, and there was no reason, despite the snide remark at the greenhouse dinner, to immediately go snitching to Vee.

The best parts of this episode surrounding the current day Vee situation involved both Poussey and Bennett. Poussey is begrudgingly a part of this cigarettes endeavor in order to stay in Taystee's good graces, but after Taystee's reaction after Poussey confronts her about something more-than-cigarettes going on as well as seeing Taystee outright hand Nichols heroin, there's no more reason for Poussey to give two shits what Taystee does. Vee has a power over Taystee that has changed her, and the Taystee Poussey fell in love with isn't there anymore. I suspect Poussey will attempt to take down Vee while Vee tries to take down Red, and it will blow up in Poussey's face just like she predicted earlier in the season, and hopefully that will make for some excellent television.

The other part of this equation was Bennett. As Bennett attempts to become more authoritarian in an attempt to show the administration that Mendez isn't necessary, he starts to become Pornstache. Once he sees the used cigarette on the ground outside of The Ghetto, he goes ballistic on the ward. He first destroys Taystee's and Suzanne's bunks before moving on to Poussey's and Watson's bunk. It would have been really interesting and just great television if Bennett had found something, but the moment when Pornstache hands Taystee her box of tampons filled with cigarettes was just an incredible moment in its own right. Although, in the end, becoming Pornstache doesn't do anything to get rid of Mendez as it just gets Bennett suspended.

The move to actually get Mendez re-suspended is what Bennett actually does, when he tells Caputo that Daya is pregnant and it's most likely Mendez's. It's a move he hates to pull, because that will likely mean that he'll never get to see that baby again, or a DNA test will prove that it's his, and he'll be fired and convicted of rape. It's a great moment, but one I'm not sure was worth all of the terrible Daya and Bennett scenes this year, and another move I wish had come earlier in the season, but one I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

Lastly, we'll end this post on another story line I wished the show had done sooner, and that's Larry admitting to Piper that he's slept with someone else. Piper's furlough is here, and she does spend most of it mourning her dead Grandmother at both her wake and her funeral, so this furlough was not a complete waste. However, the extended scenes surrounding Piper as well as Cal's wedding was a waste. I understand that Piper Chapman is truly the lead of this show, and despite how annoying of a character she can be, the best episodes of OITNB truly are Piper-centric; however, there was just too much Piper and too much furlough in an episode that was probably had the longest run time of the season. The Larry/Piper interactions were great, I loved the moment she got to have with her father, and the moment when she drinks a 40 while eating a cheeseburger was wonderful, but ultimately I preferred the build up to the furlough as opposed to the furlough itself.


* Another downside to having an extremely long episode, as well as having to serve so many subplots, is that many scenes just ended without having the moment just stand there and be as powerful as they were. This was especially true when Taystee handed Nichols the heroin as the camera cuts to Poussey's reactions, and then immediately changes scenes ruined that moment as well as the moment when Pornstache hands the box of tampons back to Taystee. I don't know if that was the fault of the director or the editor or both, but both scenes could have  and should have been even better than they were.

* After Piper yelled at Soso and called her a lone wolf who's throat she'll rip out, would anyone care if Soso never appeared on screen again? At least with the Daya/Bennett and Larry/Polly scenes you knew they'd eventually lead to SOMETHING, but Soso as a character just seems to exist solely to get full time player Taryn Manning screen time. Piper can be an annoying character, but she's EXTREMELY useful to this show. Soso just sucks. Maybe if we got a flash back on her she'd be better. But at this point, her character might be a lost cause.

* I still only like my Healy when he's involved with Piper, and I neither care that he's in therapy or that he'll help out Pennsatucky.

* As entertaining as it was to see Red get the shit kicked out of her in the flashback, part of what makes Orange Is The New Black so good is that it manages to be excellent without using prison cliches. That scene seemed beneath the show.

* God, how great was it to see Red's AARP crew threaten the Hispanic kitchen workers.

* PORNSTACHE UPDATE: Now that Pablo Schrieber is consistently back in the fold, no more Pornstache Updates until he gets re-suspended and disappears after what transpired between Bennett and Caputo this week.

Click here for my thoughts on Episode 1 - "Thirsty Bird"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 2 - "Looks Blue, Tastes Red"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 3 - "Hugs Can Be Deceiving"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 4 - "A Whole Other Hole"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 5 - "Low Self Esteem City"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 6 - "You Also Have A Pizza"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 7 - "Comic Sans"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 8 - "Appropriately Sized Pots"


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