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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Orange Is The New Black Review: Appropriately Sized Pots

Orange Is The New Black (Netflix), Episode 8 of Season 2
"Appropriately Sized Pots"
Written By: Alex Regnery & Hartley Voss
Directed By: Daisy von Scherler Mayer
Flashback Of: Rosa


Brief Description: This is probably my favorite episode of the season so far, and I don't think it's a coincidence this happened to coincide with the first Piper heavy episode since the season opener.  But before I get into the episode, I need to get some technical things out of the way. First, the only way I was able to understand what the characters were saying in the flashbacks is by having the Closed Captions on. That means I either had to toggle back and forth throughout the entire episode, or I had to leave the CC on the entire time (which I did do and strongly disliked reading what I was hearing). I have no idea why the natural setting of this episode wasn't to have all the Spanish be subtitled? The second is the poor narrative function the show did by using Rosa in the flashbacks. At first glance, I thought we were doing a Blanca flashbacks considering how extremely similar the actress who played Young Rosa looks like Blanca. It was jarring for a brief moment for me, but then I figured it out as not only did Rosa say she robbed banks back in "A Whole Other Hole" (and I actually remembered her name was Rosa and not "That Cancer Prisoner") but the camera panned to present day Rosa's face right before the flashback. However, my wife, who is a pretty smart cookie, didn't figure it out until the second flashback scene. I can't imagine she was the only one.

Anyways, back to the show. After OITNB opened with Healy telling Rosa her "risky" surgery wasn't going to be covered by the prison and that she essentially was sentenced to death, he gets to tell an inmate some good news as Piper's furlough has been granted. Not only does Piper finally get to do something besides work on a damned newsletter, but Taylor Schilling got some freaking excellent material to work with dealing with the loss of her grandmother and the joy of being able to see her one last time before she passes. I'd say this is her Emmy submission episode for next year, but I guess you still have to go "Thirsty Bird" and Schilling's monologue about what she thinks she's done to Pennsatucky.

At excited and happy as Piper was that she was getting 48 hours of freedom to say goodbye to her role model, that joy comes crashing down as the episode progresses. The other inmates are extremely jealous (and rightfully so) that their more deserving reasons didn't get granted (from Sophia telling us about her father in the beginning to Poussey all but picking a fight with Piper behind her back towards the end), the entire female prison population finally turns on Piper in the cafeteria causing Piper to stand up for herself (something she wouldn't have done last season) and yelling at everyone. It's an incredible and powerful moment for Piper that gets abruptly interrupted by Suzanne throwing her pie at Piper. I wish wish the scene didn't immediately cut away as not only would the fall out between Piper and Suzanne be incredible to watch, but how would the guards, who are now enforcing EVERYTHING, reacted to these rule violations.

Speaking of the guards clamping down, Figueroa storms into Litchfield with gum on her shoe and yells at Caputo (and Luschek and Fischer) for not being tougher on prisoners. Not only does this cause Caputo to hilariously look at every inmate to determine if they're wearing make up or not, but it also causes him to fire Fischer- but I'll get to that in a second. In a moment of clarity, Caputo realizes how all the contraband is getting into the prison, through Red's greenhouse, and storms over there destroying everything in sight. Luckily for Red, Caputo's escapade into the greenhouse earlier in the episode caused her to move all the contraband into the kitchen with some help from Gloria, so Caputo found nothing. Coming back from the greenhouse and filled with anger and regret, Fischer finally gains SOME balls by standing up to Caputo about the new shot system. Combined with all of these emotions and the fact that he still has feelings for Fischer which aren't being reciprocated, he fires Fischer.

While Fischer loses her freedom, we see how much fun Rosa had when she had her freedom. Again, we get another episode that's not as powerful as say Sophia's or Watson's or Morello's flashback was, but hot damn was it just fun entertainment. We got to see The Curse Rosa has on men, and frankly, I don't know why the third guy still robbed banks with Rosa after the first two guys died. Rosa got to relive her early days while getting chemo, by having the young boy help her out and steal money from the drunk nurse.

However, since this is a show about prison, nobody truly has any freedom. Rosa (both young and old), gets some great character beats about her wild, fast, and loose days, obviously Fischer loses her job and the guards are still unhappy, and worst of all, Piper's grandmother passes way right before her furlough. This is how Orange Is The New Black needs to do these heart wrenching moments. The moment we hear Piper's grandmother died has so much more effect on us considering how much was built up to Piper getting her furlough, and it held SO much more weight than say when Jimmy was sent away. Overall though, this was just an incredible episode from start to finish.


* In an episode just filled with excellent subplots, the "worst" one this week went to Soso. I thought the laundry girls hinting at her to shower (and Pennsatucky outright blurting out that Soso smelled) was pretty funny, and the call back to this when Figueroa smelled her in the hallways was clever, but the ending when the guards had to physically drag her into the shower didn't do anything for me. In any episode all about freedom, I get it that this was Soso's moment when she finally lost hers, but because she was only viewed as an ancillary character (and an annoying one at that), I had no empathy for her while she was weeping in the shower. That was one of those moments the show failed to build up for us.

* Another reason this was an excellent episode because not only was Larry and Polly not in it, but there was no Daya/Bennett subplot either.

* Scott and Wanda (the obese and older guards who are a couple) got another fine two lines in!

* The war between Vee and Red is almost at its boiling point as Vee sees Gloria helping Red, and for all intents and purposes, Gloria is definitely pro-Red, anti-Vee right now. Truthfully, the two (and Gloria as well) can co-exist as all Vee sells is cigarettes and Red isn't in that game at all, but Vee's mind doesn't work that way.

* Natasha Lyonne's Nichols is this show's most reliable character as she gets a fun moment with Luschek out  in the yard and an excellent moment with Fischer after Fischer gets fired- all while smoking a cigarette.

* I always say Healy is at his best when he's tied into Piper's story line, and his speech after Piper wants to take her furlough back was just superb.

* PORNSTACHE UPDATE: PORNSTACHE'S BACK! PORNSTACHE'S BACK! AW FUCK YES, PORNSTACHE'S BACK! The departure of Fischer causes Figueroa to bring in some big guns, and of course that gun is a fucking bazooka named Mendez. The only clip we see of Mendez in the Season 2 trailer of the show is the same clip we see in "Appropriately Sized Pots" however, we still have five more episodes left to go. I can't wait to see how he'll be used for the reason of the season/series going forward.

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"


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